NOTE: This question is NOT a duplicate of this question. I am asking whether Dvijas can read translations of Vedas done by Mlecchas, and that other question doesn't even talk about it.

Are Dvijas allowed to read translations of the Vedas done by Mlecchas?

Mlecchas are prohibited from reading, studying, or listening to the Vedas. Are Dvijas (Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas) allowed to read their translations of the Vedas?

The English translation of the Vedas on sacred-texts are done by Mlecchas.

Or is it sinful?


2 Answers 2


This question can not be answered from the scriptures in my opinion. I am answering according to what Swami Vivekananda thought about it.

Source: The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 6/Conversations and Dialogues/IX

According to Swami Vivekananda, Max Muller, who translated the Vedas, was the rebirth of the Vedic commentator Sayana.

The disciple of Vivekananda objects to that and says how is it that Sayana, instead of getting born in the holy land of Bharata, got born (in his next birth) in a so called Mleccha country?

To which Swamiji's reply was that when a person is capable enough to do a task, as difficult as translating the Vedas, why look for his caste? That he is already capable and qualified his effort only shows.

For the last ten days, the disciple had been studying Sâyana's commentary on the Rig-Veda with Swamiji, who was staying then at the house of the late Babu Balaram Bose at Baghbazar. Max Müller's volumes on the Rig-Veda had been brought from a wealthy friend's private library. Swamiji was correcting the disciple every now and then and giving him the true pronunciation or construction as necessary. Sometimes while explaining the arguments of Sayana to establish the eternity of the Vedas, Swamiji was praising very highly the commentator's wonderful ingenuity; sometimes again while arguing out the deeper significance of the doctrine, he was putting forward a difference in view and indulging in an innocent squib at Sayana.

While our study had proceeded thus for a while, Swamiji raised the topic about Max Müller and continued thus: Well, do you know, my impression is that it is Sayana who is born again as Max Müller to revive his own commentary on the Vedas? I have had this notion for long. It became confirmed in my mind, it seems, after I had seen Max Müller. Even here in this country, you don't find a scholar so persevering, and so firmly grounded in the Vedas and the Vedanta. Over and above this, what a deep, unfathomable respect for Sri Ramakrishna! Do you know, he believes in his Divine Incarnation! And what great hospitality towards me when I was his guest! Seeing the old man and his lady, it seemed to me that they were living their home-life like another Vasishtha and Arundhati! At the time of parting with me, tears came into the eyes of the old man.

Disciple: But, sir, if Sayana himself became Max Müller, then why was he born as a Mlechchha instead of being born in the sacred land of India?

Swamiji: The feeling and the distinction that I am an Aryan and the other is a Mlechchha come from ignorance. But what are Varnâshrama and caste divisions to one who is the commentator of the Vedas, the shining embodiment of knowledge? To him they are wholly meaningless, and he can assume human birth wherever he likes for doing good to mankind. Specially, if he did not choose to be born in a land which excelled both in learning and wealth, where would he secure the large expenses for publishing such stupendous volumes? Didn't you hear that the East India Company paid nine lakhs of rupees in cash to have the Rig-Veda published? Even this money was not enough. Hundreds of Vedic Pundits had to be employed in this country on monthly stipends. Has anybody seen in this age, here in this country, such profound yearning for knowledge, such prodigious investment of money for the sake of light and learning? Max Müller himself has written it in his preface, that for twenty-five years he prepared only the manuscripts. Then the printing took another twenty years! It is not possible for an ordinary man to drudge for fortyfive years of his life with one publication. Just think of it! Is it an idle fancy of mine to say he is Sayana himself?

So, according to Vivekananda, there is nothing wrong in reading such translations.

And, moreover, we also do not have other options, unless we educate ourselves in our own language and make ourselves capable enough to translate the Vedas. Only then we can stop relying on the foreigners for making our own scriptures understandable to us.

  • Where was Sayana born?
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 11, 2019 at 12:49
  • I hv given wiki link for him.. did u chk? @Ikshvaku
    – Rickross
    Feb 11, 2019 at 12:50
  • 1
    @ChinmaySarupria I have found that most English translations are done by 3 groups of people: 1) Indologists (non-Hindus both Indian and western) 2) Westerners who adopted Hinduism 3) Vedic scholars. I try to read the translations in the order of 3 -> 2 -> 1
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 11, 2019 at 16:15
  • 3
    Extremely wrong! Even if Vivekananda himself said that Max Muller is a rebirth of Sayana, he is totally wrong! Seems like Vivekananda had not studied Max Muller's motives in purposely mistranslating Vedas to achieve the colonial British agenda of alienating Hindus from their own tradition. This is even documented in the proceedings of the British parliament as well as in Max Muller's own letters to his wife. Such ignorance and naivete is to be expected from Vivekananda, who did not himself undergo any traditional Vedic education, but only did a "crash course" in Vedanta and became a "Swami".
    – RamAbloh
    Aug 9, 2020 at 1:41
  • 3
    In this aspect, he should be called "Avivekananda" because of his naive acceptance of foreigner's translations. This itself shows how alienated he himself was from native traditions and languages. Just because Muller spent years doing his work, it doesn't negate his ulterior motives. He was getting paid by the British govt to do exactly that.
    – RamAbloh
    Aug 9, 2020 at 1:45

The meaning/usage of the word dvija had been changed over a period of time.

What the seers of Vedic era have in their mind, while using the word dwija, is different in the subsequent ages.

If we strictly go by the usage of Vedic era, then any SELF REALISED person is a DWIJA, though not learnt the Veda in a proper way.

For example: Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Sri Ramana Maharshi, etc.

The Veda itself apaUrushEya, which means the spiritual concepts emanated from a SELF REALISED person.

When a person like Sri Ramana Maharshi is a dwija or SELF REALISED person, what is the need for going through again, the translation of the Veda by anyone.?

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