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The Dhammapada (Classics of Indian Spirituality) Paperback – April 13, 2007

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Editorial Reviews Review

According to Eknath Easwaran, if all of the Buddhist sutras had been lost except the Dhammapada, it alone would be enough for readers to understand and appreciate the wisdom of the Buddha. Easwaran's version of the Dhammapada goes a long way toward proving this. In a lengthy introduction, Easwaran summarizes the life of the Buddha and the main tenets of his thought, including key concepts such as dharma, karma, and nirvana. The language of the Dhammapada is as lucid and flowing as the Psalms or the Sermon on the Mount, and this is why it is one of the most loved and remembered of all Buddhist sutras. Its subject matter, succinctly, is about training the mind, which leads to kind thoughts and deeds, which bring peace and freedom from suffering. If you are interested in reading one of the gems of Buddhist literature, this is a good place to start; and if you are looking for a great version of this beloved scripture, you can't do better. Like all great world scripture, the verses here reward rereading and reflection, prompting you to "strive for wisdom always." --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"No one in modern times is more qualified - no, make that 'as qualified' - to translate the epochal Classics of Indian Spirituality than Eknath Easwaran." --Huston Smith, author of "The World's Religions"

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Product Details

  • Series: Classics of Indian Spirituality
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Nilgiri Press; 2nd edition (April 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586380206
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586380205
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,901 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.

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 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, 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 to change lives and build a better world by publishing Sri Eknath Easwaran's timeless words, preserving his legacy, and teaching his Eight Point Program of passage meditation.

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.

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 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

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Customer Reviews

The introduction is also extremely well written and very informative.
I found the general introduction and chapter introductions to be extremely useful and greatly enhanced my understanding of Buddhism and its guiding principles.
Jeffrey Van Wagoner
This is an excellent translation of the Buddhist Dhammapada(Path of Truth).
Steve Burns

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Don Carter on March 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Somehow I have managed to collect ten different translations of the Dhammapada. This one is my favorite. The introductions to each section are very helpful to understanding the context these verses originated from. The translations themselves are alive, unlike some of the others that I have in my library.
I highly recommend this translation.
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94 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Ashwin on March 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Another soothing gem by Easwaran. I had earlier read The Upanishads by the same author, and was inspired into further exploration of his writing. A few words on the author before the book is due here. Easwaran can definitely be counted as one of those individuals who has made a sincere and thorough attempt to understand numerous religions and draw out their common parallels and apply them to his life, in an almost saint-like manner. Easwaran influence on thought can be said to be similar to Parthasarathy's, another great writer more focused on Hinduism. It is in reading such authors, that we are left with an indelible impact on our psyche, and within a few weeks of regular reading, can see our daily lives transformed by the power of our own tranquil thinking.
In The Dhammapada, Easwaran now embarks on a similar voyage of peace and calm in the exploration of Buddhism, as he did with the Upanishads. The introduction of the book once again gives a brief backrgound into the life of Siddharta, the prince and charts his transformation into the Buddha, the "one who is awake". The book then goes on to describe one of the fundamental "religious-books" of Buddhism, the Dhammapada and its teachings. The parallels with the Upanishadic teachings, the mystic sufis and the Sermon on the Mount is often illustrated, thus underlining Easwaran's belief of the unity of fundamental thought across religions.
Every two chapters are preceeded with an introduction to the concepts and principles enshrined in them, and hence makes reading and comprehension and indeed, personal thinking and evaluation that much more effective. Buddhism in the end, comes out as it should, another monumental religion based on very basic truths and grounded in infallible and extremely rigorous logic.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you decide to buy one book in your life, buy this one.
It's the most warmful book. The one you need to open all others path. But it's the most difficult to put in practice, to transcend the teaching.
If you want to know why you exist, it's a direct door, but to pass the door, you need to do steps one by one...
the kind of book you read 2 pages a day.
Wishing you to find this door, opening it and change your life deeply.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By "giovanni77" on October 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
After purchasing and reading two translations of the Dhammapada, this one turned out to be my favorite. The verses that make up the Dhammapada each deal with a certain aspect about being and Mr Easwaran presents them in a very powerful way.
Besides the translation, what convinced me to praise this translation, is the great introduction given by Stephen Ruppenthal for each Verse (chapter). It explains the meaning and it's insight very well.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By darwin andreasen on April 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
I just liked this book. I like that the introduction has a brief on the four noble truths and the eightfold path, encouraging one to look deeper. I also like the explinations and or insites that come before the verses, not in-between the verses like some other publications which tend to muddy the lesson. Its just a very comfortable book to read and re-read time and again, and because of this I think the lessons unfold in a more natural fashion. No hurry, just relax.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Craig Shoemake on May 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Easwaran's translation credentials are impeccable (he's done acclaimed versions of the Upanishads and the Gita), so I ventured into his book with high expectations. It starts off with an 85 page introduction and is padded throughout with commentary. (Except for the introduction, all commentary is from the pen of Stephen Ruppenthal, who according to is an expert in the fields of Chinese and Sanskrit Buddhism.) I certainly have no problem with commentary, provided of course it's substantive and offers some insight into the text I might not otherwise have gotten.

Easwaran starts with some background history of India before the Buddha's arrival on the scene. What he broaches here is pretty rudimentary, but his many references to Jesus and then Einstein started to make me uncomfortable. Why? Well, it is a popular, New-Agey sort of thing to try to wrap up every great person in the same bag-never mind their disparate fields and backgrounds-as if they're all in cahoots with each other, teaching the same thing. Whether or not one believes this is actually the case is beside the point. Dragging a twentieth century physicist and Biblical figures into a discussion of the Dhammapada does nothing to illuminate the text. It would have been far more informative, for example, if the Dhammapada's place in Buddhist literature, history and culture had been elaborated upon. But even this much is never done.

More worrisome than Jesus and Einstein, though, was Easwaran's insistence on using Sanskrit terminology in his discussion of the Buddha's teaching. Given that the Dhammpada is originally in Pali, I saw no reason that the Pali terminology could not have been used. To me it bespoke an ideological bias or, even worse, a subtle, perhaps unconscious, condescension.
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