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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
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.
I am not qualified to compare Mitchell's translation to any of the other two hundred English translations of the of The Gita published since it was written nearly two thousand years ago, nor am I qualified to discuss The Gita's path of self realization. But to me, it seems like this translation rarely goes more than ankle deep into The Gita's teachings. It is nevertheless a worthwhile book in at least two respects. It confronts its reader with the important question, "How should I live an authentic life?" It also shows that The Gita is intended to include all paths and all people, excluding no one from the boat of wisdom carrying us across "the sea of all sin" (4.36). Krishna says, "However men try to reach me,/ I return their love with my love;/ whatever path they may travel,/ it leads to me in the end" (4.11).
In his Introduction, Mitchell writes that The Gita can be read as an "instruction manual for spiritual practice," and as a "guide to peace of heart" (p. 23). The Gita tells us, "Though the unwise cling to their actions,/ watching for results, the wise/ are free from attachments, and act/ for the well-being of the whole world" (3.25). Although the path to self realization is not well defined in Mitchell's translation, reading any Gita is better than reading no Gita. As for me, I'm ready now to dive into a more meaningful Gita. Any recommendations?
The poem is basically the exposition of religious doctrine. The setting is a mythical battle. Two armies are drawn up to fight each other. Arjuna who is either the leader or champion of one army in a chariot takes up a position between the armies so that he can start firing arrows at the other side. The Hindu god Krishna drives his chariot. Arjuna is rendered powerless as he is eaten up by a moral crisis. As the other army contains so many of his relatives victory in battle can bring no honor for him. The honor would be eaten up by the moral evil of killing those who he should revere and protect. He turns to Krishna and asks for advice.
Krishna indicates to Arjuna that his role is to be a warrior. He should carry out his duty honorably and by doing so he acts morally. Krishna then explains that although Arjuna may kill people in battle he cannot destroy them. An explanation then occurs about the Hindu schema of the universe with the importance of reincarnation.
What then happens is an explanation of the Hindu religious scheme. The Gods exist to receive sacrifice and to receive prayer. They in turn have an obligation to intervene in the affairs of men providing rain and sunshine. The aim of men is to seek freedom from passion and the world. The poem is interesting as it sees the means of doing this as not simple or schematic but diverse.
When you consider the poem was written five hundred years before the Christian era the thing that strikes you about it is the clarity of the exposition and the sophistication of the dialogue.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I was missing so many pages in the book. It looks like misprints as the pages were blank :)Published 14 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 23 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 on May 9 2014 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