- Series: Oxford World's Classics
- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 15, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 019954025X
- ISBN-13: 978-0199540259
- Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.9 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Upanisads (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – June 15, 2008
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`A new translation of the Upanisads into English is an event in itself. Even the more so if it is good, and this one is excellent. It is lucid and reliable and has taken into account the significant mass of research carried out by a number of Sanskrit scholars over the last decades. This excellent book should attract not only those interested in Indian religion and philosophy but anyone interested in the history of human thought.' Times Higher Education Supplement
Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I was surprised to find the Oxford superior in every way. Most importantly, Olivelle's translation (while plenty literal) is simply in much more natural English. Roebuck is fond of unnatural word order. Her version includes many footnotes on each page, without which her text would sometimes make no sense; Olivelle manages to translate just as literally, but so that you don't NEED to consult his equally voluminous notes in the back. Looking at the Sanskrit text in cases of notable differences, I found that I was almost always more satisfied with Olivelle's version as scrupulously & clearly reflecting the original, too. (In any case, there's no question that Olivelle is the more authoritative scholar; Roebuck needs to cite several of his books in her bibliography and apologize for the "temerity" of offering a new version, but there is no important scholarly work of Roebuck's that Olivelle can cite in his extensive bibliography.)
Publishing is a business. Roebuck freely admits that she relied heavily on Olivelle's version in making her own. The surprise is that she did not manage to stand on his shoulders and make something better in any way.Read more ›
The Upanishads are not an easy read, and I have seen them done in verse format and in paragraph format; the latter is used here. I find it more readable, but others prefer verse. Whether you will like this translation depends largely on your preference in this area.
It does have (parenthesizations) after many words showing the original word, which helps a lot when learning to define terms like 'prana' and 'upanishad'... e.g., "... show me the hidden teaching (<i>upanisad</i>)...". This not only helps the reader to learn the meanings of these difficult-to-render terms, but points up the challenges involved in translation.
I found the foreword helpful in setting up a historical and cultural backdrop for the Upanishads. A good half of the work is taken up by a single Upanishad (the Brhadarayanka), but that was probably inevitable.
What I would have liked to have seen was a little more interpretation. As a novice reader of the Upanishads, it was really a struggle to understand what they meant in context, and I never did make head or tail out of much of it. A section at the end of each chapter (or some well-placed footnotes) would have gone far to make the work accessible to those for whom the cultural reach was a bit lengthy.
The clear introduction gives a comprehensive background of the Vedas. The history of Indian social structure when the Upanisads were written, their authorship, chronology, geography, etc. give the reader a comfortable feel as they go forth with their reading. The reader is also provided with a table dividing the Upanisads into the four Vedas.
I find the paragraph (and the divisions of chapters the author has used) format used in this edition much easier than the verse format. Each chapter is accompanied by extensive notes in the back to the book.
The Upanisads are difficult and sometimes tedious read but this translation makes it much easier for people who have no prior knowledge.
Now for what I think undermines the quality of the book. The first is that the translation is quite stilted, and the author is somewhat inconsistent abut when to translate names. A great deal would be made more clear if there was a consistent style about this (maybe leaving all names untranslated, but adding notes with the translations).
A second issue is that there are a number of words in Sanscrit which are translated differently in different contexts, but are central to understanding the nature of the teachings in the Upanishads. Prana, for example..... One thing that would really help would be for these words and related concepts to consistently have the sanscrit word appear in parenthases next to it (so I know for sure whether "breath" is a translation of "prana" or not. Now I know some of the time that it is, but am unsure others). I know this is a difficult issue to solve when translating a body of work like the Upanishads (when I have done translations of Old English works, I tend to do a lot of footnoting).
All in all, I like the completeness of the selections. And I like the notes. But the translations seem empty, stilted, and difficult, and inconsistent.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the best academic translation around. From my experience, prints from Oxford provide better clarity when they are compared to other translations on the market. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Xonic
Some research would have saved me a purchase. That said - this is what it said it was, and I'm not srry I got it.Published on July 9, 2014 by S. Noyes
Everything Man has as divine gifts grow s with time! Our understanding of a given book when we were 17 to 25 of age is completely different if only we would give it a trouble to... Read morePublished on June 10, 2014 by johnny D
A difficulty in translating the Upanishads and other Hindu scripture is that in them the words “Atman” and “Brahman” mean both self and God because in Hindu theology and psychology... Read morePublished on November 10, 2013 by Billy Lee Harman
This translation by Prof. Olivelle is the best available for some simple reasons:
- it is the most updated ans scholarly without being arcane;
- it is intelligible... Read more
Make of this what you will.
Ambivalent, ambiguous and contradictory the Upanishads are - but only ambiguous because they say one thing and then another; up for grabs,... Read more