Just imagine you are on the battlefield, the two armies facing each other eager to strike. Everyone is agitated and in the midst of this chaos the knowledge of Geeta is being sermonized.

It will take long time to preach a spiritual treatise consisting of nearly 700 slokas.

What were the armies doing, while the discourse is going on?

Were they just waiting patiently for the discourse to be completed (or) went back to their respective tents and took rest?

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    I have heard that while Krishna was preaching the Gita, the entire world came to a standstill. Check quora.com/Mahabharata-Hindu-epic/… and quora.com/… Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 7:13
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    @AishvaryaKarthik: Is there any evidence available either in Mahabharata or Srimad gita, that the entire world came to a standstill? Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 7:39
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    @AishvaryaKarthik, Yes some say that the whole world except Arjuna & Krishna would have come standstill (very slow in time) because the conversation happened in the consciousness of Arjuna. But then VyAsa, Sanjaya and Dhritarashtra couldn't have observed the Gita in their real time. Now one can argue that those 3 can be excluded from the standstill world. But it seems quite less likely. Science people will immediately denounce that "standstill" theory because, according to relativity, the remaining world has to have too fast movement to be slower in time compared to Arjuna & Krishna.
    – iammilind
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 8:31
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    @iammilind Science has nothing to do with it. Science is currently in its infancy so it will take time for it to accept different realities like telepathic communications etc..
    – Pinakin
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 9:26
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    The Gita is not an interpolation, what was said is that one can take the first chapter allegorically. Sri Krishna taught the Gita, no question. The battle could have very well have taken place with Lord Krishna's and Arjuna's participation. Whether Lord Krishna taught the Gita on the actual battlefield is not necessary to accept. What is most important is to follow the teachings of the Gita in one's daily life. Reading something from the Gita every day will bring great solace to one's life. What is important is being and becoming - not what you believe. Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 15:02

3 Answers 3


Not more than 2 hours.

Actually recitation of Gita was in form of plain Q&A where Arjuna is clearing his doubts one by one. Arjuna was gifted with concentration abilities (e.g. aiming bird's/fish's eye or his understanding of other martial arts). Whatever Krishna told as Gita, he was able to grasp with similar swiftness based on his then knowledge of society & scriptures. He could have been quite clear about certain concepts like Swa-Dharma, Paap-Punya, Varnashram.

In today's time, many things are no more trivial. We require detailed explanations to understand Gita better. Hence we see purports in TV or various commentaries online.

Many slokas can be omitted because they were just descriptions:

  1. ~30 slokas of 1st chapter are description of the war field
  2. There are many slokas which are used by Sanajaya to describe Krishna's universal form or situation of Arjuna
  3. We can omit the texts such as "Krishna/Arjuna/Sanjaya said"
  4. The conversation was mostly done by Krishna and due to uninterrupted speaking the speed will be naturally higher and flawless for him

Let's assume that there are 650 slokas worth of text which had to be recited either by Krishna & Arjuna. A sloka recited with a moderate pace takes average 10 seconds from a fluent Sanskrit speaker.

650 x 10 seconds = 6500 seconds = 108 minutes

What were the armies doing?

Many people claim that the time of battle ground was frozen or slowed down by Krishna during the discourse of Gita. But that's a flawed notion, because Sanjaya, Dhritarashtra & VyAsa heard Gita in their real time.
According to this reference, Dhritarashtra didn't hear Gita in real time. Rather Sanjaya would have told him later on about those events due to his capabilities to see past/present/future through Divya Drishti. However, still there are many reasons which are against the notion of time-pause:

  • Assume that Krishna really slowed time to almost pause to tell Gita to Arjuna. In such case, their actions & talks would have looked like a "fast forward" events to the observers. Possible?
  • Assume that the "fast forward" events really happened. In such case along with others, Sanjaya could have very well missed those. Because there is no mention that he could also see time-defying events.
  • Assume that with divine vision, Sanajaya really saw the "fast forward" events. In such case, it seems unlikely that he could have described to Dhritarashtra in understandable way. Because he was describing as happening in front of his eyes.
  • Assume that Sanjaya also got ability to describe them as it is. But then we have to also see, why should Krishna fast forward the events? When time required to answer Arjuna's queries itself is unspecified. What if Arjuna would have understood everything by chapter-2 then (15 mins), will Krishna have to pause the time?

