In contemporary India the Mahabharata remains an extremely popular text which has been reworked into Bollywood and Doordarshan versions as well as many popular retellings in literary forms.  But when did it become popular and what would popularity mean in this context? We find some awareness of its popularity in the clearly identifiable passages in Pali literature directly referring to the Mahabharata. The Jatakas were popular texts and these and other Buddhist texts such as the Lalitavistara can be used to determine some measure of the Mahabharata’s popularity in Early Historic India.