Where Can We Find a Mahabaratha Book That Contains the Original Texts?

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Where can we find a Mahabaratha book that contains the original texts?

There is no authentic book. But the most correct book on Mahabharata would be the Critical Edition by Bhandakar Oriental Research Institute, Pune. Over the years, after the Mahabharata was first composed, it was never written. There was no paper or papyrus. The epic or poem was constructed by Sage Krishna Dwaipayana or Ved Vyasa, He recited the story to his disciple sage Vaishampayana. Vaishampayana is said to have recited the story to King Janamajeya during the Sarpa Satra (or the Snake Sacrifice/Annihilation - King Janamajeya was annihilating the snakes via a powerful yagya and it is then when Sage Vyasa, Vaishampayana and other disciples arrived to stop the atrocity). Anyway, I am digressing. The Mahabharata was then passed on disciple to disciple and various bards recited them to various kings and audiences. As it happens with every word of mouth story, interpolations, additions, changes, etc, crept into the story. The epic spread far and wide and a regional variation or recession got created. Originally said to be having just 90,000 verses, the epic became bloated with plots, sub-plots, interpolated stories, etc. There was no way to identify the truest source and there won’t be. However, in the 1925, the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune took up the Mahabharata project. It engaged the services of many Sanskrit scholars. T collected 1259 manuscripts from all over the country. T studied the contents of all, collecting the most common denominators and weeding out the outlier stories. This was not done over a period of a year or two. It took 35 long years to complete. The work carried out by Vishnu Sitaram Sukhtankar and his team earlier. VS Sukhtankar died in 1943. The work was carried forward by S K Belvalkar. The team completed the compilation of the most acceptable and commonly found shlokas (verses) across all manuscripts and called it the Critical Edition of Mahabharata. The Critical Edition was published on September 22, 1966 by the then President of India, Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan. Because of the extensive research, the study, the effort and the weeding out of unsupported stories, I believe that this is the truest version of Mahabharata today or at least as close to original as can be possible. There are others who argue that it is fake or garbage or inaccurate. T swear by the translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguli or the Dakshinatya version (Southern recenssion) used by Gita Press. This usually stems from the fact that many stories related to Karna and his heroics are left out (Karna digvijaya, Karna’s super fight with Arjuna on 17th evening toned down) to a few showing Karna in low esteem (he failed in Draupadi swayamvara and Draupadi did not reject him). Dr. Bibek Debroy, who translated the BORI CE into English, also rues the fact that some stories/incidents have been left out. But he as well as I believe that the BORI CE should be the closest to the original.

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