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The Bhagavad Gita Paperback – January 1, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0915132355 ISBN-10: 0915132354 Edition: 15th

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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 (225 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #937,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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)

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wife, Christine Easwaran, continues to publish new books and talks, drawing on the vast archive of Easwaran's unpublished transcripts.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 www.easwaran.org, and read our blog www.easwaran.org/blog

Customer Reviews

A book I can read over and over again.
Blake
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.
Damon Navas-Howard
Easwaran's translation itself is very easy to read.
EMAN NEP

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

195 of 204 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
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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88 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Damon Navas-Howard on October 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
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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98 of 109 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 13, 2001
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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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
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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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Bhagavad Gita must be the greatest spiritual book humanity possesses. Unlike other texts that purport to be the word of God, the Gita doesn't need to just be taken as authority because it's own merits are so strong. It completely condenses all of the important spiritual wisdom into a small, very readable book. No paragraph is wasted or repetitive.
I think that it is intended to be symbolic in setting. Whether there actually was a dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna (or even a historical Arjuna and Krishna) is neither provable, disprovable, nor important beyond historical curiosity. Arjuna represents man in his present state while Krishna is a representation of the Divine, or your True Self. It doesn't matter whether you literally accept Krishna or any other image of the Godhead, the knowledge still is real.
Though the authorship is unknown we cannot wonder much about the author's character. He must have been fully enlightened, if not an incarnation of Vishnu. He knew he was writing something eternal and transcendant. It is likely he realized that the Vedic scriptures were too copious and impenetrable to be popular, so he summarized them in a book for all mankind. He then placed it in the epic Mahabharata to ensure that it could be seen as a revelation in the midst of great struggle - whether that vast battle or every life.
Eknath Easwaran's translation is excellent. I have read quite a few versions and his is the best. There is an interesting introduction and chapter introductions, but no unnecessary Sanskrit or footnotes.
The Gita can always be read. Whatever your emotional condition it is amazing. This can be contemplated every day and still be inspiring. It is certainly the greatest sacred book. What Ben Jonson said of Shakespeare (the best of secular authors, an interesting comparison between East and West there) is true of this: "not of an age, but for all time".
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