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Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  739 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Stephen Mitchell is widely known for his ability to make ancient masterpieces thrillingly new, to step in where many have tried before and create versions that are definitive for our time. His celebrated version of the Tao Te Ching is the most popular edition in print, and his translations of Jesus, Rilke, Genesis, and Job have won the hearts of readers and critics alike. ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Harmony
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It's our expectations that make us unhappy. As Gandhi explained, the Gita is built around the idea that we are not entitled to the fruits of our actions. It's the expectations we form from our actions that lead us astray. It's enough to act according to your yoga. Simply act, without having expectations of what our action will get us.

We have two yogas we can practice: the yoga of action or the yoga of contemplation. Once you understand what your yoga is, then you can act accordingly within your
The Gita, a part of the much larger Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, was no doubt based on ancient oral tradition, much recent scholarship concluding that the approximate date of written composition was the first century CE. The immediate story involves an extended philosophical conversation between the Pandava general, Arjuna, and his charioteer Krishna, who is in actuality the Supreme Being Himself, immediately before a monumental battle, a battle that Arjuna is hesitant to wage because it involve ...more
Led to this book when reading the introduction to Leaves of Grass by Whitman.

Personal Summary:
Very easy to read - and relatively short (200 short pages) for a sacred text (though my current only comparison is the Bible which is incredibly long).

Basic themes are:
- Renounce the fruit of your actions. To me this means you should still plan for positive outcomes in what you attempt to do but whatever the outcome you should continue as if it never happened. If you do something and things go well a
Max Maxwell
Jul 06, 2009 Max Maxwell rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Eastern spirituality
Recommended to Max by: Harold Bloom; my younger brother; my friend Shawn
I wanted to give this a higher star rating, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

In several respects, this book is an absolute classic, not least of which that in which it is, first and foremost, the flagship book of the Hindu religion. (I had tried to tackle a religious edition ( Bhagavad Gita: As It Is , that with commentary by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, which my younger brother gave me, it having in turn been given to him by the bass player of the hardcore band Glassjaw) but found i
Maughn Gregory
When the warrior Arjuna, "overwhelmed with dread and pity" at the prospect of going to war against an army that includes many of his own relatives, teachers and friends, drops his weapons and refuses to fight, his charioteer reveals himself to be Lord Krishna, who, in a long moment removed from time, teaches Arjuna "about life and deathlessness, duty, nonattachment, the Self, love, spiritual practice, and the inconceivable depths of reality." (15)

The Bhagavad Gita was the book of scripture from
If you are new to the Bhagavad Gita, perhaps you shouldn't let my stingy rating dissuade you from reading this translation. It has its charms. Mitchell provides a simple, elegant version of the Gita, presented in short, powerful stanzas. Perhaps the biggest draw is its accessibility. You certainly won’t need to consult a glossary or an encyclopedia to get something out of this, nor will you require any background knowledge of the Hindu epics. Mitchell clearly seeks to capture the universal appea ...more
Lisa Christian
This work, more than any other spiritual or secular work, has changed my life. I have read other translations, including Swami Prabhavananda's brilliant translation. Though Mitchell's may not be the most strictly accurate, his lyricism speaks to me more profoundly. Perhaps because his was the first version of the Gita that I read - at 23 years old after a series of personal losses. The Gita showed me how to look at life and loss differently, that both are transient and taught me the strength of ...more
I get that it's metaphorical, but I still can't get over the fact that its core argument is "you should kill your friends and loved ones in battle if a little blue dude who also happens to be your inner self tells you you're being unmanly when you say you don't want to fight them."

The main part of the book is an interesting overview of different styles of yoga, and an assertion that all of them can get you to awakening and to your inner self. The author does seem to love Bhakti best, which is pr
Let me start by Mitchell's version of the book is quite short but easily accessible, especially if you have never read any of the sacred texts in the Hindu tradition.

