Skip available courses

Available courses

This course is an overview of the history and development of the Sanskrit language and literature and its closest allied languages and literature.  It will examine the controversy surrounding the roots of the language, follow its development through Vedic and classical Sanskrit down to its use and place in modern times.  We will also look at the question of dating and chronology.  How do we know what was written when and by whom?  The question of authorship is sometimes a vexed one in Sanskrit literature.  The vast literature written in Sanskrit will be surveyed and the role it and its literature has played in the development of the Indic civilization will be examined.  Needless to say there is much to read in this course.  We are covering 3000 years of human history.  Some of the texts we will use in the course are public domain and online; some are available through online bookstores.   This course is meant to be a general introduction and overview of the history and development of the Sanksrit language for students preparing themselves to study the language itself in the Sanskrit language courses.

The course will start in January, 2014 and enrollment will cost $30.  I will post the reading list in the next announcement.

This course will lay the foundation for much of what we teach at CSTol.  There are indeed courses in this school, such as the introductory courses and courses in religion and non-Indic philosophy, that do not require some knowledge of Sanskrit.  But the more in depth and interesting courses do.  Many of the courses will focus on a particular text and set of texts and students will be expected to read them in their original language.  For that a good foundation in Sanskrit will be required.

The goals to be achieved in this beginning course are these:

1. Learning the Sanskrit alphabet and the principles of its organization.

2. Learning and becoming at home with the Sanskrit script or Devanagari.

3. Learning the technical terms and names for parts of Sanskrit grammar.

4. Learning some of the basic forms nouns, verbs, adverbs, and pronouns take in Sanskrit.

5. Beginning to read and write simple sentences in Sanskrit.

6. Beginning to translate simple sentences into and out of Sanskrit.

7. Building a rudimentary vocabulary.

In order to achieve these goals we will use a set of Sanskrit lessons created by my own Sanskrit teacher, J. Prabhakar Sastri, of Visakhapatanam in India.  These lessons have been tried by Sastri Garu (a term of respect) in several classes taught a the University of Wisconsin.  The book containing these lessons is called the Laghu-pada-parijata and is dedicated to Prof. Joe Elder of the University of Wisconsin because it was largely through Joe's help that Sastri had the opportunity to write it and try it out on students. 

The text consists of 40 chapters or lessons.  The first part of the beginning course will only cover the first 10 chapters. That is about what can be covered in ten to twelve weeks.  The second part of the beginning course will cover lessons 11-20.  The rest of the chapters will be covered in the two parts of the Intermediate Sanskrit course in the second year.  The text will be distributed in pdf format to registered students of the course.

Students will also need to learn how to create Sanskrit texts in Devanagari on computers.  I have gathered together a set of software tools to help do that.  Those will be given to students and explained when the time is right.  All of these software tools are free.  So the only expense to students will be the course itself.

Beginning Sanskrit 1 will follow the course called Introduction to Sanskrit.  While Introduction to Sanskrit is not a prerequisite for the Beginning Sanskrit courses, it is recommended.  Beginning Sanskrit 1 will cost $50 per student and the enrollment will be capped at 30 students.  So, if you are interested in taking the course, enroll early.

This is the continuation of the first course.  We will pick up with Chapter 11 of Sastri's book and work through to Chapter 20.  This will complete the more important and common aspects of Sanskrit grammar and expand the student's vocabulary considerably.  After this course, one will probably be able to read most of the easier Sanskrit works, such as the  Bhagavad-gita, Ramayana, many of the Puranas, etc.

Beginning Sanskrit 1 is a requirement for this course and enrollment will be capped at 30.  Enrollment will cost $50.  

This course like, the Introduction to the Sanskrit Language, is a general survey course that focuses on the imaginative literature written in Sanskrit and/or Prakrit.  Beginning with the hymns of the Rig Veda, we watch as the rich literature of Sanskrit grows and develops over the course of some three thousand years.  Hymns that capture the sacred drama of changing natural events gradually transform into epic-length stories of human struggle in the search for truth and happiness which change into dramatic and poetic presentations of love and love's disappointments which transform into stories of magic and wonder which reshape into accounts of kings and kingdoms and so forth and so on, an endless broad river of story.  The course is taught through translation and each time it is taught different literary classics will be read and discussed, though the overall treatment of the historical epochs will remain the same.  Thus, it is possible to take the course over many times and never read the same Sanskrit classics.  In fact, the Sanskrit literary tradition is so rich and so unexplored that it is recommended that students take the course over and many times as it is offered.  Each time credit will be given for taking the course towards the CSTol's degree of Sastri (see the discussion of the degree structure of the school).  The successful completion of the course earns 3 credits for a student.  Lots of reading, online discussion, two exams, several quizes, and at least two medium length (10 page) writing assignments (research papers) will complete the requirements of the course.  The enrollment fee for the course will be $50.  Class size is limited to 25 students.  

A reading of the Illiad and the Odyssey with discussion.  Parallels, contrasts, and comparisons with be made with the great epics of India, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and secondary works that discuss these works will be used in the course.  This is the first in a series of courses based on the Great Books series.

Skip site news

Site news

Picture of Neal Delmonico
We're up and running again.
by Neal Delmonico - Saturday, 5 October 2013, 8:38 PM

We are back in action.  For over a year, this school has languished.  I have been busy with the publishing side of the operation.  I dropped by to look at the old site today and discovered that it had over a hundred members.  I had no idea there were that many interested in learning more about ...

Read the rest of this topic
(422 words)
Picture of Neal Delmonico
by Neal Delmonico - Thursday, 16 February 2012, 6:20 PM

Welcome to the second incarnation of the Caitanya Sanskrit Tol.  The first incarnation never made it off the ground.  Perhaps this one will have better luck.  Let us see.

The realm of higher education is in the midst of some dramatic changes.  Colleges and universities are facing dire financial ...

Read the rest of this topic
(579 words)