The first English translation of the Bhagavad Gita was published by Charles Wilkins in 1785.[243] The Wilkins translation had an introduction to the Gita by Warren Hastings. Soon the work was translated into other European languages such as French (1787), German, and Russian. In 1849, the Weleyan Mission Press, Bangalore published The Bhagavat-Geeta, Or, Dialogues of Krishna and Arjoon in Eighteen Lectures, with Sanskrit, Canarese and English in parallel columns, edited by Rev. John Garrett, and the efforts being supported by Sir. Mark Cubbon.[244]

In 1981, Larson stated that "a complete listing of Gita translations and a related secondary bibliography would be nearly endless".[245]:514 According to Larson, there is "a massive translational tradition in English, pioneered by the British, solidly grounded philologically by the French and Germans, provided with its indigenous roots by a rich heritage of modern Indian comment and reflection, extended into various disciplinary areas by Americans, and having generated in our time a broadly based cross-cultural awareness of the importance of the Bhagavad Gita both as an expression of a specifically Indian spirituality and as one of the great religious "classics" of all time."[245]:518

According to Sargeant, the Gita is "said to have been translated at least 200 times, in both poetic and prose forms".[246] Richard Davis cites a count by Callewaert & Hemraj in 1982 of 1,891 translations of the Bhagavad Gita in 75 languages, including 273 in English.[247] These translations vary,[248] and are in part an interpretative reconstruction of the original Sanskrit text that differ in their "friendliness to the reader",[249] and in the amount of "violence to the original Gita text" that the translation does.[250][note 19]

The translations and interpretations of the Gita have been so diverse that these have been used to support apparently contradictory political and philosophical values. For example, state Galvin Flood and Charles Martin, these interpretations have been used to support "pacifism to aggressive nationalism" in politics, from "monism to theism" in philosophy.[255] According to William Johnson, the synthesis of ideas in the Gita is such that it can bear almost any shade of interpretation.[256] A translation "can never fully reproduce an original and no translation is transparent", states Richard Davis, but in the case of Gita the linguistic and cultural distance for many translators is large and steep which adds to the challenge and affects the translation.[257] For some native translators, their personal beliefs, motivations, and subjectivity affect their understanding, their choice of words and interpretation.[258][259][260] Some translations by Indians, with or without Western co-translators, have "orientalist", "apologetic", "Neo-Vedantin" or "guru phenomenon" bias.[245]:525–530

Gerald Larson summarizes the history of translation and interpretation of the Gita as follows:[245]

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In her native environment, the Bhagavad Gita is a beguiling, seductive, naturally beautiful and altogether elegant daughter in the Hindu extended family of Sanskrit texts. Her limbs are perfectly shaped, her shining black hair and moist pale skin glisten in the sunlight; the lines of her body evoke the fullness of her breasts and the lush softness of her lips, and when her sari occasionally drops away to reveal her hidden nakedness, even a distant observer pauses to marvel and reflect upon such spontaneous loveliness. [...] She is, thus, in every way a remarkable Hindu daughter, beloved and pampered by all in the family and combining in her person the best, as well as the most puzzling, qualities of her heritage. Like all daughters of India, however, her character and substance are profoundly ethnic and contextual. [...] When she is taken by a foreign lover or an Indian lover of things foreign, however, and more than that, when she is taken out of India to live permanently in a different medium – whether Latin or German or French or English – she becomes diminished. She is occasionally raped and to some extent always abused, at best becoming a concubine in some house of Western scholarship, at worst a whore in some brothel of ideology or of an insipid cross-cultural mysticism. Her natural paradoxes then appear as an unintelligent fickleness; her simple elegance as simple-mindedness; her refreshing openness to varying perspectives as proof of her lack of originality; and effortless devotion as hopeless naivete.

