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Author Topic: Bhagavad Gita Translations  (Read 2162 times)

anonymus

Bhagavad Gita Translations
« on: February 14, 2016, 10:50:21 pm »
I was wondering if any body could recommend an accurate and accessible translation of the Bhagavad Gita.

Castus

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Re: Bhagavad Gita Translations
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2016, 11:20:53 pm »
Quote from: anonymus;186639
I was wondering if any body could recommend an accurate and accessible translation of the Bhagavad Gita.

 
I'm pretty sure ISKCON put out a good one.
“Many a searching, although blind, mind has mistaken religion for some philosophical system. Too irreverent and profane handling of religion often makes of it a science, a pastime study. Now and again we come by the way of such who make religion a speculation; yes, and a speculation without a question as to its nature. Do you not know that religion is one of the qualities of your soul? An essential substance, I might say, to be plain, of your self-recognizing, self-satisfied, living spirit? Those who are convinced of this fact are not indifferent to religion. Indifferentism has no place in the serious life of one who seeks to be right-minded.”

-- St Sebastian Dabovich

vox

Re: Bhagavad Gita Translations
« Reply #2 on: February 29, 2016, 02:51:10 pm »
Quote from: anonymus;186639
I was wondering if any body could recommend an accurate and accessible translation of the Bhagavad Gita.

 
Hey there,

I found this page which compare various translations of the Gita that might help to clear things up a bit: Confused about English translations of the Bhagavad Gita?  Personally, I like the Eknath Easwaran translation, myself.

However, there's also the translation by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood which is also very good and should not be overlooked.  You can check out what people say about it at amazon.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't also bring up The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners by Jack Hawley.  It's not my personal favorite, but a lot of people have really responded enthusiastically to it.

The Bhagavad Gita is a book that a person can read for a lifetime and still find new wisdom.  If I were to give a copy to someone who was just starting out, I'd probably pick the Easwaran or Prabhavananda/Isherwood translation, but I kind of grew up with the Vedanta Society texts around me, so they're very comfortable to me.

Best of luck, and I hope I've helped a little.

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Re: Bhagavad Gita Translations
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2016, 02:08:27 pm »
Quote from: Castus;186641
I'm pretty sure ISKCON put out a good one.

 
As someone who comes from a Hindu background, I'd recommend avoiding ISKON's translation: It comes with a very intrusive and literalist commentary. It's basically the equivalent of getting a Bible published by the Evangelical Alliance or something. If you're after accuracy, I'd avoid Easwaran too: It's not a terrible translation, but it's very much filtered through Easwaran's own biases. I recommend the Lars Martin Fosse Translation, as it was written with the express intent of creating an accurate translation, and not glossing over any of the uncomfortable parts of the Gita: Krishna isn't portrayed as all love and sweetness, and no attempt is made to obscure the fact that the Gita is sexist and supports the caste system, or to obscure the fact that, yes, God is telling someone to go and fight in a war.

It's not necessarily as beautiful or poetic as some translations out there, but for accuracy and lack of bias you can't get much better. I'd still recommend reading more than one translation, though. Hope that helps.

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Re: Bhagavad Gita Translations
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2017, 11:19:47 am »

 
As someone who comes from a Hindu background, I'd recommend avoiding ISKON's translation: It comes with a very intrusive and literalist commentary. It's basically the equivalent of getting a Bible published by the Evangelical Alliance or something. If you're after accuracy, I'd avoid Easwaran too: It's not a terrible translation, but it's very much filtered through Easwaran's own biases. I recommend the Lars Martin Fosse Translation, as it was written with the express intent of creating an accurate translation, and not glossing over any of the uncomfortable parts of the Gita: Krishna isn't portrayed as all love and sweetness, and no attempt is made to obscure the fact that the Gita is sexist and supports the caste system, or to obscure the fact that, yes, God is telling someone to go and fight in a war.

It's not necessarily as beautiful or poetic as some translations out there, but for accuracy and lack of bias you can't get much better. I'd still recommend reading more than one translation, though. Hope that helps.

I know this thread is old, not sure why it popped up now, but anyway...

