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Classics of Indian Spirituality: the Bhagavad Gita, Dhammapada and Upanishads

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These classic teachings comprise the most important and universal texts from the Indian wisdom tradition. They pose the fundamental questions of life pondered throughout the ages: Who am I? What happens when I die? What is the purpose of my life? Each text offers compelling answers, reflecting the style and personality of their Vedic and Buddhist authors. Eknath Easwaran's lyrical translations and engaging explanations of key concepts ensure that the texts are as relevant today as they were centuries ago.

940 pages, Paperback

First published January 25, 1993

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About the author

Eknath Easwaran

168 books506 followers
Eknath Easwaran (1910–1999) is the originator of passage meditation and the author of more than 30 books on spiritual living.

Easwaran is a recognized authority on the Indian spiritual classics. His translations of The Bhagavad Gita, The Upanishads, and The Dhammapada are the best-selling editions in the USA, and over 1.5 million copies of his books are in print.

Easwaran was a professor of English literature and well known in India as a writer and speaker before coming to the United States in 1959 on the Fulbright exchange program. In 1961, he founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, based in Tomales, California, which continues his work today through publications and retreats.

His 1968 class on the theory and practice of meditation at UC Berkeley is believed to be the first accredited course on meditation at any Western university. For those who seek him as a personal spiritual guide, Easwaran assured us that he lives on through his eight-point program of passage meditation.

"I am with you always”, he said. “It does not require my physical presence; it requires your open heart."

Please visit bmcm.org for a fuller biography.

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Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews
Profile Image for Cole Feldman.
Author 12 books14 followers
October 7, 2017
I read The Dhammapada as an introduction to Buddhism. It is a much more poetic and metaphorical writing than Western philosophy and religious texts. My biggest takeaway was the Four Noble Truths: of suffering, of the origin of suffering, of the cessation of suffering, and the way leading to the cessation of suffering (which is the Noble Eightfold Path). Buddha put great emphasis on meditation, especially to "rise out of" selfishness and duality (pleasure and pain, for example)—this, however, seems to place Buddhism in a very tight niche with regards to humanism and asceticism, depending on how we define a human in relation to the self and how Buddhists should regard their human bodies as they pursue a higher consciousness. For further study on Buddhism, I want to read the Pali Canon.
Profile Image for Lon.
253 reviews14 followers
February 20, 2011
If, heaven forbid, everything Jesus said were lost to history, and we had only his Sermon on the Mount as our guide and blueprint for building a moral and virtuous life, we would still have a supernal treasure.

The Dhammapada is like that for those, like me, who also admire the Buddha's teachings. It's a verse collection of some of his most profound insights into living a life fully awake. Really enjoyed. Powerful insights.

This collection had a helpful introduction to each chapter.

"There is no fire like passion. There are no chains like hate. Illusion is a net, Desire is a rushing river."
Profile Image for Nicole Smith.
41 reviews2 followers
May 29, 2019
These novels are such a great introduction to these classic Indian texts. They are not able to stand alone (they do not have all of the texts as they are quite long) but they are a wonderful sampler of these ancient and rich texts that seem to apply more and more to our current lives.
56 reviews2 followers
January 22, 2020
The Upanishads:

An excellent introduction to the metaphysical and ethical ideas contained in these philosophical texts. Selected verses from all the 10 'Mukhya' Upanishads are included in this book and are aided by simple and lucid explanations of several ideas (as 'Notes') and a brief introduction before each Upanishad. Commentaries are based on the interpretations of Max Mueller/ Deussen/ Shankaracharya.

To anyone interested in studying the 'nature' of the religion now known as Hinduism, I will definitely recommend this as a first book. [Note that the included text does not contain the original Sanskrit verses but the English translations of them].

A minor remark : I really liked the choice of font colors, typesetting and the overall print quality!
Profile Image for Meghal Bhatt.
29 reviews73 followers
May 8, 2020
Read the Bhagavad Gita, Book -1. I won't be reading Upanishad and Dhammapada by Eswaran though. Writing is bland and repetitive. I am sure there are better texts of Bhagavad Gita out there. This was written for someone at the pre-school level. Self detachment from the fruits of labour, giving generously without expectation in return, self-will and self-control as a duty, and following the 'Dharma' - which is to "to do good" and "it is what is" with no strings attached. Great work on distilling the text from main book, however, if you want to go deeper into the text, this book is not the one.
13 reviews
October 30, 2008
I read this book ,every morning (almost) when I wake-up..and have been doing so everysince 4 years ago when I got in a car accident, got hit in the head and came to believe in God; I still find it funny at the very least that nobody can prove there is no God; but at the same time , nobody can prove that being hit in the head; and having a severe concussion is not the only reason why people like me have seen what they saw.
Profile Image for Paul H..
808 reviews285 followers
April 21, 2020
The best translation and edition of these three texts that I've found in English (Vintage Spiritual Classics and various other versions are often reprints of this edition), plus Easwaran's editorial material is just absurdly good. [And yes, he's a bit of a syncretist / perennial philosophy guy, but I don't think the quality suffers.]
12 reviews
July 21, 2020
Seems presumptuous to review a sacred text. I'll only say that the translation is incredibly accessible, and the chapter introductions by Easwaran are very helpful in getting the most out of this. Highly recommend this translation.
Profile Image for AttackGirl.
763 reviews13 followers
July 31, 2022
If the path is your destiny who creates the path. Is a prince really so removed to be so ignorant even if age in his own house, does he not see his father, what about the servants.

