The Dhammapada

Dhammapada means "the path of dharma," the path of harmony and righteousness that anyone can follow to reach the highest good. This classic Buddhist scripture is a collection of vivid, practical verses, gathered from direct disciples who wanted to preserve what they had heard from the Buddha himself.

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Easwaran's translation of this classic Buddhist text is the best-selling translation in the US. In the comprehensive 87-page introduction he brings the story of the young Prince Siddhartha and his heroic spiritual quest vividly to life.  His overview of the Buddha's teachings is reliable, penetrating, and accessible. 

The Buddha rejected superstition on the one hand and philosophical speculation on the other. He taught the path to the end of suffering, and showed how we can achieve lasting joy. In The Dhammapada he spells out our choices with a refreshing realism and frankness.

Easwaran’s translation is based on the oldest, best-known version in Pali. Chapter introductions place individual verses into the context of the broader Buddhist canon


The audiobook contains the full Introduction and the translation of each of the verses, but omits the chapter introductions. It is read by Paul Bazely, a professional actor and longtime student of Easwaran. Music is by Yann Stoneman, also an Easwaran student.

If you are interested in reading one of the gems of Buddhist literature, this is a good place to start, and if you are looking for a great version of this beloved scripture, you can’t do better. Like all great world literature, the verses here reward rereading and reflection, prompting you to ‘strive for wisdom always!' Eastern Religion editor

Our favorite translation is Eknath Easwaran’s The Dhammapada. His Indian heritage, literary gifts, and spiritual sensibilities … here produce a sublime rendering of the words of the Buddha. Verse after verse shimmers with quiet, confident authority

Huston Smith and Philip Novak, Buddhism

I had earlier read The Upanishads by the same author, and was inspired into further exploration of his writing. A few words on the author before the book are due here. Easwaran can definitely be counted as one of those individuals who have made a sincere and thorough attempt to understand numerous religions and draw out their common parallels and apply them to his life, in an almost saint-like manner. Easwaran’s influence on thought can be said to be similar to Parthasarathy's, another great writer more focused on Hinduism. It is in reading such authors, that we are left with an indelible impact on our psyche, and within a few weeks of regular reading, can see our daily lives transformed by the power of our own tranquil thinking.

In The Dhammapada, Easwaran now embarks on a similar voyage of peace and calm in the exploration of Buddhism, as he did with the Upanishads. The introduction of the book once again gives a brief background into the life of Siddhartha the prince, and charts his transformation into the Buddha, the "one who is awake". The book then goes on to describe one of the fundamental "religious-books" of Buddhism, the Dhammapada and its teachings. The parallels with the Upanishadic teachings, the mystic Sufis and the Sermon on the Mount is often illustrated, thus underlining Easwaran's belief of the unity of fundamental thought across religions.

Every two chapters are preceded with an introduction to the concepts and principles enshrined in them, and hence makes reading and comprehension and indeed, personal thinking and evaluation that much more effective. Buddhism in the end, comes out as it should, another monumental religion based on very basic truths and grounded in infallible and extremely rigorous logic. The book is a pure delight to read and has an almost immediate impact on the reader's approach to life itself.