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The Bhagavad Gita [Paperback]

by Eknath Easwaran
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1, 1993 0915132354 978-0915132355 15th
The most familiar and best-loved of all the scriptures of India in a practical, accessible translation, with illuminating introductions to each chapter. 240 pages

Editorial Reviews


"Maintaining a careful balance between introductions to each chapter and the text itself, Easwaran transposes the spirit of the Gita into our society's consciousness without compromising the spiritual depth. . . . Strongly recommended" -- Choice

"The best translation." -- Streame

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 237 pages
  • Publisher: Nilgiri Press; 15th edition (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0915132354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0915132355
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 4.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #376,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999) is respected around the world as one of the twentieth century's great spiritual teachers and an authentic guide to timeless wisdom. Although he did not travel or seek large audiences, his books on meditation, spiritual living, and the classics of world mysticism have been translated into twenty-six languages. More than 1.5 million copies of Easwaran's books are in print.

His book Meditation, now titled Passage Meditation, has sold over 200,000 copies since it was first published in 1978. His Classics of Indian Spirituality - translations of The Bhagavad Gita, The Dhammapada, and The Upanishads - have been warmly praised by Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions, and all three books are bestsellers in their field. The Nilgiri Press editorial team, under the supervision of Easwaran's wife, Christine Easwaran, continues to publish new books and talks, drawing on the vast archive of Easwaran's unpublished transcripts.

A gifted teacher who lived for many years in the West, Easwaran lived what he taught, giving him enduring appeal as a teacher and author of deep insight and warmth.

Easwaran's mission was to extend to everyone, "with an open hand," the spiritual disciplines that had brought such rich benefits to his own life. For forty years he devoted his life to teaching the practical essentials of the spiritual life as found in every religion. He taught a universal message that although the body is mortal, within every creature there is a spark of divinity that can never die. And he taught and lived a method that any man or woman can use to reach that inborn divinity and draw on it for love and wisdom in everyday life.

Whenever asked what religion he followed, Easwaran would reply that he belonged to all religions. His teachings reached people in every faith. He often quoted the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who influenced him deeply: "I have not the shadow of a doubt that every man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith."

Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999) was born into an ancient matrilineal family in Kerala state, South India. There he grew up under the close guidance of his mother's mother, Eknath Chippu Kunchi Ammal, whom he honored throughout his life as his spiritual teacher. From her he learned the traditional wisdom of India's ancient scriptures. An unlettered village woman, she taught him through her daily life, which was permeated by her continuous awareness of God, that spiritual practice is something to be lived out each day in the midst of family and community.

Growing up in British India, Easwaran first learned English in his village high school, where the doors were opened to the treasure-house of English literature. At sixteen, he left his village to attend a nearby Catholic college. There his passionate love of English literature intensified and he acquired a deep appreciation of the Christian tradition.

Later, contact with the YMCA and close friendships within the Muslim and Christian communities enriched his sense of the universality of spiritual truths. Easwaran often recalled with pride that he grew up in "Gandhi's India" - the historic years when Mahatma Gandhi was leading the Indian people to freedom from British rule through nonviolence. As a young man, Easwaran met Gandhi and the experience of sitting near him at his evening prayer meetings left a lasting impression. The lesson he learned from Gandhi was the power of the individual: the immense resources that emerge into life when a seemingly ordinary person transforms himself completely.

After graduate work at the University of Nagpur in Central India, where he took first-class degrees in literature and in law, Easwaran entered the teaching profession, eventually returning to Nagpur to become a full professor and head of the department of English. By this time he had acquired a reputation as a writer and speaker, contributing regularly to the Times of India and giving talks on English literature for All-India Radio.

At this juncture, he would recall, "All my success turned to ashes." The death of his grandmother in the same year as Gandhi's assassination prompted him to turn inward.

Following Gandhi's inspiration, he became deeply absorbed in the Bhagavad Gita, India's best-known scripture. Meditation on passages from the Gita and other world scriptures quickly developed into the method of meditation that today is associated with his name.

Eknath Easwaran was Professor of English Literature at the University of Nagpur when he came to the United States on the Fulbright exchange program in 1959. Soon he was giving talks on India's spiritual tradition throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. At one such talk he met his future wife, Christine, with whom he established the organization that became the vehicle for his life's work. The mission of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, founded in 1961, is the same today as when it was founded: to teach the eight-point program of passage meditation aimed at helping ordinary people conquer physical and emotional problems, release creativity, and pursue life's highest goal, Self-realization.

