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Sanskrit

 

For the first time at Dalhousie, a full year of Sanskrit will be offered in the 2016-17 year.

 

 

WHY study Sanskrit?
Sanskrit is the language of South Asia's ancient religious and philosophical culture. More than 3000 years old, it is indispensable for any proper understanding of Hinduism, yoga, tantra, or Jainism. As a parent of Pali and the stock language of Mahāyāna and tantric scriptures, it is fundamental to most Buddhist traditions of the world today, particularly South Asian, Tibetan, and East Asian. Like its Indo-European cousin Latin, Sanskrit remained a standard medium of philosophical, medical, scientific, theological, and legal discourse for centuries, and is a parent tongue of Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and other contemporary South Asian languages spoken by hundreds of millions of people today.

The word "saṃskṛta" means polished, well-made or perfectly constructed, and those who study it often credit Sanskrit with a special power to sharpen and clear the mind. Even one year of study greatly improves one's understanding of grammar and language in general ― including one's own mother tongue, whatever it may be.

 

 

WHO can take this class?
The class is open to Dal students as well as to mature and returning non-students, or students registered at another university. Please see http://www.dal.ca/admissions/apply.html for information on how to register, or call (902) 494-2450 to speak with the Registrar's Office. The fall class (RELS/CLAS 1600) has no prerequisite and assumes no prior knowledge; the winter class (RELS/CLAS 2600) requires only successful completion of RELS/CLAS 1600.

 

 

WHO takes a class like this?
Sanskrit tends to attract those engaged and interested in:

  • history, religion and culture of South Asia
  • study and practice of Hinduism
  • study and practice of Buddhism, particularly Mahāyāna, Tantric and Tibetan Buddhism
  • ancient Greek, Latin and Indo-European languages and literature
  • study, teaching and practice of Yoga and Tantra
  • South Asian literature and storytelling
  • South Asian philosophy such as Advaita Vedānta or Mādhyamika Buddhism
  • study of contemporary South Asian languages such as Hindi, Marathi and Bengali
  • study and practice of Jainism
  • music, dance and performing arts traditions of South Asia

 

 

WHO will teach it?
Dr. Christopher R. Austin, Dept. of Classics - Religious Studies. Dr. Austin has taught Introductory and Intermediate Sanskrit at McMaster University and has taught Religions of India, Tibet, China and Japan at Dalhousie University since 2009.

 

 

WHEN can I register?
Current Dal students can begin registering on March 22nd 2016. New incoming students can register as of June 2016 (date TBA). Registration will remain open into the second week of class in September 2016.

 

 

WHEN and WHERE will the class be held?

FALL (SEPT-DEC) 2016          
RELS/CLAS 1600: Introductory Sanskrit I
Mon-Wed-Fri 10:35-11:25
Studley (main Dalhousie Campus), building and room TBA
WINTER (JAN-APR) 2017
RELS/CLAS 2600: Introductory Sanskrit II
Mon-Wed-Fri 10:35-11:25
Studley (main Dalhousie Campus), building and room TBA

 

 

WHAT will we study?
There is one textbook for both RELS/CLAS 1600 and 2600:

Goldman, Robert P. and Sally J. Sutherland. 1999. Devavāṇīpraveśikā: An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language. 3rd ed. Berkeley: Center for South Asia Studies, University of California. Price: about $90.

RELS/CLAS 1600 begins with the Devanāgarī script, pronunciation and phonetic system, simple nominal and pronominal forms, present tense conjugation and basic grammatical concepts. By December we will be able to read simple sentences in Devanāgarī aloud (with proper pronunciation!) and understand all the basic grammar of its nouns, pronouns and verbs.

RELS/CLAS 2600 develops this grammar further, introducing a broader range of verb tenses and forms, participial formations, and compounds. By April we will have built a familiarity with and command of all the elementary conventions and structures of Sanskrit writing, as well as an intimacy with the cultural and religious environment in which it emerged.


If you have any questions please contact Dr. Austin at christopher.austin@dal.ca. We hope to see you in September!