Om parthaya pratibodhitam bhagavata narayanena svayam
vyasena grathitam purana-munina madhye mahabharatam
advaitamruta-varshanim bhagavatim astadasadhyayinim
amba tvam anusandadhami bhagavad-gite bhava-dvesinim
Oh mother Bhagavad-gita! I meditate upon you. Because of you, Partha was enlightened by the Lord Narayana Himself in the middle of the great Mahabharata war. The ancient sage Vyasa set you in the middle of the great epic composed by him. You are divine, bestower of the nectar of advaita philosophy in the form of eighteen chapters, which is the only panacea for avoiding repeated births and crossing this bhava or sansar.
The Bhagavad Gita is the crown jewel of the grand epic Mahabharata. Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers was filled with delusion as he surveyed the scene at the battlefield during the start of the epic war between the warring cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The Pandavas were driven to the forest having lost all their possessions and their kingdom by the Kauravas who refused to concede even a piece of land to them. War was the only option to save the country from the machinations of the evil Kauravas who were advised by Sakuni, their wicked uncle. Lord Krishna tried to avert the war by going as an emissary to the Court of the Kauravas but they paid no heed to his word. Wanting to remain neutral, Krishna offered his army to one set of cousins while the other could choose just Him, unarmed. Needless to say the Pandavas chose the Lord for with Him by their side they knew victory would be theirs. Thus it was that Krishna came to be the charioteer of the Pandavas more specifically Arjuna’s sarathy or charioteer. He drove the chariot to the centre of the battle field of Kurukshetra and allowed Arjuna to take in the scene. The futility of the war where he had to fight his own kith and kin created a delusion in Arjuna’s mind and weak kneed he fell to the ground dropping his arms stating that he was not going to fight. It was under these circumstances that Krishna narrated the Bhagavad Gita exhorting him to fight reminding him of his duty as a Kshatriya, a warrior who should not give in to emotions but just carry out the action ordained in a spirit of surrender without expecting any fruit of action, nishkama karma as the lord describes it. He also reminds Arjuna of the mortality of all those born on earth and shakes him out of his stupor. In 700 slokas over eighteen chapters, the Lord explains patiently why Arjuna got it all wrong and gives the essence of all the Scriptures in this remarkable dialogue. Invigorated Arjuna goes on to fight the fierce battle and the Pandavas emerged victorious.
Each year the Ekadashi day of the Shukla Paksha of Margashirsha month (November- December) is traditionally celebrated as the birthday of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. Devotees revere the Gita as the Divine Mother herself and many Vaishnavite temples organize Parayan or continuous recital of the 700 slokas of the Gita.