The Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran (Translator)


The Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran

Click the link to purchase your copy of The Bhagavad Gita (Classics of Indian Spirituality) from Amazon.com.

Translator: Eknath Easwaran (The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation)
Publisher: Nilgiri Press
Copyright Date: 2007
Foundational Characters: Krishna, Arjuna
Standard Rating: Y+
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
Available Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1586380192
ISBN-13: 978-1586380199
Book Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
Page Count: 296
Genre: Non-fiction
Sub-Genre: Religion & Spirituality, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Bible, Sacred Texts, Scripture
Tags: Non-fiction, Religion & Spirituality, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Bible, Sacred Texts, Eknath Easwaran, The Bhagavad Gita

Description

“On this path, effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure. Even a little effort towards spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear.”
—Bhagavad Gita (2:40)

The Bhagavad Gita, the “Song of the Lord,” is India’s best-known scripture. For Easwaran, it was a personal guidebook, as it was for Mahatma Gandhi.

The Bhagavad Gita opens, dramatically, on a battlefield. Prince Arjuna is on the brink of an apocalyptic war that he doesn’t want to fight – and he turns in anguish to his spiritual guide, Sri Krishna, for answers to the fundamental questions of life.

Arjuna’s struggle is profoundly modern. Easwaran’s genius is to show us that “the battlefield is a perfect backdrop, but the Gita’s subject is the war within, the struggle for self-mastery that every human being must wage.” And Sri Krishna’s sublime instruction, on living and dying, working and loving, on the nature of the soul, is as relevant to readers today as it was at the dawn of Indian history.

Features

* Easwaran’s translation is accurate and accessible. Raised in the Hindu culture, he studied Sanskrit from a young age and later developed a deep love of English literature. He highlights the Gita’s key messages and conveys the haunting beauty of the verses. And readers will appreciate Easwaran’s authenticity – he lived the Gita.

* Easwaran’s introduction gives the key to the Gita’s timeless wisdom. Combining erudition with a contagious personal enthusiasm, Easwaran places the Gita in its historical context, gives a clear explanation of fundamental concepts, and brings out the universality of the Gita’s teachings.

* Includes chapter introductions, notes, and a Sanskrit glossary.

* This new edition contains a new foreword, two-color easy-to-read interior, and elegant new cover. (From the author’s website)

The Revelation

One question went through my mind over and over again while reading The Bhagavad Gita, and that is: How am I going to write a review of a book of Hindu scripture that has existed for thousands of years? With that, other questions arose:

  1. What can I tell a mostly Western audience (I’m only guessing at this), who likely knows almost nothing about Eastern religions, about a book whose title they may not be able to pronounce let alone understand?
  2. How can I, as the reviewer, help them understand that The Bhagavad Gita is worth reading, even though their religious views may not coincide with the teachings found in the Gita?
  3. How can I accomplish answering these questions in a coherent manner?

Then I set out to answer these questions, and I hope this makes sense to you.

Background

The Bhagavad Gita is considered by Hindus around the world to be a sacred text, or scripture. It is a fascinating text with a fascinating history. The Bhagavad Gita, which is also simply referred to as the Gita, is a small part of a huge Sanskrit epic called the Mahabharata, which is one of the Hindu “histories.” The other volume of the Histories is called the Ramayana. These epics can be compared in importance to The Iliad and The Odyssey. The author of the Mahabharata is said to be Vyasa, but some scholars seem skeptical. Because Vyasa is given credit for writing the Mahabharata, he is also given credit for penning The Bhagavad Gita. This only makes sense to me. Another detail scholars aren’t sure about is when The Bhagavad Gita was written, but they estimate the composition from the 5th to the 2nd century B.C.

The setting of the Gita is Kurukshetra, “the field of Kurus,” where a pivotal battle took place in the Mahabharata. Just about every child in India is raised learning about this epic, like American children grow up with fables and nursery rhymes.

Western traditions have not mingled much with Eastern traditions; most Westerners are unfamiliar with the gods of the Hindu religion. Westerners are familiar with the gods of Greece and Rome, but Hindu gods have a different, although similar, relationship with humanity. Eknath Easwaran, the translator of this edition of The Bhagavad Gita, also wrote the introduction. Because it is likely that most Western readers of The Bhagavad Gita will be unfamiliar with Hindu traditions and customs, Easwaran wrote the introduction to familiarize the Western reader with very basic Hindu beliefs, customs, and traditions so The Bhagavad Gita will be accessible and make some degree of sense.

The Chapter Introductions

The quality of this translation is superb. Easwaran’s introduction is extensive and deep. Each chapter is lead by its own introduction, written by Diana Morrison. Morrison breaks each chapter down into digestible bits, explaining what is happening as a wise teacher would his or her pupil. In some cases, the chapter introductions are actually longer than the chapter itself. Morrison’s insights were like a flashlight in a darkened room for my reading of the Gita. I am grateful they were included in this edition. Had they not been included, the length of the publication could have been cut in half, making it much shorter, but also more daunting. There are names of people and gods and places that are hard to pronounce, and not really knowing who they are would have made the reading difficult. Morrison’s introductions didn’t go so deep into the subject matter as to create a separate publication within this edition of the Gita, but they opened the door so unknowing readers would be able to enter that world, look around, and have an idea of what they were seeing.

The Bhagavad Gita is first a book of scripture covering matters of the spirit and good living, much like the Bible and Book of Mormon accomplish for Christianity, much like the Torah accomplishes for Judaism, and much like the Qur’an accomplishes for Muslims. This is where the real value of the Gita lies. Truth is truth, no matter where it is found, whether you are Christian, Hindu, or Muslim. While Christian or Muslim readers may not agree with all of the teachings found in the Gita, there are nuggets of wisdom throughout these pages.

This is my recommendation: If you have discovered that you need a jolt where religion is concerned, pick up the Gita, give it a serious read, and allow it to strengthen the beliefs you hold dear. Like I said, truth is truth, no matter where it is found.

Click the link to purchase your copy of The Bhagavad Gita (Classics of Indian Spirituality) from Amazon.com.

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This entry was posted in Author, Bible, Book Review, Eknath Easwaran, Genre, Hinduism, Non-Fiction, Religion, Sacred Texts, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran (Translator)

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran (Translator) | Kris Krohn

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