Computational Analyses of Mahabharata

Research project on Mahabharata by Department of Philosophy, Manipal Academy of Higher Education

Mahābhārata, with its more than 100,000 verses, is one of the largest epic literatures that deals with several dimensions of human life: physical, psychological and philosophical. This epic text deals with almost all domains of knowledge with multidimensional perspectives; hence, it caters to offer several new outlooks that fosters one’s understanding and spiritually elevates to enlightenment.

The project attempts to explore exegetically the epic text using Sanskrit Computational Linguistics tools through analysing syntax and semantics of the literature. The e-annotation of Mahābhārata will help take this knowledge to international audiences, particularly scholars who have considerable knowledge of Sanskrit but continue to need additional inputs. 

The project deals with editing digital versions of Mahabharata and Tatparyanirnaya texts and providing grammatical analysis and subject indexing of the texts. Thus, the attempt, by developing Digital Concordance of the following texts for the first time in their history, compiles an error-free* ‘gold data’ of the following texts:

73,797 verses
96,635 verses
95,286 verses
5180 verses


There are hundreds of manuscripts available on Mahābhārata with different recensions and retellings based on them, across nations. Amongst them, the most important editions – popular edition (based on northern recension) and critical edition of BORI (Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune) and southern recensions published by T R Krishnacharya of Kumbakonam, and Vavilla Ramaswamy Sastrulu of Chennai.

Apparently, there are more than 50 instances in the northern recensions that the narratives miss links to further stories. Nevertheless, the southern recension bridges such gaps. Moreover, southern recension also has provided answers to many queries otherwise bewilder the reader unable to understand details like: who is elder, what is the sequel, philosophical discussions and so on. As a detailed subject indexing under certain classified parameters with the help of required grammatical analysis will lead interpretations and discourses towards a better understanding of Mahabharata.

BORI edition

Prof Muneo Tokunaga was the first person to key the whole text of BORI version into computer, which was later revised by Prof John Dargavel Smith. Prof Oliver Hellwig encoded the Mahabharata corpus that is based on BORI e-recension with resolved Sandhis and full morphological and lexical analysis as part of text-historical research in Sanskrit linguistics and philology; it includes many highlights such as keyword in context, collocation and occurrences on the basis of statistical model.

Kumbhakonam edition

A group of researchers in Tirupati, Hyderabad and Bengaluru under the leadership of Prof Shrinivasa Varakhedi had digitised the whole text of this edition along with the support of Prof K V Ramakrishnamacharyulu, Prof D Prahlada Char and Prof Amba Kulkarni. This group had initiated the work on XML tagging of the subjects that are as indexed in the publication. This work is available at both HTML and XML format at Search And Retrieval of Indic Texts (SARIT) website. The contents of the HTML files will be processed.

Sastri-Vavilla edition

Prof P P Sambasiva Sastri had compiled the text collating many manuscripts that are mainly available in southern India. Vavilla Ramaswamy Sastrulu and sons had published this in the middle of 20th century. This edition features certain important facets on the narratives and storyline of the epic classic. Moreover, the manuscript recensions found in Madras presidency region (today’s) Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and the west coast of Karnataka including northern parts of Kerala share many commonness. The contents of Mahabharata-tatparyanirnaya of Madhvacharya, which is seemed to be very similar to Udupi region Mahabharata text finds common grounding in this compilation. This makes it all the more important for Dvaita Centre to take it up.

The digital concordance edition of this part was funded by Vedavyasa Samshodhana Kendra, Subrahmanya.