Customer Reviews: Wisdom of the Buddha: The Unabridged Dhammapada (Dover Thrift Editions)
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VINE VOICEon February 9, 2004
The Dhammapada (in Pali/the Lankan scriptural language as derived from the original Pankrit), or the Dharmapada (in Sanskrit), the Pali being the original, in this case, is a pocket-size selection of the "essence" of Gotama Buddha's thought (the dhamma, or dharma) culled from the massive Tripitaka, the comprehensive collection of all of the Buddha's recorded discourses. The selection was made by the Sangha (the Buddhist community (in those days monks and nuns) somtime between 200 to 700 years after the death of Gotama Buddha in the fifth century B.C. The succintness, gravity, and beauty of these verses has more than stood the test of time.
The Dhammapada is, in my opinion (I first heard the dhamma formally in this lifetime in 1970), the best introduction to the buddha/dhamma: a bedside book, a wake-up book, a wonderful and lifelong friend.
This translation was among the first in a European language. Muller was an enormous figure in religious studies, who in the late nineteeth century conceived, edited, and contributed to the encyclopediac fifty tome collection of translations of Sacred Texts of the East of which this work is one volume. The original companion texts seemed to have been deleted for this paperbound edition. In any case, Muller's notes have been included and are useful, though at times, obscure.
The translation is strictly nineteeth century prose, and exhibits both pros and cons of the genre. At times the translation may not suit our criteria for either accuracy or aesthetic refinement. However, as Gracian has said, to be first is to be great, and Max M was most definitely, along with Szekeley the elder . . . first.
Which ever translation of the Dhammapada you choose, please do chose one. The work is exqisite and explains the dhamma (if possible) better than any book I know (Shobogenzo 2nd at this moment). Although I still have my Muller, I myself prefer the diminuitive translation with commentaries by The Mother (not Anadamayi, but the French sanyassin who hung out with Sri Aurobindo in the the mid twentieth century. The commentaries in this tiny book are brief talks she gave in the late fifties and always appropriate. The book can be procured through Auroville, Aurobindo's ashram, or perhaps on Amazon). However, the Muller is quite sufficient and inspiring.
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on April 13, 2003
I found this edition to be more than adaquete to the casual reader desiring to become better acquainted with Buddhist beliefs. Its lack of lengthy commentary (no more than a 2-page introduction and brief, explanatory footnotes) actually serves to make it highly accessible to the casual reader. This is the Dhammapada in its rawest form, free of someone else's interpretation.
For those wishing to thoroughly research the Dhammapada, however, another edition containing scholarly annotations would be more useful. (For that purpose, I would recommend the edition by Eknath Easwaran.)
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on July 27, 2001
This book is not a quick read if you wish to take something from it. Like most Buddhist writings, it is divided in to smaller parts for discussion (like "Old Age," "The World," and "Happiness"). Within each of these parts, there is an explanation trying to illustrate this idea of the reader. It is not intended to be scanned. If you read one of these sections a day (they are usually one or two pages), just reflect on that. You will walk away with a much better understanding. It is designed to assist your personal meditations.
I think it is a quick translation because I sometimes feel that "Western" words come into the translation rather than the intended word. For instance, I think "temple" would be a much better translation than "church." It would keep an Eastern feel to the writing.
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on August 4, 2008
This is a quick little read (about 50 pages) that I found to get the general point across. It often reverts to juxtaposing paraphrases, repeating itself over and over, and often alludes to many Christian concepts such as sin, Heaven, Hell, and paying homage to the church. I have come to the conclusion that this book would come in handy to the as-of-now Christian who is looking into other religions and can't yet quite grasp the concept of a religion without a god, sins, or a heaven and hell. This book I believe was originally written in 1900, so it is fairly understanding as to why it is partially ignorant of some of the vital teachings of Buddha and why it curtails the full Buddhist perception.
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on November 22, 2015
This is a weird book I had to get it for my Critical thinking class but I must say it was a great read. If religion does not offend you then I would say buy it and go over it because It is enlightening if you read with a open mind.
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on December 24, 2011
Whatever your faith may be there's a ton to be learned from Buddha. I'm a Christian myself but I reference this book as well as the Bible quite often. Simple principles but it's amazing how much truth there is behind it.
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VINE VOICEon March 7, 2006
I had to read this edition for my World Literature course and I was happy with the price (can't beat it!) and happy with the fact that it is free of scholarly interpretations, which can color the reader's opinions and/or perceptions. It also leaves the reader to come to their own conclusions.

