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The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna's Counsel in Time of War

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  904 ratings  ·  70 reviews
The Bhagavad-Gita" has been an essential text of Hindu culture in India since the time of its composition in the first century A.D. One of the great classics of world literature, it has inspired such diverse thinkers as Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and T.S. Eliot; most recently, it formed the core of Peter Brook's celebrated production of the "Mahabharata.
Paperback, 176 pages
Published July 1st 1986 by Bantam Classics
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If you did happen to read this sacred text, that has been around for centuries longer than some acknowledge as even a possible thing, then may I suggest the Rig Vedas. The Rig Veda Awesome reading. Such perfection.

Also, many people are familiar with Autobiography of a Yogi But the book by Paramanhansa Yogananda that I always found inspiring, both awe and heart wise was:
Where There is Light: Insight and Inspiration for Meeting Life's Challenges. Along with the The Tao of Physics by Fritjov Capra
Skylar Burris
Dec 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is the most famous portion of the long Hindu epic the Mahabharata. In this tale, Krishna, the incarnate god, is charioteer of Arjuna. Arjuna is a great warrior, but he is torn because it is his own kinsmen and teachers who have become his enemies in battle. He hesitates, and so Krishna must goad him to action. The work takes the form of a philosophical dialogue.

When we learn about epics in American schools, we usually read The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Paradise Lost. We are the lesser, I bel
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is all one very long conversation that takes place before a large-scale battle is to begin. Like if Aragorn turned to Gandalf right before the battle at the black gate to express his doubts, and Gandalf started waxing lyrical about the nature of the universe. Only instead of Aragorn we have Arjuna about to wage war against his relatives, and our Gandalf is Krishna. Arjuna is all ‘I don’t think I can go through with this. I kind of love them, you know?’, and then Krishna says ‘nah it’s cool, ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I chose to read this only because it is supposed to have been an influence on T.S. Eliot's ideas in the Four Quartets, which is next on my list, but I ended up enjoying it very much just on its own merits. All kinds of good stuff about personal responsibility, doing the right thing regardless of cost or personal gain, recognizing ones duties as part of the community/cosmos, etc. Through a happy coincidence, I started on the Great Courses "Meaning of Life" (Professor Jay L. Garfield) lectures at ...more
Dennis Littrell
Miller, Barbara Stoler. Bhagavad Gita, The: Krishna's Counsel in Time of War (1986; 1991)***
Not the best, but still not bad

Professor Miller's is not one of the better translations of the Gita. We can see this immediately by her choice of subtitle, "Krishna's Counsel in Time of War," which works against the real significance of what Krishna is saying and misses the profound message of the Gita entirely. If the Gita were only advice about how to act during war, it could hardly have even a minuscul
The Bhagavad Gita... is the most beautiful philosophical song existing in any known tongue.
- Robert Oppenheimer

I'm really ambivalent about this book. On the one hand, there are places where it is remarkably powerful and fascinating, like when Krishna describes himself and eventually reveals himself to Arjuna. On the other hand, I have some serious issues with some of the morality in the book. I mean, things like this passage:

If he is devoted solely to me
even a violent criminal
must be deemed a m
May 16, 2017 added it
Easily the best edition of the Gita I have read. Includes an introduction, translator's note, afterword, and key word section. Essential if you're unfamilar with eastern literature or Hinduism and incredibly accessible.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's the kind of book you come back to again and again. It's hard to fully absorb the content after one reading. I also like this translation because it's easy to read without the translator's additional interpretation.
Adam Braus
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The Bhagavad-Gita is the blue pill.

And like every earth-shattering book, is very short. Nevertheless, this little pocket book is the central text of Indian philosophy and religion. It was revered by Gandhi, and Thoreau took it and the Iliad to Walden pond with him.

Read it 3 times.

Like the Iliad, or Hamlet, it is about a young prince who doesn't know what to do, and so gives up for awhile. During that little while, the god of wisdom, Krishna, gives him some advice.

What distinguishes this transl
Nov 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
I initially read this because of the frequent references to it from other books, such as those by Joseph Campbell. It was not as good as I wanted it to be — not sure if it is the translation, or ...? On my to-be-read-again list.

Addendum; Re-read in 2009.
Well, I've gotten round to reading this again, and it is far FAR better than my first perusal. In large part this is because I have acquired enough knowledge to understand better the arguments presented in the book, and to weigh them against othe
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'd say this is a must-read for anyone who has enjoyed Emerson or Thoreau. This here is the root. Read the branches first if you prefer, as I did, but know them to be just those.

And, if you are particularly of the mystical persuasion, read A Brief History of Time first, then refer to "The Eleventh Teaching" and let your mind be blown.

I am, however, knocking off a star because I believe that The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali say more by saying less. Also, I found a rationalization of the caste syste
Adam Hunter
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I can't comment specifically on the translation because so far this is the only one I've read. But this book is a must read for anyone who is interested in the spiritual ramifications of their path through life. I found it to reduce my anxiety, clear my mind and give me some things to think about it, and I don't know that you can ask for much more from a book. I look forward to reading it many times over.
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Time stops on the battlefield for the warrior Arjuna, as he discovers his charioteer is actually the God Krishna. This book is the highly influential Hindu text that explains many tradiional Hindu beliefs. As a western reader it can be difficult, and I find I am still trying to ingest some of the wisdom. Very thought provoking.
Andrew Obrigewitsch
This book is a philosophical and spiritual experience that I recommend anyone that is interested in how other cultures think and believe.

