The Bhagavad Gita (Anglais) Broché – 17 mai 2007
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Eknath Easwaran's eloquent translation and Diana Morrison's chapter introductions, which summarize major religious concepts, make this edition especially accessible for modern readers of any religion. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
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His book Meditation, now titled Passage Meditation, has sold over 200,000 copies since it was first published in 1978. His Classics of Indian Spirituality - translations of The Bhagavad Gita, The Dhammapada, and The Upanishads - have been warmly praised by Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions, and all three books are bestsellers in their field. The Nilgiri Press editorial team, under the supervision of Easwaran's wife, Christine Easwaran, continues to publish new books and talks, drawing on the vast archive of Easwaran's unpublished transcripts.
A gifted teacher who lived for many years in the West, Easwaran lived what he taught, giving him enduring appeal as a teacher and author of deep insight and warmth.
Easwaran's mission was to extend to everyone, "with an open hand," the spiritual disciplines that had brought such rich benefits to his own life. For forty years he devoted his life to teaching the practical essentials of the spiritual life as found in every religion. He taught a universal message that although the body is mortal, within every creature there is a spark of divinity that can never die. And he taught and lived a method that any man or woman can use to reach that inborn divinity and draw on it for love and wisdom in everyday life.
Whenever asked what religion he followed, Easwaran would reply that he belonged to all religions. His teachings reached people in every faith. He often quoted the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who influenced him deeply: "I have not the shadow of a doubt that every man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith."
Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999) was born into an ancient matrilineal family in Kerala state, South India. There he grew up under the close guidance of his mother's mother, Eknath Chippu Kunchi Ammal, whom he honored throughout his life as his spiritual teacher. From her he learned the traditional wisdom of India's ancient scriptures. An unlettered village woman, she taught him through her daily life, which was permeated by her continuous awareness of God, that spiritual practice is something to be lived out each day in the midst of family and community.
Growing up in British India, Easwaran first learned English in his village high school, where the doors were opened to the treasure-house of English literature. At sixteen, he left his village to attend a nearby Catholic college. There his passionate love of English literature intensified and he acquired a deep appreciation of the Christian tradition.
Later, contact with the YMCA and close friendships within the Muslim and Christian communities enriched his sense of the universality of spiritual truths. Easwaran often recalled with pride that he grew up in "Gandhi's India" - the historic years when Mahatma Gandhi was leading the Indian people to freedom from British rule through nonviolence. As a young man, Easwaran met Gandhi and the experience of sitting near him at his evening prayer meetings left a lasting impression. The lesson he learned from Gandhi was the power of the individual: the immense resources that emerge into life when a seemingly ordinary person transforms himself completely.
After graduate work at the University of Nagpur in Central India, where he took first-class degrees in literature and in law, Easwaran entered the teaching profession, eventually returning to Nagpur to become a full professor and head of the department of English. By this time he had acquired a reputation as a writer and speaker, contributing regularly to the Times of India and giving talks on English literature for All-India Radio.
At this juncture, he would recall, "All my success turned to ashes." The death of his grandmother in the same year as Gandhi's assassination prompted him to turn inward.
Following Gandhi's inspiration, he became deeply absorbed in the Bhagavad Gita, India's best-known scripture. Meditation on passages from the Gita and other world scriptures quickly developed into the method of meditation that today is associated with his name.
Eknath Easwaran was Professor of English Literature at the University of Nagpur when he came to the United States on the Fulbright exchange program in 1959. Soon he was giving talks on India's spiritual tradition throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. At one such talk he met his future wife, Christine, with whom he established the organization that became the vehicle for his life's work. The mission of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, founded in 1961, is the same today as when it was founded: to teach the eight-point program of passage meditation aimed at helping ordinary people conquer physical and emotional problems, release creativity, and pursue life's highest goal, Self-realization.
