Mahabharata authored by the great maharishi Ved Vyasa is the greatest epic the world has ever seen. The original name of this ithihasa is Jayam which means victory.It consists of 18 parvas meaning 18 books or episodes.Ved Vyasa has composed Mahabharata in one lakh slokas (verses) and till this date these verses are available.
The greatness of this great epic is narrated in the epic itself.
It is advised thus: "One should listen to the Bharata every day. One should proclaim the merits of the Bharata every day. One in whose house the Bharata occurs, has in his hands all those scriptures which are known by the name of Jaya. The Bharata is cleansing and sacred."
As there are 18 parvas which consist of one lakh verses it would be difficult to read or recite all the slokas in a day. So Ved Vyas suggested to recite main four slokas composed by him. This is called as 'Bharata Savitri' The meaning of the four verses of Bharata Savitri is given below: Thousands of mothers and fathers, and hundreds of sons and wives arise in the world and depart from it. Others will (arise and) similarly depart.
There are thousands of occasions for joy and hundreds of occasions for fear. These affect only him that is ignorant but never him that is wise. With uplifted arms I am crying aloud but nobody hears me. From Righteousness is Wealth as also Pleasure. Why should not Righteousness, therefore, be courted? For the sake neither of pleasure, nor of fear, nor of cupidity should any one cast off Righteousness.
Indeed, for the sake of even life one should not cast off Righteousness. Righteousness is eternal. Pleasure and Pain are not eternal. Jiva is eternal. The cause, however, of Jiva's being invested with a body is not so.
Good will triumph over evil is the main message given by Vyasa. Righteousness alone is eternal and one should at any cost follow it. The gist of Mahabharata explained in one lakh verses is given in the above four verses. And hence it is suggested to read at least these four verses daily so that one could have the benefit of reading all the one lakh verses.
The Mahabharata itself reveals this great secret thus in the Book 18-Svargarohanika Parava -"That man who, waking up at dawn, reads this Savitri of the Bharata, acquires all the rewards attached to a recitation of this history and ultimately attains to the highest Brahma." The secret of Mahabharata lies in Bharata Savitri!