Translations come in many hues and fulfill different needs. The Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God, our translation by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, cuts to the chase by focusing on the essential teaching in every verse—and does this in both poetry and prose that is as elegant as it is insightful. The book effortlessly captures the beauty and the rhythm of the Gita.
Swami Tyagananda, Hindu Chaplain, Harvard and MIT, 2022
The ageless wisdom of the Gita will never be brought into classic English prose with greater clarity, humanity and selflessness than in this priceless rendition. What a joy to have it brought to us afresh in this new edition, Isherwood’s rare elegance married to his beloved teacher’s wise command of the scriptures.
Pico Iyer, Author of Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, and
The Global Soul. Contributor to Time, Harper's, New York Review of Books, and
The New York Times. He also taught at Harvard and Princeton, 2022
The eternal message of the Gita has been rendered into simple language which is devoid of technicalities of dogma and doctrine and rises into suitable poetry where the sublimity of thought requires it. Swami Prabhavananda’s name is a guarantee of the authoritative nature of the translation and its being faithful to the true spirit of the original.
Prabuddha Bharata, March, 1946
DEMOCRACY would have been impossible without the dissemination of knowledge...For that reason alone this paper-back edition  of one of the most profound books ever written, often compared to the Sermon on the Mount, is a publishing event of major importance. Here the common man...may make the acquaintance of perhaps the greatest clarity that mysticism has ever achieved...The ideas in this
philosophical dialogue...are subtle, surprising, precise. The “Gita," however, is also a song. It develops its ideas rhapsodically, ecstatically...The “Gita” is one of the most beautiful books. It explains and it delights...It is presented in one of the outstanding translations of the day.
Gerald Sykes, The New York Times, March 28, 1954
As World War II raged and the dissolution of the British Empire drew near, an Indian and an Englishman, both disillusioned radicals, collaborated in Hollywood on this singular translation. In Vedanta, they had found the peace and freedom that politics had failed to deliver. Christopher Isherwood could not read Sanskrit; he relied on detailed and intense discussions with Swami Prabhavananda to understand the meaning
of each word. Then he cast the ancient Hindu text in a mixture of poetry and prose rooted in the English literary tradition reaching back to Medieval times. For clarity, economy and sheer excitement, their English rendering of the Bhagavad Gita has never been equaled.
Katherine Bucknell, editor of Christopher Isherwood's DIARIES and
Director of The Christopher Isherwood Foundation, 2023
Back in the late 1960s when many young Americans were interested in self-actualization via Asian religions, I (and thousands of others, I'm sure) were first drawn to study Vedanta after reading the Bhagavad-Gita as translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood. The former deeply understood the message of the text and the latter knew how to convey that message in masterful English. The mixture was captivating, leading many to start on a life-long quest to dig deeper into the substance of Vedanta. This is a literary
rather than a literal translation, for reasons mainly related to the flow of the text and making the message clear in English, to an English speaking audience; I find the true teachings to be fully intact, so the appeal is there for a new audience in modern times. Moreover, this new edition includes the verse references that were missing from the original 1944 edition, a welcome and necessary addition, for comparison to other translations and scholarly study.
Dana Sawyer, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Maine Arts College
Author of Huston Smith: Wisdomkeeper, the authorized biography, and author of Aldous Huxley: A Biography
To preserve the everlasting simplicity of the Gita’s words…Isherwood…and his teacher [Swami Prabhavananda] have collaborated on this latest translation…the result is a distinguished literary work…simpler and freer than other English translations…It may help U.S. readers to understand not only the Gita itself, but also its influence on American letters through one of its greatest U.S. admirers, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Time Magazine, February 12, 1945
For many Westerners, their introduction to Hinduism came not from yoga or a respected guru, but from a boyish British author, Christopher Isherwood, a Renaissance man of letters, writing plays, short stories, screenplays, poems, novels and nonfiction. Though he is perhaps best known as the author of such works as The Berlin Stories (later made into the hit play and movie, “Cabaret”), his involvement in the Vedanta movement in California from the
1940s through the 1980s left a permanent imprint on the cultural landscape...The English version of the Song of God: Bhagavad Gita was Isherwood’s crowning achievement.
Mark Hawthorne, Vedanta’s Western Poet, Hinduism Today, September 1, 1999
The Bhagavad Gita–or simply the Gita, for those who know and love it well–is of course a classic of Indian literature, and of world spiritual literature, as well as being a sacred text for Hindus. This particular translation of the Gita, by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, is itself a classic in the genre of Gita translations. It has been, for many, a gateway to Hindu thought and to the
profound philosophy of Vedanta. Beautifully and clearly written, it was designed specifically with an American audience in mind. But it has proven to be an accessible introduction to this text for readers around the world, even within India itself. This latest edition does not alter the work of Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood at all; but by providing the original verse numbers of the source text, it makes this translation of even greater value for students and scholars than it
already was. It is a most welcome addition to any library, personal or public, and it will no doubt continue to open minds to the message of the Gita well into the twenty-first century and beyond.
Jeffery D. Long, Author Hinduism in America, Professor of
Religion, Philosophy, and Asian Studies, Elizabethtown College
[From a critique concerning translations] A translation of literary worth...seemed preferable to a simon-pure translation...As a master translator, Edward Fitzgerald, put it: “Better a live sparrow than a stuffed eagle.” …In violation of this principle, Mr. Y. has decided to use the Edwin Arnold translation of the Bhagavad Gita rather than—say—the Christopher Isherwood-Swami Prabhavananda version. In my opinion…there is no comparison between the ponderous cadences of the first, and the clean lucidity of the second.
The New York Times, November 11, 1956
The translation, in poetry and prose, is the celebrated one by Christopher Isherwood and Swami Prabhavananda…the very purpose of life in Hindu terms becomes luminously clear.
Paul Kresh, The New York Times, May 10, 1981
Huston Smith holds up the 1951 Mentor Religious Classic edition of this translation on his groundbreaking 17-part 1954 NET TV series, The Religions of Man. (Video of the series can be viewed at HustonSmith.org). For many Americans it was their first introduction to Asian religions and mysticism. The TV series became the basis for the bestselling book of the same name, later retitled The World's Religions, which is a standard textbook for religious studies.