Translated by Alexander Wynne


“The Book of Liberation” is perhaps the most enigmatic philosophical text from ancient India. Although presented as the teachings of Bhishma as he lays dying on the battlefield, after the epic war between the Pandavas and Kauravas, it was composed by unknown authors in the last few centuries BCE, during the early period of world-renunciation. During this age, peripatetic sages meditated under trees, holy men practised austerities in forest groves and wandering sophists debated in the towns and cities. There has been no time like it before or since: such freedom of thought and expression is unparalleled in the history of the world.

The freedom enjoyed by these ancient thinkers was not an end in itself. Above all this is an animated work, the record of philosophers seeking liberation (moksha) from a world they believed unsatisfactory. The speculation herein is but a means to an end, for its authors believed they could attain freedom from the world by knowing the truth.

The followers of yoga discipline themselves so that they become accomplished in meditation. These great seers are satiated by gnosis; their minds are established in nirvana. They do not return to this world again, Partha, but attain release from the evils of transmigration. Being firmly rooted in their true state, they bypass the evils of birth.

626 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-9453-1  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-9453-x  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation

About the Translator

Alexander Wynne is Lecturer in Buddhist Studies at Mahidol University, Bangkok.