Summary of Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita takes place over a relatively short time frame. It is narrated by the poet Sanjaya and told to King Dhritarashtra. Arjuna, a young warrior, and Krishna, a god who acts as Arjuna's charioteer, stand still between two armies while surveying the battlefield. In the beginning, Arjuna is struck with sudden and intense doubt about his role in the battle. Although he is one of the generals of the Pandava army, he does not want to fight. He hesitates because the adversaries are his cousins, the Kauravas. Arjuna believes it would be an action of great evil to fight and kill his family members. Krishna strongly counsels Arjuna to fight, nonetheless.
Most of the Gita is a dialogue that follows Arjuna's pronouncement of despair at the idea of fighting and killing his cousins. Krishna tells Arjuna it is his dharma, or duty, to go into this battle and that by fighting he will be fulfilling his moral obligations. Furthermore, in fulfilling this dharma, Arjuna will be following the path of karma yoga, or the yoga of right action. When performing an action that aligns with a person's duty, one should be unattached to the outcome of that action. By doing this, Arjuna may find wisdom and freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth. Krishna recommends the yoga of right action to Arjuna.
Krishna and Arjuna also discuss other yogic paths, such as the yoga of knowledge and the yoga of devotion. Krishna goes to great lengths to teach Arjuna about these paths. However, he continues to urge Arjuna that the path of action is the one for him. The path of devotion, Krishna argues, can be integrated with the path of action if Arjuna devotes his actions to a personal god. Similarly, the path of knowledge requires action as well, so ultimately the path of action is the heart of all other paths.
In the end Arjuna runs out of questions and recognizes the validity of Krishna's teaching. He affirms his love for Krishna and decides to go into battle to fulfill his dharma. Learning from Krishna's conversations and teachings elevates Arjuna to a wiser, more enlightened state.