Caitanya Sanskrit Tol


Summer Intensive Course for Beginners

Caitanya Sanskrit Tol Publications

This is the site of the Caitanya Sanskrit Tol (Academy).  Tol refers to the traditional kind of school common in India before the British.  Few tols survive these days.  This school offers a variety of courses of study centered around Caitanya Vaisnavism, but broad enough to satisfy a global community.  Traditional subjects like darsana (philosophy), alankara (literary criticism), vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar),  and kavya (poetry) will be joined with a subset of the Great Western Books program to provide a unique, but balanced learning experience.   The Bhaktisastri, Bhaktyacarya, and Bhaktividyavaradhi degrees will be granted at the successful completion of the various levels of study at the Tol. The curriculum will include the following texts:

Vaisnava Vyakarana (Samksepa and Sampurna Hari-namamrta-vyakarana)

Sankhya (Sankhya-karika with comms.)

Yoga (Yoga-sutra with comms.)

Vedanta (Vedanta-sara, Vedanta-paribhasa, Catuhsutri with Sankara and Vacaspati comms.)

Vaisnava Vedanta (Prameya-ratnavali, Vedanta-syamantaka, Siddhanta-ratna, Vedanta-sutra with Govinda-bhasya, etc.)

Mimamsa (Mana-meyodaya, etc)

Alankara (Dhvanyaloka, Kavya-prakasa, Rasa-sutra with comms.)

Vaisnava Alankara (Alankara-kaustubha, Ujjvala-nilamani, Kavya-kaustubha)

Vaisnava Darsana (Bhagavata-sandarbha, Laghu and Brhad-bhagavatamrta)

Great Books (Greek Tragedies, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas,   etc.)

Kavya (Raghuvamsa, Kumara-sambhava, Sakuntala, etc.

Vaisnava Kavya and Nataka (Gita-govinda, Krsna-karnamrta, Lalita-Madhava, Vidagdha-Madhava, Caitanya-candrodaya, etc)

Purana (Bhagavata, Visnu, Padma, Brahma-vaivarta, etc.)

The Great Epics (Mahabharata and Ramayana)

The Program:

    The Sri Caitanya Sanskrit Tol is now open.  This is an experiment in alternative education.  The course of study will take approximately eight years, after which successful students will be granted the title of Bhaktisastri (equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts).  There are three stages in the course of study.  The first or introductory level (prathama) lasts three years and is the stage in which one will begin the study of the Sanskrit language through the grammar of Jiva Goswami, develop a Sanskrit vocabulary by study of the Amara-kosa, master the basics of Indic philosophy (Vedanta and Nyaya), be introduced to literary criticism and literature, begin reading the great Sanskrit Epics and Purana (primarily the Ramayana on this level), study some of the Vaisnava rites and practices through the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, explore the foundations of Vaisnava theology and philosophy through the introductory texts of Sri Jiva, Baladeva and Visvanatha and, in the interest of becoming well rounded citizens of the world, begin study of some of the world's other great classical works of literature, religion, and philosophy (the so-called Great Books). 

The intermediary stage (madhyama), also lasting three years, will involve the continued study of the Sanskrit language and the study of more advanced and difficult works in all of the areas mentioned above.  Students in this stage will study intermediate texts in Vedanta and Nyaya and also take up the Sankhya and Yoga schools.  Parts of the Mahabharata will be undertaken in this stage with special focus on the Bhagavad-gita and its commentaries.   More of the classic texts of the Western tradition and some from the Chinese-Japanese tradition will be studied as well.

The final stage (two years) will focus on advanced texts of the Vaisnava tradition such as the Sandarbha of Sri Jiva, the Bhagavata with commentaries,  the plays and poetry of Rupa, Kavi Karnapura, Krsnadas Kaviraja, and Sri Jiva, and the Vedanta-sutra with commentaries. 

The Result:

Students who complete the course will have studied many of the most influential works of the Caitanya tradition and will be equiped to continue their exploration of the Sanskrit works of the Caitanya tradition and of other great Indic traditions on their own.  The program is designed to produce a generation of well grounded, thoughtful scholars and theologians of the rich and complex literary and philosophical traditions of India with special focus on the Caitanya tradition.  There are abbreviated programs for those who already have degrees from college or graduate work, as well.  Prospective students should inquire about them in their letters of application.

The Location:

The Caitanya Sanskrit Tol is located in the small, quiet town of Kirksville, Missouri.  Students who apply and are accepted into the Tol will be expected to come and live in Kirksville for the duration of their studies.  The school year is divided into three semesters (four months each, January-April, May-August, September-December) with a two week break at the end of each (that is, the last two weeks of each trimester there are no studies).  Classes will be held for a minimum of three hours each day, six days a week, and students will be expected to spend an additional 3 to 4 hours a day studying on their own or with other students outside of class.  The rest of the student's time is his or her own.  Since classes sizes will be kept small, students will get lots of personal attention from the instructors. 


The fees are currently set at $1000 for each trimester ($3000 per school year), paid partially in advance (50%) two weeks before each semester.  This does not include room and board.  Those are to be taken care of by the students themselves.  Since Kirksville is the home of Truman State University and the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, there is plenty of inexpensive student housing.  There are also plenty of employment opportunities around Kirksville for students.  At present there are no scholarships available, but perhaps those will become available in the future.  Some reduction in fees can be worked out for students on the basis of their willingness to work at the Tol or in its publication wing.

Advancement and Degrees:

Acceptance into a higher stage is contingent on passing the prior stages with high marks.  Examinations will be given at the end of each semester over the materials studied during that semester and a final at the end of the school year (December) covering work done during the year.  Students will receive certificates of achievement and recognition for each level in the program successfully completed.  Students who complete all three level will be granted the degree of Bhaktisastri by the faculty of the Caitanya Sanskrit Tol.  In the future advanced degrees (Acarya and Vidyavaradhi) will be offered  by the Tol for the training of teachers of the Caitanya tradition.  All current instructors hold doctoral degrees from accredited universities in areas related to the study of Sanskrit, Vaisnavism, and Indic philosophy and religion.

Application to the Tol

If you are interested in being among the first to study at the Caitanya Sanskrit Tol, send a letter of interest to admissions, with information about your prior education, your current level of knowledge of Sanskrit, and your specific interests in the program.

Here is a tentative curriculum for the first year.