The name Bhagavad Gita is widely known, especially among those who embrace spirituality, wisdom, and religious life. The book is ranked among the greatest religious books worldwide. In India itself, its position is next only to Upanisads. There is a commonly famous verse that says, “All the Upanisads are cows, the milker is Sri Kresna, the calf is Arjuna, the enjoyers are the wise ones, and the milk is the fine nectar that the Gita is.”
Bhagavad Gita is so important in India that almost all the religious leaders have interpreted the Gita according to their own schools of thought. Some prominent persons in modern time also wrote commentaries or elucidations on the Gita such as B.G. Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, and Sri Aurobindo.
Bhagavad Gita contains the words and teachings of Sri Kresna to Arjuna when both engaged in the Battle of Bharatayuda. At that time, Sri Kresna, who vowed not to take up arms on both Pandavas and Kauravas, agreed to become the charioteer of Arjuna while he gave his army to Kauravas. Arjuna was considered as the mightiest among the contemporary warriors.
It is said that the writer of the book is Vyasa, who also considered as the Incarnation of Visnu. The battle of Bharatayuda was fought at the end of Dvapara-yuga. The next yuga – i.e. Kaliyuga – is believed to have started on 18th February 3102 BC when Parikesit, grandson of Arjuna ascended the throne of Kauravas at Hastinapura.
Through many Western scholars believe that Bhagavad Gita is a loose collection of thoughts of different schools, Madhusudana Sarasvati divides it into three sections of six chapters each, dealing successively with Karma-yoga, Bhakti-yoga, and Jnana-yoga. Others have different opinion, but actually the same in understanding. Sankaracarya, for example, says that spiritual unfoldment proceeds along the following stages: practice of scriptural rites and duties with a hankering for results; practice of the same as a dedication to God without expecting rewards for oneself; purification of the mind or moral excellence along with upasana (devotion to and meditation on the qualified Brahman); acquisition of knowledge from a teacher and the scriptures, followed by renunciation of all rites and duties, which makes one fit for steadfastness in that knowledge; steadfastness in that knowledge; removal of ignorance and self-revelation of the supreme Brahman, which is the same as Liberation.