What is the most accurate English translation of the Rig Veda?


Hey Every1,

I want opinions:
What is the most accurate English translation of the Rig Veda?



Highly controversial subject, because there exist very limited number of translations for peer review. Thus, one has to believe that the translation is correct.

There are several approaches to translating the Rig Veda:

Ritualistic approach: This is the approach that is popular in the medieval ages in India where every word in Sanskrit is translated to give a ritual meaning. The only copy we have surviving is a commentary from Sayana. Sayana gives more than 10 different meanings for each word, like ‘go’ whose meaning include cow, ray of light, sun, intellect.

Linguistic approach: This is the approach used in Linguistics today. It is called the comparative-linguistics method. This is based on translating the meaning of the words based on what they might have meant in PIE(Proto-Indo-European) by reconstructing meanings based on the meaning in other Indo-European languages. As such it is completely speculative. It is also based on white supremacy politics, the that the Aryan people originated in the Russian steeps and then went around invading and spreading their culture throughout Indo-Europe. So it does not pay a lot of weight to the Sanskrit tradition itself, seeing Indo-Aryan languages as being much later than the languages in Europe. The translations available using this method are by Max Mueller and Ralpth Griffith.

Grammatical approach: This is based on translating the Sanskrit according to the Grammar approach of Panini and the etymology of the words in the Nirukta i.e., using traditional Sanskrit dictionaries. This method produces a more accurate translation, as the Rig Veda would have been translated by scholars in India. The translations which are available are those by the Arya Samaaj, founded by Swami Dayananda. Unfortunately, you do get a lot of grammatical gymnastics being done to give words meanings which are unlikely, like translating certain words to mean electricity, telegraph, airship, nuclear fusion. As the Arya Samaaj believe the Rig Veda is not a historical document, but an eternal document of knowledge revealed by god at the beginning of creation, they translate everything that literally is historical into something on physics.

Psychological approach: This approach was proposed by Sri Aurobindo. He says that the deeper esoteric meaning of the Rig Veda is psychological/spiritual, and they can only be translated correctly by somebody who is at that level of consciousness, otherwise to the common man they read like gibberish. Sri Aurobindo did not a do a full translation of the Rig Veda, but only translated some verses, entitled, “The Hymns to the Cosmic fire”

The best translations I have read are both anthologies: Rig Veda for the Layman by Sujoy Ghosh and the Holy Vedas by Pandit Vidyalankar. You will also find, if you know a few words in Sanskrit yourself, that when you read the Rig Veda its meaning unlocks within you. The best way to read the Rig Veda is intuitively, but you need to have some grasp of Sanskrit first.


Thank you, I appreciate the thorough response.


The one which is filled with blood.



You do not understand the nature and context of my question.

You assume I am referring to the esoteric meaning of the word ‘Veda’.

If I were asking about the LIVING Vedas within your self, I would not have asked for an “English translation” - obviously there is no gross-word translation of the real, true, living Vedas.

By requesting a translation, it is implied that my request is of a literary nature.



Although Amir’s statement is not clear, I think from previous discussion with him, that he meant the ritual and linguistic translation of the Rig veda. Amir believes the Vedic people were uncivilized, oppressive and sacrificed animals and the odd humans, which is concurs with the views of Linguists. They too read the Rig Veda and the Veda as detailing the primitive beliefs and practices of early Indo-European people. The Vedic people as seen as nomadic, war-like, pagan and ritualistic.

It is by the time of the Upanishads that Western scholars acknowledge a complete shift in the Vedic mentality - almost like a sudden transformation in the Vedic mind; going from obsession with ritual to philosophy and yoga; animal sacrifices to ahimsa and vegetarianism; belief in heaven to believe in samsara and transcendence. In particular they mark out book 1 and book 10 of the Rig Veda as being the latest, simply because there you find the famous suktas which are consistent with Upanishadic thinking.

Thus Western scholars treat the Rig Veda somewhat like the Old testimant of Hinduism. It the reflects time where people were more uncivilized, polytheistic and primitive. The Upanishads, Gita and Darsanas are considered like the New testimant of Hinduism.

Of course I know this is incorrect, because I find Upanishadic thinking throughout the Rig Veda in every book. The Western scholars have simply ignored this because it does not fit in with their anthropological reductionist model that sees all early cultures as being primitive and uncivilized. They read the Rig Veda through this prism, reading into it what they want from it.



If you’re looking for opinions, my opinion is you should take a look at an online translation before you spend money buying a printed copy of the Rig Veda. If you’re looking for philosophical insight, my opinion is that reading the Rig Veda is not worth the time and effort, unless you really want to sift through a haystack of thousands of hymns looking for a proverbial needle.


Thank you Asuri. I do want opinions. I like seeing what different people have to say. Since I am not searching for anything I do not need to worry about the time and effort being wasted. My research is merely historical and intellectual. The lotus flower has blossomed many years ago.


Vedic religion is too violent for my taste, it is good that we have evolved past that.


Too violent?

On knowledge and wisdom:

We meditate on the adorable glory of the divine,
Which is ever existent, every conscious and ever blissful.
May he stimulate our vision and intellect.

