The dialogue occurs just before the onset of the first military engagement of the Kuruksetra War, a great fratricidal war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas to determine India's political destiny.
Arjuna, forgetful of his prescribed duty as a ksatriya (warrior) whose duty is to fight for a righteous cause in a holy war, decides, for personally motivated reasons, not to fight. Krishna, who has agreed to act as the driver of Arjuna's chariot, sees His friend and devotee in illusion and perplexity and proceeds to enlighten Arjuna regarding his immediate social duty (varna-dharma) as a warrior and, more important, his eternal duty or nature (sanatana-dharma) as an eternal spiritual entity in relationship with God.
Thus the relevance and universality of Krishna's teachings transcend the immediate historical setting of Arjuna's battlefield dilemma. Krishna speaks for the benefit of all souls who have forgotten their eternal nature, the ultimate goal of existence, and their eternal relationship with Him.
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