Mahabharat is a successful Indian television series based on the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata. The 94-episode series originally ran from 1988 to 1990. It was produced by B. R. Chopra and directed by his son, Ravi Chopra.
A special stadium that was built to exhibit the feats of the Kuru princes is full of spectators. Members of the Royal Household are invited. The princes perform amazing feats with their weapons. A mace fight between Duryodhan and Bheem follows and the fight becomes too intense. Arjun displays many feats of archery and every one is convinced that there is no one equal to him. Just then the people are startled by a voice coming from the gateway. It is Karna, Kunti’s son from the Sun God. Karna challenges Arjun for a single combat. Kripacharya declares that Arjun can only fight against other royalty. Karna bows his head in silence. While Duryodhan springs up and says, “we crown him the King of Anga, which is now without a master, they can fight after that”. Karna’s coronation takes place and Duryodhan wins a life long friend in Karna. Arjun and Karna are prevented from competing as the sun sets and the tournament that had begun so dramatically ends in an equally dramatic manner.
Arjun refuses to fight and kill his relatives and friends. Krishna tell him that “Atama (Soul) cannot be killed” and advises Arjun to be strong. Krishna’s teachings to Arjun at the battlefield form the basis of the “BHAGAWAD – GITA” (the song of God).
Krishna says to Arjun, “I am birthless and changeless. I am the Lord. I take birth through the power of my Maya”. Unable to satisfy Arjun’s hopeless conscience, Krishna grants divine eyesight to Arjun and stuns him with his “Viraat Roop” (divine manifestation). Arjun is consoled and enlightened. He understands that the pure seek the spirit while the impure are trapped in “Prakrit (Matter). He agrees to do his duty selflessly, lifts his “Gandeev” and prepares to fight the Kauravas.
As the sun rises in the sky the battle between Karna and Arjun begins. Karna sends a dazzling arrow, which splits fire towards Arjun. Krishna presses Arjun’s chariot five fingers deep in the mud at the last minute, so that the shaft misses Arjun’s head and only strikes his crown. Arjun burns with anger, fixes an arrow on his bow and kills Karna.
The battle between Bheem and Duryodhan begins. The wariors appear equal in strength and skill, but Krishna informs Bheem that Duryodhan could be defeated if he smashes Duryodhan's thights. Bheem leaps like a lioin and breaks Duryodhan's thighs with his mace and defeats him.
Duryodhan and Karna advance into battle. Arjun attacks the Kaurav army and the Kaurav warriors fall unconscious due to his magical weapons. News arrives from the battlefield and King Virat boasts about the glory of his son Uttar. Kanak (Yudhishthir) praises Brihannala and the King flings his dice at Yudhishthir’s face. Prince Uttar arrives and is distressed after seeing Yudhishthir’s bleeding face. King Virat eventually learns about the true identity of the Pandavas.
On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Krishna continues to talk to Arjun about the importance of following Dharma (Duty). He tells Arjun to equate pain with pleasure and profit with loss. He emphasizes the importance of selfless action without the desire to seek a reward for it.
Yudhisthir learns about Drona’s plan to arrange the Kaurav forces in the Chakra-Vyuha. Unfortunately, Yudhisthir cannot depend on Arjun for Susarama has lured him away from the battlefield, but Arjun’s son, Abhimanyu offers his assistance. Abhimanyu succeeds in penetrating the Chakra – Vyuha but he gets trapped inside it and is eventually killed.
Without pause or hesitation Arjun shoots his arrow into the target. He wins Draupadi's hand in marriage. The princes are loud with anger. "How can a Brahmin marry a princess?" they demand. A fight seems imminent. Shri Krishna seeks to appease the princes and Arjun and Bheem protect Draupadi. At long lost they take Draupadi to their temporary abode. Kunti unknowingly asks the five Pandava brothers to share their bride prize. Also, Shri Krishna meets his aunt Kunti and his cousins. Meanwhile Dhrishtadyumna, who had followed them, reports back and reveals the true identities of Pandava brothers.
Duryodhan suggests that Shakuni cast the dice for him. Yudhishthir loses his entire Kingdom, his brothers, himself and Draupadi. Duryodhan insists that Draupadi be fetched to the assembly hall and orders Prathkami to bring her. Draupadi replies angrily, "Ask him who played the game of dice with Duryodhan, whether he first lost himself or his wife? Bring me his answer and then you can take me away!"
Enraged, Duryodhan asks his brother Dushasan to bring Draupadi to the assembly hall. Dushasan drags Draupadi to the hall and tries to disrobe her but a miracle occurs. Bheem swears to avenge the wrong doing, while Draupadi rises to curse the Kauravs. Gandhari pleads with Draupadi to stop.
Yudhishthir is coronated with great celebration. Dhritarashtra bids Yudhishthir farewell with these words, "My brother Pandu made this Kingom prosperous. May you prove a worthy heir to his renown! May you conquer the entire world! May you perform the Rajsuya Yagna and may you live long and rule as a just King as your forfathers did before you!" Ydhishthir knew that the land he was to rule was a barren wasteland, but he agreed to accept this injustice because he wanted peace. The Pandavas reach Khandavprastha, and with the help of Krishna and Balram, they renovate the ruined city. They plough the land and rename it Indraprastha.
