The Bhagavad Gita has enjoyed a fruitful history on Western shores. It has been translated into almost 100 languages around the world, the vast majority of which are non-Indian. Catherine Robinson offers JVS readers an overview of this rich sojourn, focusing on unique Western interpretations of the text and its various new manifestations in a new land.
Krishna’s song initially came West through the auspices of Sir Charles Wilkins (1750–1836), who, in 1785, just one year after the founding of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, gave the world its first English edition. Two years later, Abbë Parraud translated Wilkins’ work into French, and other European languages
followed. German scholars, especially—people like Friedrich von Schlegel and Baron Ferdinand Eckstein—took Sanskrit seriously and began translating texts from the original. In this issue of JVS, Bradley Herling looks at the Gita’s impact in Germany, in particular, offering readers a thorough run-down of its history among intellectuals in that country. Grevel Lindop, for his part, introduces us to the influential work of William Blake, showing its debt of gratitude to Charles Wilkins’ translation of the text.