The Bhagavad Gita

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The Bhagavad Gita, the “Song of the Lord,” is India’s best-known scripture, and Easwaran’s reliable, readable version is the best-selling translation in the US.

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. 

But, as Easwaran point out, the Gita is not what it seems – it’s not a dialogue between two mythical figures at the dawn of Indian history. “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” to live a life that is meaningful, fulfilling, and worthwhile.

Easwaran’s 55-page introduction places the Gita in its historical context, and brings out the universality and timelessness of the Gita’s teachings. Chapter introductions give clear explanations of key concepts. 

This book is part of Easwaran’s Classics of Indian Spirituality series. 

Audiobook

The audiobook is complete and unabridged (excluding the series’ Foreword), and is read for you by Paul Bazely, a professional actor and long-time student of Easwaran. Music is by Jan She, also an Easwaran student.

For all of its profundity, Eknath Easwaran manages to translate the Gita in easy prose that neither panders nor obscures. Coupled with his thorough introduction, Easwaran’s version comes off on all the levels it should: as a guide to action, devotional scripture, a philosophical text, and inspirational reading.

Amazon.com Eastern Religion editor

No one in modern times is more qualified – no, make that ‘as qualified’ – to translate the epochal Classics of Indian Spirituality than Eknath Easwaran. And the reason is clear. It is impossible to get to the heart of those classics unless you live them, and he did live them. My admiration of the man and his works is boundless.

Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions

Easwaran’s translation is very easy to understand. It tells the story of Arjuna, a prince stuck between two armies, not wanting to fight because he doesn’t understand what the good of killing others would be. This is a very honest question, and over the 18 chapters, he gets his answer from Krishna, (one form of Vishnu, one of the holy trinity), who happens to be serving as his charioteer in the war. Krishna is loving and gives Arjuna all the information he needs about life and death, and about his responsibilities as a warrior.

To be completely honest, I don’t know how to write a review for The Bhagavad Gita. My best advice would be to simply do a search for ‘Bhagavad Gita quotes’ and see if you like what you read. For anyone wondering if this book is only for “religious people”, I don’t think so. It’s explained several times in the introduction that the Gita can be seen as a book to help people through life, a kind of guide book. It never tells you what you’re supposed to be doing, or how you’re supposed to act. It simply tells you, in the same way a good friend might give you advice while trying to be nice about it, how to improve.

This version also has introductions before each chapter. […] Personally, I found them to be very helpful. Some terms that just plain couldn’t be translated into English, are broken down in these introductions, making it a lot easier to read the chapter without going “wait, what does that mean?” and having to look it up or keep skipping to the glossary. There is also a lengthy introduction at the beginning of the book, further explaining certain Hindu ideas and terms, and even going over some very interesting history. Even some things I though I fully understood, like renunciation, are explained more here than they are in the individual chapter intros, and I appreciated it. Basically, this is as complete as you could probably get if you wanted a copy of the Bhagavad Gita with a little more than the Gita itself.

EXCERPT FROM A RECENT HELPFUL REVIEW ON AMAZON.COM

The "most helpful" review of the Audiobook on Audible.com

"Content and narration reduced me to tears"

I attempted to listen to classics of Indian spirituality but returned two audiobooks because I couldn't tolerate the narrators. One had a vaguely Texas accent and a mouthful of mush--which couldn't have been a more ridiculous match up of reader and material--and the other narrator read so slowly, I could hear him breathe and swallow . . . when he or I wasn't nodding off. Okay, I probably should have transcended my irritation, but I'm still only human.

This particular audiobook, however, could not be more wonderful. The translation itself is magnificent, and the introduction is educational, well-organized, and intimate--a perfect preparation for reading the Gita. It is more than an hour long, and I listened to it several times, entranced.

The narrator, an accomplished British actor, could not have been better. The publishers of the books I returned should take a lesson from him. He is articulate and easy to listen to. He nails the Indian accent when he occasionally switches to that as appropriate for the content. 

I resonate with the teaching of Hinduism, and after visiting the country twice, I couldn't get a handle on it. That there are many gods and the form they take struck me as whimsical and imaginative. Now, understanding so much more about the philosophy, I have an entirely different and more serious perspective.

This can be a life-transforming book. You must read it if "only" as great world literature.

Laurie, Saratosa