Open Unwrapped – Mahabharata

University of Edinburgh festive bauble gift by Pingked (Flickr) CC BY-NC

The 11th of our ‘Twelve days of Open’ is the digitisation of the Mahabharata scroll in the CRC Collections at The University of Edinburgh.


Mahabharata, unpaginated detail, University of Edinburgh, CC BY


The record description reads:

One of two major Sanskrit epics of Ancient India, the Mahabharata tells the tale of a dynastic struggle between two sets of cousins for control of the Bharata kingdom in central India. One of the longest poems ever written, eclipsed only by the Gesar Epic of Tibet, it is said to have been composed between 900 and 400BCE by the sage Vyasa, although, in reality, it is likely to have been created by a number of individuals. To Hindus, it is important in terms of both dharma (moral law) and history (itihasa), as its themes are often didactic. This scroll dates to 1795CE and was donated to Edinburgh University in 1821 by Colonel Walker of Bowland. It is 13.5cm wide and 72m long and has 78 miniatures of varying sizes. All of the illustrations are in the late Mughul or Kangra style, with gold backgrounds and floral patterning in red, white and gold, as well as green leaves and blue diamond-shaped designs.

Click here for digitised images of the Mahabharata scroll


We hope you enjoy our #OpenUnwrapped advent and feel encouraged to further explore the world and practice of ‘Open’.


Stephanie (Charlie) Farley

Open Educational Advisor, EDE


The beautiful image being used as the header for our #OpenUnwrapped posts is of a University of Edinburgh festive bauble gift by Pingked (Flickr) CC BY-NC.