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The Dhammapada (Classics of Indian Spirituality) [Paperback]

Eknath Easwaran
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Book Description

30 Sep 2007 Classics of Indian Spirituality
Dhammapada means "the path of dharma," the path of truth, harmony, and righteousness that anyone can follow to reach the highest good. Easwaran's translation of this classic Buddhist text is the best-selling edition in its field, praised by Huston Smith as a "sublime rendering." The introduction gives an overview of the Buddha's teachings that is penetrating and clear - accessible for readers new to Buddhism, but also with fresh insights and practical applications for readers familiar with this text. Chapter introductions place individual verses into the context of the broader Buddhist canon. Easwaran is a master storyteller, and his opening essay includes many stories that make moving, memorable reading, bringing young Siddhartha and his heroic spiritual quest vividly to life. But Easwaran's main qualification for interpreting the Dhammapada, he said, was that he knew from his own experience that these verses could transform our lives. This faithful rendition brings us closer to the compassionate heart of the Buddha.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Nilgiri Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (30 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586380206
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586380205
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.9 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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.

Product Description

Amazon Review

According to Eknath Easwaran, if all of the Buddhist sutras had been lost and only the Dhammapada remained, that would be enough to understand and appreciate the wisdom of the Buddha. Easwaran's version of the Dhammapada goes a long way to proving this. In a lengthy introduction, Easwaran summarises the life of the Buddha and the main tenets of his thought, including key concepts, such as dharma, karma and nirvana. The language of the Dhammapada is as lucid and flowing as the Psalms or the Sermon on the Mount, and this is why it is one of the most loved and remembered of all Buddhist sutras. Its subject matter, put succinctly, is the training of the mind, which leads to kind thoughts and deeds, which bring peace and freedom from suffering. If you are interested in reading one of the gems of Buddhist literature, this is a good place to start; and if you are looking for a great version of this beloved scripture, you can't do better. Like all great world scripture, the verses here reward re-reading and reflection, prompting you to "strive for wisdom always". --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding presentation of the dharma 28 Nov 2006
By Dennis Littrell TOP 1000 REVIEWER
We are always alive. We do not die. We can only anticipate death (or not, as we see fit).

We can never die because the "we" that is real and conscious is never alive in the sense that our bodies are alive. Our bodies live and die, but we do not.

There never was a time we were not, and there never will be a time when we are not.

This understanding comes from the Vedas and was known at the time of the Buddha's birth. But this is not something that somebody can tell you, and nobody told it to the Buddha. He realized this truth only after years of striving toward it. He saw what the problem was. He saw that the problem could be solved. He formulated a teaching so that others could understand, and then he went out into the world and for forty-some years taught others what he had discovered. The essence of what the Buddha learned is in the Dhammapada.

This translation by the eminent scholar Eknath Easwaran is elegant in its timeless simplicity. How like the original Pali it must be! Comparing this to the most venerable of the English translations, that of Max Muller from 1870, is like comparing poetry to prose, like comparing a holograph to a flat screen. This is not to denigrate Muller's translation, which is very good; it is only to emphasize the penetrating beauty and lucidity of Easwaran's work.

Additionally, Easwaran has written a 65-page Introduction in which he recalls the traditional life of the Buddha in some detail, although with perhaps a bit more flourish than most scholars would allow! He incorporates the Buddhist teachings and--like others such as David Darling and Fritjol Capra--finds a striking connection to modern physics which he explains very well.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lifetime companion 14 Jun 2006
It simply is my most used book. I started just reading it, beginning with the elaborate introduction written by Easwaran. It gives an extremely insightful picture of what sort of person Buddha was and how important and inspiring he was in his own days. The translation itself is more than just a modern and appealing translation. I think the spiritual wisdom of Easwaran gives this translation an extra value.

Every chapter has its own introduction, which enables the reader to understand the text a little better than he would without it.

I was so attracted and impressed by the by the superconcentrated wisdom of the dhammapada that I decided to learn the text by heart. A work, which is still in progress.