After a return to India, Easwaran came back to California in 1965. He lived in the San Francisco Bay Area the rest of his life, dedicating himself to the responsive American audiences that began flowing into his classes in the turbulent Berkeley of the late 1960s, when meditation was suddenly "in the air." His quiet yet impassioned voice reached many hundreds of students in those turbulent years.

Always a writer, Easwaran started a small press in Berkeley to serve as the publishing branch of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. Nilgiri Press was named after the Nilgiris or "Blue Mountains" in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where Easwaran had maintained a home for some years. The press moved to Tomales, California, when the Center bought property there for a permanent headquarters in 1970. Nilgiri Press did the preproduction work for his first book, Gandhi the Man, and began full book manufacturing with his Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living in 1975.

In thousands of talks and his many books Easwaran taught passage meditation and his eight-point program to an audience that now extends around the world. Rather than travel and attract large crowds, he chose to remain in one place and teach in small groups - a preference that was his hallmark as a teacher even in India. "I am still an educator," he liked to say. "But formerly it was education for degrees; now it is education for living." His work is being carried forward by Christine Easwaran, who has worked by his side for forty years, by the students he trained for thirty years, and by the organization he founded to ensure the continuity of his teachings, the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation.

If you would like to find out more about Easwaran's teachings and the Center that he founded please visit us at, and read our blog

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
189 of 198 people found the following review helpful
This an especially natural and graceful translation somewhere between poetry and prose by a man who really understands the message of the Gita. This can be seen from reading Eknath Easwaran's wise and penetrating Preface written especially for this, the Vintage Spiritual Classics Edition, edited by John F. Thornton and Susan B. Varenne for Vintage Books.

Easwaran shows that the differing paths to self-realization and liberation that the Gita presents are a comprehensive whole. "The thread through Krishna's teaching, the essence of the Gita, can be given in one word: renunciation. This is the common factor in the four yogas" (p. xxxviii). Easwaran goes on to explain that what is being renounced is not material, although on first blush it seems that way. What is renounced are the fruits of action. Renunciation is not only the essence of karma yoga, but the essence of the bhakti, jnana and raja yogas that Krishna presents as well. The key is an amazing spiritual and psychological insight into human nature: we are miserable when we are concerned with the results of what we do, but we are freed when we devote the fruits of our work to God. What is renounced is also the delusion of a material self that acts, the famous slayer and the slain. Unlike some other, rather foolish, translations that try to find some artificial substitute for the word "yoga," an endeavor entirely alien to the Gita, Easwaran embraces the understanding. He writes, "the Gita is Brahmavidyayam yogashastra, a textbook on the supreme science of yoga" (p. xxxvi)

It is also clear from what Easwaran writes in the Preface that he understands meditation and the path of moksha gained when one is beyond the pair of opposites that dominate our material existence.
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85 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, clear, and enlightening translation October 21, 2003
Eknath Easwaran's translation is poetic and beautiful making it readable and inspiring and managing at the same time to clearly state Krishna' spiritual message. Easwaran's translation manages to prove its merit for both spiritual and scholarly study. Many of the other translations are very dry coming from scholars who just know how to translate Sanskrit to English mechanically.Whereas Easwaran was a professor of English and now a spiritual guru; so he has a grasp on both worlds. They do not properly help explain the various yogas Krishna tells Arjuna; reading this translation has been the best explanation of yoga I have ever read before. Each chapter has an introduction to it and there is a glossary of terms in the back. The other translations I think fail also to understand and clearly explain the heart of Krishnia's message which is essentially that one's atman, soul, higher self etc. is one with brahman, the divine, the universe, the source of everything etc and that this liberation can be discovered through the path of yoga. There is not just one path of yoga but many like Karma Yoga(path of selfless service) and Raja Yoga(path of meditation.) The beauty of the Bhagavad Gita is that it explains a way to enter the path to liberation, no matter what stage of spiritual awareness you are it. The Bhagavad Gita manages to explain and apply esoteric and mystical practices to ones everyday life.This is why I think The Bhagavad Gita is the most popular text from India's spiritual texts. Also according to our karma and dharma, we will die and be born again and again until he are liberated. The Bhagavad Gita is a text that I believe should be read by anyone on the "spiritual" path. It is by far one of the greatest "spiritual" text ever written and we are fortunate to share this gift because of Easwaran's brilliant translation.
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90 of 100 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vintage gives you less May 13, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Vintage edition is the same translation as the Niligri Press, except they don't give you the individual chapter introductions by Diana Morrison. These introductions--as well as Easwaran's general introduction--were the primary reason to buy Easwaran's translation. Buy the Niligri Press version, or for beautiful language with no chapter introductions find another version. A sad case of dumbing down/cost savings by Vintage.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is an excellent treatment of millenia-old Hindu religious thought for the modern day thinking man. Easwaran begins his discussion with explanations of several terms (such as Karma and Atman)from Vedic literature in easy to understand terms that capture the reader's attention.
The main body of the book is of course Lord Krishna's explanation to his life-long friend and champion archer Arjun of life's purpose i.e. Self-Realization (realization that the individual spirit is part of the Universal spirit). However unlike several other books on the same subject, Easwaran has employed an unimitable style and simplicity of presentation that make the book impossible to put down.
The book does not have any Sanskrit script nor any transliterations of the original poetry of the Bhagavad Gita (literally "The Lord's Song"). But I heartily recommend it to any reader interested in obtaining an overview of one of India's greatest philosophical works!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Handy translation, without the devanagiri script though November 15, 2005
I purchased this copy of the gita because I wanted a simple, accurate translation of the gita. This slim volume gives me precisely that, with an excellent explanatory introduction, and brief chapter introductions.