After a return to India, Easwaran came back to California in 1965. He lived in the San Francisco Bay Area the rest of his life, dedicating himself to the responsive American audiences that began flowing into his classes in the turbulent Berkeley of the late 1960s, when meditation was suddenly "in the air." His quiet yet impassioned voice reached many hundreds of students in those turbulent years.
Always a writer, Easwaran started a small press in Berkeley to serve as the publishing branch of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. Nilgiri Press was named after the Nilgiris or "Blue Mountains" in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where Easwaran had maintained a home for some years. The press moved to Tomales, California, when the Center bought property there for a permanent headquarters in 1970. Nilgiri Press did the preproduction work for his first book, Gandhi the Man, and began full book manufacturing with his Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living in 1975.
In thousands of talks and his many books Easwaran taught passage meditation and his eight-point program to an audience that now extends around the world. Rather than travel and attract large crowds, he chose to remain in one place and teach in small groups - a preference that was his hallmark as a teacher even in India. "I am still an educator," he liked to say. "But formerly it was education for degrees; now it is education for living." His work is being carried forward by Christine Easwaran, who has worked by his side for forty years, by the students he trained for thirty years, and by the organization he founded to ensure the continuity of his teachings, the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation.
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SRI KRISHNA CONSOLES and instructs Prince Arjuna as he is about to go into battle against family and friends to defend his older brother's claim to the ancient throne of the Kurus. Lire la première page
Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Easwaran shows that the differing paths to self-realization and liberation that the Gita presents are a comprehensive whole. "The thread through Krishna's teaching, the essence of the Gita, can be given in one word: renunciation. This is the common factor in the four yogas" (p. xxxviii). Easwaran goes on to explain that what is being renounced is not material, although on first blush it seems that way. What is renounced are the fruits of action. Renunciation is not only the essence of karma yoga, but the essence of the bhakti, jnana and raja yogas that Krishna presents as well. The key is an amazing spiritual and psychological insight into human nature: we are miserable when we are concerned with the results of what we do, but we are freed when we devote the fruits of our work to God. What is renounced is also the delusion of a material self that acts, the famous slayer and the slain. Unlike some other, rather foolish, translations that try to find some artificial substitute for the word "yoga," an endeavor entirely alien to the Gita, Easwaran embraces the understanding. He writes, "the Gita is Brahmavidyayam yogashastra, a textbook on the supreme science of yoga" (p. xxxvi)
It is also clear from what Easwaran writes in the Preface that he understands meditation and the path of moksha gained when one is beyond the pair of opposites that dominate our material existence. Easwaran knows because he himself is a long time practitioner of meditation, which is one of the ways of liberation (raja yoga). So many writers on spirituality and on the practice of yoga really do not know meditation, but Easwaran clearly does. Easwaran also understands that the insights of the Gita can be found in other mystical traditions, including those of Meister Eckhart, St. Catherine of Genoa, Ruysbroeck, St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, and others.
Easwaran also makes the important point that the Gita is not the sole property of any one point of view. "The Gita does not present a system of philosophy. It offers something to every seeker after God, of whatever temperament, by whatever path" (p. xxxv).
Easwaran writes, "to understand the Gita, it is important to look beneath the surface of its injunctions and see the mental state involved. Philanthropic activity can benefit others and still carry a large measure of ego involvement. Such work is good, but it is not yoga. It may benefit others, but it will not necessarily benefit the doer" (p. xxxix). This represents a profound insight into the nature of karma yoga, an understanding that comes only after years of study and practice.
Finally Easwaran knows something others don't know (even though this is central to Krishna's teaching), that the Gita, through the practice of yoga, frees one from the fear of death. When one "realizes that he is not a physical creature but the Atman, the Self, and thus not separate from God...he knows that, although his body will die, he will not die...To such a person, the Gita says, death is no more traumatic than taking off an old coat." (pp. xxiv-xxv).
There are ten pages of notes that follow the translation in which the shades of meaning of various concepts like dharma, karma, yoga, sannyasa, etc., and some other ideas are discussed. There is a guide to pronunciation and a glossary of Sanskrit words. This quality paperback is handsomely designed from cover to font, and the translation is one of my favorites.
