World History Episode 8 Alexander the Great (Time Stamp 1:38)
Portrait of Empress Catherine the Great, Fyodor Rokotov, 1763
Context in CC: “And also “the Great” has some misogynistic implications, like, its almost always men who are called “the Great.” You never hear about Cleopatra the Great, or Elizabeth the Great. Sure, there’s Catherine the Great of Russia, but for all her masculine Greatness she was saddled with the completely untrue rumor that she died trying to scoodilypoop with a horse.” Some one on the Crash Course team really loves puns, my money’s on Stan.
Greater Historical/Art Historical Relevance: So I was going through some of the posts on this blog and I realized there’s more than a few posts about great women: bad ass ladies who ran nations and empires of their own accord. So I’ve decided that this Series will be called HBIC ‘s of History (If you want to see more awesome ladies go to the tag). So without further ado, Catherine the Great:
Catherine arrived in Russia from Germany in 1744, when she was just 14. She was hand picked to be the wife of the Grand Duke Peter, the heir to the throne and her distant cousin. She assumed the title of Grand Duchess and entered into what would ultimately be a failure. Catherine would have never obtained the great power that she did had it not been for her husband, and his potential, or lack thereof. The Grand Duke Peter was “He was extremely neurotic, rebellious, obstinate, perhaps impotent, nearly alcoholic, and, most seriously, a fanatical worshipper of Frederick II of Prussia” (1)
It was this love of Prussia and Germany that allowed Catherine to take power. With the enlightened segments of Russian society and much of the army on her side, she rallied her supporters and declared herself empress. Peter abdicated and was assassinated a week later, though Catherine didn’t order the assassination it was most likely carried out by some of her supporters.
Though she was highly influenced by the Enlightenment thinkers of western Europe, she had the intelligence to realize that the ideas put forward by Montesqueiu and Rousseau were not easily applied with in the existing Russian infrastructure. When her efforts to draft a constitution failed her legacy became one of military expansion. She added over 200,000 square miles to the Russian territory. She brought the Russian dream of access to warm water ports within sight.
Her historical reputation is mixed, while she was a great leader, and chose her advisers and court well, she is often judged for her private life, mostly because she was a woman. She had many lovers, including military leader Potemkin. She had what basically amounted to a harem of men, and she’s often noted as being less than loving towards her legitimate son Paul. None of her personality traits should take away from her political achievements. The rumors surrounding the circumstances of her death were most likely spun from the fact that she was a strong female with a nontraditional personal life. Which seems a bit unfair, if she had been male, her harem would probably have gone overlooked.
World History Episode 7 2000 Years of Chinese History (Time Stamp 3:02)
Washington Crossing the Delaware, Emanuel Leutze, 1851
Context in CC: “…The Qing, which was the last dynasty because in 1911 there was a rebellion, like the ones in, say America, France, or Russia, and the whole dynastic system, which at this point had lasted for a long-ass time, came to an end.
Greater Historical/Art Historical Relevance: So every once in a while Crash Course throws us a piece of art that is completely unrelated to the topic at hand (well, not completely unrelated as they found away to incorporate it), or at least unrelated to the art historical narrative of China. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it, right? Right.
Here we have one of the most iconic images in American history: General George Washington crossing the Delaware River on Christmas night, 1776, moving in to launch a surprise attack on the Hessian Forces at Trenton. The painter of this iconic image, Emanuel Leutze, created several copies of the work, at least two of which are almost identical except for minor details. Leutze, a German born artist who came to the United States with his parents at a very young age, had moved back to Dusseldorf. It was in the German city that he conceived and executed one of the most memorable images of American History.
In 1850, the first version of the painting was damaged studio fire, and had to be cut off of the canvas to be salvaged. Leutze, though he claimed an insurance settlement, kept the damaged work, restored it and used it as a model for the ‘real’ version.
One of the most fascinating things about Leutze’s painting is the…let’s call it…’artistic license’ he took to make the painting a more visually and emotionally striking, but not necessarily historically accurate depiction of the event. Let us count the ways the Mr. Leutze went ‘wrong:’ The most obvious error is that the ‘stars and stripes’ version of the flag pictured in the painting was not adopted by the Americans until 1777. The time of day is also wrong, as well as the type of boat used, and the likelihood that Washington would have been standing on the boat in such a way is also slim.
