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The Bhagavad Gita | [Phoenix Books, Barbara Stoler-Miller (translator)]

The Bhagavad Gita

The search for higher truth must be conducted in the midst of the forces of life, with all its demands and seductions. So teaches The Bhagavad Gita, an ancient text that has been called the quintessence of the spirituality of India. In it, the great warrior Arjuna contemplates the meaning of life, just moments before entering the battlefield. "Why do I exist? Why should I fight against my loved ones? And where shall I go after I die?" he asks himself in search for knowledge of the Absolute.
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Publisher's Summary

The search for higher truth must be conducted in the midst of the forces of life, with all its demands and seductions. So teaches The Bhagavad Gita, an ancient text that has been called the quintessence of the spirituality of India. In it, the great warrior Arjuna contemplates the meaning of life, just moments before entering the battlefield. "Why do I exist? Why should I fight against my loved ones? And where shall I go after I die?" he asks himself in search for knowledge of the Absolute.

Recording (P)1987 by Audio Literature; Copyright ©1986 (Bantam) by Barbara Stoler Miller

What the Critics Say

"Hearing The Bhagavad Gita, rather than reading it, helps one understand why many cultures to this very day refuse to commit their sacred texts to writing, believing that script would profane them." (Huston Smith, author of The Religions of Man)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (265 )
5 star
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4.3 (110 )
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Story
3.7 (108 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    TRAVIS HONOLULU, HI, United States 01-24-12
    TRAVIS HONOLULU, HI, United States 01-24-12 Member Since 2010

    Travis

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narrator makes it impossible"
    Would you try another book from Phoenix Books and/or Jacob Needleman?

    The narrator's voice was so terribly bland and robotic and... terrible. I absolutely could not listen to this book. Have someone else narrate and I'd buy it again, but this guy is too much.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelli douglas, MI, USA 07-22-09
    Kelli douglas, MI, USA 07-22-09
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    "Endlessly awe-some"

    Wow. That's it.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Goleta, CA 09-30-13
    Amazon Customer Goleta, CA 09-30-13 Member Since 2012
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    12
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    "Seems to play Stephen Mitchell's translation... ?"
    Any additional comments?

    When I play this through Audible for Android, it plays what seems to be an earlier reading of Stephen Mitchell's translation, read by Stephen Mitchell - not the Needleman reading. Not sure why this happens or if it happens for everyone? The version that does play is excellent and a source of continuing inspiration = no harm done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie WALNUT CREEK, CA, United States 04-02-13
    Stephanie WALNUT CREEK, CA, United States 04-02-13 Member Since 2001
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    "Outstanding!"
    Where does The Bhagavad Gita rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I've downloaded and listened to more than 300 audiobooks. This is one of the top 5 books I've listened to. I've listened to this book more times than any other audio book. IF this material interests you do not miss it!


    What other book might you compare The Bhagavad Gita to and why?

    The Bhagavad Gita is the most famous book in the world! It compares to the Koran, the Bible and the Scriptures of Buddha. They are all the same endless, timeless story.


    Which character – as performed by Jacob Needleman – was your favorite?

    The narration is soulfully delivered by Mr. Needleman. It truly makes this translation come alive for our Time. The above question is funny so let me answer with the character of Krishna!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sharanya MONTCLAIR, NJ, United States 03-12-13
    sharanya MONTCLAIR, NJ, United States 03-12-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Beautiful translation of a beautiful book."
    What made the experience of listening to The Bhagavad Gita the most enjoyable?

    Sometimes, translations of this book are obtuse or unwieldy. This one flows smoothly, is easily understandable and yet captures the magnificence of the work. The narration is also beautiful.


    What does Jacob Needleman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Lovely voice. Good pronunciation of the Sanskrit words. Smooth narration.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I tried to stretch it out so I could enjoy it for longer.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Tuen Mun, Hong Kong 03-04-13
    Paul Tuen Mun, Hong Kong 03-04-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Great book, and good narrator, but inaccurate..."
    Where does The Bhagavad Gita rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the top ten philosophical books ever written, worth a listen despite what people may have said about the voice of the narrator.
    (Please note, this audio narration is incorrectly attributed to Jacob Needleman. It is actually the Stephen Mitchell version)


    What did you like best about this story?

    Explains the meaning of yoga, and various philosophies of life.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The whole thing is interesting. I've also heard it chanted in sanskrit which is interesting.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Can be done, it is not too long.


    Any additional comments?

