Sanskrit Resources

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Sanskrit Resources

Postby Sahmilat » Mon Jun 24, 2019 9:55 pm

I’m by no means an expert, but I felt that a list of Sanskrit resources was overdue here. Please add anything you have in the replies.

With one exception, I’m only going to deal with textbooks that work from an English base. I simply haven’t looked into what I’m sure is no mean collection of resources in Indian languages.

Assimil, Le Sanskrit: This is the best book available in a major European language for learning Sanskrit. Everyone here is familiar with the method of Assimil, and this book doesn’t deviate from that method. It has transliteration and Devanagari throughout. For more discussion on this book, and my inspiration to investigate it in the first place, see this Deka Glossai video.

Kutumbasastri, Teach Yourself Samskrit: Note the “m”. This is not the vastly inferior book by Teach Yourself. This textbook series has several volumes for each level. The first level contains the main book, a narrative reader that is graded along with the main book, a similar conversational reader, and a key and glossary. This book uses very little English, essentially only in the instructions to each exercise. It is a very immersive introduction to Sanskrit grammar. Levels 2, 3, and the first half of 4 have also been published. This textbook seems excellent if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, but it is hard to find in print. It is available on Scribd here. I have only skimmed through this textbook, but it seems to be among the best available.

Krishnamurthy, Conversational Sanskrit: This textbook is well-graded, with each chapter starting with some example sentences and sample conversations with parallel text, then a vocabulary and suggestions for varying the given sentences, and only then is there a short grammar lesson. It unfortunately has no audio, and uses a slightly unusual transliteration scheme, only including Devanagari versions of the dialogues in the appendix. I think that this book is below Assimil, but if you want a vocabulary and usage-focused introduction to the language, rather than a grammar based one, this is a good choice.

The next few courses will be essentially in the western Grammar-translation tradition. If that’s not your thing, feel free to skim. For more detail than I will provide in this post, I recommend this blog’s reviews.

Egenes, Introduction to Sanskrit: This two-volume set is the best of this group of textbooks. It’s a pretty shallow grade, especially in its introduction of Devanagari and of sandhi. Its major drawback, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t provide extended reading selections until the second volume, when it adds a verse from the Bhagavad-Gita (which is well above the level of the learner at that point). The only exercises are the translation exercises in both directions. It does contain a key to the exercises. There is a highly useful supplement to this course from ANU called The Joy of Sanskrit. It contains recordings, further grammar explanations, and conversational Sanskrit phrases.

Maurer, The Sanskrit Language: This very large textbook follows essentially the same plan as Egenes, although the curve is steeper. It contains transliteration only in the paradigms, not throughout the rest of the text. The most important part of this book is the relatively (~1 page) long readings accompanying each chapter, with notes. There is no key to the exercises in the book, but it does have a companion website.

Deshpande, Saṃskṛta-Subodinī: In the same tradition as the above. Explains some grammar points and then has exercises. I’ve never looked at this book myself, but I understand that the exercises are good, although there is no key.

Goldman, Devavanipravesika: This is the textbook I started with. It has no particular advantages over the above textbooks, unless you really want to learn Sanskrit grammatical terms. It has very short readings and exercises for translation into Sanskrit, but no key.

Coulson, Teach Yourself Sanskrit: I can’t recommend this book for any reason, unless you are looking for an extremely cheap used textbook and you only kind of care about learning Sanskrit. It has minimal Devanagari, minimal readings, and very difficult exercises, although it does provide a key.

Online Sanskrit Lessons from IIT Madras
Sanskrit Web
Sanskrit Documents
Sanskrit Library
Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries
SpokenSanskrit Dictionary
Sanskrit Bharati USA
Sanskrit Google Group (in Russian)
Online Devanagari Keyboard at Lexilogos
UT Introduction to Ancient (Vedic) Sanskrit

A Sanskrit Reader (Lanman)
Intermediate Sanskrit Selections
Brough, J., Selections from Classical Sanskrit Literature
Warder, A. K., Sanskrit prose reader
Mahalinga Sastri, Y., A First Reader of Sanskrit
Banerji, H.C, The New Method Sanskrit reader
Scharf, Peter, Ramopakhyana
The Clay Sanskrit Library
Mylius, K., Chrestomathie der Sanskritliteratur
Manuel pour étudier la langue sanscrite

MacDonell (Classical)
MacDonell (Vedic)

This is just a small beginning, please comment things that I can add (and use myself!)
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Re: Sanskrit Resources

Postby Sahmilat » Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:54 am

It came to my attention only recently that the link above to a website called Sanskrit Web has information on a textbook, apparently only available from a German base, called the Sanskrit Kompendium. I found a copy at the library and looked through it, so here's my thoughts:

