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Invitation to World Literature

The Bhagavad Gita – Map & Timeline

Modern borders of India and its neighboring states, with the region of Kurukshetra highlighted.
© 2010 Map Resources, All rights reserved.

This map shows the modern borders of India and its neighboring states. At the time The Bhagavad Gita was written as part of a massive epic (400 BCE – 400 CE), Kurukshetra was a powerful kingdom in a region with no dominating power or empire, a land up for grabs. The price of maintaining peace and establishing a dynasty is questioned by Arjuna, the hero of the Gita. People for centuries after the time of the story fought for control of this land, until the British Empire overcame local powers in the late 1700s. The nation of India would emerge from that empire in the 1940s.

This timeline shows both the history of the written story of The Bhagavad Gita and the history of Indian politics and religion that influenced that story.

3300 BCE

The Indus Valley civilization develops.

3120 BCE

According to legend, the great war described in the Mahabarata takes place.

3000 BCE

The proto-Indo-European language develops in Central Asia.

2800-2600 BCE

The Indus script is developed.

2600 BCE

Anchored by the great cities of Harappa, Lothal, Kalibangan and Mohenjo-daro, Harappan civilization flourishes in the areas that includes today’s Pakistan, northwestern and western India, and parts of Afghanistan and Iran.

1700 BCE

The Indus Valley civilization ends, and Indo-Aryans fill the gap by invading India from the West.

1500-800 BCE

The early Vedic period, named for the four Vedas (oral religious texts) written down in Sanskrit during this time.

1000 BCE

The Rig Veda is written down in Sanskrit.

800-500 BCE

The Upanishads are written down in Sanskrit.

750 BCE

Indo-Aryans rule over the 16 mahajanapadas or “great states” in northern India, from the Indus River to the Ganges River.

700 BCE

The Hindu caste system emerges.

563 BCE

Siddhartha Gautama, inspiration for the founding of Buddhism, is born to the ruler of the Shakya tribe in what is now northern Bihar and southern Nepal (dies ca. 483).

538 BCE

Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire, conquers northwestern parts of the Indian sub-continent.

517-509 BCE

The Persian emperor Darius conquers the Indus Valley region and rules it as a province of his empire.

400 BCE - 400 CE

The Mahabharata is composed; the Gita is a part of this larger work.

333 BCE

Parts of India ruled by Persia fall into Greek hands as Alexander the Great defeats Darius III.

327-326 BCE

Alexander the Great visits the Indus Valley.

323 BCE

Before its fall in 184, the Mauryan empire will comprise almost all of the Indian subcontinent and today’s Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and parts of China.

273-232 BCE

Ashoka the Great, the greatest of the Mauryan emperors, reigns.

184 BCE

The Maurya dynasty ends when its last ruler is assassinated; the Sunga dynasty follows.

First century CE

The Bhagavata Gita is composed.

1785 CE

The first English translation of The Bhagavad Gita is published by Charles Wilkins.

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