Though Emanuel Leutze’s depiction may not be historically accurate, it does fulfill it’s purpose. Leutze was attempting to capture the importance of the moment in the history of the nation, and bestow within it heroics and patriotism. He uses the proud stance of Washington, and the instantly recognizable icon of the ‘stars and stripes’ style flag to evoke certain associations and feelings within the viewer. Would the painting have the same iconic value in the history of the United States had the crossed the river in the freezing rain on larger ferry-like rafts while the general huddled in the bottom of the boat to keep it from capsizing (as it likely would, if he stood as pictured)? Short answer: probably not. Leutze creates a drama situation to intensify the themes and give them more meaning to the viewer.
When we look at history paintings we tend to think more about the time they depict than the time in which they were created, but Emanuel Leutze was living in europe in the late 1840’s, a time ripe with revolutions. In 1848 (The year of revolutions in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the Austrian Empire) he began work on Washington Crossing the Delaware in the hopes that the masses would look to the American Revolution for inspiration. In some ways this work is more a product of that time than the time in depicts. This painting poses a lot of important questions about the nature of heroism, patriotism, and historical bias. What do you think?
1. “Leutze, Emanuel.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed January 5, 2013, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T050679.
2. David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
World History Episode 7 2000 Years of Chinese History (Time Stamp 2:32)
Sui Yangdi (Thirteen Emperors Scroll), Yen Li-Pen (Yan Liben), 7th Century
Context in CC: “China fell again into political chaos —- which only means there was no dynasty ruled over all of China—- and out of this chaos rose the Sui, who were followed quickly by the Tang, who in turn were replaced, after a short period of no dynasty by the Song…”
Greater Historical/Art Historical Relevance: Yen Li-Pen, or Yan Liben, was a painter and government official in the courts of Tang emperors Taizong and Gaozong (Remember them from the story of Empress Wu?) Yen Li-Pen helped establish the cultural and artistic tastes of the Tang dynasty, and was one of few artists to achieve such high rank.
His father, Yan Bi, was an important aristocrat who earned a place in the court of the Sui dynasty as a designer, engineer, and architect. His elder brother, Yan Lide, also held important political posts, which Yan Liben followed him into. He eventually rose to Director of the Secretariat, a post which put him at the forefront of government policy. Though he had high ranking government ambitions, Yan Liben, was also training to be an artist.
He was given several important portrait commissions early in his career, and became equivalent to court painter for the Tang emperor Taizong. Though Chinese history is somewhat biased against artists and artisans, and apparently Yan Liben was not a fan of being on the emperors beck and call:
“According to anecdote, Yan was once hurriedly called forth by Taizong to crouch by a lake and paint some unusual birds bobbing in the water that the emperor found particularly delightful. Apparently, Yan was greatly humiliated by the experience and warned his sons never to become painters” (1).
The Thirteen Emperor’s Scroll is one of Yan Liben’s most recognized and finest works. It depicts, as the title suggests, 13 emperors from the Han dynasty and the Sui dynasty, and various smaller ruling families in between. A large number of the scrolls still in existence are likely 11th century copies. Yan, said to be especially good at the realistic portrayal of faces, is credited with the original scroll and the composition of subsequent scrolls. A seventh century version is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and if you’re interested you can view an interactive digital version of an 11th century copy here.
(1) “Yan Liben.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed December 29, 2012, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T092685
World History Episode 7 2000 Years of Chinese History (Time Stamp 2:19)
Tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, 3rd Century BCE
Context in CC: “[The Warring States Period] ended when the Qin emperor was able to extend his power over most of the heretofore mentioned warring states, but the Qin were replaced by the Han, which really set the pattern for most of China’s history and lasted for almost 400 years.” In which John begins an efficient summary of China’s dynastic history
Greater Historical/Art Historical Relevance: Discovered in 1974, the tomb of Qin emperor Shi Haungdi contains over 8000 figures, including soldiers, horses, and elaborately decorated chariots. Emperor Qin Shihuangdi was the first emperor of the Qin dynasty, he organized the consolidation of the Chinese dynastic empire, establishing a fully centralized government, forcing the aristocratic feudal families to live in the capital, and dividing the country into military districts to ease governance.