I agree with everything you said. The As It Is version does have some nice flowery prose, but I don't like the narrow purports. For example, I do not believe that 9.26 ("If one offers Me with love and devotion, a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it") is an injunction to vegetarianism. sure, we eat nasturtiums in a salad, but really, eating flowers!? No, I believe it is saying that no matter how meagre the offering, if done with a pure heart and the deepest love, Krishna will be thrilled with it.

I also do not like how Prabhupada translates 7.21:

yo yo yam yam tanum bhaktah
sraddhayarcitum icchati
tasya tasyacalam sraddham
tam eva vidadhamy aham


"I am in everyone's heart as the Supersoul. As soon as one desires to worship the demigods, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to some particular deity." The line "I am in everyone's heart as the Supersoul is not in the Sanskrit in any way, shape or form. I think Prabhupada had an agenda (oh really? ya think?) and does his best to fulfill it. Nevertheless, I do like reading it, as comparison. I also recommend several translations and interpretations. Though Ramana Maharshi said he took each verse at face value. He said he'd hear a verse, accept it the way he heard it (he never read it... I think he was illiterate) and that was that. A ṛṣi after my own heart... no overthinking.  :P
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

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Re: Bhagavad Gita Translations
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2017, 01:03:49 am »
I know this thread is old, not sure why it popped up now, but anyway...

I agree with everything you said. The As It Is version does have some nice flowery prose, but I don't like the narrow purports. For example, I do not believe that 9.26 ("If one offers Me with love and devotion, a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it") is an injunction to vegetarianism. sure, we eat nasturtiums in a salad, but really, eating flowers!? No, I believe it is saying that no matter how meagre the offering, if done with a pure heart and the deepest love, Krishna will be thrilled with it.

I also do not like how Prabhupada translates 7.21:

yo yo yam yam tanum bhaktah
sraddhayarcitum icchati
tasya tasyacalam sraddham
tam eva vidadhamy aham


"I am in everyone's heart as the Supersoul. As soon as one desires to worship the demigods, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to some particular deity." The line "I am in everyone's heart as the Supersoul is not in the Sanskrit in any way, shape or form. I think Prabhupada had an agenda (oh really? ya think?) and does his best to fulfill it. Nevertheless, I do like reading it, as comparison. I also recommend several translations and interpretations. Though Ramana Maharshi said he took each verse at face value. He said he'd hear a verse, accept it the way he heard it (he never read it... I think he was illiterate) and that was that. A ṛṣi after my own heart... no overthinking.  :P

I personally use "as it is," and quit like the way it is written, but it does have an agenda. If you use it you have to read critically and be skeptical of his commentary and interpretation, because he often phrases things to support ISKON theology and beliefs, when the original verse does not necessarily do so. I see "as it is" as being similar to a King James Bible (with commentary); it sounds nice, and is very poetic, but the translation has issues and the commentary should be distrusted and questioned.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." - Sri Krishna

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Re: Bhagavad Gita Translations
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2017, 11:31:38 am »
I personally use "as it is," and quit like the way it is written, but it does have an agenda. If you use it you have to read critically and be skeptical of his commentary and interpretation, because he often phrases things to support ISKON theology and beliefs, when the original verse does not necessarily do so. I see "as it is" as being similar to a King James Bible (with commentary); it sounds nice, and is very poetic, but the translation has issues and the commentary should be distrusted and questioned.

There's a discussion of this very thing on another site!
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

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Re: Bhagavad Gita Translations
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2017, 03:46:29 pm »
There's a discussion of this very thing on another site!

This very thing? As in, a comparison of the KJV and the "As it is" Gita? Interesting!
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." - Sri Krishna

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Re: Bhagavad Gita Translations
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2017, 11:16:03 am »
This very thing? As in, a comparison of the KJV and the "As it is" Gita? Interesting!

I mean the translations Prabhupada uses and his purports considered to be based on his alleged  agenda.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Bhagavad Gita Translations
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2017, 06:34:06 pm »
I mean the translations Prabhupada uses and his purports considered to be based on his alleged  agenda.

Oh. I sort of assumed that everyone took that for granted. The leader of one sect of Hinduism, is going to spin his translation to fit with his sect's theology, especially when the sect is as sectarian and zealous as ISKON. They really want you to convert, and you might not do that if the text doesn't support their interpretation.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." - Sri Krishna

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