Recommended Reading: Book List

There are many, many translations of and commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita. Below we list ones we are familiar with and can recommend.

According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_Gita, “Numerous readings and adaptations of the Bhagavad Gita have been published in many languages. In 1785 Charles Wilkins published an English translation of the Bhagavad Gita, which was the first time a Sanskrit book had been translated directly into a European language. In 1808 passages from the Gita were part of the first direct translation of Sanskrit into German, appearing in a book through which Friedrich Schlegel became known as the founder of Indian philology in Germany. The Gita has been translated into many other languages. Gita Press, of Gorakhpur, India, publishes the Gita in English and many Indian languages. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust publishes the Gita in more than 54 languages.

In alphabetical order by author (with links to the books):

1. A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Bhagavad-gita As It Is.

http://www.asitis.com or www.krishna.com

Perhaps no else popularized the Bhagavad Gita in our modern day than the founder of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness. His translation and commentary on the Gita is read worldwide and in 54 languages.

(The entirety of this book may be read at: (link on our site).

COVER PHOTO: PrabhupadBook

2. Chidbhavananda, Swami (1997). The Bhagavad Gita. Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam.

http://www.vedanta.com/store/product50.html

Swami Chidbhavananda’s guru was Swami Shivananda who was a direct disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Swami Chidbhavananda has authored more than a hundred books in Tamil and English. His most acclaimed work is a commentary on Bhagavad Gita. (Note: He initiated Sri Swami Satchidananda into brahmacharya diksha, pre-Sannyas in 1946).

COVER PHOTO: ChidbhavanandaCover.jpg

3. Easwaran, Eknath (1975). The Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living. Berkeley, California: The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation.

www.easwaran.org

(from the website) Easwaran’s translation is accurate and accessible. Raised in the Hindu culture, he studied Sanskrit from a young age and later developed a deep love of English literature. He highlights the Gita’s key messages and conveys the haunting beauty of the verses. And readers will appreciate Easwaran’s authenticity—he lived the Gita. Easwaran’s introduction gives the key to the Gita’s timeless wisdom. Combining erudition with a contagious personal enthusiasm, Easwaran places the Gita in its historical context, gives a clear explanation of fundamental concepts, and brings out the universality of the Gita’s teachings. Includes chapter introductions, notes, and a Sanskrit glossary.

4. Greene, Joshua M. (2009) Gita Wisdom: An Introduction to India’s Essential Yoga Text. Mandala Publishing

www.amazon.com

Joshua Greene (who was also the writer/producer of the film, “Living Yoga: The life and teachings of Swami Satchidananda”) retells this timeless text in a completely new way, revealing that it is, in essence, a heart-to-heart talk between two friends about the meaning of life. Like all great literature, the Gita explores the human condition: who we are, where we came from, and why we’re here. With a helpful glossary that lists names, terms, and places, this accessible, enlightening retelling is a very good introduction to the Gita’s venerable wisdom.

COVER PHOTO: GitaWisdomCover

5. Nikhilananda, Swami (1986). The Bhagavad Gita. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center.

www.amazon.com

In 1944, Time magazine called Swami Nikhilananda’s translations of The Bhagavad Gita, “The first really readable, authoritative English translation of one of the world’s greatest religious classics.” W. Somerset Maugham said: “I have found your introduction and the translation of Sankara’s preface extremely interesting and your synopsis of the story of the Mahabharata seems to me very useful in preparing the reader and setting him clear on the scene. I am convinced that this edition of yours will be valuable to all students of that extraordinary book.”

COVER PHOTO: NikhilanandaCover

6. Patton, Laurie (2008). The Bhagavad Gita. United Kingdom: Penguin Books.

www.amazon.com

(from Penguin website) Laurie Patton’s accessible and elegant new translation reflects The Bhagavad Gita’s status as both an aesthetic and a social document, and her introduction examines the structure of the poem and the various commentaries on it through the ages. This edition also includes suggested further reading and a glossary of terms.

