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Eknath Easwaran

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Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999) is respected around the world as one of the twentieth century's great spiritual teachers and an authentic guide to timeless wisdom. Although he did not travel or seek large audiences, his books on meditation, spiritual living, and the classics of world mysticism have been translated into twenty-six languages. More than 1.5 million copies of Easwaran's books are in print.

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wife, Christine Easwaran, continues to publish new books and talks, drawing on the vast archive of Easwaran's unpublished transcripts.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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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Amazon.com: 4.6 étoiles sur 5  75 commentaires
93 internautes sur 94 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 If you are searching for peace and answers, you have arrived 7 mars 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I discovered this book quite by accident and it has changed my life. I have it by my bedside and read it every night, and hope to someday read every book by Easwaran and incorporate the teachings from this one into my life. I no longer jump off the wall every time things go wrong and can smile at things that made me NUTS before this! Now, I know better. I recommend this to anybody who has made it this far in their search. If there is one book on Hinduism you read, make this the one. I have grown up reading the Bhagwad Gita and I think this by far supercedes that in giving direction and answers in a way that we can still manage in year 2000.
72 internautes sur 72 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Simply the best 6 janvier 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Simply the best read of the Upanishads in bookstores today. Easwaran uses his background as teacher/communicator to build a highly accessible bridge from our Western way of thinking to some of the deepest insights from the East. I highly recommend this book - and its companions (The Bhagavad Gita and The Dhammapada) to any serious seeker of life's deeper meaning.
134 internautes sur 140 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Profound knowledge profoundly interpreted 30 août 2004
Par Ashwini Aragam - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
It is amazing that with all the technology modern man has invented, he is unable to answer some deep questions every human being comes across - what is life, why should there be death, etc. He has to go back about four-five thousand years to find out the answers. The answers are in the Upanishads - ancient religion-independent literature, that are recordings of experiential knowledge those wise sages knew. Unlike the Vedas, which are about religious rites and practices, the Upanishads discuss only fundamental questions. Questions such as - 'What is that if one knows, that he/she knows everything'. Amazingly, man found out the answer and had the vision and genorosity to share such findings in the Upanishads. Upanishads are such a fundamental required reading that in ancient India, children would dedicate a significant amount of their early life - 10-12 years - before they set up to establish themselves in the world. In essence, without knowing one's Self, you would be wading dark waters all the time as the Upanishads themselves say.

Eknath Eswaran's transalation makes the Upanishads simple to read. That alone is a great achievement given the voluminous nature of the texts and the language of expression - Sanskrit. We should remember that the text is thousands of years old and has a strong inclination towards flowery, verbose and at times redundant expresssions. But if repetition gets the message across, so does reading such texts! Throughout the translation, Eknath Eswaran's experience with spiritualism, his dedication to such a life, his knowledge and wisdom about English literature and world religions come across making the reading valuable.

As he states of professor William James, the great American psychologist, 'The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention over and over again is the very root of judgement, character and will. An education which should include this faculty would be education par excellence'. I wouldn't agree more with the author - reading the Upanishads is such education, essential for every one.
45 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Missing verses, words, ideas, and entire sections... otherwise excellent. 9 septembre 2012
Par LFTV - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Eknath Easwaran's "The Upanishads" book is very elegant, beautiful, and easy to read. I like how he placed titles to every section and that he also wrote very small superscript numbers for every verse. From the front cover to the back one, it is a gorgeous book. It really invites/makes you read it all the time.

For those who are very serious, however...

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is missing the entire chapter 1 (very important chapter), it starts on chapter 2. Then on chapter 3, verses 2 through 7 (very important too) are missing... this pattern keeps going with other Upanishads.

Eknath was condensing the Upanishads to make it less repetitive (in a way I like it - abridge version) and many verses had missing parts/words/ideas/watered down (this repeats throughout the book and it is my biggest complaint). I understand "selecting portions" of some of the Upanishads, but it should be stated, and more importantly, the best parts should've been selected (per Upanishad). Here (Brihadaranyaka), the best parts were left out (a main issue), perhaps because another Upanishad touches on the same topic, but this is not mentioned or shown where. It is obvious that he was making a very westernize translation, omitting things that would turn away any western mind, as for example: being reborn in another planet (see below verse 3 of the Isha Upanishad). Our "scientific" society would laugh at this. Yet, I rather have it in the original context than to delude it. And still, Eknath managed to do a very good translation (my second favorite "most readable").

It would have been better if he gave the entire text of all the Upanishads and he did not condense (missing words or ideas) them so much, just a bit. Also, it would be much better if he gave the original Sanskrit text (for the serious student). When I bought the book, I was under the impression that not only it was beautiful (and it is), but that this one had the complete text (almost everyone else has them incomplete).

The introduction before each of the Upanishads (the one some reviewers complain about) is written by Michael Nagler, not Eknath, and I do like it.

This book also includes 4 minor Upanishads: Tejobindu, Atma, Amritabindu, and Paramahamsa.

I do like the way Eknath writes. His style is pleasant, appealing, and easy, it keeps you interested. I absolutely like his other book "Essence of the Upanishads".

Of all the translation I have read and own, the best one so far is "The Upanishads, Breath of The Eternal" by Swami Prabhavanada. This one is not as elegant/stylish looking on paper as Eknath's, but it is not missing important parts and the translation is soul touching... poetic... deep... for the most serious students.

