The Bhagavad Gītā (Sanskrit: भगवद्गीता, IPA: [ˈbʱəɡəʋəd̪ ɡiːˈt̪aː], Song of God), also more simply known as Gita, is a Hindu scripture produced from the colloquy given by Sri Krishna to Arjuna during the Kurukshetra War. Its philosophies and insights are intended to reach beyond the scope of religion and to humanity as a whole. It is at times referred to as the “manual for mankind” and has been highly praised by not only prominent Indians such as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi but also Aldous Huxley, Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Carl Jung and Herman Hesse. It is considered among the most important texts in the history of literature and philosophy. The Bhagavad Gita comprises exactly 700 verses, and is a part of the Mahabharata. The teacher of the Bhagavad Gita is Lord Krishna, who is revered by Hindus as a manifestation of God (Parabrahman) Himself, and is referred to within as Bhagavan, the Divine One.
The content of the Gita is the conversation between Lord Krishna and the Pandava Prince Arjuna taking place on the battlefield before the start of the Kurukshetra War. Responding to Arjuna’s confusion and moral dilemma about fighting his own cousins, Lord Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince, and elaborates on different Yogic and Vedantic philosophies, with examples and analogies. This has led to the Gita often being described as a concise guide to Hindu theology and also as a practical, self-contained guide to life. During the discourse, Lord Krishna reveals His identity as the Supreme Being Himself (Svayam Bhagavan), blessing Arjuna with an awe-inspiring vision of His divine universal form.
The direct audience to Lord Krishna’s discourse of the Bhagavad Gita included Arjuna (addressee), Sanjaya (using Divya Drishti gifted by Rishi Veda Vyasa to watch the war and narrate the events to Dhritarashtra), Lord Hanuman (perched atop Arjuna’s chariot) and Barbarika, son of Ghatotkacha, who also witnessed the complete 18 days of action at Kurukshetra.
The Bhagavad Gita is also called Gītopaniṣad, implying its having the status of an Upanishad, i.e. a Vedantic scripture. Since the Gita is drawn from the Mahabharata, it is classified as a Smṛiti text. However, those branches of Hinduism that give it the status of an Upanishad also consider it a śruti or “revealed” text. As it is taken to represent a summary of the Upanishadic teachings, it is also called “the Upanishad of the Upanishads“. Another title is mokṣaśāstra, or “Scripture of Liberation”.
Definition courtesy Wikipedia.