[Advaita-l] Learning Sanskrit

Ravisankar Mayavaram abhayambika at gmail.com
Sun Jun 10 16:41:18 CDT 2007

I am also learning Sanskrit (on a very slow pace) Following are my thoughts:

1. Any books you use should lead  you back to more fundamental works like
laghu siddhanta kaumudi or ashhTaadhyayi itself. This means it should start
using technical terms like bhute krdanta etc, instead of just using past
passive participle, aorist  etc. and get you familiar with that.   This will
help you graduate higher.

2. I found the book by Thomas Egenes quite helpful in this context. It uses
both English and Sanskrit technical terms. This is a 2-volume book and you
can get it from Amazon.  At least book by Egenes helped me and now I refer
to the kaumudi or ashtadhyayi when in doubt.

3. Learning at an older age will pose a lot of difficulty in memorizing.
Some basic things have to memorized either by force or by repeated use. For
latter to happen,  you can join samskrita bhaarati groups in your town.
Austin (where I live) has one and it is a wonderful group, they not just
focus on speaking (which approximates certain things), but also go into
advanced topics. Most cities in the world with Indian population will have
something like this.

4. Biggest challenge  is in dealing with verbs. There are 10 tenses and
moods in Sanksrit called lat-lakaaras (like lat-vartamaana, lot-aajna,
etc.). Before you reach here, vibhakti-s are first stuff to deal with.
There is great tool to help you understand, use and refer to these things
and it called Sanskrit Grammarian Query.  I have given the link below:

I use this all the time. This together with online dictionaries, you can
crack pretty much  a lot of things.

5.  There are other good web resources as well to help, for instance, there
is good introductions to verbs here at

6. Take some work and start analysing it carefully - that is you do not let
anything go without understanding not only the meaning  but also the
construct, it could be quite challenging for vedic works.  I have not seen
the book Winthrop Sergeant on Bhagavad gItA, but I think he has given all
the grammatical details to understand the verses in a more fundamental way.

Following is my comment comparing Egenes book with Deshpande's book. It is
in simple sanskrit (probably with errors). I posted this to Austin
samskrita  sambhaashhaNa group a year or so ago.

Thomas Egenes     = tomaiyyaH
Madhav Deshpande = mAdhavaH

ahaM tomaiyyasya pustakam bahu samyak asti iti manye | prAthamika
vidyArthibhyaH (beginning students) etat.h pustakam mAdhavasya
pustakAt uttamam iti manye |  etad nirNayArtham (for this conclusion)
bahUni kAraNanI santi |

etat pustakam mAdhvasya pustkAt sulabhataraH  (easier) asti |  1  |

tomaiyyaH etat pustakam svAdhyAh (self study) anUkulAt Arachayat  | 2 |

mAdhavaH samskR^ita vyAkaraNa padAni  angleya bhAShA padAni upayogam
kRtvA  vyAkaraNam akarot |  tomaiyyaH vyAkhyAnam samskrita padAni
upayogam kRtvA alikhat |

tomaiyyaH samskRta-bhAshAm  bhakti bhAvena abhyupagamitavan  (has
approached) | kevalam "indologist" bhAvena na |

aham niSchayena tomaiyasya pustakam kreshyAmi  it manye ||



On 6/8/07, prem d p <prem_d_p at yahoo.co.in> wrote:
> namaste...
>   dear sri vidyasankarji and other list members,
>   i would like to request you to kindly suggest the best way forward for
>   a self-study of sanskrit. the purpose is primarily to be able to read
>   our scriptures in general and shankara in particular, in original.
>   i have practically no knowledge of the language but has a rather
>   good familiarity with the vocabulary from my mother tongue and also
>   quite at home with devanagari.
>   i have recently actually embarked on this self-study using the CBSE
>   sanskrit textbooks and guides starting from Class V and working
>   my way slowly up. Is this the best way?
>   For your valuable suggestions please.
>   pranam.
>   ...prem
> ---------------------------------
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<abhayambika at gmail.com>

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