Shri Krishna releases King Ugrasen and his parents Devki and Vasudev who had been imprisoned by Kans. People of Mathura rejoice and celebrate the coronation of King Ugrasen. Krishna goes to Sandeepani Gurukul for his education. In Nandgaon, Yashoda is upset learn that Shri Krishna had stayed back in Mathura and probably would never return. The Pandava children, Yudhishtra, Bheem, Arjun, Nakul and Sahadev grow up and receive their education in the Forrest. Pandu dies in the forest and Kunti returns to Hastinapur with her children.
Dronacharya (Drona) trains the Kuru Princes in the art of “Gada Yudh” (Mace fighting). Bheem and Duryodhan specialize in it and exhibit their skills. Drona is especially delighted by Arjun’s prowess and he loves him even more than his own son, Ashwathama. Drona informs Bheeshma that the education of Kuru Princes is complete. They agree to hold a tournament to test the war skills of the Princes
he education of the Kuru princes is over. Dhrona continues to advise the Kaurava and the Pandava Princes. The Pandavas do well and this makes Dhritarashtra unhappy. Shri Krishna and Balram finish their education at Sandeepani Gurukul and plan to return to Mathura. Parsuram arrives at the Gurukul and gives Shri Krishna his Sudarshan Chakra. He asks Shri Krishna to lay the foundation of a New Yuga (New Era)….
The court meets to name the Heir Apparent to the throne of Hastinapur. Dhritarashtra is compelled to appoint Yudhishthir because of his superior intellect. Jarasandh, the King of Magadha, arrives in Vidarbha to meet King Bheeshmak. Jarasandh asks Bheeshmak to invite Shishupal, the Chedi King, to marry his daughter Rukmani and make Shishupal his ally. Rukmani however has lost her heart to Shri Krishna so she writes him a letter to take her away
The decision to partition the Kingdom of Hastinapur between the Kauravas and the Pandavas is not liked by the Pandavas, but Krishna consoles them and tells them that Khandavprastha is their Karmabhoomi (field of action) Gandhari feels that a partition of a country can never be a solution to the rivalry. Bheeshma feels that there is no other option.
The war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas looks inevitable, but Krishna makes a last attempt for peace. Krishna arrives in Hastinapur and is flooded with valuable presents. He pays his respects to Dhritrashtra and says, “ Maharaj, in return I can only offer peace!” “We will talk after you have rested,” says Dhritrashtra. He tells Dushasan to take Krishna to the guestroom, but Krishna refuses the offer and tells Dhritrashtra that he will be staying with Vidur. Duryodhan is annoyed with Krishna for refusing their hospitality.
Krishna goes to the court of Hastinapur and says, “ Peace is a necessity. In war, people from both sides die, though only one side wins.” He suggests that Indraprastha be given back to the Pandavaas, but Duryodhan insists that the Pandavas must return to the forest. Krishna then suggests that five villages be given to the five Pandava brothers. Duryodhan finds the suggestion unacceptable and threatens to seize Krishna. Krishna discloses his divinity and leaves the court.
Vidur submits his resignation to Dhritarashtra, he is depressed by the inevitable war. Kunti worries about the battle to be fought between her sons, Karna and the Pandava brothers. She visits Karna and tells him the truth about his birth. Karna tells her he already knows the truth, and he is happy to have his mother by his side. Kunti pleads with him to join the Pandavas, but he says, “ I must fight with Arjun, I cannot abandon my promise to Duryodhan. “ Krishna reaches Upaplavya and tells the Pandavas that his attempt to stop the war has failed. The Pandavas prepare for the war.
Krishna tells Arjun to seek Goddess Durga’s blessings for winning the war. Arjun prays to the Goddess. She tells him, “ Wherever there is righteousness there is Krishna, and wherever there is Krishna, there is victory” Krishna drives Arjun to the middle of the battlefield in his chariot. Arjun sees the men on the battlefield and tells Krishna, “ wining a kingdom after killing one’s own kin is too heavy a price to pay. I prefer to be a beggar if this is the price I have to pay for our throne”.
The Pandavas are faced with a huge problem, victory continues to elude them. They were blessed by Bheeshma to achieve victory but they could only achieve victory after they kill Bheeshma and Bheeshma could not be killed unless he willed himself to die. Yudhisthir and Arjun go to Bheeshma and inform him of their predicament. Bheemshma tells them that only a woman could bring his death for he would not raise his hand against a woman. The Pandavas decide to use Shikhandi in their fight against Bheeshma and the stage is set for the fall of the grandsire from the battlefield.
The Kaurav warriors sit in council and decide to have Drona capture Yudhisthir alive. Duryodhan says, “ I will end the war as soon as Yudhisthir is in our hands. Drona agrees to the plan after Duryodhan promises that Yudhisthir would not be sentenced to death after he is captured.
Drona decides to arrange his focuses in a “Chakra – Vyuha”, which is a battle arrangement that only Arjun can penetrate and emerge from. The Trigartha Chief Susarama is asked to assist the Kauravas in their plan to capture Yudhisthir by luring Arjun so far away from the battlefield that it will be impossible for him to return before sunset..
Arjun vows to kill Jayadhrath before sunset to avenge the death of his son Abhimanyu. If he is unable to kill Jayadhrath before sunset, Arjun swears he will burn himself to death. Duryodhan has hidden Jayadhrath but with Krishna’s assistance, Arjun is able to discover his whereabouts and kill him.