So there you got the reason why I use it so much.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dhammapada 18 Oct 2011
A most inspiring book. Starting with the introduction of the Buddha's life,the spiritual unfolding of a great soul. The author is a wonderful storyteller and has made the Buddha come to life for me. The teachings of the Dharmapadda are so simple,but when applied diligently in our daily lives, a true path to peace and happiness within. Thank you Eknath Easwaran for giving me a great tool to transform my life!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars lots of messages are missing 18 Sep 2013
By Kate
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have read three version english translations of The Dhammapada, this translation although is easy to read, but many messages have been missing.

To be honest, for any serious readers, do try to read the versions of by Max Müller and Max Fausböll, [1881], or/and The Buddha's Way of Virtue, by W.D.C Wagiswara and K.J. Saunders, [1920]

In addition, the author has put too much his own understandings into The Dhammpada....
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dhammapada - Eknath Easwaran 26 Nov 2010
The Dhammapada - 'The Path of Truth' - has been beautifully translated by Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999), an academic professor, and pioneer of 'Passage Meditation'. This translation is from the original Pali, but Eknath has kept certain key terms in phonetical Sanskrit, as he explains that in the West, due to the influence of Mahayana Buddhism in general, and Zen Buddhism inparticular, Sanskrit pronunciations are more commonly known. For instance, the Pali 'Nibbana' is rendered as the Sanskrit 'Nirvana', 'kamma' is rendered as 'kharma', and 'Dhamma' is rendered as 'Dharma', etc. Interestingly, Eknath does keep the Pali rendering of the title as 'Dhammapada', instead of the Sanskrit 'Dharmapada'. This Buddhist sutra is comprised of 26 chapters which collectively contain 426 aphorism, or short sayings of the Buddha. This sutra has been popular amongst Buddhist for many years. As a sutra, it covers a general over-view of the Buddha's path, and is unique in as much a its contained teaching appears to represent the three main philosophical traditions of worldwide Buddhism, namely the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajra/Tamtrayana. Rather than these schools being separate and distinct entities, Eknath's translation presents them - quite rightly - as distinct aspect of exactly the same Dhamma, or 'Teaching'. In effect, the Dhammpada is showing that an individual on the spiritual path will need access to all three notions as progression is made. In this respect, the Dhammapada serves to remind all that the apparently separate philosophical schools of Buddhism, have infact exactly the same spiritual basis - a point undoubtedly not lost on Eknath himself, as he always strove to present the 'holistic' nature of spiritual discourse.

The paperback (Penguin-Arkana) edition contains 208 numbered pages.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Get 'The Law of Attraction' in an ancient text
The Dhammapada consists of verses said to be uttered by the Buddha on some 305 occasions for the benefit of human beings. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Francis O'Neill
4.0 out of 5 stars zero hour contracts and the attitude to paying tax!
not a bad read!in excellent condition!always come here last because of zero hour contracts and the attitude to paying tax!
Published 5 months ago by Mr. E. Oakwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
I want to learn more of the ancient religions as in the Hindus etc. I find these books very informative and hopefully guide me to a better place.
Published 6 months ago by Kathleen Syme
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
A beautiful work and a pleasure to read. As with most ebooks there are a few little errors in the transcribing but then doubtless Caxton got the same complaints in his early days. Read more
Published 7 months ago by K. J. Stone
5.0 out of 5 stars Budhism
I like this book very much as my Interest is in learning as much as I can about other Faiths. I am very interested in Budhism.
Published 7 months ago by Sandra Fletcher
5.0 out of 5 stars great book to have to keep going back to
The introduction alone proved very useful, very relevant and the body of work as always thought provoking and satisfying. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Marjorie Mills
2.0 out of 5 stars Okay - doesn't flow as well as I'd like.
I was expecting great things from this book but I'm disappointed. I'm sure it has the potential to be a great read buy the author's writing style and use of vocabulary means the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by mcavoyd
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dhammapada by Eknath Easwaran
Good summary of Buddhist teaching and philosophy. The introduction describing Siddhartha Gautama's world and how he came to become the Buddha was particularly lucid and dealt well... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Dr J C Stanger-Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for yoga teachers
I'm a yoga teacher and am always looking for resources that can help improve my yoga classes. I purchased Eknath Easwaran's Gita book a few weeks back and loved it. Read more
Published on 23 Jun 2011 by George A. Watts
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