Few works in world literature have inspired so vast an audience in nations with radically different languages and cultures as the Mahabharata. Written some 2,000 years ago and probably the longest Indian epic ever composed, it is a story of dynastic struggle that culminates in a fatal clash between two branches of a single ruling family. It is a moral and philosophical tale as well as a historical one. In his introduction, Sanskritist B. A. van Nooten notes that apart from William Buck’s rendition no other English version has been able to capture the blend of religion and martial spirit that pervades the original epic.