He was also responsible for a large amount of standardization in China. He utilized universal weights and measures across his empire, as well as the axel length of carts (I remember thinking this was very interesting in the 9th grade, having never thought about the fact that all cars must be relatively similar in width, in order to drive on roads that were all standard in size. The whole thing revolutionized my thinking about civilization and infrastructure, but I digress).
Though his reign was recorded at length by the successor Han dynasty, He Shihaungdi’s greatest legacy lies in his death, or at least in his tomb (I’m terrible I know). One of the most amazing archeological discoveries of the twentieth century, the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, or rather the tomb complex is basically a small subterranean city situated around the actual tomb of the emperor, and guarded by a massive (and clay) army. The army is grouped in specific military formation of the time: “bowmen and crossbowmen, outer files of archers, groups of infantrymen and charioteers, and an armoured rear guard” (1).
Each soldier has a set of unique facial features, and all were once painted bright colors. These sculptures, along with the other works found in the tombs, bronze chariots decorated with silk and jade, are some of the most important pieces of Chinese art history prior to the Han dynasty. And the crazy part is, there are probably thousands more soldiers waiting to be unearthed. The Qin Tomb is one of those things in history that really makes you reexamine our place, and what brought us here. Because of this, it has been declared a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site, which aims to preserve and promote sites of universal value.
(1) Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “Qin tomb”, accessed December 27, 2012, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/111785/Qin-tomb.
(2) Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “Shihuangdi”, accessed December 26, 2012, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/540412/Shihuangdi/6623/Emperor-of-China.
(3) UNESCO World Heritage Online, “Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor” December 26th, 2012, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/441/
(4) John Roach, “Terra Cotta Army Protects First Emperor’s Tomb” National Geographic, http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/archaeology/emperor-qin/
World History Episode 7 2000 Years of Chinese History (Time Stamp 1:37)
Portrait of Empress Wu, 7th Century
Context in CC: “What makes a dynasty a dynasty is that it’s ruled by a King, or as the Chinese know him, an Emperor who come from a continuous ruling family. As long as that family produces emperors, and they are always dudes—-No they aren’t. First off, there were several Empress Dowagers who wielded tremendous power throughout China’s history, and there was one very important full fledged Empress, Empress Wu.”
Greater Historical/Art Historical Relevance: Let’s talk for a second about the badassness of the Empress Wu, also Wu Zetian, also Wuhou, among other things. Born Wu Zhao, she entered the court of the Tang Emperor, Taizong, in 638 at the age of 14. Then she was a mere junior concubine, who would eventually rise to become the most powerful person in all of China.
It is posited that while she was a concubine of Taizong, she entered into an intimate relationship with his heir, Gaozong. When Taizong died in 649 she was sent away to a Buddhist monastery with the rest of his concubines. Gaozong visited her there and brought her back to imperial palace to be his personal concubine. She shrewdly disposed of her female rivals in the palace, including the Empress at the time, apparently accusing her of both murder and witchcraft.
As a consort Wu began to garner the support of many palace officials who helped her to depose the current empress and her rival concubines. In 655 she gained the position of Empress herself; she bore Gaozong five children. Once in power she used the authority and influence she built while still a consort to get rid of the elder statesman who opposed her elevation to Empress, due to her families non-aristocratic origins and the fact that her status as a concubine of Taizong made her relationship with Gaozong incestuous. Her opponents were all eventually deposed, exiled, or in some cases, executed.
Gaozong was weak and sickly, and for the final 23 years of his life, the empress served as his main connection to the political events of the empire. Wuhou held virtually supreme power, being second to Gaozong in name only. Her administrative acumen and ruthlessness eventually won her the respect of the court. When Gaozong died in 683, Wuhou’s son Li Xian was heir apparent. Li Xian’s wife had ambitions similar to those of Wuhou, so she deposed and exiled her son, before installing her second son as emperor, though only nominally. She continued to administrate as she had under Gaozong.
