The Bhagavad Gita is a sacred scripture in Hinduism. It is an approximately 700-verse section of the larger scriptural epic known as the Mahabharata. The Gita comprises a conversation between the Lord Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the warrior-prince Arjuna before the beginning of the Kurukshetra War. Krishna allays Arjuna’s moral concerns about fighting his own cousins by explicating the warrior-prince’s duties through a discussion of Yogic and Vedantic teachings on how to shed one’s illusions and come to realize the divine essence (Brahman) underlying all reality. The date of origin of the Mahabharata is not certain, with estimates ranging from the fifth century BCE to the first century CE. The significance that many Hindus place on the Gita is reflected in its status as a “revealed” (Shruti) text of divine provenance, even though the Mahabharata as a whole is considered to be “remembered” (Smriti) text of human origin.
The Bhagavad Gita has gained wide recognition as perhaps the most important of Hindu scriptures due to its concise embodiment of the diverse philosophical teachings found in the earlier Upanishads. The Gita marked a further phase in the transition from the Vedic tradition, with its almost exclusive emphasis on collective ritual, in the direction of a religious discipline and set of beliefs that later came to be known as Hinduism. Mohandas Gandhi, the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement, drew inspiration from the Gita for his emphasis on self-rule and the non-violent methods he advocated. Over the last century, the Gita has gained popularity as a spiritual guide among many non-Hindus.