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.
The Pandavas live incognito and serve King Virat. Yudhishthir becomes a courtier named Kanak. Bheem becomes a cook. Nakul and Sahadev look after cattle and horses. Arjun becomes a eunuch named Brihannala and Draupadi becomes Sairandhir, the handmaiden to the Queen Sudeshna of Virat.
Karna has assumed the guise of a Brahmin and has become a disciple of Parshuram. Parshuram observes Karna’s resistance to pain and realizes that he is a Kshatriya. In anger, he curses Karna. In Virat, Queen Sudeshna’s brother Keechak professes his love for Draupadi.
In Mathura, King Kans dethrones his father and takes over the Kingdom. He arranges his sister Devki's marriage with his influential friend Vasudev. But when a Sage predicts that her eighth son will be responsible for Kans' death, he imprisons Devki and Vasudev.
Kans personally kills Devki's first six children born in the prison. Devki's seventh "pregnancy" is taken over by Vasudev's second wife who gives birth to Balram. And when the eighth child, Krishna is born, miraculously the prison doors open and Vasudev is able to smuggle out the child and leave him in Gokul with his friend Nand.
Childhood of Shri Krishna, the Supreme Being, and Narayan. While Yashoda happily reared Shri Krishna in Nandgaon his real mother Devki, and his father Vasudev spent days inside the prison in Mathura. Krishna regaled the entire Nandgaon with his divine sports.
Krishna's divine sports make him the darling of his friends. To everyone's amazement he killed Kalia the Serpent King who lived in the river Yamuna, while retrieving the ball of his friend Sridham from the bottom of the river.
Krishna grows up to an 11-year-old boy. Now he has given up stealing butter; instead he steals the hearts of the young "Gopis". Radha is one such "Gopi" who has lost her heart to him. Two songs illustrate this beautiful relationship. Also, Krishna encourages the habitants of Nandgaon to stop sending butter, as a levy, to Kans, the ruler of Mathura. Kans feels slighted that someone has defied him.
Kans tries to subdue Krishna. He commands two demons to destroy Nandgaon. However, Krishna and Balram, annihilate the evil demons. The episode also covers two major portions of divine sports - one, saving of Nandgaon by lifting the Goverdhan Mountain and the other, "Maharass" in which Shri Krishna creates the illusion among the dancing Gopis, each one of whom thinks that he is dancing with her and her alone. Meanwhile, Kans tricks Vasudev's friend Akrur into inviting to Mathura with the intention of killing him.
After finishing his education at Sandeepani Gurukul Shri Krishna returns to Mathura. Krishna advises Ugrasen, the king of Mathura, to shift his capital from Mathura to Dwarika. The Heir Apparent to the throne of Hastinapur is to be chosen and Duryodhan is staking his claim while Drona, Vidur and the people of Hastinapur favour Yudhisthir. Bheeshma remains silent as he is bound by his vow to serve the throne which is with Dhritarashtra
Arjun and Subhadra arrive at Dwarika and are formally married. Arjun later returns to Indraprastha with Subhadra. Draupadi welcomes Subhadra. Yudhishthir seeks Sri Krishna’s advice on performing the Rajsuya Yagna. Krishna approves but explains that Jarasandh, who has imprisoned 86 Kings, would be a constant challenge to Yudhishthir’s Royal Supremacy. Arjun, Bheem, and Sri Krishna eventually go to Magadh and challenge Jarasandh for a combat. Jarasandh chooses to fight with Bheem.
The departure of the Pandavas upset Bheeshama, Vidur, Drona and the other elders of the Royal House of Kurus. Vidur advises Dhritarashtra to summon them back. Dhritarashtra rebukes Vidur, so Vidur leaves. After spending thirteen days in the forest, Bheem, Arjun, Nakul and Sahadev are ready to wage a war against Hastinapur. Yudhishthir refuses to wage war and decides to spend the full thirteen years in exile as his punishment for being reckless in gambling
After hearing about the Pandavas exile, Krishna goes to visit them. He advises the Pandavas to prepare for war and tells Arjun unwillingly to do penance to obtain divine weapons. Arjun does penance and eventually pleases Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva bestows him with the divine Pasupata weapon and advises him to obtain other weapons in Indralok. Rishi Durvasa visits Hastinapur. In an attempt to humiliate the Pandavas, Duryodhan requests that the sage visit that Pandavas as well. Rishi Durvasa promises to do so.
Rishi Durvasa and his followers arrive in the forest to visit the Pandavas. He requests food for himself and his followers and Draupadi is worried for her cooking vessel is empty. Draupadi prays to Lord Krishna and he asks her for something to eat. Draupadi shows him her empty vessel but Krishna, the Soul of the Universe, sees one grain of rice in the vessel, and eats it with pleasure. Durvasa and his followers immediately feel that their hunger has been satisfied. In Indralok, Lord Indra advises Arjun to learn to dance and music from Chitrasen to help him during his 13th year when incognito. Arjun continues to obtain divine weapons and Apsara Urvashi falls in love with him. When Arjun does not reciprocate her love, Apsara Urvashi curses him with impotence.