The Bhagavad-Gita gave me a good insight into Indian culture and Hinduism. I learned what Yoga really is, and it's not what people in the U.S. think it is.
Dec 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
How does one justify action when one's choices all seem morally reprehensible? Arjuna's dilemma and Krishna's gradual enlightenment of him make for heady, potentially life-changing reading. A must for any well-rounded human being.
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sat down to read this and did not put it down until I finished the last word. It is a mesmerizing piece of literature. Life can't look the same after reading it.
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am time grown old,
creating world destruction,
set in motion
to annihilate the worlds;
even without you
all these warriors
arrayed in hostile ranks
will cease to exist.

Therefore, arise
and win glory!
Conquer your foes
and fulfill your kingship!
They are already killed by me.
Be just my instrument,
the archer at my side!

Time: 192 minutes (3.2 hours)
Date started: May 27, 2018
Date finished: May 28, 2018
Animesh Mitra
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful poetry. Majestic philosophy; although quite confusing sometimes. Philosophy of Krishna the warrior prince is perform the work without desiring result, fulfill the duties without expecting reward, do the action without craving the fruit.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school-reads
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great summary and compilation. I wished it included more of the Sanskrit terminology, but understand that it’s better to follow with fill English verbiage. I felt it was a miss because the terminology is key to Hindu thought. This is for the Barbara Stoller Miller edition.

The translation includes introductory information explaining the terms and context of what is taking place, which I found insightful and useful. Really enjoyed the Easwaran edition.
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Written in the first century AD, the Bhagavad-Gita is poetic Hindu scripture that explores the roles of duty, discipline, action, knowledge, and devotion as they relate to meaning in life. It is set on a battlefield at the beginning of a war, and it confronts a number of universal moral dilemmas each of us face in life. I like the symbolic connection found between external war and internal human struggle. I expected the text to feel foreign and perhaps cumbersome, but was pleasantly surprised by ...more
Camille Dent
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Even though this work is only a small section of a much larger volume, the Mahabharata, this tiny chunk of it gives so much insight to Eastern beliefs. Most Americans have tried things such as meditating, yoga, dieting, praying, and gaining knowledge for knowledge's sake, but reading this work puts all of those things into a perspective of a higher scheme of things. We typically do those things, or at least try them out once or twice, to see what we can gain from them: lower stress, flatter tumm ...more
Scott Cox
"Kill them without wavering; fight, and you will conquer your foes in battle!" These words aptly summarize the overarching theme of this climatic work of the Mahabharata, one the world's longest epic poems. The main characters in this work are the narrator Sanjaya, Lord Krishna and Arjuna, a member of the ruling caste whom Krishna counsels to fulfill his duty (dharma) in the way of killing his enemies. This urging is necessary because Arjuna is wavering, preferring to show his enemies pity ("fla ...more
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Undivided, it seems divided among creatures; understood as their sustainer, it devours and creates them.

The light of lights beyond darkness it is called; Knowledge attained by knowledge, fixed in the heart of everyone."

"By meditating on the self, some men see the self through the self; others see by philosophical discipline; other by the discipline of action"

"Dwelling compassionately deep within the self, I dispel the darkness born of ignorance with the radiant light of knowledge"

"As the mounta
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: college
The ending dragged on with various lists of qualities to possess or abhor, but all in all this book has merit. When I first picked it up and saw the hype about Thoreau having taken it to Walden, I didn't understand why he would bring a small poem about war. Having finished the book and read parts of his rationalization for bringing, I now question why he would bring anything else. Unfortunately while Krishna lays out clear instructions on reaching him, starting that journey from scratch would in ...more
Sean Blevins
Jun 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, religion
These days I prefer the van Buitenen translation, but this still has its uses, especially for the neophyte. Read it with an eye toward the ideas of duty, love, sin, and salvation. It may also be read as a kind of theodicy, an explanation for the presence of injustice and evil in the world. Miller's translation is complete - you won't see the words "dharma," "karma," "phala," "yoga," "jnana," or "bhakti," in her text (except in the notes at the end). If you're interested in seeing some of the nua ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful work, both spiritually and poetically. I'm not really educated enough on the subject of the Hindu religion to offer much comment but I will share some of my favorite verses here.

"But a man of inner strength
Whose senses experience objects
Without attraction and hatred,
In self-control, finds serenity"

"When he renounces all desires
And acts without craving,
Or individuality, he finds peace"

"Relinquishing attachment,
Men of discipline perform action
With body, mind, u
Jonathan  McGaha
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's terribly interesting how the same questions which concern peoples of widely-varying cultural backgrounds manifest themselves so similarly.

The Bhagavad-Gita broaches concepts of duty, peace, concepts of gender manifesting itself, morality and more. It's easy to see the social parallels between this religious thinking and that which led to Buddhism.

This morality tale strikes an interesting balance, as most successful religious beliefs did, while also maintaining the deferential adherence to
Apr 19, 2013 added it
Well. I *thought* we were listening to this, Barbara Stoler Miller's, translation, read by Jacob Needleman, but the audiobook in no way resembles the 2004 reissued Bantam Classics publication. (And I'm skeptical about the narrator, too, who does not sound even a tiny bit like the famous-guy Jacob Needleman.) This text is far more readable than the translation we listened to, but I cannot rate it until I go back and take another pass, but I will say that I do not recommend the audiobook. Which is ...more
Jul 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Though I cannot compare to others, I am finding this edition a most beautiful and well noted reading experience. Simple and elegantly worded, a deceptively 'easy' read. I am finding I am re-reading it as I go along.

Don't read this text too quickly. Linger and double back. It sinks in and soothes as it goes.

This would be a great text to read in group. I think reading it aloud in turns and discussing along the way would be a great boost.

Ancient Religious Text Reading Club, anyone?
; )

The Eddas ne
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Barbara Stoler Miller (August 8, 1940 – April 19, 1993) was a scholar of Sanskrit literature. Her translation of the Bhagavad Gita was extremely successful and she helped popularize Indian literature in the U.S. She was the president of the Association for Asian Studies in 1990.