    The narrator is wrongly labelled as Jacob Needleman, but I recognize the voice as that of Stephen Mitchell. Both versions are worthy of listening to, but let's hope Amazon/Audible can get the data right on their audio programs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Wallach Virginia, USA 01-15-13
    L. Wallach Virginia, USA 01-15-13 Member Since 2000
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    "Meh"

    I feel like this book is going to be taken very differently from each individual, based on their background, tastes, etc. So I'm wondering how useful individual reviews are. Coming from an Atheist perspective, but one who wants to understand what various religions mean to their faithful, I thought this book would be useful in some way. And I suppose it was, but I feel now, about halfway through, that I've more or less "got it" and no big need to go further. It's fairly repetitive, but I figure that's not unexpected or dissimilar from other religious texts, since repetition helps strengthen the concepts. The narration is very peaceful, but I normally listen to stuff at double speed, so it didn't seem horrible to me, but yes, after half of the text, I'm ready for something a bit more dynamic. This is a nice book to listen to when you want to relax, in other words, but if you want to be entertained or otherwise engaged, maybe not - at least not unless you are the spiritual type to begin with, which I'm not.

    Again, this is a very subjective take on this, but at least for those who come from the same secularist/Atheist mindset, hopefully it is somewhat useful...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Dubai, United Arab Emirates 09-28-12
    Brian Dubai, United Arab Emirates 09-28-12 Member Since 2010
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    "A great introduction to Indian Literature"
    If you could sum up The Bhagavad Gita in three words, what would they be?

    Lessons in living life


    What did you like best about this story?

    It reads like a modern day novel.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I stayed awake all night listening to the Bhagavad Gita


    Any additional comments?

    It makes me want to tackle additional indian classical literature

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah GOSHEN, OH, United States 09-10-12
    Sarah GOSHEN, OH, United States 09-10-12
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    "I can get it to download but not play!"
    What would have made The Bhagavad Gita better?

    Waste of my money Im unable to listen to it. I was able to download all materials required but still no sound or any aspect of it working! Really upset!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Maddy Corvallis, OR 03-27-12
    John Maddy Corvallis, OR 03-27-12 Member Since 2007

    truth seeker

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    "Academic translation by Barbara Stoler Miller"

    This is both a brief and profound work requiring many readings and study. ?? I gave the "story" only one star but would have preferred to give none or rendered a "N/A" instead. ?? There is an element of a story partly because the Gita is a very small part of the largest epic ever written, The Mahabharata: Arjuna despairs of going to battle and killing his relatives; but Krishna, his charioteer, tells him to do his duty and fight. ??It is his dharma. ??... or he must perform his dharma because it is his duty. ??That's the story. ??Aside from this flippant "reductio ad absurdum," the Gita is a brief but profound instructional compendium of Hindu thought and yoga. ??It deserves repeated listenings and study. ??I strongly suspect that the original Sanskrit was much more poetic and beautiful to hear as well. As part of an epic, it was meant to be recited aloud or sung.

    Needleman does not deliver a dramatic reading, but that's impossible to do with a text that has a minimal story line and is didactic by nature. This is not Genesis.

    The publisher's summary mentions that the book was published in 1986 by Barbara Stoler Miller but fails to say that she is the translator. ??She is an excellent academic translator and not a Hindu devotee. ??For this reason, the approach to the poem formatted in quatrain stanzas in the printed version is academic and secular. ??It is a very accurate translation written by a religious scholar. ??However I quibble with some of her translations which are too dry and tend to miss the mark from the point of view of a devotee. ??At the end of the sixth teaching Krishna says in the Miller translation, "Be a man of discipline, Arjuna!" while in the Yogananda translation Krishna says, "Be thou, O Arjuna, a yogi!" ?? To my way of reakoning, the latter is more succinct and actually more understandable because it's more specific. Throughout Needleman's narration, I consciously had to substitute "yogi" for "man of discipline" and "yoga" for "discipline." This is a Hindu text after all where "yogi" is most appropriate and "discipline" is more suitable in self-help books and education.

    This is scripture with many layers of meaning. On one level there is the "story" of Krishna admonishing Arjuna to find the courage to enter the fray of battle. On another the battle is a metaphor for spiritual warfare or struggle within oneself -- "jihad" in a different tradition. And yet on another level one finds in the Bhagavad Gita a religious sanction for the Indian caste system.

    Everyone should expose oneself to this scriptural text sometime during their life if they are on the Socratic path of the examined life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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