COVER PHOTO: LauriePattonCover

7. Prabhavananda, Swami and Isherwood, Christopher (2002). The Song of God. Signet Classics

www.amazon.com

(From Hinduism Today) “For many Westerners, their introduction to Hinduism came not from Yoga or a respected guru, but from a boyish British author, Christopher Isherwood, a Renaissance man of letters, writing plays, short stories, screenplays, poems, novels and nonfiction. His involvement in the Vedanta movement in California from the 1940s through the 1980s left a permanent imprint on the cultural landscape and helped raise the profile of Hinduism in the West. Song of God: Bhagavad Gita, his collaborative effort with Swami Prabhavananda, first published in 1944, has sold more than a million copies.”

COVER PHOTO: SongofGodCover

8. Rosen, Steven J. Krishna (2007). Krishna’s Song: A New Look at the Bhagavad Gita. Praeger Publishers.

www.amazon.com

Independent scholar Rosen’s intent is to “culturally translate” the text, which he came to know through Swami Prabhupada’s Gita, in ways understandable to a Western audience. He uses giants like Plato to raise the issue of social classification, Jesus (and his cursing of the fig tree) to engage an arboreal metaphor of the self, Oppenheimer to open out the vision of Krishna, Dante to introduce ideas about journeys/epic poetry, Bhisma to engage the question of vegetarianism, and Kierkegaard (and his three stages of human existence) to talk about the three gunas. The story is well told, often with easy colloquial language. —Choice May 2008

9. Satchidananda, Swami (1997). The Living Gita. Buckingham, Virginia: Integral Yoga Publications.

www.shakticom.org

“Just as the many great yogis of the past bequeathed commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita to the people of India, Swami Satchidananda, who is a master of communicating the way of yoga with western words and images, has finally done the same for us. All popular English editions of the Gita must now take a backseat to this exquisite new edition.” —Meditation Magazine

10. Schweig, Graham (2007). The Beloved Lord’s Secret Love Song: The Bhagavad Gita. HarperOne.

www.amazon.com

“Graham Schweig’s new, beautiful, and accessible translation will remain the standard text of this marvelous Song for years to come.” —Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions).

“Graham Schweig’s very accessible new translation presents refreshing, even startling, approaches to the Gita, in particular as a song revealing the supreme divinity’s own passionate yearning for our love. If you are eager for perspectives that expand our access to the world’s sacred texts there’s a pleasing blend of tradition and adventure in this new Gita translation. Dr. Schweig has a scholar’s objectivity and a practitioner’s fluency, giving this reader the feeling of direct contact with a timeless and vital spiritual legacy.” —Amazon.com reader review

11. Sivananda, Swami (2003-11th edition). The Bhagavad Gita. Rishikesh, India: The Divine Life Society Trust.

www.amazon.com

Sri Swami Sivananda is the guru of Integral Yoga founder Sri Swami Satchidananda. This book is widely read and a classic from one of the most revered Yoga masters of India.

(The entirety of this book may be read at: (link on our site).

COVER PHOTO: Gita.SivanandaCover

12. Tapasyananda, Swami (1990, 2003). Śrīmad Bhagavad Gītā. India: Sri Ramakrishna Math.

www.amazon.com

The author was an erudite scholar in both English and Sanskrit. He has written many books in English and also translated several important Hindu scriptures into English. His translation of Srimad Bhagavatham in four volumes has been highly acclaimed in intellectual and devotional circles.

COVER PHOTO: Śrīmad Bhagavad GītāTapasyananda

13. Zaehner, Robert Charles (1969). London: Oxford University Press. The Bhagavad-Gita .

www.amazon.com

Considered by Professors Graham Schweig and Omid Safi to be one of the most scholarly translations of the Gita. From an Amazon.com reader review: “I have read a couple other translations of this inspirational text, but I found R.C. Zaehner’s to be a hidden treasure. A more literal and scholarly book than Barbara Stoler Miller’s. He includes additional information from other classic Hindu writings and transliteration of the Sanskrit text. A very enjoyable read for those serious about philosophy and Hinduism.

COVER PHOTO: ZaehnerCover

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