Going to be reading some eastern classics. Should I bother with an abridged Mahabharata if I'm going to read the Bhagavad Gita (Easwaran translation)? And what's a good translation of the Ramayana? I looked through the archive and the Narayana one was most mentioned.
Also, for Buddhism, should I read the Dhammapada as well as Bodhi's In the Buddha's Words anthology, or is the former adequate on its own?
Bhagavad Gita is definitely the most applied of all the sections of the Mahabharata, and it could be argued that it is the most significant portion. However, I think you'll benefit greatly from reading an abridged version of the Mahabharata as well as a full version of the Bhagavad Gita because it gives you more "historical" context. It's similar to how reading the Old Testament provides a foundation for the New Testament to deliver its message
>Also, for Buddhism, should I read the Dhammapada as well as Bodhi's In the Buddha's Words anthology, or is the former adequate on its own?
I'd recommend both. The Dhammapada is a fairly short read as far as Buddhist texts go, and Bhikkhu Bodhi's anthology is pretty much the best introduction to Theravada Buddhism out there.
I fucking loved reading it in college, the passages we read, anyway. We were also shown parts of the Peter Brooks movie and I loved it so much I asked the professor if I could borrow it so I could watch the whole thing.
When I finally got a copy of the full Mahabharata to read from beginning to end, I got kind anxious to get to Bhima and everybody and the initial stories are a lot to digest and I just never got around to continuing it.