The Mahabharata is among the great Indian epics and is considered to be one of the world’s largest epic stories. The story of warfare, intrigue and family drama has captivated casual readers and literary scholars for thousands of years and continues to do so. A significant portion of the book describes the war of Kurukshetra between the Pandavas and the Kauravas to settle the issue of who will rule the kingdom. The 5 Pandava brothers and their allies faced up against the armies of their brother, Duryodhana, and his allies, many of whom were mentors and teachers to both the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
At the start of the war, Arjuna, the great Pandava hero looks at the gathered Karava hordes, seeing among them familiar faces, beloved family members, revered teachers. Seeing these familiar faces and struck by the realization that he has to kill many people whom he loves and respects, Arjuna wilts and breaks down in his chariot, casting aside his weapons and sitting down in deep despair. Seeing this, Lord Krishna, his charioteer stands up and delivers a sermon, reminding Arjuna of his duty as a warrior and the need to establish Dharma. This discourse has gained fame as the Bhagavad Gita and has inspired scholars and believers through the ages. The Bhagavad Gita’s call for selfless action inspired many of the leaders of the Indian Independence movement, including Bal Gangadhar Tilak, while Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as M.K Gandhi is said to have referred to the Gita as his spiritual dictionary.
The Bhagavad Gita is treated as one of the key texts for the Vedantha, and remains one of the key books in world spiritualism. Because of it’s epic status, the telling of the Gita has inspired some epic masterpieces in sculpture, painting and woodwork and remains a staple in most places of learning and centres of spirituality. Classical depictions of the ‘Telling of the Bhagavad Gita’, also known as the ‘Gita Saar’, depict the scene from the battle of Kurukshetra, with Krishna launching into his sermon while Arjuna listens in rapt attention. Special attention is paid to Krishna’s divinity as he expounds on one of the epochal Indian spiritual texts, while Arjuna is portrayed as the lost soul seeking enlightenment. Some other depictions also include Arjuna at the feet of Lord Krishna, taking his blessings just before he picks up his bow and heads back into battle.
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