Ralph T. H. Griffith

Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith (1826–1906) was an English Indologist, a member of the Indian education service and among the first Europeans to translate the Vedas into English. He lived in the UK (Oxford) and in India (Benares and Nilgiris).[1]


Griffith was born at Corsley, Wiltshire, on 25 May 1826.[2] The son of the Reverend R. C. Griffith (Chaplain to the Marquess of Bath 1830),[3] he was a B.A. of Queen's College and was elected Boden Professor of Sanskrit on Nov 24, 1849. The Boden Sanskrit professorship was established in 1832 with money bequeathed to the university by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Boden to assist in the conversion of the people of India to Christianity. Griffith took up this objective and translated the Vedic scriptures into English. He also produced translations of other Sanskrit literature, including a verse version of the Ramayana and the Kumara Sambhava of Kalidasa. He held the position of principal at the Benares College in India and later lived in Kotagiri, Nilgiri. Griffith was more interested in translating Vedic books into English, and did most of his translations while living, teaching and researching in Kotagiri in the Nilgiris.[citation needed]

His translation of the Rigveda follows the text of Max Müller's six-volume Sanskrit edition. His readings generally follow the work of the great scholar Sayana, who was Prime Minister at the court of the King of Vijaynagar in what is now the District of Bellary in the Indian state of Karnataka during the fourteenth century.

On his retirement he withdrew to Kotagiri, a hill station, some 7000 feet high, in the Nilgiris district, Madras, residing with his brother Frank, an engineer in the public works department of the Bombay presidency, who had settled there in 1879. At Kotagiri he tranquilly engaged in the study and translation of the Vedas. He died on 7 November 1906, and was buried there.[2]


Copies of his translation of the Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajur Veda, Atharvaveda and Ramayana are available on the internet.

  • The Ramayan of Valmiki (published 1870) (read online)
  • Hymns of the Rigveda (published 1889) (read online)
  • Hymns of the Samaveda (published 1893) (read online)
  • Hymns of the Atharvaveda (published 1896) (read online)
  • The Texts of the White Yajurveda (published 1899) (read online)


  1. ^ Griffith, Ralph Thomas Hotchkin (11 April 1896). The Hymns of the Rig Veda (PDF). Kotagiri Nilgiri. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b Macdonell 1912.
  3. ^ Buckland, C.E. (1968). "Rev. R. C. Griffith". Dictionary of Indian Biography. New York: Haskell House. p. 181. GGKEY:BDL52T227UN.


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