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Bhagavadgita one of the main scriptures of the Hindus, comprising 18 chapters of the Bhisma episode of the mahabharata and belonging to the upanisad or philosophical portion of the vedas. On the eve of the war between the Kurus and the Pandavas, Arjun was overwhelmed with emotion when he saw his own relatives sided with the enemy and decided not to fight any more. It was then that krishna, his charioteer, differed with him and had had a long dialogue with Arjun. Krishna reminded him that he must do the duties of a ksatriya warrior. The dialogue between Krishna and Arjun makes the Srimadbhagavadgita, called in brief the Bhagavadgitaor just the Gita. It contains 700 shlokas, and thus it is also called saptashati or seven hundred.

The Gita combines religion and philosophy. One of the foundations of Indian philosophy, the Gita contains the essence of the concepts enunciated in the Vedas, vedanta, Upanisad etc. It explains how human beings can attain salvation through work, knowledge, and devotion. The Gita teaches a liberal humanism as well as a total devotion to the divine. It exhorts human beings to be liberal in religion, dispassionate in work, Brahma-like in knowledge, and God-like towards all creation. It calls for human beings to be of service to living creatures and to renounce all self-interest.

The advice that Krishna gave Arjun about the duties of a Ksatriya warrior in cleansing the world of injustice and repression and establishing truth greatly inspired the Indian revolutionaries and freedom fighters of the first quarter of the 20th century to lay down their lives in the cause of freedom.

The Gita is an important scripture for Hindu life. It is recited as a daily ritual and at religious ceremonies. It is also recited regularly on radio and television and at national ceremonies. Hindus regard giving a copy of the Gita to a brahman as an act of piety. [Paresh Chandra Mandal]