Constant and deep meditation are the means to revealing
the divine working of the supreme lord.
(Rig 5.2.6)

For success and happy life, sharpen thy intellect, like
the sharp blade of steel, vow to live by truth and truth
alone, dedicating thy life to the divine.
(Rig 6.47.10)

He who knows the truth about the universe
And the knows the secret of the conscious soul
pervading all
Achieves equanimity
He is rewarded by the divine with intuition insight
And eternal glory
(Atharva 10.2.229)

Knowledge of eternal truth leads to eternal peace and bliss
(Yajur 40.14)

The cosmos is created by means of toil
Patience and perseverance
Understood through knowledge
And being firmly vested with truth
Stay firmly
(Atharva 12.5.1)

The knower of reality is he who knows about
the invisible thread running inside the visible thread
(Atharva 10.8.37)

In order to lead a blissful life
Sharpen thy intellect and enrich thy mind
With brighter vision

In order to protect thyself
And make progress in life
Enhance thy treasure of thy wisdom and vision

Acquire and develop thy wisdom
Through discriminating between truth and falsehood

Bless me with divine vision at morn,
At noon of day, at evening and night.
Bless me that the seeds of intelligence ever flourish
In the warmth of thy love
as plants flourish bathed in the rays of the rising sun
(Atharva 6.108.5)

Enrich yourself by the acquisition of wisdom
Then act and perform deeds of noble quality
In the spirit of dedication

Enhance thy discrimnative power of intellect
And instill the spirit of invincible valour
in thy body
(Yajur 4.11)

He who knows the first vital string
binding all things formed in shape, colour and words
Knows only the physical form of the universe, and knows
very little
But he who goes deeper and perceives the string, the thin
web binding the universe with cords of unity
Knows the ultimate reality
(Atharva 10.8.3

On society:

O citizens of the world
Live in harmony and concord
Be organized and co-operative
Speak with one voice
And make your resolutions with one mind
As our ancient saints and seers
Leader and preceptors
Have performed their duties righteously
Similarly, may you not falter to exercise
your duties
(Rig 10.191.2)

Let your minds work in harmony
Let your sentiments be for a common objective
I shall help you to overcome troubles
And how to harmonize
Your deeds and thoughts
(Atharva 6.64.2)

Not one of you is small
Not one a feeble child
All of you are truly great
(Rig 8.30.1)

May our prayers be one and the same;
May we belong to one fraternity;
May our minds move in accord;
May our hearts work in unison
For one supreme goal;
Let us inspired by a common ideal;
Let us the sing praises in congregation
(Rig 10.191.2)

May the inmost aspirations of you all
Be perfectly harmonious;
May your hearts beat in unison;
May absolute concord reign your minds,
May you all be welded
Into strong fellowship and unity
(Rig 10.191.4)

On social activism:

May you earn as if by a hundred hands
And disburse by a thousand!
When you are involved in benevolent work,
your capacity to earn multiplies,
increasing a hundredfold;
Those who give in a good cause
Are surely blessed by the divine
(Atharva 3.24.5)

O man, work with vigour and vitality
Drive away the demons of poverty and disease.
May your honest earnings support the people,
Engaged in benevolent deeds
For the welfare of society
(Atharva 6.81.1)

Those who give charity
And look after the welfare of others
Are ever happy
(Sama 285)

May you, o man!
Realise the virtues of self-reliance
And self-sacrifice
(Sama 358)

While giving charity, may I not be a miser,
May benevolence awaken my spirit of generosity
(Rig 2.7.2)

Through thy nobility and noble deeds
Earn happiness and make others happy
(Sama 52)

May thy body be an unfailing instrument
Engaged in beneficial pursuits
(Yajur 4.13)

Awaken and enhance the progress
of noble actions
Now enrich your life
With constant hard work
And virtuous deeds
And live in the spirit of sacrifice
(Yajur 1.12)

Following the path self-sacrifice
May you render service to humanity
(Sama 63)

On overcoming adversities

Cast of anger from your hearts
Like an arrow from the bow,
So that you may again be friends
And live together in harmony
(Atharva 4.36.2)

An idle mind is easy prey to evil thoughts
(Rig 10.22.8)

Neither think nor act maliciously
Tread always the righteous path
(Rig 10.57.1)

Cultivate the strength of will power
To conquer the passionate urges of
the sense organs
(Rig 5.31.3)

Let not the wicked impulses defile our
character; let them die a natural death
(Rig 1.38.6)

Human life is like a turbulent stream, strewn with
rocks and pebbles; the brave step into it; for by sitting
on the shore and enumerating hurdles, you will never get across.
Leave behind the burden of your fears, guilts, weaknesses and
attachments. Thus freed from all negative forces, may you cross
the stream.
(Atharva 12.2.26)

Destroy the voracious instinct of greed
For verily, it is a wolf!
(Rig 6.51.4)

I resolve to elevate my soul to the highest peaks of spiritual joy
(Yajur 11.22)

The supreme lord abides within the self of all beings
(Yajur 5.4)


I am new here. My introduction to the Rig Veda has been through Sri Aurobindo’s book The Secret of the Veda." It is a fine book, which I do not fully understand. I am studying the Rig Veda for historical, archaeological, anthropological reasons and so I try to find the oldest possible understanding. For example, it has been helpful to learn about the many meanings the word “cow” carries, since my interest go before people practiced animal husbandry. I do try not to impose my personal “tastes” on what I read, but I confess, the word “sacrifice” troubles me. I like to think of it as an offering. Over and over again, in the Rig Veda, the sacrifice is portrayed as the offering of fire, soma and hymn. Nowhere do I find flesh; albeit oil or fat is used to enrich the flame.

I welcome any light you may shed on this subject.


I think that translation accuracy in regards to the verses of the Rig Veda is absolutely difficult.
One has to know and understand the Sanskrit literature.
I’ve found that internalizing various verses and understanding the total cellular construction of the human body with Agni being the vital force of our physical existence, somewhat makes more sense then many translations.
I would then have to say that between Sri Aurobindo and Sayana really simplify the subject.