Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation Paperback – Aug 27 2002
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On the list of the greatest spiritual books of all time, the Bhagavad Gita resides permanently in the top echelon. This poem of patently Indian genius sprouted an immense tree of devotional, artistic, and philosophical elaboration in the subcontinent. The scene is a battlefield with the prince Arjuna pitted against his own family, but no sooner does the poem begin than the action reverts inward. Krishna, Arjuna's avatar and spiritual guide, points the way to the supreme wisdom and perfect freedom that lie within everyone's reach. Worship and be faithful, meditate and know reality--these make up the secret of life and lead eventually to the realization that the self is the root of the world. In this titular translation, Stephen Mitchell's rhythms are faultless, making music of this ancient "Song of the Blessed One." Savor his rendition, but nibble around the edges of his introduction. In a bizarre mixture of praise and condescension, Mitchell disregards two millennia of Indian commentary, seeking illumination on the text from Daoism and Zen, with the Gita coming up just shy of full spiritual merit. Perhaps we should take it from Gandhi, who used the Gita as a handbook for life, that it nourishes on many levels. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Mitchell must by now be accounted one of our generation!s heroic translators, having taken on the Book of Job, the Tao te Ching, and Genesis and done so much to popularize Rilke in English. Now he applies his considerable skill and sympathy to one of the most noted sacred texts of Asia, the Bhagavad Gita, and the results are very happy. He works in free-verse quatrains of about three beats per line, and his language flows with great naturalness. Inevitably, this text will remain both ancient and foreign to many modern readers, but Mitchell!s work goes a long way to making these words...[drive] away your ignorance and delusion. Highly recommended.
- away your ignorance and delusion. Highly recommended.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
What you're ordinarily _not_ getting is a straight-up translation of the source text; you're getting Mitchell's attempt to render the source text into a fine English poem that expresses the spiritual insights he wants it to express. (Examples: his excellent interpretive renderings of the Psalms and the Tao Te Ching. They are excellent interpretive renderings; they are _not_ translations.)
Even when the translation _is_ straightforward, he tends to chop the text to bits and just keep the parts he agrees with. (Examples: his translation of the book of Genesis, which includes the entire text but relegates the "spiritually suspect" parts to an appendix, and his rendering of the book of Job, which includes some terrific translation but omits the speech of Elihu and the poem in praise of wisdom.)
And now he's done the Bhagavad Gita. Has he translated it, or has he interpretively rendered it?
Well, the first point to make is that he _has_ included the entire text and limited himself to offering commentary on the parts he doesn't agree with. (Incidentally, I tend to disagree with the same parts and I understand that there have been Hindu scholars who have at least raised the same questions that Mitchell does.) This point alone means that Mitchell's Gita is a landmark: he hasn't chopped up the text in order to leave out the "spiritually inferior" portions.
So how good is his translation? Well, Mitchell says his own Sanskrit is "rudimentary," but that doesn't mean (as some reviewers seem to think) that he doesn't know any at all. (This is a bit different from his Tao Te Ching, in which he admits that he just doesn't read Chinese.Read more ›
As for Mitchell's introduction, which is orientalist in the worst sense of the word, I think others on Amazon have said enough. Thankfully, in 20 years Mitchell's boutique translation of the Gita will be out of print and lost in the sands of time, while the translations of more scrupulous scholars will continue to inspire young readers to learn more about India's philosophies.
Some people complained in other reviews that the "translation cannot be a good one since the translator is not a religious person himself" (how do they know? just because he is not a HareKrishna or other religious group member?). Another reader accused him of trying to make an easy buck with this translation (Have you ever tried to translate the Gita in a poem form? Do you have any idea of the amount of work involved?) I really don't care about it.
This book is a good translation and a good poem.
Most recent customer reviews
I was missing so many pages in the book. It looks like misprints as the pages were blank :)Published 9 months ago by Shy-Anne
We used this book in our CANADIAN YOGA ALLIANCE YTT program. The students enjoyed the read and given this was a Western training, the students now have a good understanding of the... Read morePublished 17 months ago by V.Wilson
Stephen Mitchell has a great talent in being able to condense "wordiness" into
concise lines of poetic insight. Read more
I read this book for my YTT200 twice! It was great; easy to read and understand. It was clear and I enjoyed that it was written almost poetic.Published 21 months ago by Kimberly
I believe only Isherwoods to be slightly better but this is merely an opinion. One of the best. It came recommended by my teacher that has read all possible translations and picked... Read morePublished on July 1 2013 by G. Virdi
I found the audio edition of this book with a sensitive reading by Stephen Mitchell to be an excellent companion for listening while driving. Read morePublished on Nov. 6 2003 by Richard Seeley
This is a book based on a Hindu belief and has alot of love type things in it. This is not recommended unless you are studying this culture.Published on May 11 2003 by James