--Dennis Littrell, author of "Yoga: Sacred and Profane (Beyond Hatha Yoga)"
The Bhagavad Gita – Gandhi’s Favorite
The Most Loved Hindu Scripture
Translated by Eknath Easwaran
1st Shambhal Edition 2004
The word “Gita” means “song”, and “Bhagavad Gita” means “song of the Lord”. The Bhagavad Gita (The Gita), was and is viewed by many, including Mahatma Gandhi, as India’s most important gift to the world. It is not an academic work of philosophy but a poetic, practical guide for a lay audience. Whoever would claim to be a student of religion can ill afford to ignore this work. More
The Introductions to each of its 18 Chapters are still essential to guide the lay reader through the thicket of Hindu parlance, including its frequent use of Sanskrit words (which often have multiple and very different meanings). The Gita is short, comprising only a small part (100 pages or so) of a very long Hindu scripture, The Mahabharata (believed to have been written about 1000 B.C.), some 500 years after The Rig Veda, which is the oldest of the Hindu scriptures (which Hindus date hundreds of years before Moses and The Torah -- the first five books of the Old Testament); the Veda also includes the Upanishads, another prominent Hindu scripture. In the aggregate, the Hindu scriptures include texts that are roughly 700 times the size of the Christian Bible.
Both Hinduism and Judaism evolved from idol worship of many objects and forces of nature (gods) into faith in one god and, 1000 or so years later, Judaism gave birth to Christianity and, about 625 A.D., the Islamic faith.
Westerners often misread Hinduism as a belief in many gods, but Hindus believe in one Supreme Being (referring to it as Love, Truth, and Reality, the Supreme Being, Vishnu, etc.), although they have retained their many names for the varied “faces” or aspects of one god and have statues as reminders of their multifaceted one god and some of their saints, but these statues are no more “idols of worship” than are the crosses and other jewelry-ornaments and paintings, figures, figurines and statues that proliferate in many Christian churches (including evangelical) and homes and which Christians wear around their necks. Hindus have thousands of saints (which some Westerners also misread as gods), a number of which saints the Hindus maintain “ascended” (not dissimilar from the Christians’ belief in the ascensions of Christ and Elijah).
Hinduism has spawned or inspired many tangential religions, including Buddhism, Jainism (which adopted many of the Hindu scriptures verbatim), Zorasterism, Hari Krishna’s, Taoism, Pantheism, Humanism, and even the Muslim Sikhs have borrowed much from Hinduism (understandably as many of them live in Northern India).
Buddhism is very similar to Hinduism; Buddha preached Hindu ideals, but he abhorred the priestly caste and their rituals, and he lived his life as a mendicant and ascetic, as did his devoted disciples and pupils, who lived off the largess of others, which prompted the Indians to force most Buddhists to leave India, as a beggar class hardly helps the local economy.
Hinduism appears to have influenced Christianity, as some Eastern scholars maintain that Jesus’ travels included India and that he, too, enjoyed Hindu influences and an exchange of ideas. Hinduism is appealing, because it has a history of non-violence and of loving all sentient creatures. Westerners misinterpret this respect of (and kindness towards) creatures, even extending to insects, as fanaticism or barbarism, rather than as a logical expression of love of all life forms. Of the major religions, Hinduism is the only one that hasn’t spread its gospel, at times, through violence. It sees God in everyone and everything. Amazingly, Hindus have no urge whatsoever to convert anyone to their views. They are concerned only with their own salvation, which keeps them constructively engaged and denuded of the pretentious presumption that they know what is the best philosophy for others.
The main subject of The Gita (the shortest and most loved of all Hindu scriptures) is the war within, the struggle for self-mastery. Most of it is imbedded within a conversation between Arjuna (who symbolizes the average man) and Lord Krishna (Arjuna’s charioteer, who is the incarnation of the Supreme Being and such avatars are common in Hindu scriptures). (“Hari” is another name for Krishna, hence the splinter faith’s moniker, “Hari Krishna”).