— The Song Celestial: Two Centuries of the "Bhagavad Gītā" in English[245]
A sample of translations of the Bhagavad Gita[245]
Title Translator Year
The Bhagavat geeta, or Dialogue of Kreeshna and Arjoon in Eighteen Lectures with Notes Charles Wilkins 1785
Bhagavad-Gita August Wilhelm Schlegel 1823
The Bhagavadgita J.C. Thomson 1856
La Bhagavad-Gita Eugene Burnouf 1861
The Bhagavadgita K.T. Telang 1875
The Song Celestial Sir Edwin Arnold 1885
The Bhagavad Gita William Q. Judge 1890
The Bhagavad-Gita with the Commentary of Sri Sankaracarya A. Mahadeva Sastry 1897
Bhagavadgita: The Lord's Song L.D. Barnett 1905
Bhagavad Gita Anne Besant and Bhagavan Das 1905
Die Bhagavadgita Richard Garbe 1905
Der Gesang des Heiligen Paul Deussen 1911
Srimad Bhagavad-Gita Swami Paramananda 1913
La Bhagavad-Gîtâ Emile Sénart 1922
The Bhagavad-Gita Arthur W. Ryder 1929
The Song of the Lord, Bhagavad-Gita E.J. Thomas 1931
The Yoga of the Bhagavat Gita Sri Krishna Prem 1938
The Bhagavad Gita Franklin Edgerton 1944
The Song of God: Bhagavad Gita Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood 1944
The Bhagavad Gita Swami Nikhilananda 1944
The Bhagavadgita S. Radhakrishnan 1948
The Bhagavadgita Shakuntala Rao Sastri 1959
The Bhagavad Gita Juan Mascaro 1962
The Bhagavadgita Swami Chidbhavananda 1965
The Bhagavadgita Eliot Deutsch 1968
Bhagavadgita As It Is A.C. Bhaktivedanta 1968
The Bhagavad Gita R.C. Zaehner 1969
The Bhagavad Gita: A New Verse Translation Ann Stanford 1970
The Bhagavad Gita Winthrop Sargeant (Editor: Christopher K Chapple) 1979
The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata J.A.B. van Buitenen 1980
The Bhagavadgita Eknath Easwaran 1985
The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna's Counsel in Time of War Barbara S. Miller 1986
The Bhagavad-Gita Ramananda Prasad 1988
The Bhagavad-Gita W.J. Johnson 1994
The Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation George Thompson 2008
The Bhagavad Gita, A New Translation Georg Feuerstein 2011
The Bhagavad Gita: A Text and Commentary for Students Jeaneane D. Fowler 2012
The Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation Galvin Flood, Charles Martin 2012
Philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita Keya Maitra 2018
The Bhagavad Gita Chapter 1 to 13 - English .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}ISBN 9789387578968 Ravi Shankar 2018

According to the exegesis scholar Robert Minor, the Gita is "probably the most translated of any Asian text", but many modern versions heavily reflect the views of the organization or person who does the translating and distribution. In Minor's view, the Harvard scholar Franklin Edgerton's English translation and Richard Garbe's German translation are closer to the text than many others.[261] According to Larson, the Edgerton translation is remarkably faithful, but it is "harsh, stilted, and syntactically awkward" with an "orientalist" bias and lacks "appreciation of the text's contemporary religious significance".[245]:524

The Gita in other languages

The Gita has also been translated into European languages other than English. In 1808, passages from the Gita were part of the first direct translation of Sanskrit into German, appearing in a book through which Friedrich Schlegel became known as the founder of Indian philology in Germany.[262] The most significant French translation of the Gita, according to J. A. B. van Buitenen, was published by Emile Senart in 1922.[263] Swami Rambhadracharya released the first Braille version of the scripture, with the original Sanskrit text and a Hindi commentary, on 30 November 2007.[web 4]

The Gita Press has published the Gita in multiple Indian languages.[264] R. Raghava Iyengar translated the Gita into Tamil in sandam metre poetic form.[265] The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust associated with ISKCON has re-translated and published A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's 1972 English translation of the Gita in 56 non-Indian languages.[266][267][note 20] Vinoba Bhave has written the Geeta in Marathi language as Geetai i.e. Mother Geeta in the similar shloka form.

Paramahansa Yogananda's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita called God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita has been translated into Spanish, German, Thai and Hindi so far. The book is significant in that unlike other commentaries of the Bhagavad Gita, which focus on karma yoga, jnana yoga, and bhakti yoga in relation to the Gita, Yogananda's work stresses the training of one's mind, or raja yoga.[270]

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