Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Anonymous's The Bhagavad Gita. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Bhagavad Gita: Introduction
The Bhagavad Gita: Plot Summary
The Bhagavad Gita: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Bhagavad Gita: Themes
The Bhagavad Gita: Quotes
The Bhagavad Gita: Characters
The Bhagavad Gita: Terms
The Bhagavad Gita: Symbols
The Bhagavad Gita: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Anonymous
Historical Context of The Bhagavad Gita
Other Books Related to The Bhagavad Gita
- Full Title: Bhagavad Gita (“Song of God”)
- When Written: Version known to contemporary audiences likely compiled between 500-100 BCE
- Where Written: Likely in what is now northern India; some commentators believe it was written in a cave near the village of Badrinath.
- When Published: There are numerous editions of the Gita—many are embedded within versions of the Mahabharata, but others have been published independently. The standard, nineteen-volume Sanskrit Critical Edition of the Mahabharata (also called the Pune/Poona edition) was compiled between 1919 and 1966, but the earliest English translation of the Bhagavad Gita appeared in 1785.
- Literary Period: Ancient Indian literature
- Genre: Epic poem, Hindu religious scripture, philosophical dialogue
- Setting: A battlefield in the kingdom of Hastinapura (present-day northern India)
- Climax: Krishna reveals his multitude of divine forms, convincing Arjuna to worship him and devote himself to the war
- Antagonist: Arjuna’s ignorance and cowardice, the Kauravas, earthly reincarnation
- Point of View: Dialogue narrated by Sanjaya
Extra Credit for The Bhagavad Gita
Gandhi and the Independence Movement. The Bhagavad Gita was arguably Mahatma Gandhi’s central inspiration for the philosophy of nonviolent resistance he developed during the decades-long movement for Indian independence from the British colonial government. He called the book his “eternal mother,” turned to it for moral strength in times of despair, and even translated it into his native language, Gujarati.
Oppenheimer and Nuclear Weapons. Conversely, after watching the world’s first nuclear explosion, “father of the atomic bomb” Robert Oppenheimer famously quoted Krishna in (an older translation of) the Bhagavad Gita: “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Oppenheimer, who studied Sanskrit and the Gita in his youth, was much more of a pacifist than his job description would suggest; his horror at the destructive power of the atomic weapons he created led him to campaign against their continued development later in his life.