The Gita is a poem cycle that features a conversation between the Arjuna, the Prince who has grown weary of his family's war, and Lord Krishna in the guise of Arjuna's servant and confidant, the charioteer. If you have ever read works like Khalil Gibran's "The Prophet," then you will be familiar with the structure in which one perso
7/28/11: Just reread this for yoga teacher training. Got more out of it this time. Mitchell is known as a translator of ancient poetry - he's done the epic of Gilgamesh and the Tao Te Ching, among others. The great thing about Mitchell's work is that he finds a way to take this ancient poetry written in another language and capture not just the meaning but the beauty of the language. Easwaran's translation of the Gita is verse, but Mitchell's translation is poetry.

Before I read this book as part of preparation for yoga teacher training, I admit to feeling both curious and intimidated by it. It's one of those 'should read at least once in a lifetime' kind of books for anyone, and thus feel grateful to stumble upon the opportunity to do so. From what I can tell, Stephen Mitchell did a good job of bringing an accurate and accessible representation of this ancient work to us, and I am interested to read other of his translations.

I connected deeply with the fi
Clif Brittain
Jan 15, 2010 Clif Brittain rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Doubting Christians
In Stephen Cope's book, he alluded quite frequently to the BG. RW Emerson and HD Thoreau also quote it as an influence as well as many other Westerners. Of course the Indians and the Asians have always been inspired by it.

I found it very good, especially the first third, in which most of the philosophy about action/inaction and right/wrong are discussed. I think the presentation is very attractive and the writing lyrical.

I am currently in a discernment period regarding my own faith life. This b
Dennis Littrell
Mitchell, Stephen. Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation (2000) *****
Intelligent, accessible and beautifully presented

First of all this is a beautiful book. The design by Barbara Sturman in which the text is presented in a handsome wine/purple font set in wide margins with the chapter titles in a contemporary font of soft vermillion suggests reverence for the Gita while hinting of a twenty-first century Western appreciation. There is a ribbon sown into the binder for keeping your place.

Second, the em
There were sections where I couldn't help but smile. And there were sections where I couldn't help but cringe.

I have friends who are Hindu. And this is where they lay their hope. In human strivings to God they put their hope. It is a fruitless hope. It is the same hope of Muslims, Jews, of (probably) the majority of Catholics and of many Protestants.

These claim to understand the holiness of God, but if there is evil, if we have sinned against the Infinitely Holy God, then how can finite men rep
Steve Greenleaf
Every great piece of spiritual writing seems to have its own special setting. The Tao Te Jing by Lao-tzu does not provide the reader with the setting, but it is not difficult to imagine an old man with a long white beard sitting serenely in a pristine Chinese countryside, absorbing the nature around him, and discoursing on the meaning of the Tao. Neither does the Dhammapada of the Buddha have a specific setting, but one can imagine the Buddha as a serene teacher walking or sitting among a group ...more
I so loved Mitchell's translation of the Tao te Ching that I looked forward to seeing what he would do with the beloved Gita. I am truly sad - I mean my heart aches a little - at his work. I had been so excited and so certain that I would love it. Moreover, I could only purchase one new translation, and I pinned all my hopes on Stephen Mitchell, feeling absolutely safe he was a sure bet.

But I do not like it at all. In fact, I sometimes have to force myself to do my nightly reading, whereas unti
Man O'neal
A difficult review to write. It is a spiritual and religious text so I cannot judge The Bhagavad Gita based off of entertainment value. Instead I will write this review based off of insight and clarity. I think that The Bhagavad Gita has some interesting things to say. The emphasis on renouncing desire is a concept that I have heard a lot, makes sense to me, but also seems close to impossible. Anyway, George Thompson is actually my professor so I have the luxury of being able to discuss with him ...more
It's great to finally gain some real insight from an Eastern philosophic perspective. The Bhagavad Gita is an easy read, however it is a much more complex philosophy to adopt, not because of lack of allure but, because it offers a little push towards understanding the universe as a whole. Anyone with a non-judgemental mind should read this.
It was amazing because I could understand most of it! Lots to think about and ties together much of what many teachers have transmitted to me along the way. I was reassured we all get where we are going in our own time. In the meantime be present and do what you do without getting caught up in outcomes.Pretty simple, huh? Well, not always. : )
Great timing for me to have read this.

Here are some of my favorite parts:

Without concern for results,
Perform the necessary action;
Surrendering all attachments,
Accomplish life’s highest good.

