What is the Bhagavad Gita? The purpose of Bhagavad Gita is to deliver mankind from the nescience of material existence. Every man is in difficulty in so many ways, as Arjuna also was in difficulty in having to fight the Battle of Kurukṣetra. Arjuna surrendered unto Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and consequently this Bhagavad Gita was spoken. Not only Arjuna, but every one of us is full of anxieties because of this material existence. Our very existence is in the atmosphere of nonexistence. Actually we are not meant to be threatened by nonexistence. Our existence is eternal. But somehow or other we are put into asat. Asat refers to that which does not exist.
Out of so many human beings who are suffering, there are a few who are actually inquiring about their position, as to what they are, why they are put into this awkward position and so on. Unless one is awakened to this position of questioning his suffering, unless he realizes that he doesn’t want suffering but rather wants to make a solution to all suffering, then one is not to be considered a perfect human being. Humanity begins when this sort of inquiry is awakened in one’s mind. In the Brahma-sūtra this inquiry is called brahma-jijñāsā. Athāto brahma-jijñāsā. Every activity of the human being is to be considered a failure unless he inquires about the nature of the Absolute. Therefore those who begin to question why they are suffering or where they came from and where they shall go after death are proper students for understanding Bhagavad Gita.The sincere student should also have a firm respect for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such a student was Arjuna.
Lord Kṛṣṇa descends specifically to reestablish the real purpose of life when man forgets that purpose. Even then, out of many, many human beings who awaken, there may be one who actually enters the spirit of understanding his position, and for him this Bhagavad Gita is spoken. Actually we are all swallowed by the tigress of nescience, but the Lord is very merciful upon living entities, especially human beings. To this end He spoke the Bhagavad Gita, making His friend Arjuna His student.
Being an associate of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna was above all ignorance, but Arjuna was put into ignorance on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra just to question Lord Kṛṣṇa about the problems of life so that the Lord could explain them for the benefit of future generations of human beings and chalk out the plan of life. Then man could act accordingly and perfect the mission of human life.
The subject of the Bhagavad Gita entails the comprehension of five basic truths. First of all the science of God is explained, and then the constitutional position of the living entities, jīvas. There is īśvara, which means the controller, and there are jīvas, the living entities which are controlled. If a living entity says that he is not controlled but that he is free, then he is insane. The living being is controlled in every respect, at least in his conditioned life. So in the Bhagavad Gita the subject matter deals with the īśvara, the supreme controller, and the jīvas, the controlled living entities. Prakṛti (material nature) and time (the duration of existence of the whole universe or the manifestation of material nature) and karma (activity) are also discussed. The cosmic manifestation is full of different activities. All living entities are engaged in different activities. From Bhagavad Gita we must learn what God is, what the living entities are, what prakṛti is, what the cosmic manifestation is, how it is controlled by time, and what the activities of the living entities are.