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What version of The Vedas?

  1. Jan 18, 2004 #1
    I am looking to read The Vedas.
    I have come across more than a few translations.
    Some of them are obviously Westernized, Modernized, Americanized versions that have been dumbed down for mass consumption.
    That's not what I want.
    Some are silly self-help books that attempt to put forth the writer's interpretation of what the Vedas is trying to say.
    I don't want someone to tell me what THEY think it means.

    I can't read Devanagari, obviously, and I know that a direct translation into English would not be possible due to grammatical differences between the languages.
    However, what I am looking for is the closest I can get to a direct translation.
    I don't mind (even prefer it) if the author includes notes on the translation, meanings of phrases, history, referenced Gods and such.
    But I do want all the Suktas intact and in order.
    I want to read the closest to the original I can get my hands on without spending the next ten years learning Sanskrit and translating the texts myself.

    The problem I have is, since I don't read Devanagari Sanskrit, I don't know what is more accurate than what.

    In this thread himanshu121 posted this link.

    The translation of the last Sukta of the Rig Veda from the site he linked to (I don't know whose translation it is, but I would very much like to know):
    1. Agni, showerer (of benefits), thou who
    art the lord, thou verily combinest with all
    creatures, thou art kindled upon the
    footmark of Ila, bring unto us riches.
    2. Go together, speak together, know
    your minds to be functioning together from
    a common source, in same manner as the
    impulses of creative intelligence, in the
    beginning, remain together united near the
    3. Integrated is the expression of
    knowledge, an assembly is significant in
    unity, united are their minds while full of
    desires. For you I make use of the
    integrated expression of knowledge.
    4. United be your purpose, harmonious
    be your feelings, collected be your mind,
    in the same way as all the various aspects
    of the universe exist in togetherness,

    The copy I have (translated by Ralph Griffith [1896]) says this:
    1. THOU, mighty Agni, gatherest up all that is precious for thy friend.
    Bring us all treasures as thou art enkindled in libation's place
    2 Assemble, speak together: let your minds be all of one accord,
    As ancient Gods unanimous sit down to their appointed share.
    3 The place is common, common the assembly, common the mind, so be their thought united.
    A common purpose do I lay before you, and worship with your general oblation.
    4 One and the same bt your resolve, and be your minds of one accord.
    United be the thoughts of all that all may happily agree.

    I have seen at least 3 more translations that vary enough to change the intended meaning of the Sukta.
    Now, I am not looking for which interpretation is closest to what Hindu's believe, I am looking for the closest to the original so I can read it myself and come up with my own interpretation.

    Someone put me in touch with a book buyer that works at a metaphysics book store in Manhattan specializing in Eastern Philosophy and an old Hindu Temple in Queens.
    I will see where they lead me.

    I was hoping someone here would have some helpful advice for me besides talking to the book buyer and the Yogis at the temple.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2004 #2

    Is this the translation by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi?
  4. Jan 19, 2004 #3
    Yup, The variation is going to be there, and i believe the translation is by him

    the vedas are very very large. I have them at my Aunts home as she has doctorate(P.hd) in Sanskrit She knows better than me the meanings and translations. Right now these are with her and i'm not in position to help u, but definitely i will be posting some information in few days

    The Best way to study Vedas is to study the language Sanskrit itself coz there are some words which vary their meaning in other language
    for e.g There is no equivalent for the word GURU in English

    My advice will be if you are really serious with the vedas then u should learn the language Sanskrit itself coz there is no translation which is going to be closest.
  5. Jan 19, 2004 #4
    What does she have?
    The original Sanskrit, I imagine?

    Do you know if she has a particular translation she prefers and why?

    I would love to learn Sanskrit... eventually.
    It is something I have been interested in for some time now.

    I have met people that have been studying Sanskrit for 20+ years and still say that they are not at the point where they could confidently translate the Vedas into English.
    I was told (by the person that got me in touch with the book buyer and the Temple in Queens) that one of the world's most renowned Sanskrit/Vedic scholars (Swami Dayananda Saraswati) has said that it is impossible to have a "correct" translation largely due to the three different "grammatical forms" of Sanskrit?
    Do you know what that means?

    As I was saying, I would love to learn Sanskrit eventually, but I want to read the Vedas before I am 50 years old as part of the research I was talking about in the Oldest civilization/language thread I started.
    The research is for a series of books I am writing.
    The books are fiction, and the facts don't "need" to be exact, but I want it to be as accurate as possible.
    I want to learn Sanskrit for my own edification, but I have to read the Vedas as part of this research.

    As I was saying, one translation to the next, the entire meaning of any given Sukta can change.
    Plus, one of the characters is going to be quoting the Vedas, and he is supposed to be "enlightened", for lack of a better word, and quoting it from the "source", but in English.
    If this character's translation is off by a word or two it would not be devastating because he can just claim that the scholars that performed the translation were mistaken about verb tense or some such thing.
    If this character's translation is dead wrong and he gets the entire meaning of the Sukta wrong, the whole charater (and series) is screwed because the main premise is seriously flawed.
    So, obviously, I want it to be as correct as possible or have the distinction qualified (since the Vedas are believed to be Sruti and were not given as "words") and have the character be able to explain why the Yogis translated it to say "this" but it really should have said "that".
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