Bhagavad Gita means God’s Song, consist of 700 verses organised in 18 chapters. It is a part of hindu epic Mahabharata. Although it is literally a song, its more considered as a dialogue between supreme Lord Sri Krishna and his best friend and devotee Arjuna, a great warrior prince. This conversation took place at the battlefield of Kurukshetra, India around 5000 years ago.
Both Sri Krishna and Arjuna were in the middle of both the armies. Arjuna saw his teachers, relatives, friends and other dear ones standing on the opposite side, ready to fight with him and his army. Seeing them Arjuna became despondent and anxious. He did not wanted to fight with his dear ones and kill them in this war. Finally Arjuna sought help from lord Sri Krishna and explained him his mental state. Thus the conversation was started which is called Bhagavad Gita.
Lord Sri Krishna not only encouraged Arjuna to fight the righteous war, but he also explained him the entire philosophy of life, knowing which Arjuna can attain self realization.
Listen to entire Bhagavad Gita in English. To listen in other languages click here
Read the Background of this war or jump to Chapter 01 – Arjuna’s Despondency
Around 5000 years ago in India, there were two kings ruling. King Pandu and King Dhritarashtra. They were brothers. Gandhari was Dhritarashtra’s wife, and Pandu had two wives named Kunti and Madri. King Dhritarashtra was blind and King Pandu was cursed for a sin he committed while hunting, thus was not able to had his own clildren from his wives. His wife, Kunti had got a boon from a wise sage for her profound service and she begot three children Arjuna, Bhima and Yudhisthira. King Pandu’s Second wife Madri had two children name Nakula and Sahadev. They were twins. Pandus sons were thus called Pandavas. On the other had Dhritarashtra had a hundred and one children by his wife Gandhari. They were called Kauravas.
When Pandu was dead, Dhritarashtra took care of pandavas along with Kauravas. As they were brought up together, Kauravas were often jealous on Pandavas due to their bravery and intelligence. the result of this was eventually pandavas started living seperatly sharing half of the kingdom.
Later as they grew up Pandavas got wealthy and they decided to do a ritual called Rajasuya Yajna. Seeing their glory, the chief of kauravas Duryodhana got jealous. Duryodhana was cunning and he decided to take all the wealth from pandavas. SO with the help of his uncle Sakuni, he invited Yudhisthira to a game of dice and fraudulently defeated him, and took all of pandavas wealth and kingdom, including Draupadi. Draupadi was single wife of all the 5 brothers (Pandavas). Finally it was decided that the Pandavas and Draupadi should live in exile in forest for 12 years and after that 1 year more hiding their identity. For those 13 years, Durodhana will rule the entire kingdom.
After successfully completed these 13 years of exile, Pandavas returned back home and asked Duryodhana for their share of kingdom which was half of the entire kingdom. But Duryodhana was so wicked that he refused to give them anything. SO Pandavas decided to wage a war against Kauravas to get back their share of Kingdom.
Before the war, Lord Sri Krishna was living in a city named Dwarka and both Duryodhana and Arjuna came to visit him to get his help for the war. When they arrived, Lord Krishna was resting on couch. Duryodhana sat near Sri Krishna’s head and Arjuna stood near the feet of Lord Krishna. When Sri Krishna woke up, he saw Arjuna first and then Duryodhana. As Arjuna was younger to Duryodhana and also Sri Krishna saw him first, he first asked Arjuna to make a choice. He said to Arjuna that either he can be with Arjuna in this war as his consultant and will not be actually participating in the war and stay unarmed or else he can take his powerful army called Narayani Sena. Arjuna immediatly made a choice of having Lord with him instead of taking his army. Duryodhana was very happy of Arjunas decision and wished the Lord powerful army.
When asked by Krishna why he chose him over the powerful army Arjuna said,
“I had a desire in my heart for long time that you should be my charioteer in the war. please fulfill my wish. I do not need the army because you are the most powerful of all and you can destroy everything by mere sight.”
The Lord accepted his request with pleasure and thus became the charioteer of Arjuna in the battle of the Kurukshetra.
When both sides were prepared for the battle on kurukshetra, the sage Veda Vyasa approached to Dhritarashtra and said,
“If you wish to see this terrible carnage with your own eyes I can give you the gift of vision.” The Kaurava king replied, “O Chief of the Brahmarishis! I have no desire to see with my own eyes this slaughter of my family, but I should like to hear all the details of the battle.”
Then the sage conferred the gift of divine vision on Sanjaya, the trusty counsellor of the king, and told the king,
“Sanjaya will describe to you all the incidents of the war. Whatever happens in the course of the war, he will directly see, hear or otherwise come to know. Whether an incident takes place before his eyes or behind his back, during the day or during the night, privately or in public, and whether it is reduced to actual action or appears only in thought, it will not remain hidden from his view. He will come to know everything, exactly as it happens. No weapon will touch his body nor will he feel tired.”
After the ten days of continued war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, when the great warrior Bhishma was thrown down from his chariot by Arjuna, Sanjaya announces the news to Dhritarashtra. In agony the king asks Sanjaya to narrate the full details of the previous ten days war, from the very beginning, in all detail as it happened. Here commences the Bhagavad Gita.
~ some part of this is taken from Bhagavad Gita – The Divine life Society