Is Ralph T. Griffith's translation of the Vedas reliable and correct.

Can I read Ralph T. Griffith's translation of the Vedas?

If not why?

  • 2
    In short the answer would be no, reason we being Indians knowing Hindi pretty well find it hard to understand and translate Sanskrit word by word then how do you expect a foreigner with no or very little knowledge about the language to get it right 100%, plus in Sanskrit a single word can be used in different context thus can have different meaning.
    – Just_Do_It
    Apr 8, 2021 at 19:42
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    @Just_Do_It well he learned sanskrit. He understand sanskrit very well. Apr 8, 2021 at 19:58
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    This fact was confirmed by him himself ?
    – Just_Do_It
    Apr 8, 2021 at 20:45
  • 1
    Yes you can to increase knowledge and direct meaning but for every word letter it means only God then it's hard to make it
    – Prasanna R
    Apr 9, 2021 at 6:21

1 Answer 1


From the preface of the book "The Hymns of the RigvedaTranslated by Ralph T. H. Griffith2nd edition, Kotagiri (Nilgiri) 1896" :

This work is an attempt to bring within easy reach of all readers of English a translation of the Hymns of the Rigveda which while aiming especially at close fidelity to the letter and the spirit of the original, shall be as readable and intelligible as the nature of the subject and other circumstances permit." ... "My translation, which follows the text of Max Müller's splendid six-volume edition, is partly based on the work of the great scholiast Sayana who was Prime Minister at the court of the King of Vijaynagar - in what is now the Madras District of Bellary - in the fourteenth century of our era. Sayana's Commentary has been consulted and carefully considered for the general sense of every verse and for the meaning of every word, and his interpretation has been followed whenever it seemed rational, and consistent with the context, and with other passages in which the same word or words occur."

Now, as far as Max Muller is concerned, he too just translated Sayana's work on Rig Veda. His translation of Vedas isn't "his own" but just a re-translation of Sayana's translation.

To this end, Müller sought to understand the most ancient of Vedic scriptures, the Rig-Veda. Müller translated the Rigveda Samhita book written by the 14th century Sanskrit scholar Sayanacharya from Sanskrit to English. Müller was greatly impressed by Ramakrishna Paramhansa, his contemporary and proponent of Vedantic philosophy, and wrote several essays and books about him

So, all these translations of Vedas by these western academics are nothing but re-translations of Sayana's Sanskrit commentary/translation of the Vedas. Thus, they are not independent translations/interpretations in any sense. Sayana's commentary is very much the base based on which these academics try to assign meanings to the Vedic mantras.

However, how much error has cropped in in their works needs a detailed study to ascertain and is much difficult to say IMO.

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