translations i like...

Looking for a little inspiration? Want to try out your study skills? What about the simple joy of reading poetry? We all have our favourite sacred texts, a few friends of ascent share theirs...

Sarah E Truman
The Sutra of Hui Neng,
Gu Ruirong trans., Hunan Publishing House

Hui Neng was the 5th successor of Bodhidharma and founder of Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism. Several versions of the text have been found scattered all over China and it is revered as the only Buddhist "Sutra" to have been spoken by a Chinese. I stumbled across my copy in a used book store in Shanghai just before I fell ill with a sinus infection. I luckily live below a Romanian woman who loves to read out loud and cook soup. She read the entire sutra to me and we discussed its contents, periodically checking unclear passages with the Chinese script on the facing pages. If you've never had a sutra read to you in a thick Romanian accent you don't know what you're missing. The whole experience was mind altering.

Marcus Boon
Mother of the Buddhas: Meditation on the Prajnaparamita Sutra

Lex Hixon trans., Theosophical Publishing House This is the book that turned me on to the vastness of Mahayana Buddhism. I love it because with this book, Hixon has translated another translation, with a clear and profound understanding of what the Sutra was talking about, and with a sensibility that appreciates just how rock'n'roll mighty emptiness philosophy is.

Krishna Das
Tulsi Das' Rama Charita Manasa,
Gita Press trans., or R.C. Prasad trans., Motilal Banarsidass

This book rewired my heart for devotion. It opened up new channels for the River of Love to flow in. It gave me an identity as a devotee of God and taught me the path of Loving Devotion. In India this text is sung, not spoken, and so it is a way of gathering people together to teach and inspire. I sat many hours listening and being carried away in love, without understanding a single word except Ram, Hanuman, Sita and other names. But that kind of understanding is secondary to the flow of love that fills the heart in the presence of the Lord.

Richard Rosen
The Yoga-Sutra of Pantajali

Chip Hartranft trans., Shambhala Classics I have about 12 or so translations of this text in my library, and this is by far the best one for the average student. The translation of the Sanskrit is put into simple everyday English, and the commentarial writing is clear and calm. There are 4 really useful appendices and a glossary, in all a text that every serious yoga student will want in his or her library.

Hardeep Dhaliwal
Bhagavad Gita
Eknath Easwaran trans., Nilgiri Press

Chapter 18, Stanza 59, Freedom and Renunciation: "If you egotistically say, 'I will not fight this battle,' your resolve will be useless: your own nature will drive you to it. Your own karma, born of your own nature, will drive you to do even that which you do not wish to do, because of your delusion." It is so easy to let things in life slide, especially in averting confrontations with people. "I'll just let that one go. Be easy to get along with. Why make waves?" It takes every bit of courage available to take a stand for what is the right thing to do. This stanza is the goad which forces me to take that stand. I'm still working on it.

Clea McDougall
The Serpent Power,
Sir John Woodroffe trans.

Although it is remarkably important and interesting, skip all the thick theory that makes up most of this book, and go right to the poems at the end, the translations of the Sat Chakra. These poems describe Kundalini Yoga and they are what made me want to be both a writer and a yogini. Who can resist stuff like: "She (citrini) is beautiful by reason of these (lotuses) which are strung on her." There is something beyond space, time and language in these early poems, the teachings lay there, full and bursting and waiting to be deciphered.

Brent Burbridge
Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures
Jewish Publication Society trans.

I am a Christian, this is a Jewish Bible. If I've been reading the Old Testament all my life, why is this Jewish version of the same corpus so thrillingly new? Vivid, graphic language, a very different ordering of the books, and amazingly honest editing. I love this text because it is such a rich depiction of the relationship between the ancient Jewish people and their God, and is at once a great read and a little jarring for the modern Christian. Visceral Psalms, anyone?

David Life
Textbook of Yoga Psychology,
Shri Brahmananda Saraswati trans.

This translation of the Yoga Sutras stimulates one creatively and shows the poetry and universality of Sanskrit. It is not burdened with dogmatism. It is insightful and an original contribution to the oeuvre.

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