You might be wondering, what are the origins of Bhagavad-Gita, the most authoritative scripture in Hinduism.
The Holy Gita is not an independent text. Though it is considered to be a part of Bhishma Parva of the great epic Mahabharata, the scripture is, in fact, an essence of the Upanishads that are also known as ‘Vedanta’.
The Vedas, which are at the very zenith of Hindu scriptural literature, are part of Shruti texts. They are not only the most authoritative but also considered to be divine revelations by many scholars.
The four Vedas are grouped into Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads. The first two, namely Samhitas and Brahmanas deal with Karma-Kanda, the sacrificial rituals, and the later two, namely Aranyakas and Upanishads are embedded with knowledge of self-realization. Though there are said to be one hundred and eight known Upanishads, out of which only eleven are considered to be important. Katha, Mundaka, Mandukya, Prashna, Aitareya, Isa, Taittiriya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyaka, Kena and Swetashwatara are known to be the principal Upanishads.
The Vedas also show us how Hinduism evolved from being a ritualistic religion into being a religion that promotes enlightenment. The Vedas start with Samhitas that deal with the sacrificial rituals (Karma Kanda) and end with Upanishads that are embedded with Knowledge of the soul (Atma Jnana). As the Upanishads appear at the very end of the Vedas, they are called as Vedanta and Bhagavad-Gita is the essence of the Vedanta. Therefore, the Gita, being an essence of Upanishads, has its origins in the Vedas.