But one can entirely misinterpret the Buddha's teachings, especially if you've never read a single Buddhist text (like myself) and that's why I'm not too keen on this edition.

The Dover Thrift Editions, to me, are meant to whet the appetite for more in-depth writings about a particular book. Sometimes it *does* help to have a scholar's insight - whether that person's take on the subject threatens to color your reading experience or not.
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on May 28, 2015
This is a great translation of the core texts and tenets of Buddhism. So much nowadays is secondhand and thirdhand...get it firsthand from the Dhamapada. Read it for yourself.

The passages are meant to be repeatedly read and contemplated. This is the Bible of Buddhism.
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on March 3, 2012
Just as Moses is thought to have found divine revelation on Mount Sinai and Jesus supposedly gained his fortitude in the Judean desert, Siddhartha Gautama discovered truth after intense meditation under a tree. Siddhartha, born perhaps in the 560s BC, was the son of a tribal lord in Nepal who provided him with any comforts he wanted and shielded him from pain and adversity. Separated from the family's populous throughout his youth, the prince began to travel through their land by the age of 30 and witnessed the effects of misery and sickness.

Moved by the sufferings of mankind, Siddhartha left his palaces to become a mendicant, or wanderer who survives through alms. He spent years with Hindu scholars and went through a period of self-mortification before attaining enlightenment after nearly 50 days under a Bodhi tree in the Indian region of Bihar. Siddhartha then became Shakyamuni Buddha, or 'the Awakened One,' and organized a travelling ministry that grew to over 1,000 disciples.

The Dhammapada (Pali for 'path to virtue') is one of mankind's oldest existing spiritual texts. It is the result of Buddhist scholars who collected Shakyamuni Buddha's numerous teachings as a minister and social philosopher. The principles advanced in the Dhammapada remain a treasure-trove to practicing Buddhists, those of other faiths, and non-religious persons alike, largely because of its all-encompassing ideals and simple, clear-minded views of human existence.

Dover Publications, who continues to impress with its Thrift Editions of classic literature, offers a strong translation of the Dhammapada in 'Wisdom of the Buddha: The Unabridged Dhammapada.' In this softcover edition, Dover reprints from a frequently-referenced collection of religious writings, 'Sacred Books of the East,' published by The Colonial Press in 1900. 'Sacred Books of the East' is a 50-volume collection of translations that is still regarded as a landmark of Victorian scholarship.

The Dhammapada's translation is supplied by F. (for Friedrich) Max Müller, a German philologist who helped to found Indian studies and comparative religion in academia during the mid to late 1800s. Müller was an established scholar in eastern languages and became an authority on Indian culture after relocating to England, where he reviewed Sanskrit texts held by the British East India Company.

Müller's translation is a steady, well-phrased rendering that honors Buddhism's intensely meditative states, frequent irony, and endless poetics. The Dhammapada is itself made up of 26 brief chapters with titles that illustrate the simple elements of Buddhist thought, such as 'Evil,' 'Happiness,' 'Anger,' and 'The Way.' Most chapters last for one to 1 ½ pages, each offering its philosophy in long lines that are self-contained forms of verse. A reader may find himself taking a breath before each line of the Dhammapada, since each reads like an incantation.

If there is any flaw in the translation, it is due to the fact that English was not Müller's first language. This may explain an occasional contradiction between points in the text and a sometimes loose usage of vocabulary. Buddhism is also known for its double entendres and the Pali-based ideas may not readily convert to English, leaving the reader to figure things out for himself. Siddhartha would likely have approved of this demand, as Buddhism calls for a particular drive in attaining Nirvana.

The Dhammapada remains a motivating and highly influential text around the world, whether its readers are in need of pure spirituality or not. While inspiring Buddhist practitioners, New Age devotees, and those of other persuasions, Siddhartha's teachings have been of great interest to the western intelligentsia. Hermann Hesse's novel 'Siddhartha,' for instance, helped him to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. In his poem 'Finding the Space in the Heart,' poet Gary Snyder remarks 'O, ah! The / awareness of emptiness / brings forth a heart of compassion!'

'Wisdom of the Buddha,' Dover's 64-page, softcover release of the Dhammapada, is widely available on the Internet and at bookstores carrying the Dover Thrift Editions label. The book retails for $2.50, which is a pretty low fee for improving one's karma.
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on February 5, 2016
Perfect little book for those days when you have nothing to do. Really brings you into some arcane and surreal reality that you can incorporate into everyday life. The lessons are candid and effective. Please read to all those haters out there!
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