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The Upanishads: A Classic of Indian Spirituality Paperback – August 28, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 154 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Formerly a professor of Victorian literature, Eknath Easwaran discovered the treasures of wisdom in his own native India and began to pursue them with a passion. He has since studied them, practiced them, and moved to America to share them with the Western world. In his translation of The Upanishads, the font of Indian spirituality, Easwaran delights us with a readable rendition of one of the most difficult texts of all religious traditions. Each Upanishad is a lyrical statement about the deeper truths of mysticism, from the different levels of awareness to cultivations of love for God. There's one twist, though, for ultimately a devoted meditator realizes that God and the world are not separate from oneself. Then the ultimate goal becomes to reunite with the universal Self, achieving the infinite joy that accompanies such union. Easwaran recruited Michael Nagler to contribute notes to the translation and a lengthy afterword, which together with introductions to each Upanishad, guide us expertly through this strange and fruitful landscape. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"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 Word's Religions
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Nilgiri Press; 2nd edition (August 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586380214
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586380212
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eknath Easwaran's "The Upanishads" book is very elegant, beautiful, and easy to read. I like how he placed titles to every section and that he also wrote very small superscript numbers for every verse. From the front cover to the back one, it is a gorgeous book. It really invites/makes you read it all the time.

For those who are very serious, however...

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is missing the entire chapter 1 (very important chapter), it starts on chapter 2. Then on chapter 3, verses 2 through 7 (very important too) are missing... this pattern keeps going with other Upanishads.

Eknath was condensing the Upanishads to make it less repetitive (in a way I like it - abridge version) and many verses had missing parts/words/ideas/watered down (this repeats throughout the book and it is my biggest complaint). I understand "selecting portions" of some of the Upanishads, but it should be stated, and more importantly, the best parts should've been selected (per Upanishad). Here (Brihadaranyaka), the best parts were left out (a main issue), perhaps because another Upanishad touches on the same topic, but this is not mentioned or shown where. It is obvious that he was making a very westernize translation, omitting things that would turn away any western mind, as for example: being reborn in another planet (see below verse 3 of the Isha Upanishad). Our "scientific" society would laugh at this. Yet, I rather have it in the original context than to delude it. And still, Eknath managed to do a very good translation (my second favorite "most readable").

It would have been better if he gave the entire text of all the Upanishads and he did not condense (missing words or ideas) them so much, just a bit.
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Format: Paperback
I discovered this book quite by accident and it has changed my life. I have it by my bedside and read it every night, and hope to someday read every book by Easwaran and incorporate the teachings from this one into my life. I no longer jump off the wall every time things go wrong and can smile at things that made me NUTS before this! Now, I know better. I recommend this to anybody who has made it this far in their search. If there is one book on Hinduism you read, make this the one. I have grown up reading the Bhagwad Gita and I think this by far supercedes that in giving direction and answers in a way that we can still manage in year 2000.
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By A Customer on January 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
Simply the best read of the Upanishads in bookstores today. Easwaran uses his background as teacher/communicator to build a highly accessible bridge from our Western way of thinking to some of the deepest insights from the East. I highly recommend this book - and its companions (The Bhagavad Gita and The Dhammapada) to any serious seeker of life's deeper meaning.
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It is amazing that with all the technology modern man has invented, he is unable to answer some deep questions every human being comes across - what is life, why should there be death, etc. He has to go back about four-five thousand years to find out the answers. The answers are in the Upanishads - ancient religion-independent literature, that are recordings of experiential knowledge those wise sages knew. Unlike the Vedas, which are about religious rites and practices, the Upanishads discuss only fundamental questions. Questions such as - 'What is that if one knows, that he/she knows everything'. Amazingly, man found out the answer and had the vision and genorosity to share such findings in the Upanishads. Upanishads are such a fundamental required reading that in ancient India, children would dedicate a significant amount of their early life - 10-12 years - before they set up to establish themselves in the world. In essence, without knowing one's Self, you would be wading dark waters all the time as the Upanishads themselves say.

Eknath Eswaran's transalation makes the Upanishads simple to read. That alone is a great achievement given the voluminous nature of the texts and the language of expression - Sanskrit. We should remember that the text is thousands of years old and has a strong inclination towards flowery, verbose and at times redundant expresssions. But if repetition gets the message across, so does reading such texts! Throughout the translation, Eknath Eswaran's experience with spiritualism, his dedication to such a life, his knowledge and wisdom about English literature and world religions come across making the reading valuable.
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Format: Paperback
After reading the Dhammapada translation from the same author, it was not a surprise to find a similar high-quality translation of the Upanishads - the philosophical part in the Vedas of Hinduist religion. Some points to highlight in Easwaran's work: Poetic but precise wording, great introduction and commentaries, easy-to-read without creating a scholar-only work, impeccable introduction to the Historical context of the work and it's importance in Hinduism.
Mr Easwaran's work convinced me to buy all Three books that form a Trilogy: The Dhammapada, The Upanishads and The Bhagavad Gita. Without a doubt, especially considering the price, this Trilogy is a steal.
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