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Probably compiled in the third century B.C., the verses encompass the struggle towards Nirvana - the supreme goal for the Buddhist - and point out the narrow Path of Perfection that leads to it. "In the Dhammapada we can hear the voice of Buddha," writes Juan Mascaro, translator of the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. "This gospel of light and love is amongst the greatest spiritual works of man. Each verse is like a small star and the whole has the radiance of eternity."
One of the best-known and best-loved works of Buddhist literature, the Dhammapada forms part of the oldest surviving body of Buddhist writings, and is traditionally regarded as the authentic teachings of the Buddha himself, spoken by him in his lifetime, and memorized and handed on by his followers after his death. A collection of simple verses gathered in themes such as 'awareness', 'fools' and 'old age', the Dhammapada is accessible, instructional and mind-clearing, with lessons in each verse to give ethical advice and to remind the listener of the transience of life.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Juan Mascaro read Modern and Oriental Languages at Cambridge, lectured in Oxford and eventually became Professor of English at Barcelona University. He has translated the Upanisads and the Bhagavad Gita. He died in 1987.