What I like most is his sensible perspective - there is little bias and what is said is just enough to allow the reader to grasp the deeper significance of the words in the gita, making the reading an active and exciting process. I believe this is how the Gita is to be read, no matter how much accurate and helpful analysis is available, because the value gained from the words is in discovering these insights for yourself.

There is a little bias in his interpretation. While he elaborates on Sankhya and Jnana, his views on the exalted status of Karma and Bhakti show clearly. I also feel some principles have been toned down. The ultimate goal of the Gita is a state beyond likes and dislikes, and external enjoyments. Were the whole world to collapse or attain some form of utopia, the realized soul would be undisturbed. Easwaran's suggestions fall far short of that state, for though caring for the world is noble, it too is a source of attachment and misery. Therefore, Easwaran's guide is best for beginners, and that too only those who are instinctively attracted to karma yoga and bhakti yoga.

I encourage you to start or supplement your study of the gita. I give it four starts purely because I feel the devanagiri script is essential. Hardly a problem for those who are interested only in the english translation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book, good interpretation
The book, as we all know, is The Bhagvad Gita. Nothing to review there! But the book pages, the font, the quality of binding and overall, explanation of the grand poetry is quite... Read more
Published 5 days ago by shradzberry
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bhagvad Gita
I am also looking forward to reading this book. It is a view that is just one view, but for one reason or another, may or may not be similar to other human views of life here on... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Philip Bolduc
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary
I don't know where to begin to describe my love for this book and Eknath Easwarans writings. His introduction explains so much about the mind, life, ego, and freedom of the soul in... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Diane
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful translation.
The classic translation, by a real treasure himself, Easwaran gives the Gita in a way that we Westerners can assimilate well.
Published 25 days ago by andre
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Spiritual readings
This is a fabulous spiritual book and if you want something wonderful to meditate on, to consider while on your spiritual journey of evolution this is the book to read.
Published 26 days ago by Mr. Ed
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
I like it. Would recommend everyone at least look at the Bhagavad Gita. From what I understand it's one of the more popular Hindu texts.
Published 1 month ago by siskoandebert
5.0 out of 5 stars guide for life
The teachings in this book are ancient, yet they are still applicable today! Guess we haven't changed much, right? Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jit Patel
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE IT
This is an amazing translation. It arrived very quickly, and it is a very easy and inspiring read. I would strongly suggest this book to anyone looking to expand their own... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tiffany
5.0 out of 5 stars essence of gita captured
Very lucid and simply written, captures the essence of gita . Eknath Easwaran's writings make philosophy, religious tracts easy to understand
Published 1 month ago by R. M. Menon
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, food for thought and reflection.
The introduction sheds much light on Hindu thought. Each "chapter" or verse is preceded by a clear explanation of what is meant by what Krishna and Arjuna say to each... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Philip Sharples
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