Eventually, in 690 at the age of 65, Wuhou took power herself. She ruled without opposition for 15 years until her death. The years of reign both virtual and actual saw the unification of Tang China, and a change in social order from one ruled by aristocracy to one overseen by a bureaucracy of the gentry. Her deeds for the Tang dynasty and in Chinese history is often obscured with her intense ambition and shrewd pursuit of power, would it have been the same if she was a man? Just some food for thought about how history gets recorded and remembered. Stories like Wuhou’s should encourage us to think about our historical bias and how it effects the how, the what, and the who of our education.
1. , s. v. “Wuhou”, accessed December 28, 2012, Encyclopædia Britannica Onlinehttp://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/649822/Wuhou.
World History Episode 34 Samurai, Daimyo, Matthew Perry and Nationalism, (Time Stamp 7:41)
The Last Shogun (Tokugawa Yoshinobu), Yoshitoshi Taiso, 1875 -1876
Context in CC: “But even worse for the Tokugawa was the arrival of Matthew Perry…So the American naval commodore arrived in Japan in 1853 with a flotilla of ships and a determination to open Japan’s markets. Just the threat of American steam-powered warships was enough to convince the bakufu to sign some humiliating trade treaties that weren’t unlike the ones China had signed after losing the Opium Wars. And this only further motivated the daimyo and the samurai who were ready to give the Tokugawa the boot. Within a few years, they would.” John explains how Commodore Matthew Perry was the catalyst to the downfall of Japan’s last ruling Shogunate, the Tokugawa.
Greater Historical/Art Historical Relevance:Yoshitoshi Taiso, also called Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, is widely recognized as one of the last great masters of the ukiyo-e style of Japanese woodblock printings. Developed in the Edo Period of Japanese history, emerging around 1620 in the city of Edo (now Tokyo). The Edo period was the relatively stable and peaceful years during which the Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan.
Stability, both politically and economically, encourages artistic development. The shogunate class structure actually placed the merchants, the richest of the classes, at the lower end of the social scale and separated them from political power. They turned to the arts as a way of developing their cultural status.
Yoshitoshi was one of the later masters of this medium. He lived through the end of the Edo period and the fall of the Shogunate to experience some commercial success during the Meiji Restoration. From his series, Annals of the Tokugawa Administration, this triptych (a three paneled work) of prints depicts the final Shogun: Tokugawa Yoshinobu.
By the 1880’s, as Japan was opened the west new forms of expression began to circulate (photography, lithography, etc). These media could be more easily mass produced and the demand for ukiyo-e woodblocks was greatly reduced. In his later year, Yoshitoshi was at his most prolific, most of his widely recognized work was created in the last seven years of his life. He worked to preserve traditional Japanese arts and produced his most famous series: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon.
As ukiyo-e ‘s popularity faded in Japan, the opening of the country to the west also created an interest in ukiyo-e and other traditional Japanese arts in Europe. Most notable, the impressionist and post-impressionists often employed elements taken from the Japanese culture. This stylistic influence has since been dubbed Japonisme
1. Library of Congress Online Exhibition: The Floating World of Ukiyo-e.
2. International Fine Art Dealers Print Association: Tsukioka (aka Taiso) Yoshitoshi.
3. Online Catalogue Raisonné of the Work of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
4. Ives, Colta. “Japonisme”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/jpon/hd_jpon.htm (October 2004)
This was a request: if you have requests fell free to drop them in the ask box, but do have a specific image in mind. I prefer to keep going through each episode in order. Thanks for your patience. -Kelsey
Hello Crash Course Art Followers!
First and foremost I thank you all for following this blog! I hope that you’re enjoying it as much as I am. Secondly, I had planned to start writing and posting the next episodes last week, but unfortunately I am in NYC and though power has recently been restored to my building, we are still without heat, hot water and unfortunately internet. I want to have the next few episodes up soon, but until I have a reliable internet connection that is not going to happen. Just wanted to let you all know; you’re all lovely and I hope that you’re doing well.
Thanks for sticking with me. We will be back up and running as soon as possible.
World History Episode 6 Buddha and Ashoka (Time Stamp 10:20)
The Sanchi Stupa, 3rd Century BCE
Context in CC: “So Ashoka built stupas, these mound like monuments to the Buddha, all over his kingdom to show his devotion.” After brief aside to sing the Kingdom of Kalinga Song, John explains some of Ashoka’s physical contributions to his empire.
Greater Historical/Art Historical Relevance: I think Stupas are so interesting; they have this wonderful reconciliation of contemplation and action (I’ll explain shortly, I promise). The origin of the Stupa form probably comes from the tumulus or funerary mound (an kind of burial seen in many ancient culture). A Stupa can function as a reliquary mound, containing the remains or relics of the Buddha, but they can also have a commemorative or symbolic function.
The Sanchi Stupa is one of the best preserved early stupas, and illustrates its architectural components:
A dome (aṇḍa) is set on a base (medhī). Steps at the four quarters lead to the top of the base, which is fenced with a railing. At the apex of the dome there is a square enclosure (harmikā), with a yaṣṭi (axial pole) extending above it. A chattra (one or more umbrella discs) is usually placed above the yaṣṭi. The monument is ringed by a path for circumambulation ( pradakṣiṇāpatha), and enclosed by a perimeter railing (vedikā), with a gateway (toraṇa) at each of the four cardinal points (1).This hemispherical shape, has gradually evolved into a more tower like structure with less emphasis on the dome and more ornamental motifs.
To me one of the most interesting parts of the Stupa is how it was used. Circumambulation is the act of moving around a sacred object, and it plays key roles in the practices of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. My personal experience with spirituality was very still, and the idea of spiritual contemplation combined with movement just seems more intuitive, and worth my exploring. What do you guys think? Are you a fan of the Stupa, conceptually, or physically, or both?
Additionally, there is a continually widening gap in the study of art history between the study of western and non-western art. My particular college was only able to offer one class in non-western art (due to the small size of my school and department). I bring this up as a not-even-at-all-adequate apology for my lack of knowledge in the area, and because I think it is a topic worth discussing, why is there this gap, and what should students of art history do about it?
1. “Stupa.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed October 28, 2012, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T082073.
, et al.
2. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “stupa,” accessed October 27, 2012, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/570059/stupa.
~Episode Seven posts will be coming shortly, I welcome input from anyone who feels they have specific knowledge, about non-western art especially! This is supposed be about community education so reblog and share what you know!~
World History Episode 6 Buddha and Ashoka (Time Stamp 4:11)
Samsara Wheel or Bhavacakra
Context in CC: “So say that your dharma is to scoop animal dung for your entire life. Why do you keep doing that when you see other lives that at least appear to be far more fulfilling? That leads us to the concept of Samsara, or the cycle of Rebirth often called reincarnation.” Basically, Samsara is cool, and if you fulfill your dharma you get reborn as a higher being: Hinduism is kind of awesome and the path to ‘salvation’ is different for every individual.
Greater Historical/Art Historical Relevance:So I’m going to turn to the oft discouraged wikipedia to help explain the Samsara Wheel, because it is well cited article, and has the most organized explanation. I hope that is okay with all you staunch scholars out there. So we’ll start with the center and work our way out. (If you would like a more visual representation, here is a good one)
The Center: In the center of the Bhavacakra there are three animals: a pig, a snake, and a bird (generally a rooster) representing respectively, ignorance, aversion, and attachment. These are the three poisons or the roots of being trapped in Samsara. The bird and the snake are often shown as emerging from the mouth of the pig effectively expressing that aversion and attachment arise from ignorance.
Second Layer: The two semi-circles of the second layer, one usually light and the other dark, represent karma. The light half represents the positive effects of good actions while the dark half represents the negative effects of bad actions. A being’s karma influences his or her rebirth into the six realms of Samsara (effectively, what goes around comes around).
Third Layer: The circle is split into six sections to represent the six realms of Samsara. Each realm represents a different type of suffering. There are three higher realms and three lower realms.
“The three higher realms are:
- God realm: the gods lead long and enjoyable lives full of pleasure and abundance, but they spend their lives pursuing meaningless distractions and never think to practice the dharma. When death comes to them, they are completely unprepared; without realizing it, they have completely exhausted their good karma (which was the cause for being reborn in the god realm) and they suffer through being reborn in the lower realms.
- Demi-god realm: the demi-gods have pleasure and abundance almost as much as the gods, but they spend their time fighting among themselves or making war on the gods. When they make war on the gods, they always lose, since the gods are much more powerful. The demi-gods suffer from constant fighting and jealousy, and from being killed and wounded in their wars with each other and with the gods.
- Human realm: humans suffer from hunger, thirst, heat, cold, separation from friends, being attacked by enemies, not getting what they want, and getting what they don’t want. They also suffer from the general sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death. Yet the human realm is considered to be the most suitable realm for practicing the dharma, because humans are not completely distracted by pleasure (like the gods or demi-gods) or by pain and suffering (like the beings in the lower realms).
The three lower realms are:
- Animal realm: wild animals suffer from being attacked and eaten by other animals; they generally lead lives of constant fear. Domestic animals suffer from being exploited by humans; for example, they are slaughtered for food, overworked, and so on.
- Hungry ghost realm: hungry ghosts suffer from extreme hunger and thirst. They wander constantly in search of food and drink, only to be miserably frustrated any time they come close to actually getting what they want. For example, they see a stream of pure, clear water in the distance, but by the time the get there the stream has dried up. Hungry ghosts have huge bellies and long thin necks. On the rare occasions that they do manage to find something to eat or drink, the food or water burns their neck as it goes down to their belly, causing them intense agony.
- Hell realm: hell beings endure unimaginable suffering for eons of time. There are actually eighteen different types of hells, each inflicting a different kind of torment. In the hot hells, beings suffer from unbearable heat and continual torments of various kinds. In the cold hells, beings suffer from unbearable cold and other torments” (1)
The Outer Layer: These are the twelve links. While the inner parts of the wheel show the what determines Samsara (the three poisons lead to karma which leads to being reborn into a certain realm), the twelve links show how this happens. Past actions influence our current lifetime, and present actions influence our future lifetimes and how all are actions are interdependent.
World History Episode 6 Buddha and Ashoka (Time Stamp 3:16)
Krishna and Arjuna on the Battlefield Kurukshetra,
Context in CC: “The Baghavad Gita is a section of a much larger epic poem the Mahabharata which basically tells the complicated and long story of a war between two kingdoms. Ans we really see how important dharma is in this passage because Krishna is basically telling Arjuna that because he is a warrior, a Kshatriya, he must fight.” In which John gives me flashbacks to my tenth grade world literature class and the semester of ALL THE EPIC POEMS. But for real, the Mahabharata is crazy long and also crazy interesting.
Greater Historical/Art Historical Relevance:Maybe I should start my saying that I flipped a little bit when John started talking about the Mahabharata, it has a special place in my heart because in that tenth grade class I was the one assigned to talk about the 1.8 million word epic. Now, I can’t say that I remembered a lot from my tenth grade project, but it started coming back to me when I began the research for this write up.
After some intensive searching, I managed to find this image online, but I unfortunately was unable to locate an artist or date. So I’m going to talk a little bit about what is happening in the image. If you do a simple google image search for ‘Mahabharata’ this is the scene you will see most often depicted. It’s from the Bhagavad Gita, a section of the sixth book of the Mahabharata which sees Prince Arjuna (kneeling above) in conversation with his guide the Hindu deity, Krishna. (Krishna is an incarnation of the preserver-god Vishnu. Krishna literally means black or dark blue, he is easily recognizable in imagery because his skin is depicted as black or, in more modern images, blue).
Between the armies and on the cusp of a war between brothers, Krishna instructs Arjuna in the ways of wisdom, the path to devotion and the doctrine of selfless action. It’s themes of Dharma, Moksha, Yoga, and it’s commentaries on War have remained influential. The call for selfless action and the other lessons of the Bhagavad Gita resonated with Indian history and even influenced Ghandi and the leaders of the Indian Independence Movement.