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th Anniversary Edition
The Bhagavad Gītā
Foreword by Huston Smith
Editor’s Preface by Christopher Key Chapple
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th e bhag ava d g¯i t a
SUNY series in Cultural Perspectives
Antonio T. de Nicolás, editor
Twenty-fifth-Anniversary Edition
Translated by
Edited and with a Preface by
Foreword by
e xcelsior editions
state uni versit y of new yor k pr e s s
a lban y, new yor k
Published by State University of New York Press, Albany
©2009 State University of New York
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever
without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system
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magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise
without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
Excelsior Editions is an imprint of State University of New York Press
For information, contact State University of New York Press, Albany, NY
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Bhagavadg¯ıt¯a. English & Sanskrit.
The Bhagavad G¯ıt¯a / translated by Winthrop Sargeant ; edited and with a preface by
Christopher Key Chapple ; foreword by Huston Smith.—25th anniversary ed.
p. cm. — (Suny series in cultural perspectives)
Translated from Sanskrit.
Previously published: ©1984.
ISBN 978-1-4384-2841-3 (hardcover : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-1-4384-2842-0 (pbk. : alk.
I. Sargeant, Winthrop, 1903–1986. II. Chapple, Christopher Key, 1954– III. Title.
BL1138.62.E5 2009b
10 9
8 7 6 5 4 3
To my dear wife, Jane
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by Huston Smith
Editor’s Preface
with a User’s Guide for the Word-by-Word
Analysis of the Bhagavad Gı¯ta¯
Translator’s Preface
The Language of the Bhagavad Gı¯t¯a
The Setting of the Bhagavad Gı¯t¯a
List of Abbreviations Used in the Vocabularies
Epithets Used in the Bhagavad Gı¯t¯a
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Huston Smith
I have written over thirty-five forewords to books, but none with the urgency with
which I write this one.
Why is that the case? Because this edition of the G¯ıt¯a looks so daunting that general readers are likely to conclude that it is not the one for them. But that would be a
serious mistake, for the truth is that this is a multivalent book—there is something in it
that will reward every serious reader.
Christopher Chapple’s admirable preface summarizes the Bhagavad Gı¯t¯a’s plot and
positions it in the vast literature of the Vedas. For Sanskrit scholars no stone is left unturned: abbreviations for grammatical usages—active, ablative, accusative, adjective, and
adverb—are entered, and both English and Sanskrit grammar is remarked. It would be
tedious to argue further the comprehensiveness of the book’s grammatical workout, but
scholars can be assured that the coverage is exhaustive. A list of abbreviations that are
used in the volume is included, as well as epithets (nicknames) that appear in the G¯ıt¯a.
When we turn to the text proper, for every line the Sanskrit is printed, followed by the
transliteration of that line, and finally, the line’s English translation. For those who only
want to read the G¯ıt¯a’s story, therefore, the book is literally a page-turner, for all they
need do is to read the verses on the bottom left-hand side of each page. However, should
readers want elaboration, they will find it in the right-hand column of the page where, for
example, dharma is translated as duty, law, righteousness, virtue, and honor.
So it goes. I am unspeakably grateful to Christopher Chapple for attending to the
foregoing material for it frees me to attend to the substance of this classic. What does
the G¯ıt¯a use the foregoing machinery and underpinnings to say? Eager as I am to get
to that substance, there is one transitional point that I want to make.
There are some books that will never have definitive editions, and I am not confining myself to translations; I am thinking of the vernacular in which the substance of
the texts are cast—idioms, metaphors, analogies, innuendos and their likes. The reason for this is that in a way, these classics are living creatures in at least the sense that
they seek out apertures through which to move. It is as if they were intelligent, looking