Personally, I don't see a need of making the time still for < 2 hours event.

One may ask, why armies din't start fighting even ShankhnAds were done? Here are the reasons:

  1. This was the 1st day of war and the rules were set about the battle by Bhishma the righteous, so no question of hurling weapons at an unarmed warrior[1]
  2. The war was offered by PAndavas & they relied mainly on Arjuna's ability. Since Arjuna was on the middle of the battlefield, they have to simply wait until he comes back.
  3. Kauravas might be thinking that after seeing their vast army from close, Arjuna is fearing and arguing with Krishna to back off. Which would be fruitful for everyone (a hypothetical possibility)

Going back to own camps may not be practical because no one knew when Arjuna's doubts will be cleared. So we can safely assume that both armies waited for that much time. PAndavas in hope of Arjuna coming back and Kauravas in hope of Arjuna backing off.


[1] Then the Kurus, the Pandavas, and the Somakas made certain covenants, and settled the rules, O bull of Bharata's race, regarding the different kinds of combat. Persons equally circumstanced must encounter each other, fighting fairly. And if having fought fairly the combatants withdraw (without fear of molestation), even that would be gratifying to us. Those who engaged in contests of words should be fought against with words. Those that left the ranks should never be slain. A car-warrior should have a car-warrior for his antagonist; he on the neck of an elephant should have a similar combatant for his foe; a horse should be met by a horse, and a foot-soldier, O Bharata; should be met by a foot-soldier. Guided by considerations of fitness, willingness, daring and might, one should strike another, giving notice. No one should strike another that is unprepared or panic-struck. One engaged with another, one seeking quarter, one retreating, one whose weapon is rendered unfit, uncased in mail, should never be struck. Car-drivers, animals (yoked to cars or carrying weapons) men engaged in the transport of weapons, players on drums and blowers of conches should never be struck.

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    @srimannarayanakv, Quite possible that Arjuna might have experienced infinity or 0-ness of time at spiritual level. But if we consider Bhagavad Gita as a reference of Vishwarupa Darshana, then that notion doesn't hold true for 3rd party (e.g. armies). The sloka from 11.9 to 11.45 describes what Arjuna and Sanjaya saw simultaneously. Sanjaya was describing to Dhritarashtra the same things which Arjuna was saying while seeing Krishna's form. So that will leave out any scope of time dilation/multiplication from an observer (armies) perspective, even though they might have aged faster or slower.
    – iammilind
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 8:16
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    Thanks for your answer. Currently, your answer seems completely related to your opinion/thoughts as you haven't provided any relevant sources. Answers like this have a great chance of misdirecting the users. So, please provide sources. I hope you understand this.
    – Mr_Green
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 9:42
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    @iammilind where did you take this reference? mention the site as well. people can't blindly follow your explanation without any valid and relevant sources. if there is no mention of gita duration in any scriptures, then the answer should be "not mentioned in any scriptures".
    – Mr_Green
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 10:09
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    @iammilind There are absolutely no scriptures that say Dhritarashtra heard events in real time. In any case, I think someone who can see the past, present, and future can certainly slow down or speed up their vision; there are plenty of stories in Hindu scripture of sages who can see the past present and future and use this ability to find out about a long series of events in a single moment. In any case, just because Sanjaya observed the dialogue in fast-forward doesn't mean he couldn't slow down the dialogue when he relays it to Dhritarashtra. Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 13:15
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    @iammilind Why can't Krishna just freeze other warriors ? There is no question of time flow pattern and fast forward etc. in freezing the warriors. Stambhan Vidyas can simply be used to immobilize. When stambhan is done to anything then it remains motionless. By doing Stambhan in Their time perceiving capacity of mind they can also befreezed and they do not remember events. For eg. One who has mastered the stambhan beej 'Hum' can immobilize anyone.. such also may be the case..
    – Tezz
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 11:08

There are multiple factors to consider , before arriving into conclusion that , krishna recited 650/700 shlokas to arjuna.

