Faced with a fratricidal war, a despondent Arjuna turns to his charioteer Krishna for counsel on the battlefield. Krishna, through the course of the Gita, imparts to Arjuna wisdom, the path to devotion, and the doctrine of selfless action. The Gita upholds the essence and the philosophical tradition of the Upanishads. However, unlike the rigorous monism of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita also integrates dualism and theism.
Numerous commentaries have been written on the Bhagavad Gita with widely differing views on the essentials, beginning with Adi Sankara's commentary on the Gita in the eighth century CE. Commentators see the setting of the Gita in a battlefield as an allegory for the ethical and moral struggles of the human life. The Bhagavad Gita's call for selfless action inspired many leaders of the Indian independence movement including Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who referred to the Gita as his "spiritual dictionary".