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Gita, short for Bhagavad Gita, 'the Divine Song', is a philosophical dialogue in verse, in the Mahabharata. The setting is the start of the great war between cousins, Kauravas and Pandavas, when the forces on both sides come face-to-face on the battlefield. Arjuna the Pandava hero asks his charioteer, the Divine Krishna, to position the chariot so he could gauge his adversaries. The warlike Arjuna finds himself facing his close kin, elders and teachers. The thought of piercing them by his arrows deeply disturbs Arjuna. Distraught, he breaks down, throws away his bow and declares he will not fight.It is Krishna's task to counsel his friend, to bring him back to the performance of his duty and that too with full moral conviction. The dialogue that takes place between the two is contained in a compact poem of seven hundred verses in Sanskrit. It has been the Gospel for the conduct of life for generations of Indians in all walks of life, including many Indian nationalists and freedom fighters in the last century. Thousands know it by heart. Hundreds of expositions have been made, and are still being made. In Indian law courts, people swear by the Gita when called upon to tell the truth.
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