This is an introductory discourse which dwells not only on the sequential and organic connection between the discourses of the Gita but also on the intimate connection of the Gita itself with the Mahabharata.
So, to understand the full teaching of the Gita, it should not be studied as detached from the Mahabharata. Now the Mahabharata is an Itihasa, that is, a record of events that actually happened, deriving all their spiritual significance from the great Avatara who is the centre and life of the Itihasa.
It is an allegory as well, describing the stages of the path which the soul has to pass through on its way to emancipation. It is also called the fifth Veda, and it marks an epoch in the history of Our Dharma. For, it was in Mahabharata that the great Vyasa presented the doctrine contained in the four Vedas, giving this doctrine a turn with special reference to the great Avatar, round whom the chief interest of the Mahabharata centres. So, to appreciate fully the doctrine of the Gita, all these considerations should be borne in mind and it should be studied as part of, and as having intimate relation with, the Mahabharata in the midst of which Vyasa has purposely placed it.
(from the Preface)
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