Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit, भगवद्गीता,bhagavad-gītā  lit. "Song of God’) Often referred to as simply The Gita,  it is a 700-verse Hindu scripture in Sanskrit that is part of the Hindu epic The Mahabharata .

Hindu tradition dates the Gita came to 3100 BC. Accepted scholarship indicates that the current version was enscribed somewhere between 400 BC-400 AD. likely based on much earlier works. The general setting of the epic is in Iron Age India, where the Kuru kingdom was the center of political power during roughly 1200 to 800 BC.

The Gita is a narrative between  Prince Arjuna  and his guide and charioteer Lord Krishna as they enter the epic battle of Mahabharat in the war between the Pandavas and the Kuravas.  Though he has many friends among the Kuravas, Arjuna has chosen his civic duty and sides with his tribe, the Pandavas.

Lord Krishna counsels Arjuna and answers his questions about  the purpose and goal of human existence, how we should conduct ourselves in our day to day lives, performing our duties with a sense of detachment, and accepting God as the doer and facilitator and ourselves as mere instruments engaged in the act of liberation and self-realization.

Translations

The first English translation of the Gita was done by Charles Wilkins in1785.  Since that time there have been hundreds of translations in many languages.

 

1907 Yogi Ramacharaka ( William Atkinson) published perhaps the best and most easily understood English translation using Biblical grammar and phrasing.

 

Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood published an  English translation in verse in 1945 which helped U.S. readers to understand it, but also influenced American literature.

 

In 1971 A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. founder of the ISKON  movement (Hari Krishna), published a heavily illustrated hardback translation with extensive commentary.