Whenever righteousness falters
And chaos threatens to prevail,
I take on a human body
And manifest myself on earth.

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.

When a man has let go of attachments,
When his mind is rooted in wisdom,
Quinn da Matta
I really enjoyed the first half of this book - the lessons are beautifully poetic and deeply profound, all while being subjective and instructive. But, the last couple of chapters seem overly-repetitive and too preachy. What started out as a profound poem seemed to unravel into a preachy sermon.

BUT, having said that, I still think this is an important read. Especially, Gandhi's thoughts and opinions at the end of the book.
I enjoyed this translation, although it was my first exposure to this great work. After I have read at least one other translation, then I will possibly revise my rating. There were many passages that reminded me of quotes from the Bible. I read one other readers' review, where he stated "Lord Krishna appreciates all worship of all religions, saying that there is only one God (him), and all are worshiping him, though some in the wrong way. I believe the same thing, there is only one God, some ar ...more
Benjamin Pearson
Really interesting book and one that is beautifully written. I finally understand why so many great minds have been influenced by it.
anthony e.
Okay, look... would be kind of hard to say this is BAD, wouldn't it. I mean, let's be honest here. The Gita is, like, one of the pillars of human thought, and anything with that kind of pedigree must be respected on those merits alone. That said, it feels a bit like watching Halloween: you understand that its the first slasher movie, and so appreciate it for that credential, but everything within it you've seen done elsewhere more clearly, cleverly and movingly.

So yeah, a pillar of human a
Always interesting, always makes the history babies question either their life or their intelligence.
This is a lovely volume of the Bhagavad Gita that I particularly like for two reasons.
First, Mitchell's translation is inspiring, as are his other translations of great texts.
And second, the other volumes that i have read contain commentary on the same page as the verses, and I have gotten distracted by all the "busyness" on the page. In this book, the verses are presented in their stunning simplicity and the reader is freed to create her own interpretation. This might not be where I'd start in
Will begin reading the 5th version of the Bhagavad-Gita to grace my shelf to date for Yoga class, starting next week. My favorite has long been the "As It Is" version translated by his Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, not only because it was the first translation of the Bhagavad-Gita I was ever exposed to, but because it is one of the only translations of the Gita to be done by a devotee of Krishna and not just another scholar. Shall be interesting to compare Stephen Mitchell's ...more
This is my first reading of the Bhagavad Gita, so I can't compare this translation to others, but I did really enjoy this book.

My favorite quotes to ponder.....

"On this path no effort is wasted,
no gain is ever reversed;
even a little of this practice
will shelter you from great sorrow"

"Self-possessed, resolute, act
without any thoughts of results,
open to success or failure.
This equanimity is yoga"

"He who can see inaction
in the midst of action, and action
in the midst of inaction is wise
and can act i
Simon Blair
Only one of the many books comprising the Hindu epic, 'The Mahabarata', but by far the most famous. The 'Bhgavad Gita', is an account of a conversation between the warrior Arjuna and his charioteer who just happens to be Krishna. Their talk takes place in a Matrix-style freeze frame, insects hovering midflight, in a moment before the start of a great battle that will determine the future of India. An awesome feat of literature. Epic, illuminating & enjoyed by readers for more than two thousa ...more
So enjoyed reading this...a beautiful poem with incredible depth on living one's life...definitely will be re-read many times! It translates as "The Song of the Blessed One" and it flowed like a song ... the Gita takes place on the battlefield. Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna are in between the 2 armies ... as Arjuna drops his weapons in despair, Krishna begins his teachings about: life, death, duty, nonattachment, the Self, love, spiritual practice, and reality. The primary question is, "How ...more
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Stephen Mitchell was educated at Amherst College, the Sorbonne, and Yale University, and de-educated through intensive Zen practice. He is widely known for his ability to make old classics thrillingly new, to step in where many have tried before and to create versions that are definitive for our time. His many books include The Gospel According to Jesus, The Second Book of the Tao, two books of fi ...more
More about Stephen Mitchell...
The Enlightened Heart Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn Gospel According to Jesus The Enlightened Mind: An Anthology of Sacred Prose The Second Book of the Tao

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