Krishna counsels Arjuna:
to be compassionate to friend and enemy alike;
to see himself in every person;
to suffer other’s sorrows as his own;
to see Reality (God) in every creature;
to be incapable of ill will;
to see all of life as Reality’s manifestation; to harm no one;
to see life as a seamless whole; and
to endure pleasure and pain in the same way.
What Westerner could disagree with such loving tenets? Krishna, the Deity, refers to himself as “the Self in every creature” (Gita, 10:20). Philosophers Spinoza and Huxley called The Gita “the Perennial Philosophy”, because it appears in every age of all known civilizations, except the Egyptians’ (which antedate it by stretching back to 3000 B.C.). The Gita’s fundamental precepts are: (1) there is an infinite, changeless reality (Reality); (2) it lies at the core of every human being and creature; and (3) the purpose of life is to discover this Reality; it is “God within us”. Unlike Christian and Muslim bibles, The Gita does not dwell on the subject of creation or a creator, opting to focus on the individual’s struggle to achieve inner peace.
Dharma and karma are the two most important Hindu words. Dharma means “that which supports” and/or “the essential order of things” and/or “the oneness of life”. The highest dharma is nonviolence, a universal love for all creatures; that is the fundamental law of the unity of life. Karma, a Sanskrit word, literally means “something that is done” or “deed”, but it has many expansive meanings; in brief, it might be said to the sum of the individual’s thoughts and actions. The Law of Karma is that every thought and every action has consequences.
Buddha, born a Hindu and a lover of The Gita, said,
“We are not punished for our anger; we are punished by our anger.” (Gita, 15)
The Gita asserts the importance of converting negative thoughts into positive ones.
The key to life is in the mind, not outside it.
The objects that we see are shaped by the attitude with which we look. Krishna tells Arjuna that we never really encounter anything; rather, we only experience our own nervous system. To discover the unity of the world, our consciousness needs to be withdrawn from our (five) senses – via meditation, which is an enormous component of yoga (and the foundation of self-hypnosis, a key tool used in modern psychology, psychiatry and medicine to control pain, gain inner peace, etc.). The nothingness of matter – indeed, atoms are empty – has become a more dominant theme of 20th and 21st Century physicists.
The Gita is a textbook on the supreme science of yoga, but yoga (like many Indian words) has many meanings. Its central theme is karma yoga: we are the product of our thoughts and actions. There are four, primary types of yoga:
(1) knowledge yoga, in which man learns to identify the Self within;
(2) devotion yoga, where man identifies with the Lord or Love –
recalling the New Testament’s John 4:8, “God is love”;
(3) karma yoga, wherein man turns his thoughts and actions to the service of others
and accepts that he is the product of his thoughts and actions;
and that actions bind mankind to an endless cycle of cause and effect;
(4) meditation yoga, wherein man transcends the conscious mind into the subconscious mind.
The Gita doesn’t urge us to give up material things (as does Buddhism) but, rather, to give up our attachment to material things. It doesn’t ask us to give up the pleasures of life but only to do things without selfish motives.
To Gandhi, The Gita can be summarized in two words: “selfless action”, which requires selfless motives. The person whose overriding desire is to give and love and serve has found the true joy of life. The Gita is not a book of commandments but a book of choices. Positive to a fault, it never mentions sin. It dwells on reforming thoughts and conduct, ego, selflessness, love and the relationship between thought and action, and the need to see the same Self (goodness) in every person and creature. The Gita places human destiny in human hands; it sees God (Love, Truth, Reality) in each man, and it teaches that we shape ourselves and our world by what we think and do. Devotion to selfless work is the supreme goal of life (Gita, 3:19). It also holds that there are two paths at the time of death: rebirth and liberation, and that one’s attitude at the time of death can influence which path is taken. Rebirth is generally required for those who have not mastered the supreme goal and liberation (the end) for those who have. While a life of selfless service is a primary driver of Hinduism, meditation may be an even larger part of it, and rudimentary techniques for meditation are set forth, although modern techniques of self-hypnosis may well provide a more advanced and more direct route to the same goal.