The good

1. It focuses on presenting graded sentences. The first part of the book is over 2000 sentences in Devanagari and in transliteration with a German translation underneath. The sentences start with just single verb sentences like gacchati "he goes" and progresses from there.
Here is an example of one of the sentences:
It's introducing one of the uses of the instrumental case, to answer the question "With what tool?" Here the sentence is "You hit the dog with the stick" (yikes). At the bottom each word is shown in the dictionary form and glossed, listing the words daṇḍaḥ, a stick (with the note that this is the name for the dividing line between verses) and saying that it is in the instrumental case, kukkuraḥ, a dog, in the accusative case, and the verb tud, tudati (6th conjugation) meaning "to hit" which can be used with an instrumental and an accusative and which is in the present singular.
The second main section is the grammar. It's organized for reference, not for learning, but the table of contents tells you which pages to read for each set of readings. I haven't dug into the grammar yet, but it seems to mostly be tables in transliteration. For serious reference it probably wouldn't replace something like MacDonell, but it is probably enough for understanding the sentences in the book.

2. The book aims to teach you through repetition about 2700 words. For a single textbook that's pretty good.

3. It would probably make for a great Anki deck if you're into that sort of thing.

4. The paperback is relatively cheap (about 20 euros).

The bad

1. It's only available in German for now. You could just use it with a dictionary, but the point of including translations with each sentence is to minimize the dictionary work.

2. It has a lot of sentences, but they don't form a continuous text. A text is more than the sum of its sentences, and you won't get much real reading practice from this (not that you will from almost any Sanskrit textbook).

3. There's no audio.

4. The hardback is a bit expensive and the paperback doesn't include all of the appendices, which look useful.


This is probably the best textbook for learning Sanskrit that I've found so far, but isn't the most accessible and doesn't constitute a complete curriculum on its own, being essentially just a collection of sentences with a grammar. That said, it contains more content than any textbook I know of with the possible exception of Assimil's Le Sanskrit. The most important part of language learning is input, and this has a lot of it. Supplement it with something else (like Assimil if you can) and figure out what sort of vocabulary review works for you, whether that's Anki or rereading or whatever.

If I can't sell you on this book, here are the points it makes in the introduction:

1. This textbook includes for the first time a really comprehensive collection of practice sentences edited for learning, which are organized along strictly didactic criteria.
2. This textbook includes for the first time grammatical explanations for each single practice sentence, so that even autodidactic self-study is possible without problems.
3. This textbook includes for the first time a German translation for each Sanskrit sentence, so that you can overcome the beginning hurdles of this difficult language with no trouble, and later as an advanced learner have an abundance of back-translation models.
4. This textbook organizes for the first time all the practice material alongside the subjects of morphology and syntax.
5. This textbook includes for the first time an index with collected references to all the grammatical particulars of all the practice sentences for later reference.
6. This textbook includes for the first time a basic vocabulary controlled for learning with review of the words as you go.
7. This textbook includes for the first time a vocabulary index organized by part of speech for systematic practice of the basic vocabulary with each part of speech.

Tune in next time (or someday) for a review of Killingley's Beginning Sanskrit if I ever get the second and third volumes.
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Re: Sanskrit Resources

Postby jeffers » Tue Mar 10, 2020 10:02 am

A friend of mine who was studying Sanskrit at Oxford uni recommended Reading Sanskrit: A Course for Beginners by J.S. Sheldon. He said of all the readers he used this one was the best. Unfortunately it is currently "unavailable" on Amazon. The first half of the book is a traditional grammar with exercises and the second half is a series of readings.
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Re: Sanskrit Resources

Postby aravinda » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:05 pm

Sahmilat wrote:... 2. It has a lot of sentences, but they don't form a continuous text. A text is more than the sum of its sentences, and you won't get much real reading practice from this (not that you will from almost any Sanskrit textbook).
3. There's no audio.
Tune in next time (or someday) for a review of Killingley's Beginning Sanskrit if I ever get the second and third volumes.

You can get all three volumes of Killingly’s Beginning Sanskrit from their website (Grevatt & Grevatt):
You can’t buy them online but you can write to him.

This textbook has continuous texts:
Grammaire élémentaire et pratique
du sanskrit classique
Avec exercices corrigés et textes expliqués (2e édition, revue et corrigée)
There is a workbook and the audio can be downloaded from the publisher's site.
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Re: Sanskrit Resources

Postby verdastelo » Fri Mar 13, 2020 3:30 pm

Here are a few more resources for learning Sanskrit and for practising it.

Learn Sanskrit

Practice Sanskrit

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