To imagine the transcendence and the will to transcend all suffering because all attachment is suffering which starts at birth or perhaps before. What does a detached baby look like? What did Moses look like at birth?

If the gods so determine who gives them direction or does the wheel always turn in the same space

If you know you are to be reborn again and again only to suffer do you Continue to have children.

I could go on and on but what does it matter my attachment for the text is gone and I must move onto the new for what lays in one of my right hands
Profile Image for Navneet Nair.
46 reviews8 followers
January 2, 2021
Easwaran uses simple language along with stories from the Buddha's life and also anecdotes from his own to bring the Dhammapada alive. I think this is a wonderful primer for anyone wanting to explore Buddhism...
32 reviews1 follower
May 17, 2017
I liked the Upanishads best of the three, then the Dhammapad and then The Bhagavad Gita. If I hadn't found The New Message from God, this would have been my path.
Profile Image for Andrew.
2 reviews
January 5, 2022
Rating the 3 books individually:
Bhagavad Gita: 5 stars
The Dhammapada: 4.5 stars
The Upanishads: 3 stars
Profile Image for J.
158 reviews36 followers
May 29, 2009
I finished reading Bhagavad Gita on 3 May 2008. Delicious. I like the commentary that goes with each chapter.

Now I'm done with the Upanishads (1 March 2009). They have a strong wisdom-of-the-ancients flavor. It's that pithy kind that calls for rumination and seems like it could be a deep truth that I haven't yet understood or something that sounds cool but is actually hollow. At times I can't tell which. But like the companion books in this set, this book has nice commentary to go with the translations. My favorite excerpt from the Upanishads is:

Two birds of beautiful plumage, comrades
Inseparable, live on the selfsame tree.
One bird eats the fruit of pleasure and pain;
The other looks on without eating.

I finished reading the Dhammapada and therefore all three books in this collection on 27 May 2009. My main takeaway from this translation of Buddhist texts is that meditation is essential to understanding the teachings. I don't draw this conclusion because the text exhorts meditation, but because personal meditation practice has shown me that these insights are understood through meditation, not reading or lectures. Also, I like this bit in the section titled "Impurity:" "...lack of generosity taints those who give."

Overall I think this trilogy of translations is a great read.
15 reviews1 follower
May 6, 2009
Read the Bhagavad Gita, not the whole set. Excellent, interesting, and surprising. I have no way to judge the translation, but it read well and the chapter introductions were generally helpful. I came in with a limited understanding of Hindu mythology and ideas, and finished this short book with a much better grasp of the field. Certainly it was more uplifting than your average religious text.
Profile Image for Ardhanarishvara.
13 reviews
March 25, 2012
such a beautiful translation (his Bhagavad Gita translation also one of my favorites. alongside Ghandi's) and so much excellent insight in the introduction, which states that we need nothing more than the Dhammapada to follow the way of the Buddha.
1 review1 follower
December 31, 2014
One of the best translation if not the best!Extraordinary understanding of the disciple's path, the master, the living experience of the devotee and his/her realization..

Something to read again and again as a sweet remembrance. Not a substitute for the experience.
Profile Image for Jenn.
13 reviews
August 10, 2008
What an unexpected wonderful great read.

I read the intro in the beginning and to all chapters up to 8. After that chapter I read only the Gita and really enjoyed the interpretation of my own.
Profile Image for Angela Joyce.
Author 5 books14 followers
April 30, 2009
This is quite beautiful, I liked it. I also see what inspired a lot of George Harrison's songs!
2 reviews2 followers
April 29, 2009
eknath's translation of the bhagavad gita in his "classics of indian spirituality" is so beautiful and true. i want to read it again and again.
Profile Image for Bridget.
15 reviews
June 27, 2013
I read the Bhagavad Gita. Its a timeless work of great importance for all.
70 reviews1 follower
May 8, 2010
My mind is a naughty, unmanageable pain in the ass! These books help but the struggle continues...
Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews

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