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Upanisads (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 17 Apr 2008

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (17 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019954025X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199540259
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.3 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 368,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


A new translation of the Upanisads into English is an event in itself. Even the more so if it is good, and this one is excellent. It is lucid and reliable and has taken into account the significant mass of research carried out by a number of Sanskrit scholars over the last decades. This excellent book should attract not only those interested in Indian religion and philosophy but anyone interested in the history of human thought. (Times Higher Education Supplement)

About the Author

Patrick Olivelle is the Chair, Department of Asian Studies, and Director, Center for Asian Studies, at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is the Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religion. Among his recent publications are: The Samnyasa Upanisads: Hindu Scriptures on Ascetism and Renunciation (Oxford, 1992), The Asrama System: History and Hermeneutics of a Religions Institution (Oxford, 1993), Rules and Regulations of Brahmanical Asceteicsm (State University of New York Press, 1994).

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Make of this what you will.

Ambivalent, ambiguous and contradictory the Upanishads are - but only ambiguous because they say one thing and then another; up for grabs, open for diverse and conflicting interpretations so far as coherence goes, if you have a bag for coherence.

I'd previously read the Radhakrishnan and Hume versions of the major texts. Both authors have difficulty bringing the texts around, because they try to; I guess those Victorian gentlemen couldn't help but have some sort of predilection toward coherence and liked to persuade a little consistency, in favour with their own preferences. Olivelle doesn't bother with this. He claims he has avoided personal and interpretive input, suggesting his job is merely to give us the raw texts, as they might have been at the time of writing, ignoring the mass of interpretation and smoothing readings that have intervened, sticking to an orthodox, archaeological understanding of what the understandings might have been at the time - as if that itself were no interpretation. I've never believed this self-effacement in translation - or anything, once some thing is preferred to another! ;] - this transcendence of conditioning which yet remains in the relative world. However, apart from this fatal disavowal of the workings of karma in his own production; it is quite refreshing when someone at least tries! He does let the bricks of the edifice stand by themselves, however higgledy-piggledy, without trying to hone them or trowel some mortar in. So, I reckon, this is probably as literal a transcription as you're going to get.

One minute the texts laud duality, the next they return to non-duality. One moment monism, the next god-knows-what. One moment a transatlantic manifestation of non-difference, the next; division into heaven and earth. So, make of them what you will, it is your self you're reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A nice affordable scholarly translation. The only problem is the book feels squashed. You have the spirit of India crammed inside a book the size of a novel, with small print and grey paper. So this Oxford printing isn't a joy to hold in your hands and the notes are a tiny 8 font print!

The upanishad are meant to be printed in a big hardback with a nice big font. What's wrong with Oxford?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Clear Translation 23 April 2015
By Xonic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best academic translation around. From my experience, prints from Oxford provide better clarity when they are compared to other translations on the market. I recommend this print for students studying eastern philosophy through a program/professor. This book is organized well and is easy to follow. Provided commentary is clear and easy to understand. I highly recommend this book over other translations out on the market. Patrick Olivelle's translation is the best!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Growth of the Spirit! 11 Jun. 2014
By johnny D - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everything Man has as divine gifts grow s with time! Our understanding of a given book when we were 17 to 25 of age is completely different if only we would give it a trouble to re-read the same book with CRITICAL MIND this time at the age of 30+, we will never believe our nedless findings! look for the pulse of wisdom in various books, and start building the big picture with the EYE OF YOUR BRAIN! You can rise! Rise then!
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The standard 19 Jun. 2005
By David Fowler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor Olivelle is a great scholar - no doubt one of the most highly respected Sanskritists and prolific translators of our time. As such, it should be no surprise to find that his translation of the Upanisads is the best currently available, and will likely remain so for quite some time. The introduction to the text is extremely informative and helps place the works in their proper context. The text itself is quite meticulously translated - striking an agreeable balance of readability, scholarship and faithfulness to the original Sanskrit. A must for anyone interested in Hinduism.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 26 Sept. 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A classic!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Literal semantic conscience 10 Nov. 2013
By Billy Lee Harman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A difficulty in translating the Upanishads and other Hindu scripture is that in them the words “Atman” and “Brahman” mean both self and God because in Hindu theology and psychology all is one and separateness delusion, while English-speaking people use the word “selfish” to refer to behaving and believing that each self is separate from each other self, and that one’s own self is more important than any other self. Most translators of Hindu scripture use the word “selfish” in the colloquial English sense while using the word “self” to refer sometimes to the separate self and sometimes to the universal self which Hindu scripture says is both Atman and Brahman. Dr. Olivelle conscientiously puts Sanskrit words in parenthesis after English words where such ambiguity may be a problem.
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