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Ugrashravas narrating Mahābhārata before the sages gathered in Naimisha Forest.

Ugrashravas Sauti (Sanskrit: उग्रश्रवस् सौती, also Ugraśravas, Sauti, Sūta, Śri Sūta, Suta Goswami) was the narrator of several Puranas, including Mahābhārata,[1] Bhagavata Purana,[2][3] Harivamsa,[4] Brahmavaivarta Purana, and Padma Purana,[5] with the narrations typically taking place before the sages gathered in Naimisha Forest. He was the son of Lomaharshana (or Romaharshana),[4] and a disciple of Vyasa, the author of Mahābhārata. Ugrasrava was a Sutā by caste, as he was born of a Brahmana father and Kshattriya mother.[6] Ugrasrava was a bard of Puranic literature.[7]

The entire Mahābhārata epic was structured as a dialogue between Ugrasrava Sauti (the narrator) and sage Saunaka (the narratee). The narration (Bharata) of the history of Bharata kings by sage Vaisampayana to Kuru king Janamejaya was embedded within this narration of Ugrasrava Sauti. Vaisampayana's narration (Jaya) in turn contains the narration of Kurukshetra War by Sanjaya, to Kuru king Dhritarashtra. Thus Mahābhārata has as a Story within a story structure.

Sauti recites the slokas of the Mahabharata

Kisari Mohan Ganguli's English translation of the Mahābhārata begins by introducing Ugrasrava thus:

"Ugrasrava, the son of Lomaharshana, surnamed Sauti, well-versed in the Puranas, bending with humility, one day approached the great sages of rigid vows, sitting at their ease, who had attended the twelve year sacrifice of Saunaka, surnamed Kulapati, in the forest of Naimisha." (Mahabharata 1:1)[8]

Conflict with Balarama[edit]

The Bhagavata Purana gives an account of the conflict of Sauti with Balarama. During the Kurukhetra war, Balarama was performing pilgrimage by visiting various sacred spots. As such he came at Naimisha Forest, where he saw Ugrashravas Sauti narrating the Puranas to the sages present there. Everyone welcomed Balarama with joined palms except Sauti. The angered Balarama killed Sauti, with a piece of kusa grass. The sages present there asked Balarama to revive him, as Balarama would become a sinner of Brahmahatya and the narration would remain incomplete. Balarama eventually revived him and made him more stronger and handsome.[9]


  1. ^ Winternitz, Moriz; V. Srinivasa Sarma (1996). A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 303. ISBN 978-81-208-0264-3.
  2. ^ Hiltebeitel, Alf (2001). Rethinking the Mahābhārata: a reader's guide to the education of the dharma king. University of Chicago Press. p. 282. ISBN 978-0-226-34054-8.
  3. ^ Hudson, D. Dennis; Margaret H. Case (2008). The body of God: an emperor's palace for Krishna in eighth-century Kanchipuram. Oxford University Press. p. 609. ISBN 978-0-19-536922-9.
  4. ^ a b Matchett, Freda (2001). Krishna, Lord or Avatara?: the relationship between Krishna and Vishnu. Routledge. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7007-1281-6.
  5. ^ Winterlitz, p. 513.
  6. ^ Bhagavata Purana Skandha X Chapter 79, Verse 24
  7. ^ Jarow, Rick (2003). Tales for the dying: the death narrative of the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa. SUNY Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-0-7914-5609-5.
  8. ^ Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1884). The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa. Calcutta : Bharata press.
  9. ^ Bhagavata Purana Skandha X Chapter 79. 22-40, Motilal Bansaridass Publishers, Book 4 pages 1745-1747

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