Shanti Parva (The Book of Peace) (Sanskrit: शान्ति पर्व) is the twelfth and longest Parva (Book) of the epic Mahabharata. Set in the aftermath of Kurukshetra war, it consists of three sub-parvas - Rajadharmanusasana Parva, Apaddharmanusasana Parva and Mokshadharma Parva. It consists of 339 sections, and contains 14,732 slokas. Apart from the final instructions about code of conduct, dharma and good governance given by Bhishma to his victorious nephew and future King, Yudhisthira from his death bed, it also contains Vishnu sahasranama, a list of 1,000 names (sahasranama) of Vishnu, which is a popular Hindu chanting amongst stotras.
This Parva gives an account of the aftermath of the Kurukshetra war, and of the instructions given by Bhishma to King Yudhisthira. It starts with the crowning of Yudhisthira as the King of Hastinapur after Pandavas defeated the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war. Karna, son of Kunti, after being killed by Arjuna in the battle was offered oblations in the River Ganges. Yudhisthir is grieved when he came to know that Karna was in fact his elder brother.
This parva also has accounts of Narada, Vyasa, Devala, Devasthana and Kanwa visiting Hastinapur , and Narda asking Yudhisthir about his feelings after winning the great battle and becoming the monarch of the world. Narda then explained to Yudhishtir about the curse on Karna and the fact that he was destined to be killed in a great battle when the wheels of his chariot would sink in the earth. He also explained about Karna's earlier life and his hard work to achieve the Brahma weapon from Parasurama.
It is said that this parva is a huge interruption in the epic and is described as one of the most unforgettable episodes.
- "O king, by creatures of sinful acts, and the miseries endured by those that fall into the river Vaitarani in the realms of Yama, and the inauspicious wanderings of creatures through diverse wombs, and the character of their residence in the unholy uterus in the midst of blood and water and phlegm and urine and faeces, all of foul smell, and then in bodies that result from the union of blood and the vital seed, of marrow and sinews, ..."
— Bhishma. Mahabharat, Shanti Parva: Part III. Section CCCII.
- S. N. Mishra (2003). Public governance and decentralisation, Vol. 1. Mittal Publications. p. 935. ISBN 81-7099-918-9.
- Vishnu sahasranama excerpt from the Mahabharata by Kisari Mohan Ganguly (published between 1883 and 1896)
- Mahabharat, Shanti Parva: Part III. Section CCCII p. 2.