By the way, "The Upanishads: Breath of The Eternal" also includes only selected portions of the Taittiriya, Chandogya, and Brihadaranyaka. However, they do state it as such on the table of content, and more importantly, the best parts were selected and there is no deluding of anything, they rather added (to convey better the idea) than remove.

Yes, another reviewer is right: there cannot be a literal translation of the Sanskrit text (see a Sanskrit sample below). It would not make sense at all. It has to be interpreted. But a good interpretation would not omit an idea, and in a text so deep like this, not leaving words/ideas out or "not watering them down" is critical... if we are serious about realizing these truths.

At other places, Eknath's translation was literal, for example, most translate it as "All this is Brahma, all that is Brahma", but the original in Sanskrit actually says "All this is full, all that is full" and it is how Eknath has it.

********************************************

Here is a quick comparison of Eknath's Isha Upanishad translation with other translators. Pay more attention to verse 3 on Eknath's translation where you can easily notice missing words/ideas, which leads to a different interpretation. Also, see how simple, yet beautiful, and direct is the translation by "The Upanishads: Breath of the Eternal":

ORIGINAL - Sanskrit transliteration:
kurvann eveha karmāṇi jijīviṣec chatāḿ samāḥ
evaḿ tvayi nānyatheto'sti na karma lipyate nare

Eknath (no original in Sanskrit in his book):
Thus working may you live a hundred years. Thus alone will you work in real freedom. P. 57, verse 2

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada (in his book, he provides the original in Sanskrit):
One may aspire to live for hundreds of years if he continuously goes on working in that way, for that sort of work will not bind him to the law of karma. There is no alternative to this way for man.

Sri Aurobindo (in his book, he provides the original in Sanskrit):
Doing verily works in this world one should wish to live a hundred years. Thus it is in thee and not otherwise than this; action cleaves not to a man.

"The Upanishads: Breath of the Eternal" by Swami Prabhavanada (no Sanskrit):
WELL MAY HE BE CONTENT TO LIVE A HUNDRED YEARS WHO ACTS WITHOUT ATTACHMENT - WHO WORKS HIS WORKS WITH EARNESTNESS, BUT WITHOUT DESIRES, NOT YEARNING FOR ITS FRUITS - HE, AND HE ALONE.

---------------------------------

ORIGINAL:
asurya nama te lokā andhena tamasāvṛtāḥ
tāḿs te pretyābhigacchanti ye ke cātma-hano janāḥ

Eknath:
Those who denied the self are born again blind to the self, envelope in darkness, utterly devoid of love for the Lord. P. 57, verse 3

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada:
The killer of the soul, whoever he may be, must enter into the planets known as the worlds of the faithless, full of darkness and ignorance.

Sri Aurobindo":
Sunless are those worlds and enveloped in blind gloom where to all they in their passing hence resort who are slayers of their souls.

"The Upanishads: Breath of the Eternal":
WORLDS THERE ARE WITHOUT SUNS, COVERED UP WITH DARKNESS. TO THESE AFTER DEATH GO THE IGNORANT, SLAYERS OF THE SELF.

---------------------------------

ORIGINAL:
anejad ekaḿ manaso javiyo nainad devā āpnuvan pūrvam arṣat
tad dhāvato'nyān atyeti tiṣṭhat tasminn apo mātarisvā dadhāti

Eknath:
The Self is one. Ever still, the Self is swifter than thought, swifter than the senses. Though motionless, He outruns all pursuit. Without the Self, never could life exist. P. 57, verse 4

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada:
Although fixed in His abode, the Personality of Godhead is swifter than the mind and can overcome all others running. The powerful demigods cannot approach Him. Although in one place, He controls those who supply the air and rain. He surpasses all in excellence.

Sri Aurobindo:
One unmoving that is swifter than Mind, That the Gods reach not, for it progresses ever in front. That, standing, passes beyond others as they run. In That the Master of Life establishes the Waters.

"The Upanishads: Breath of the Eternal":
THE SELF IS ONE. UNMOVING, IT MOVES SWIFTER THAN THOUGHT. THE SENSES DO NOT OVERTAKE IT, FOR ALWAYS IT GOES BEFORE. REMAINING STILL, IT OUTSTRIPS ALL THAT RUN. WITHOUT THE SELF, THERE IS NO LIFE.

********************************************

Bottom line: 1. Missing important parts, 2. ideas are missing or have been diluted too much, or 3. changed.

I returned the book, unfortunately.

For a complete translation/interpretation (no Sanskrit or transliteration) of the main Upanishads get the F. Max Muller version & Swami Paramananda which can be freely obtained in PDF from "forgottenbooks" dot org. You might have to create a free account. I find their interpretations very accurate, and suited for advanced studies. Combine them with "Breath of the Eternal" and it is almost as reading the original in Sanskrit.
39 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Easwaran translates another Hinduist classic 12 décembre 2000
Par "giovanni77" - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
After reading the Dhammapada translation from the same author, it was not a surprise to find a similar high-quality translation of the Upanishads - the philosophical part in the Vedas of Hinduist religion. Some points to highlight in Easwaran's work: Poetic but precise wording, great introduction and commentaries, easy-to-read without creating a scholar-only work, impeccable introduction to the Historical context of the work and it's importance in Hinduism.
Mr Easwaran's work convinced me to buy all Three books that form a Trilogy: The Dhammapada, The Upanishads and The Bhagavad Gita. Without a doubt, especially considering the price, this Trilogy is a steal.
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