Main Characters in the Mahabharata
|Gandari = Dhritarashtra||
|Kunti = Pandu|
|Duryodhana Dusasana||Karna Draupadi =||Yudishthira Bhima Arjuna|
The Mahabharata tells the epic story of conflict between two families, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, descendants of two brothers. Dhritarashtra, the eldest brother, is forced to renounce the throne in favor of his brother Pandu because he is blind. The children of the two brothers then argue over the succession. The story is told by the sage Vyasa, who also appears periodically throughout the epic.
The setting for the section of the Mahabharata you will see is as follows: Duryodhana invites Yudishthira to a game of dice, knowing that gambling is his cousin's weakness. Yudishthira accepts and eventually loses everything: his lands his kingdom, his brothers, and even his wife Draupadi, who is dragged into the company by her hair and humiliated in front of everyone. As a result of the game, the Pandavas and Draupadi are condemned to spend twelve years in exile in the forest. Now the last year of exile has arrived. The brothers revile Yudishthira for his long inaction and all thirst for revenge. Arjuna leaves to find powerful weapons for the war that he believes will come and that he hopes to lead. Duryodhana refuses to give his cousins back their lands and convinces himself that the gods are on his side. Now that the exile is ending, Duryodhana and his brother try to find the Pandava brothers so that they can kill them (opening to Excerpt 1) and avoid war. Yudishthira and his brothers then decide to hide (thinly disguised) in another Lord's domain until they are strong enough for battle.
After a series of failed attempts at assassination and reconciliation, formal battle plans are made (opening to Excerpt 2). Arjuna agrees to begin the war. Both sides are arrayed, and Arjuna, with Krishna as his chariot driver, rides between the two sides to give the signal for battle. At this point the Bhagavad Gita begins.