The discourse on the Bhagavad-Gita begins before the start of the battle at Kurukshetra. It begins with the Pandava prince Arjuna, as he becomes filled with doubt on the battlefield. Realising that his enemies are his own relatives, beloved friends, and revered teachers, he turns to his charioteer and guide, Sri Krishna (an avatar of Sri Vishnu), for advice.
Krishna counsels Arjuna, beginning with the tenet that the soul is both eternal and immortal. Any 'death' on the battlefield would involve only the shedding of the body, but the inner soul is permanent. Krishna goes on to expound on the yogic paths of devotion, action, meditation and knowledge. Fundamentally, the Bhagavad-Gita proposes that true enlightenment comes from growing beyond identification with the Ego, the 'False Self', and that one must identify with the Truth of the immortal Self, (the soul or Atman). Through detachment from the material sense of Ego, the Yogi, or follower of a particular path of Yoga, is able to transcend his illusory mortality and attachment to the material world and enter the realm of the Supreme
Whoever hears this sacred dialogue with faith and without cavil becomes free from sin, and attains heaven ¾ the higher worlds of those whose actions are pure and virtuous. (18.71)
To demonstrate his divine nature, Krishna grants Arjuna the boon of cosmic vision (albeit temporary) and allows the prince to see his 'Universal Form'. He reveals that he is fundamentally both the ultimate essence of Being in the universe, and also its material body. This is called the Vishvarupa/Viratrupa.
The Bhagavad-Gita consists of 18 chapters. Each chapter is called a yoga. Yoga is the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness. So each chapter is a highly specialized yoga revealing the path of attaining realization of the Ultimate Truth.
• Chapter One—The Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna
• Chapter Two—Sankhya Yoga
• Chapter Three—The Yoga of Action
• Chapter Four—The Yoga of Wisdom
• Chapter Five—The Yoga of Renunciation of Action
• Chapter Six—The Yoga of Meditation
• Chapter Seven—The Yoga of Wisdom and Realization
• Chapter Eight—The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman
• Chapter Nine—The Yoga of the Kingly Science and Kingly Secret
• Chapter Ten—The Yoga of Divine glories
• Chapter Eleven—The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form
• Chapter Twelve—The Yoga of Devotion
• Chapter Thirteen—The Yoga of the Distinction Between the Field and the Knower of the Field
• Chapter Fourteen—The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas
• Chapter Fifteen—The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit
• Chapter Sixteen— Yoga of the Division between the Divine and the Demoniacal
• Chapter Seventeen—The Yoga of the Division of Threefold Faith
• Chapter Eighteen—The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation