Arjuna is a young prince of the Hindu warrior, or Kshatriya, caste. The third of the Pandava brothers, he is the son of Kunti and the god Indra. Arjuna and his brothers are cousins of the Kauravas. The Pandava and the Kaurava cousins battle each other in the Mahabharata. Arjuna is well known and respected for his wisdom and his fighting ability, particularly his archery. Though the Bhagavad Gita opens with Arjuna in crisis, he obtains peace with his duty to fight by conversing with Krishna. Arjuna represents an archetypal hero. The story begins with Arjuna in a state of doubt, but he gains courage and calmly resolves to do his duty.
A very popular Hindu deity, Krishna is a symbol of devotional love. A complex figure, he appears in many religious texts and stories outside the Bhagavad Gita, often depicted with blue skin and playing a flute. He is sometimes portrayed as having four arms, as Arjuna notes in the Gita. Arjuna's charioteer and adviser in the poem, Krishna reveals himself to Arjuna as the supreme being and shows the young warrior one of his more terrifying forms. Krishna loves Arjuna deeply and tells him not to fear. He also promises Arjuna that if he cultivates divine love for Krishna, Arjuna will come to him when he dies. The lessons Krishna conveys to Arjuna are for all beings.