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Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation Paperback – Aug 27 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; Reprint edition (Aug. 27 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609810340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609810347
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 13.9 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on Jan. 7 2002
Format: Hardcover
I really like Stephen Mitchell's work, but it's important to know what you're getting.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 17 2003
Format: Paperback
I've been reading the Bhagavad Gita for almost 30 years. I compared this translation with several I have at home and was surprise with the quality and how the translator used poetry conveying in a precise manner the meaning of the Gita.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dean Dobbert on Jan. 23 2003
Format: Paperback
I am mesmerized as I read this book and find within it the common thread that joins all the great holy books of the world. It is beautifully put together and written in such a fashion that it is a pleasure read. I was concerned about another reviewer's comments about this being an "interpretation" rather than a "translation" of the Gita, and so I sat down and compared several chapters of this book to the translation by Sir Edwin Arnold is a more standard treatment of this text. I found that Stephen Mitchell's version was much more readable and understandable, and yet did not take anything away from the authenticity of the actual text. For anyone wishing to take a slightly different path leading to the nearness to God, I highly recommend picking up this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stephen Mitchell has a great talent in being able to condense "wordiness" into
concise lines of poetic insight. I have read about 3 versions of the Bhagavad
Gita. This latest version by Steplhen Mitchell delivers the deeper message
contained in the "Gita" in a most artistic and meaningful way. If you need some
deeper insights then Stephen provides that in the Introduction and Appendix.
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By Kimberly on May 9 2014
Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 this one as the best. I'll take their word for it ;)
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By A Customer on Oct. 11 2002
Format: Paperback
What are you guys talking about? This translation is stunningly poetic. I have read three different versions of the Gita, including the overhyped Bhagvad Gita As It Is(which, by the way, isn't really as it is)
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By Vimalakirti on Dec 18 2001
Format: Hardcover
To take a representative example of one of Mitchell's translation mistakes, at BhG. 2.47 Mitchell translates the Sanskrit word adhikara as "right," as in "action is your right." While adhikara certainly means this in modern Hindi, the discourse on human rights so prevalent since the European Enlightenment was quite absent when the Gita was written in Sanskrit in the period between the 4th century BCE an the 4th century CE. We find better translations of this word in other recent translations of the Gita (e.g., Zaehner: "business," Sargeant: "jurisdiction"). Zaehner's edition also has the advantage of emphasizing the Sanskrit word te, "your," which is repeated again in the second line of the verse. The point is that for Arjuna, as a Ksatriya (warrior-caste), it is HIS job to act. And it is not simply a right, but an obligation.
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.
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