In Indralok, Lord Indra limits Urvashi’s curse on Arjun to one year during which he becomes an eunuch. In Dwaraka, Sri Krishna trains his nephew Abhimanyu in the martial arts. In Hastinapur, Bheeshma, Drona and Vidur worry about the future of their Kingdom, while Duryodhan’s stepbrother, Yuyutsu, foresees the destruction of the Kurus. Arjun returns from Indralok armed with divine weapons. He accompanies Bheem while they rescue Draupadi from Jayadrath, Duryodhan’s brother-in-law.
Jayadrath, Duryodhan’s brother-in-law, does penance for kidnapping Draupadi and is rewarded by Lord Shiva. In the forest, the Pandavas plan their 13th year of exile to live incognito and to work in another Kingdom. Nakul tries to fetch water form the lake but is told not to use the water by an invisible voice. He ignores the warning, drinks the water and falls down dead. His brothers meet the same fate except for Yudhishtir who realizes the voice belongs to Yaksha. The Yaksha asks him questions and Yudhishtir answers them correctly. The Yaksha reveals himself as Lord Yama and grants back the lives of all the dead brothers.
Arjun kills Susarama the Trigatha Chief and returns to the Pandava camp. He learns about Abhimanyu’s death and discovers that Jayadhrath was the main cause of his son’s death. Arjun vows to kill Jayadhrath before sunset the next day.
The Pandavas were happy in Indraprastha. To avoid rivalry amongst themselves, they had come to a decision to have Draupati divide her time equally between the five brothers. When she was alone with one of them and if any other brother should intrude on their privacy, he must go on a pilgrimage to do penance. Once while helping a Brahim, Arjun had to violate the rule and had to go on a pilgrimage. Arjun visited Naglok and Manlur, and there he married Ullipi and Chitrangandha. Duryodhan asks Balram for his sister Subhadra’s hand in marriage and Balram promises to plead his case with his parents. Meanwhile, Arjun reaches Dwarika and he feel in love with Subhadra. And, Subhadra reciprocates his love. Before any decision can be made, Krishna helps Arjun to elope with Subhadra. Balram is furious and wants to send his army to capture Arjun, but Krishna convinces him that Subhadra had gone with Arjun on her own accord.
While hunting, Pandu accidentally kills a Sage. To do penance Pandu decides to spend his life in exile and entrusts his Kingdom to Dhritarastra. In time five children - Yudhishtra, Bheem, Arjun, Nakul and Sahadeva, are born to Kunti and Madri. Dhritarastra had a hundred sons from Gandhari, the eldest being Duryodhana.
The Pandavas journey through the forest and learn about Draupadi the daughter of King Drupad. At Droupadi's royal wedding ceremony many warrior princes were invited to attend. The candidate for the hand of the princess was required to string a mighty steel bow and shoot a steel arrow. Many noted princes rise and try in vain to string the bow. Then a youth arises from among the group of Brahmins and advances towards the bow. It is Arjun in the guise of a Brahmin. Om Shri Krishna recognizes him. Arjun easily lifts the bow and strings it.
Duryodhan commands Ashwathama, the new commander-in-chief, to kill the Pandavas. Ashwathama, Kripacharya and Krit Verma arrive at the Pandava camp in the middle of the night as Dhristdyumna and Draupadi's five sons are sleeping. They kill all the sleeping warriors and set fir to the camp. Believing that they have killed the Pandavas, they return to Duryodhan and discover that he has died. They light Duryodhan's pyre, and go to save Vyas's Ashram. The Pandavas find Ashwathama with Sage Vyas and take their revenge.
Bhisma action for restoring the image of Hastinapur will lead to his death.
Threatened with extinction, Queen mother Satyavati, calls on Ambalika and Ambika to marry Vyasa. Ambalika gives birth the Dhritarastra who is born blind. Ambika gives birth to Pandu who is born anemic and weak. Bhishma is forced to look after this generation too.
Unusual celebrations in Gokul make Kans auspicious that Devki's eighth child must be there. Pootna is sent there as a toy seller to kill all the children born in Gokul. When she tries to kill Krishna, she herself is killed. Meanwhile all the people of Gokul, including Krishna's foster parents, shift to Nandgaon.
Krishna departs from Nandgaon for Mathura. The residents of Mathura have heard of his divine sports and they pay obeisance to him as an "Avatar" (incarnation of God). Eventually Krishna faces his uncle, Kans. The cruel ruler had planned to slay Krishna but he meets his own death at the hands of Shri Krishna. Before killing him, Krishna reveals to him his 'Viraat Roop' (Deity Incarnate in its full form).
After escaping from the tragedy, the Pandavas arrive in a forest and take rest.