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Re: REQUEST : Bhagavad Gita commentary

Posted By Vidyasankar Sundaresan (vidya@cco.caltech.edu)
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 19:31:08 -0800

Shrisha Rao wrote:
> In article <ghenE3q2BC.A5B@netcom.com>,
> Michael Tandy <mpt0002@jove.acs.unt.edu> wrote:
> >In article <ghenE3LwHz.F3v@netcom.com>, kenrickm@worldnet.att.net says...
> >>
> >>Can anyone tell me if there are any Bhagavad gita English commentaries
> >>other than by Swami Prabhupada ?
> > Frankly, I have found that, almost without exception, other Gita
> > commentaries introduce ideas that are dubiously supported by or even
> > explicitly rejected by the text of Gita itself. It's therefore hard
> > for me to recommend these commentaries as authoritative or
> > authentic. I just thought I'd mention it.
> It's hard for me to recommend _any_ English translations/commentaries
> as authentic, or even remotely satisfying. The thing to do is to work
> out the translation on one's own, aided by a good dictionary, and
> compare if necessary with as many other translations as possible. I
> just thought I'd mention it.

I agree with Shrisha here. However, I have come across two English
translations that are better and more satisfying than the others,
without taxing the credulity of the reader too much. These are J. N. van
Buitenen's translation and Winthrop Sargent's translation. Both books
should be available reasonably easily. And they both have the advantage
that the Sanskrit text is included, so that even if you don't agree wiht
the translation, you at least have the original verse to analyze for
yourself. Sargent's translation also has word meanings with helpful
grammatical notes, in addition to a running translation, so you don't
have to go to a Sanskrit-English dictionary.

I find statements like "without doubt, xyz's commentary is the best" to
be usually misleading. Most of us would like to make up our minds about
authority or authenticity for ourselves. Please don't try to tell others
what to think.

S. Vidyasankar

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