The setting of Bhagavad Gita
One of the most influential books of philosophy, the Bhagavad Gita, is intriguingly set on a war field. Not just any war but one comprising all the nations on earth at the time. And the Gita narration starts just as the conch shells are blown and warriors on both the sides are ready to charge on each other. Even more perplexing is the manner in which Arjuna who is the greatest archer in the world breaks down emotionally. He is not just skilled in archery but a wholesome fighter adept at mentally demoralising the opponents. Yet, he is heartbroken to see that he has to kill his own kith and kin. He sheds tear in full view of the armies on both side. It is then that Krishna speaks the lofty yet practical and timeless wisdom of Gita. The setting itself highlights the importance of what is to be spoken.
The primary question that Arjuna then asks Krishna is about his dharma (or natural duty) at this stage of life. He was faced with many competing levels of dharma which he was not able to resolve. On one side there were his bothers and teacher whom he didn’t want to kill in the war, on the other hand the brothers were vicious and their rule would wreak havoc in the life of the people. The wise and virtuous Arjuna did not want to act just based on impulses or for profit and power of reigning over the world. He wanted to know what kind of action or inaction would bring the greatest good individually and collectively. He was a keen student ready to learn the mysteries of yoga. And thus he was presented with the greatest teacher of all, the object of all meditation and yoga, the Supreme Lord Krishna Himself. Thus from this essential question of clarifying the proper course of action shines the answers presented in the classic text of Bhagavad Gita. Which has been discussed and applied for countless generation, and has been giving clarity amidst confusion to countless sincere seekers.