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The Upanishads (Classic of Indian Spirituality) [Paperback]

Eknath Easwaran
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Aug 2007 Classic of Indian Spirituality
Among the oldest of India's spiritual texts, the Upanishads are records of intensive question-and-answer sessions given by illumined sages to their students - in ashrams, at family gatherings, in a royal court, and in the kingdom of Death. The sages share flashes of insight, extraordinary visions, the results of their investigation into consciousness itself. The Upanishads have puzzled and inspired wisdom seekers from Yeats to Schopenhauer. In this best-selling translation, Eknath Easwaran makes these challenging texts more accessible by selecting the passages most relevant to readers seeking timeless truths today. This book includes an overview of the cultural and historical setting, with chapter introductions, notes, and a Sanskrit glossary. But it is Easwaran's understanding of the wisdom of the Upanishads that makes this edition truly outstanding. Each sage, each Upanishad, appeals in a different way to the reader's head and heart. For Easwaran, the Upanishads are part of India's precious legacy, not just to Hinduism but to humanity, and in that spirit they are offered here.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Nilgiri Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (28 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586380214
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586380212
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.8 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,871 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

Formerly a professor of Victorian literature, Eknath Easwaran discovered the treasures of wisdom in his own native India and began to pursue them with a passion. He has since studied them, practised them, and shared them with the Western world. In his translation of The Upanishads, the font of Indian spirituality, Easwaran delights us with a readable rendition of one of the most difficult texts of all religious traditions. Each Upanishad is a lyrical statement on the deeper truths of mysticism, from the different levels of awareness to cultivation of love for God. There's one twist, though, for ultimately a devoted meditator realises that God and the world are not separate from oneself. Then the ultimate goal becomes to reunite with the universal Self, achieving the infinite joy that accompanies such union. Easwaran recruits Michael Nagler to contribute notes to the translation and a lengthy afterword, which together with introductions to each Upanishad, guide us well through this strange and fruitful landscape. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By Vyasa
Format:Kindle Edition
Eknath Easwaran's translation goes straight to the heart of the Upanishads. It is immediately clear that Easwaran was not primarily driven by scholarly or poetic ambitions. He was a spiritual practitioner himself, and as such, his aim was to help other practitoners on their path. In this context, it is important to note that the Upanishads can be seen as a universal teaching - not limited to "Hinduism".

Where other translations loose themselves in scholarly indicisiveness, this translation lends its clarity from the author's own experience with the subject matter - and that clarity also makes it beautiful.
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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In the Upanishads there are two selves. They are symbolized by two birds sitting on a tree branch. The one bird, the self with a small "s" eats. The other bird, the Self with a capital "S" observes. The first self is the self that is part of this world. The second Self is merely an observer that doesn't take part and is in fact beyond the pairs of opposites such as pleasure and pain that dominate our existence. This Self is formally called the Atman. In an important analogy, it is said that the Atman is the drop of water that glides off of the lotus leaf into the ocean of Brahman, with Brahman being the entirety of all that there is, in other words, God, the God beyond all attribution.

This presentation of the Upanishads--necessarily a selection, of course--by Eknath Easwaran is the best single volume that I have come across for the following reasons:

First, the translation by Easwaran is readable, edifying and congenial to the Sanskrit in so far as that is possible. The poetry in the original language and the word play are lost in translation as is always the case with poetry and highly symbolic language, and especially language that is meant to be taken on more than one level. However Easwaran's notes after each Upanishad help to give us an idea what the original is like and give the reader a feel for the some of the nuances.
Second, the chapter introductions and the concluding essay by Michael N. Nagler lend insight and clarity to the reader's understanding.
Third, the selections themselves and what is included in the selections are efficacious. By that I mean the ideas and the "feel" of the expression, the psychology, and the philosophy of the Upanishads and the larger Vedic tradition are made manifest.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than a formal course 26 Aug 2010
By bernie VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Decades ago I plugged through a book called "The Thirteen Principle Upanishads", at the time I found it very useful. However I am the type of person that needs someone to tell me when my shoe is untied. Not so much a guru as an explication or guide to what I am about to read so I can slow down and look for those points besides the one I find on my own.

I perused through the Upanishads books available and found I had already purchased this as a series. I then decided to also re-purchase this in the kindle edition. I do not know if it is his classical background or just skillful presentation; however Eknath Easwaran is perfect at showing you what is about to be presented and tying it back to the concrete or classical world. I now realize it was not that I just wanted to reread the Upanishads but to understand and dwell on them. Thank you Eknath Easwaran.

You might want to do what you are not supposed to do with mysteries and go to the back of the book first to view the Glossary firs for pronunciations and the descriptions of all the different players.

Be sure to read his other books.

The Bhagavad Gita (Classics of Indian Spirituality)
The Dhammapada (Classics of Indian Spirituality)
Classics of Indian Spirituality
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderfully Clear Translation 27 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although I'm relatively new to the world of Eastern spiritual texts, Easwaran's translation (as well as the other two in this series "Classic's Of Indian Spirituality") is lucid and clear, with helpful introductions throughout that explain the significance of each Upanishad, and it's context within the culture and history of ancient India.

The work itself is effortlessly transcendent, and Easwaran leaves untranslated the concepts that are indescribable in a western tongue, allowing a more personal reading, and for the ideas to become clearer as one progress's through the text.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 1 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
This is a great example of a modern translation and commentary of the Upanishads. I would certainly recommend this edition as it provides clear commentary after each section. There is a glossary and notes at the back. For anyone interested in the Upanishads, this book will help you to persevere with your journey!
Very interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Upanishads. 24 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great book for those seeking to find out a bit more about us Humans and what makes us tick. One to keep and read again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Translation 12 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an easy to understand translation of The Upanishads and highly recommended if you are doing yoga courses or just want to delve that bit further into Yoga
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must 6 July 2013
By ninam
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This edition is particularly helpful. It definitely helps one to understand what is potentially a difficult text to understand.(I found it hard)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
EXCELLENT INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN SPIRITUALITY
Published 24 days ago by Brown Mist
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient - yet pertinent wisdom for today
These are beautifully translated and a real inspiration.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
all as expected a beautiful book you can pick up and read and peruse any time .
Published 1 month ago by kathy gifford
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent.
I remember a time when many texts from the east were more or less inaccessible or in bad translation that made them cryptic. Read more
Published 2 months ago by r.h.polkowski
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it.
I want to find out more about ancient religions and the meaning of life. I love reading these sort of scriptures and hope it can help me. Thank you so much:)
Published 4 months ago by Kathleen Syme
2.0 out of 5 stars ok
Not really impressed, full of fairy stories and lovely pictures though. Found it quite boring after a while and just put it aside.
Published 5 months ago by Suki Mar, London
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
I am not qualified to review this book. Read it and become a better person. Don't become attached to my comment.
Published 8 months ago by richard lipson
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
This an attractive version of the classic Upanishads and an informative one. The notes and the intoduction are very useful in appreciating these gems of Hindu wisdom.
Published 10 months ago by Mr. J. F. Krehan
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty on every page
Easwaran introduces the concepts advised in Vedanta for a spiritual life beautifully. I really feel close to the men and women who wrote the Upanishads when I read his words. Read more
Published 13 months ago by pete williams
5.0 out of 5 stars The Upanishads
Eknath translates in such a way that makes the turn of the page totally impelling to a Western reader. Just beautiful
Published 14 months ago by sj
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