Is Bhagavad Gita specifically named as such in the Mahabarata, or is it just a special name for the part of the Mahabarata given outside the Mahabarata?

And if so by whom?


3 Answers 3


This is named in Mahabharata itself. Mahabharata contains 100 parvas, one of them is 'Bhagavat-Gita' Parva. These 100 parvas again arranged in 18 major parvas. Thus, the 'Bhagavat-Gita' is a part of Mahabharata: Bhishma Parva: Bhagavat-Gita Parva.

The high-souled Vyasa composed these hundred parvas of which the above is only an abridgement: having distributed them into eighteen, the son of Suta recited them consecutively in the forest of Naimisha as follows: ... Then comes the thrilling story of the installation of Bhishma as commander-in-chief. The next is called the creation of the insular region Jambu; then Bhumi; then the account about the formation of islands. Then comes the 'Bhagavat-gita'; and then the death of Bhishma. ~Adi Parva


It's just a special name given to a part of the Mahābhārata, outside the Mahābhārata. Although there is a parva (section) by the name "Bhagavad-gītā" in the 100-parva classification of the Mahābhārata, even within this section, the Bhagavad-gītā is only a part.


How is the Mahabharata classified?

The core component is the couplet or shloka. Several such shlokas form a chapter or adhyaya. Several adhyayas form a parva. Most people probably think that the Mahabharata has eighteen parvas. This is true, but there is another 100-parva classification that is indicated in the text itself. That is, the adhyayas can be classified either according to eighteen parvas or according to 100 parvas. The table (given on pp. xxiii–xxvi), based on the critical edition, should make this clear. As the table shows, the present critical edition only has ninety-eight parvas of the 100-parva classification, though the 100 parvas are named in the text.

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(Debroy, Bibek. The Mahabharata: Volume 5)

So even if you locate the Bhagavad-gītā parva, you need to have prior knowledge of where the Bhagavad-gītā actually begins and ends. And it begins at Chapter 23 of Bhīṣma Parva and ends at Chapter 40.

Section Sixty-Three

Bhagavad Gita Parva

This parva has 994 shlokas and twenty seven chapters.

Chapter 874 (14): 13 shlokas
Chapter 875 (15): 75 shlokas
Chapter 876 (16): 46 shlokas
Chapter 877 (17): 39 shlokas
Chapter 878 (18): 18 shlokas
Chapter 879 (19): 44 shlokas
Chapter 880 (20): 20 shlokas
Chapter 881 (21): 17 shlokas
Chapter 882 (22): 22 shlokas
Chapter 883 (23): 47 shlokas [BG STARTS HERE]
Chapter 884 (24): 72 shlokas
Chapter 885 (25): 43 shlokas
Chapter 886 (26): 42 shlokas
Chapter 887 (27): 29 shlokas
Chapter 888 (28): 47 shlokas
Chapter 889 (29): 30 shlokas
Chapter 890 (30): 28 shlokas
Chapter 891 (31): 34 shlokas
Chapter 892 (32): 42 shlokas
Chapter 893 (33): 55 shlokas
Chapter 894 (34): 20 shlokas
Chapter 895 (35): 34 shlokas
Chapter 896 (36): 27 shlokas
Chapter 897 (37): 20 shlokas
Chapter 898 (38): 24 shlokas
Chapter 899 (39): 28 shlokas
Chapter 900 (40): 78 shlokas [BG ENDS HERE]

This section is so named because it includes the Song Celestial or the Bhagavad Gita, the teachings of Krishna to Arjuna. The section begins with the dramatic news that Bhishma has been killed. When Sanjaya tells Dhritarashtra this, Dhritarashtra (and the reader) is astounded, wishing to know how this came to be. After a description of the arrangements for war, the rest of this section is the Bhagavad Gita.

(Debroy, Bibek. The Mahabharata: Volume 5)


Bhagwadgeeta is part of Bhishma Parva (one of the 18 parvas or chapters) of Mahabharata. It is not a separate chapter.

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