The Bhagavad Gita
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The Bhagavad Gita is the best known of all the Indian scriptures, and Eknath Easwaran's best-selling translation is reliable, readable, and profound.
Easwaran's 55-page introduction places the Bhagavad Gita in its historical setting, and brings out the universality and timelessness of its teachings. Chapter introductions clarify key concepts, and notes and a glossary explain Sanskrit terms.
Easwaran grew up in the Hindu tradition in India, and learned Sanskrit from a young age. He was a professor of English literature before coming to the West on a Fulbright scholarship. A gifted teacher, he is recognized as an authority on the Indian classics and world mysticism.
The Bhagavad Gita opens, dramatically, on a battlefield, as the warrior Arjuna turns in anguish to his spiritual guide, Sri Krishna, for answers to the fundamental questions of life. Yet, as Easwaran points 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 if he or she is to emerge from life victorious."
Arjuna's struggle in the Bhagavad Gita is acutely modern. He has lost his way on the battlefield of life and turns to find the path again by asking direct, uncompromising questions of his spiritual guide, Sri Krishna, the Lord himself. Krishna replies in 700 verses of sublime instruction on living and dying, loving and working, and the nature of the soul.
Easwaran shows the Gita's relevance to us today as we strive, like Arjuna, to do what is right.
"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
Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999) brings to this volume a rare combination of credentials. Trained from a young age in one of the purest Sanskrit traditions in India, he had a deep intuitive knowledge of his own Hindu legacy. He also had a great love of Western literature and was chairman of the English department at a major Indian university when he came to the United States on a Fulbright fellowship in 1959.
From the 1960s onwards, Easwaran held classes on mysticism and practical spirituality for a primarily American audience. A gifted teacher, he was able to anticipate the problems that Western readers may have with the concepts underlying the classics of Indian spirituality, and to explain them in fresh and profoundly simple ways.
In 1961 Easwaran founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation in California, and in 1967, at the University of California, Berkeley, he taught the first academic course on meditation ever offered for credit at a major American university. He continued to teach passage meditation and his Eight Point Program for spiritual living to an American and international audience for almost forty years. His twenty-seven books on meditation and the classics of world mysticism have been translated into twenty-five languages.
Easwaran drew on the Bhagavad Gita throughout his life for deep inspiration. He shared Mahatma Gandhi's view that you can turn to this great Indian scripture for guidance on any problem, in any age, because it is universal and eternal. As Huston Smith writes, Easwaran lived the Gita.
Through the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation and its publishing arm, Nilgiri Press, Easwaran continues to reach an ever-growing audience around the world through publications and retreats.
Chapter introductions and notes are by Diana Morrison, who has a masters degree in Comparative Literature and Sanskrit from the University of California, Berkeley. She has taught college courses on Hinduism and for many years has been an editor at Nilgiri Press.