Interestingly, The Gita and other Hindu scriptures maintain that there are many cosmos or universes which die and are reborn endlessly. Their ancient views on point are similar to the current views of many cosmologists, which hold that our universe began in a Big Bang, will end in a Black Hole in a “Big Crunch” (some billions of years hence) and will be born again in another Big Bang, hence fostering an endless cycle of universes, coming and going. Thus, the prescient authors of Hindu scriptures appear to have been 3-4,000 years ahead of their time, albeit without enormous telescopes and the benefit of any modern sciences.
The author, Bill Bryson’s “episodic extinctions” (e.g. solar flares, supernova), as described in my report on his brilliant Short History of Almost Everything, suggest many other similarly unpleasant but possible denouements for our terrestrial ball, which might occur in millions of years. Even sooner, another meteor, like the KT Meteor that extinguished the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, could strike anytime, or never (but there are so many errant meteors careening recklessly in space that statistical probability makes it likely within a million or so years), but, if that occurred, it would likely do so with only a few seconds’ warning; so, we’d never know what hit us anyway. Bottom line: the odds are that no such episodic extinction will occur for a million or more years. The point remains that, for eons, the Hindus have believed in sequentially reoccurring universes, a more expansive concept than that depicted in Revelations, as written by the Gospels’ John, which deals only with our planet and was written 1,000 or more years after The Gita.
In sum, The Gita has become synonymous with the most beloved human being in modern history -- Mahatma Gandhi. Its text is brilliant in its simplicity but complex in subtle profundity. Unlike the Torah, the many Christian Bibles and the Koran, The Gita, which never preaches violence, was written to inspire love without the use of force or intimidation. Like all old religious texts (and Hindu scriptures are the oldest of all), it had to be written originally on plant leaves, clay tablets, and parchment (as it long antedated papyrus), and it had to be copied by hand (with predictable edits and revisions to suit the scribes or the clerics from whom the scribes took their directions) with far too many translations, and revisions to compliment the mutations in contemporary mores. Such evolutions render any text problematic at best and, over time, will impose a host of different meanings for the same words with resultant ambiguities.
Notwithstanding any such vagaries, the overriding ideology of The Gita is pure virtue, and its text is largely devoid of contentious statements. Understandably, countless luminaries praise The Gita as the most important of all religious texts. Its ultimate premise makes manifest sense:
“No one who does good work will ever come to a bad end.” (Gita, 6:40).
On such a logical and felicitous note, this reader commends The Gita to all, as a positive and loving scripture, which can help any reader become a better human being, while gaining some appreciation of the world’s oldest faith and of the loving Hindu spirit.
I think that it is intended to be symbolic in setting. Whether there actually was a dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna (or even a historical Arjuna and Krishna) is neither provable, disprovable, nor important beyond historical curiosity. Arjuna represents man in his present state while Krishna is a representation of the Divine, or your True Self. It doesn't matter whether you literally accept Krishna or any other image of the Godhead, the knowledge still is real.
Though the authorship is unknown we cannot wonder much about the author's character. He must have been fully enlightened, if not an incarnation of Vishnu. He knew he was writing something eternal and transcendant. It is likely he realized that the Vedic scriptures were too copious and impenetrable to be popular, so he summarized them in a book for all mankind. He then placed it in the epic Mahabharata to ensure that it could be seen as a revelation in the midst of great struggle - whether that vast battle or every life.
Eknath Easwaran's translation is excellent. I have read quite a few versions and his is the best. There is an interesting introduction and chapter introductions, but no unnecessary Sanskrit or footnotes.
The Gita can always be read. Whatever your emotional condition it is amazing. This can be contemplated every day and still be inspiring. It is certainly the greatest sacred book. What Ben Jonson said of Shakespeare (the best of secular authors, an interesting comparison between East and West there) is true of this: "not of an age, but for all time".