The title Bhagavad Gita means the song(gita) of the Lord (Bhagavan). The Gita is considered to be song-like because it is verse in form and therefore pleasing. It is easy to recite and to remember. The Gita is also pleasing because it has a subject matter that is highly desirable to all. Another interpretation of the title of Gita is, this is a song with Bhagavan as its subject matter. This is similar to saying “electronic knowledge:”, which is knowledge whose subject matter is electronics. Thus we can take the title either way – Bhagavan’s Gita or Gita having Bhagavan as the subject matter. Bhagavad Gita is a part of Mahabharatha which is composed by the great Vyasacharya who is supposed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. “Vyaasaaya vishNu roopaaya vyaasaroopaaya vishNavae – so says the VishNu Sahasranamam. Gita is in the form of a dialogue that took place between Lord Krishna , who is an avathara and Arjuna. In fact, all the teaching is in the form of a dialogue between teacher and student. The guru is Sri Bhagavan Krishna and the student is Arjuna called Partha here. Between both of them there is discussion known as samvada. The subject matter is Brahma-vidya and Yoga-shastra, in one word, Vedanta. So Gita is the body of knowledge, being taught. In any dialogue, questioning is imperative. Beliefs have to be understood first to believe them ! Questions are very important and are allowed. The Gita was presented as a dialogue between a teacher and a student to emphasize that the subject matter is one for understanding, not for believing. So Gita is called Krishnarjuna Samvada. It consists of 18 chapters, running to 700 shlokas.This is the condensed version of the entire vedic teaching (Upanishads) which is very vast and everybody cannot study. The philosophical concepts in Gita may seem to the beginners in Vedanta as rather difficult to grasp. But this difficulty is a hurdle only to those who are unprepared to face the challenge and subject themselves to the necessary discipline of this great science of personality-reconstruction. In fact every science has its own discipline of thought. Those who want to get the blessings offered by the science have to obey the disciplines ! Only a thirsty man enjoys water most. A hungry man alone can really relish food. Only a tired person understands the joys of rest. Now, let us look at the staggering difference in the environments of the Upanishads and the Gita. The Upanishads are the declarations of great seers upon the Eternal Truth. They were given out in the atmosphere of quietitude and in an inner mood of total dispassion. The students were also calm and cool, self-controlled and unagitated. So they could hear the words of wisdom with a quiet mind and a serene intellect. This quiet environment is completely replaced in the Gita by the down-to-earth atmosphere of strife and stress, dust and fury, stress and strain, pulls and pressures. Unlike the Upanishads, in the Gita, the Lord himself addresses the Pandava prince who is mentally agitated and intellectually confused. But the message in the Upanishads and the Gita are one and the same. The glory of Gita consists not in what it states, but how it states it. Vyasa purposely employed this striking envieronmental set-up. The Upanishadic literature was intermingled with the flavour of the forest and the fragrance of the jungle. So people dynamically engaged in life, neglected religion. Vyasa saw the the danger and deftly chose Lord Krishna as his mouth-piece to give out the immortal message of the Gita amidst the din and roar of a national war to a confused and confounded hero of the day. Thus Vyasa by his masterly and dramatic setting of the Gita has brought down religion from forests, mountains and rivers to the work-a-day world to bless man in his day-to-day existence The background of the Gita has a symbolic meaning. The noisy war atmosphere represents the empirical world marked by perpetual clash of ideas, interests, emotions, attitudes and violent conflicts between individuals and groups. The teacher is Bhagavan wearing the mask of a charioteer in action. The suggestion here is that He, like being a charioteer, will navigate and guide the life of the individual who entrusts himself to His care. The student is an individual with mental problems such as nameless restlessness, impossible aspirations, unending desires, utter disillusionments, suffocating despairs and shattering confusions. In the very midst of confusing situations and threatening challenges, how to train the mind to arrive at potentially creative judgements and constructive conclusions? This know-how is explained exhaustively in the Bhagavad Gita. Love, Chithra.