Ancient History & Civilisation

SELECT ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THE BHAGAVAD GITA

CHRONOLOGICAL LIST

1785

Charles Wilkins. The Bhagavat-gēētā, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon, in Eighteen Lectures; with Notes. London: C. Nourse.

 

First scholarly English translation, in continuous prose.

 

Letter of endorsement by Warren Hastings. Translator’s preface and notes.

1855

J. Cockburn Thomson. Bhagavad-gita; or, The Sacred Lay, a Colloquy between Krishna and Arjuna on Divine Matters. Hertford, UK: Stephen Austin.

 

Historical and scholarly orientation. Continuous prose translation with explanatory footnotes.

 

Lengthy historical introduction on schools of Indian philosophical thought.

1882

John Davies. Hindu Philosophy: The Bhagavad gītā, or the Sacred Lay, a Sanskrit Philosophical Poem, the English and Foreign Philosophical Library. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co.

 

Historical and scholarly orientation. Verse-by-verse prose translation with “philological notes” for each chapter.

 

Introduction along with appendix discussing date of text and possibility of Christian influence on its composition.

1882

Kashinath Trimbak Telang. The Bhagavadgītā with the Sanatsugātīya and the Anugītā. Vol 8 of Sacred Books of the East. Edited by M. Muller. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

 

Scholarly orientation. Continuous prose translation with footnotes.

 

Historical introduction. Volume also includes two other philosophical portions of the Mahābhārata.

1885

Edwin Arnold. The Song Celestial; or, Bhagavad-gītā (from the Mahābhārata). Boston: Roberts Brothers.

 

Poetic orientation. Verse translation in continuous unrhymed iambic pentameter.

1907

Swami Abhedananda. Bhagavad Gītā: The Divine Message. 2 vols. New York: Ramakrishna Vedanta Math.

1938

Sri Aurobindo [Ghose]. The Message of the Gita. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

 

Religious and philosophical orientation. Verse-by-verse prose translation: Devanagari and translation with notes drawn from his Essays on the Gita.

1944

Franklin Edgerton. The Bhagavad gītā. Harvard Oriental Series. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

 

Scholarly orientation. Verse-by-verse translation in quatrains (corresponding to quarters of Sanskrit shlokas) with Sanskrit text in transliteration on opposing pages. Volume 2 includes lengthy interpretation of Gita in historical contexts and Arnold’s Song Celestial.

1944

Swami Nikhilananda. The Bhagavad Gita. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center.

 

Advaita Vedanta philosophical orientation. Verse-by-verse prose translation with commentary based mainly on Shankara’s Advaita commentary. Introduction and brief overview of the Mahabharata. Glossary.

1944

Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood. Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God. Hollywood: Marcel Rodd Co.

 

Vedanta and literary orientation. Translation in mixture of verse and prose.

 

Introduction by Aldous Huxley. Appendixes on cosmology and “The Gita and War” by Isherwood.

1946

Mahadev Desai. The Gospel of Selfless Action, or the Gita according to Gandhi. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House.

 

Gandhian orientation. Verse-by-verse prose translation: Devanagari and translation with bracketed commentary by Desai adhering to Gandhi’s Gujarati translation. Lengthy introduction by Desai. “Anasaktiyoga” by Gandhi.

1948

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. The Bhagavadgītā. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers.

 

Vedanta philosophical orientation. Verse-by-verse prose translation: transliteration, translation, and brief comments.

1967

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Bhagavad-Gita: Chapters 16. London: International SRM Publications.

 

Religious orientation. Verse-by-verse translation into varied lines of verse: Devanagari, translation, and commentary based mainly on Shankara.

 

Brief introduction. Appendixes on transcendental meditation and other topics.

1968

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami [Swami Prabhupada]. The Bhagavad Gita As It Is. New York: Macmillan Company.

 

Vaishnava devotional orientation. Verse-by-verse prose translation: Devanagari, transliteration, word-by-word gloss, translation, and commentary.

1980

Swami Vidyaprakashananda. Gita Makaranda. Kalahasti, Andhra Pradesh: Sri Suka Brahma Ashram. First published 1963.

 

Religious orientation. Verse-by-verse prose translation: Devanagari, transliteration, word gloss, “substance” (translation), and commentary.

1981

J.A.B. Van Buitenen. The Bhagavadgītā in the Mahābhārata. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 

Scholarly orientation. Translation in continuous prose with some interspersed verse. Transliterated Sanskrit text on opposing pages.

 

Translation of several Mahābhārata chapters before and after the Gītā proper.

 

Scholarly and historical introduction.

1986

Barbara Stoler Miller. The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna’s Counsel in Time of War. New York: Bantam Books.

 

Combined scholarly and poetic orientation. Verse-by-verse translation in quatrains.

 

Introduction. Afterword on Thoreau and the Gītā.

 

Glossary of key Sanskrit terms.

1994

A. Parthasarathy. Śrīmad Bhagavad Gītā. 3 vols. Bombay: Vakil and Sons Ltd.

 

Advaita Vedanta philosophical orientation. Verse-by-verse translation: Devanagari, transliteration, word-by-word gloss, translation, and commentary.

2000

Stephen Mitchell. Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation. New York: Three Rivers Press.

 

Poetic orientation. Verse-by-verse translation in loose trimester quatrain.

 

Introduction.

2008

Laurie Patton. The Bhagavad Gita. London: Penguin Books.

 

Combined scholarly and poetic orientation. Verse-by-verse translation in octaves.

 

Introduction and extensive list of further readings.

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