The Rig Veda is the oldest Indian and one of the oldest Indo-European texts. It is a collection of 1,028 hymns addressed to the gods, composed in highly poetic and notoriously difficult Archaic Sanskrit. Medieval Indian commentaries and especially the modern Western scholarship of the past 150 years have increasingly shed more light on its poetry, religion, and ritual as well as on its contemporary meaning.
The Rig Veda has been translated in scholarly fashion only once during the twentieth century, and that was into German in 1951 by K. F. Geldner and published in three separate volumes of Harvard Oriental Studies, numbers 33, 34, and 35. Renou’s French and Elizarenkova’s Russian translations closely follow Geldner’s. Geldner’s volumes have long been out of print; they are reprinted here in one useful reference volume.