Free Will, Agency, and Selfhood in Indian Philosophy

Oxford University Press
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Led by Buddhists and the yoga traditions of Hinduism and Jainism, Indian thinkers have long engaged in a rigorous analysis and reconceptualization of our common notion of self. Less understood is the way in which such theories of self intersect with issues involving agency and free will; yet such intersections are profoundly important, as all major schools of Indian thought recognize that moral goodness and religious fulfillment depend on the proper understanding of personal agency. Moreover, their individual conceptions of agency and freedom are typically nodes by which an entire school's epistemological, ethical, and metaphysical perspectives come together as a systematic whole. Free Will, Agency, and Selfhood in Indian Philosophy explores the contours of this issue, from the perspectives of the major schools of Indian thought. With new essays by leading specialists in each field, this volume provides rigorous analysis of the network of issues surrounding agency and freedom as developed within Indian thought.
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About the author

Matthew R. Dasti is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Bridgewater State University. Edwin F. Bryant is Professor of Hindu Religion and Philosophy at Rutgers University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Nov 26, 2013
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780199922741
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Eastern
Philosophy / Religious
Religion / Buddhism / General
Religion / Hinduism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Bhagavad Gita is the best known of all the Indian scriptures, and Eknath Easwaran’s best-selling translation is reliable, readable, and profound.

Easwaran's 55-page introduction places the Bhagavad Gita in its historical setting, and brings out the universality and timelessness of its teachings. Chapter introductions clarify key concepts, and notes and a glossary explain Sanskrit terms.

Easwaran grew up in the Hindu tradition in India, and learned Sanskrit from a young age. He was a professor of English literature before coming to the West on a Fulbright scholarship. A gifted teacher, he is recognized as an authority on the Indian classics and world mysticism.

The Bhagavad Gita opens, dramatically, on a battlefield, as the warrior Arjuna turns in anguish to his spiritual guide, Sri Krishna, for answers to the fundamental questions of life. Yet, as Easwaran points out, the Gita is not what it seems – it’s not a dialogue between two mythical figures at the dawn of Indian history. “The battlefield is a perfect backdrop, but the Gita’s subject is the war within, the struggle for self-mastery that every human being must wage if he or she is to emerge from life victorious.”

 

Arjuna’s struggle in the Bhagavad Gita is acutely modern. He has lost his way on the battlefield of life and turns to find the path again by asking direct, uncompromising questions of his spiritual guide, Sri Krishna, the Lord himself. Krishna replies in 700 verses of sublime instruction on living and dying, loving and working, and the nature of the soul.

Easwaran shows the Gita’s relevance to us today as we strive, like Arjuna, to do what is right.

“No one in modern times is more qualified – no, make that ‘as qualified’ – to translate the epochal Classics of Indian Spirituality than Eknath Easwaran. And the reason is clear. It is impossible to get to the heart of those classics unless you live them, and he did live them. My admiration of the man and his works is boundless.” – Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions.

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