Bhagavadgita which is part of mahabharata , was initially written as Jaya which had only 8000 shlokas. Since original one is no longer available , we are not sure how many shlokas in the original was written on bhagavadgita.

Moreover mahabharata what we have is not even complete . Its written in mahabharata itself that http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m18/m18005.htm

“Vyasa made compilation consisting of sixty lakhs of verses. Thirty lakhs of these were placed in the region of the deities. In the region of the Pitris fifteen lakhs, it should be known, are current; while in that of the Yakshas fourteen lakhs are in vogue. One lakh is current among human beings.”

There are now two possibilities

  1. what was taught by krishna to arjuna, was more concise.
    Presumably, Since Vyasa being himself avatar of vishnu , written in such poetic way in his Jaya. Vyshampayana expanded the same thing , so that we human can understand it.

  2. Krishna Taught more stuffs to arjuna than in bhagavadgita. Some other details are in other parts of mahabharata(Out of 60 lakh verses, which we dont have access.

In the second Case , I believe both arjuna and krishna arrived in kurukshetra early . It normally takes time during first day to arrive in the ground , prepare themselves in proper position etc. During this preparatory stage krishna taught arjuna bhagavadgita.

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    We actually do know what the 8800 verses are: they constitute Sanjaya's narration to Dhritarashtra, starting from the Bhishma Parva and ending in the Sauptika Parva. Vyasa used Sanjaya's narration as a starting point, and then composed the epic poem we now call the Mahabharata. Vaishampayana didn't do any composing, he just relayed Vyasa's words to Janamejaya. Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 12:27
  • @KeshavSrinivasan How do you know , what is there in original Jaya? Do we have copy of actual Jaya? OR content of it was mentioned somewhere?
    – tekkk
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 16:12
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    Well, the Adi Parva says "I am (continued Sauti) acquainted with eight thousand and eight hundred verses, and so is Suka, and perhaps Sanjaya" sacred-texts.com/hin/m01/m01002.htm It says perhaps Sanjaya because Sanjaya narrated the Jaya to Dhritarashtra while he had the divine vision given by, but he may not remember what he said after he lost the divine vision. In any case, it doesn't matter what's in the Jaya and what isn't because the Adi Parva makes clear that the rest of the 100,000 verses were all composed by Vyasa. Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 17:06
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    Coming early at the battlefield is a good rational reasoning, which even I also wanted to include in my answer. However BG 1.12-1.20 refrained me. Because these slokas describe various warriors blowing their conchshells and how finally Arjuna takes up his bow and prepared to shoot arrows. Which means the armies were well prepared and the war should have begun at any time after that.
    – iammilind
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 5:08
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    @KeshavSrinivasan do you believe that there has been no changes in geeta since mahabharata time ? why no one prior to sankara commented or quoted geeta ? Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 12:37

Swami Samarpananda in his Gita Introduction Page 3 writes :

Is Gita really the words of the Lord? Many wonder how Sri Krishna went on talking for more than two hours (the time taken to recite the entire Gita) when the two great armies were raring to cut down each other. This misconception has been cleared by Acharya Shankara who wrote in his commentary that Vyasa composed the 700 verses of Gita to elucidate the Lord's words spoken to Arjuna just before the war. Thus Gita can be treated both as the words of the Lord, as is commonly believed; or can be treated as the view of Lord Krishna expressed faithfully by Vyasa. In either case it is Lord's words only.

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