This talk will take up the structure, purpose and use of the Sanskrit Mahabharata in South Asia. It will explore aspects of the original Sanskrit texts, as well as related traditions from the deep past to the modern world. It will explore why people tell and re-tell religious stories across the generations. It will show how the Mahabharata is many voiced and multi-purpose by design, as well as a consequence of the ways in which it has been used by different individuals and groups of people over time. From ancient India to the colonial stage, via medieval Kashmir and Indian television broadcasts of the eighties and early nineties, we will see how the text has been lived with and lived through by numberless South Asians from every walk of life.