The department offers Sanskrit classes at three levels: Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced. See Objectives of the Program below for details. Each level is a two-semester course (fall/spring). The Elementary course has no prerequisites, and is designed to accommodate undergraduates as well as graduate students. While its focus is reading comprehension, other language skills such as listening comprehension and speaking are emphasized to the extent that they aid facility with the languages grammar. Weekly narratives introduce essential cultural knowledge, which is augmented by close reading of a primary text (usually Epic) at the end of the second semester. Students with prior experience in the language may bypass the Elementary course with a placement test. See the FAQ for more information; for all other questions, contact the Language Coordinator. The first year of study may be profitably supplemented by intensive summer study of a Sanskrit reader, such as the excellent Rmopkhyna of Peter Scharf or the traditional Sanskrit Reader of Charles Lanman.

The Intermediate and Advanced levels introduce students to a variety of textual genres; cultivate an array of powerful analytical techniques native to the Sanskrit grammatical and literary traditions; and allow students to begin to make traditional sense of texts, from the inside-out. In this way students can begin to engage the larger context in which a text was produced and receivedits intertexts and commentariesand to interpret a texts historical and cultural dimensions no less than the text itself.

The Intermediate course consists of two semesters (fall / spring), which differ in content and aim. The fall semester explores Sanskrit Epic and its genre-conventions, but is sometimes prefaced by a survey of simple narrative in prose or verse, such as the Hitopadea. At the same time, students review and consolidate the grammar introduced in Elementary Sanskrit as well as acquire a working command of compound and derivational analysis. The spring semester consists of an introduction to one or two other genres, such as drama or the philosophical treatise. In general, select passages of commentary are also introduced, calling into play the grammar and analytical skills developed in the first semester. Sanskrit prosody is also introduced at some length, giving students the opportunity to master several of the most common meters. This course may be profitably supplemented with an intensive summer Sanskrit program in Pune, India (AIIS Sanskrit Language Program).

The Advanced course presumes and reinforces the kind of grammatical and textual analysis developed in Intermediate. The goal is both to gain an appreciation of select texts in accordance with their traditions self-understanding and to engage the problems they raise for contemporary scholarship. The Advanced course is conceived of as a two-part course spanning two years of instruction: with one year dedicated to systematic thought and another to poetry and poetics. Additional courses, including Introduction to Pini and Introduction to the Literary Prakrits, are also available periodically.

Advanced Sanskrit (year 1)

Advanced Sanskrit (year 2)

I (Fall)

Philosophical Texts 1


 II (Spring)

Philosophical Texts 2

Literary Theory

The Sanskrit curriculum therefore comprises four years of instruction (which are required for graduate students concentrating in Sanskrit). As the readings for Advanced Sanskrit regularly change, students may continue to take this course for credit for as many years as desired. Final examinations are required of all students in the first year of Advanced Sanskrit. In the second year, students are required to prepare a research project in lieu of the examination. This may be a research paper, a book or articles review, a bibliographical study, a translation, or whatever will advance the students research capabilities.

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