There has been interest expressed here in Sanskrit language study. How is this language studied? In American universities, this is typically done by the instructor assigning lessons from a book, and then in class answering questions that arise from the students doing these lessons. There is often very little actual instruction given by the instructor. Most of the instruction comes from the book. When this is the case, this is something that can just as well be done online. Then the only real need to pay thousands of dollars for a professor, or more often a graduate student, to do this, is for those who need the credential.
 
We suggest purchasing and using Judith Tyberg's First Lessons in Sanskrit Grammar and Reading, to serve as the instructor. This is available at Amazon for $13.95. Any questions that arise from going through these lessons can be discussed here on this forum. Nancy Reigle will be available for this, as time permits. She started studying this book with the late Judith Tyberg in 1978. This book is highly recommended to start one's studies of Sanskrit with.
 
A detailed listing of what books are available for Sanskrit study can be found in "Sanskrit Language Study: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Materials in English" (attached here, and also at: http://www.easterntradition.org/etri%20bib-sanskrit%20study.pdf). For those who want a more advanced course, there are several options. A couple of these can be used for self-study, but most require an instructor. Among the latter is the Devavanipravesika: An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language, by Robert Goldman and Sally Sutherland Goldman. Nancy studied this book in an exceptional class with the co-author, Sally Sutherland (Goldman), at University of California, Berkeley, and can also reply to questions on its lessons.
 
Whatever book you choose, we wish you well in this difficult but rewarding study.

Views: 4151

Attachments:

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi, I think that Coulson's book Teach Yoursel Sanskrit could be useful, it is not so easy or funny as others books in that collection but it seems pretty good.

Another option but very basic A Sanskrit Manual, by R Antoine, Allied Publishers, in two volumes. It is used in middle education in India, it seems basic but good and with an active approach, i. e. translating from english to sanskrit.

After this, a study of hybrid buddhist sanskrit or vedic sanskrit will complete the ideal material to deal with sutras, etc.

Contrary to american education in University of Buenos Aires there is a course in which much instruction is given, and more translation, and for free. A friend of mine studied there. The course comprehends nearly all the basic grammar and even some elements of vedic.

Jan. 7th, 2012.

Lafayette, Colo.

    I too have a copy of Coulson's book on sanskrit, and have enjoyed it very much. That and the vols. by: J. Tyberg are excellent! Am now in the process of reading: Secret Doctrine, (3 vols.), w/ index. Am now about one half way through Vol. 1.  And off in the margin, I am writing out all the "various" words, in their original...in Sanskrit, Hebrew, Tibetan, Latin, etc...Have come across a number of words in Chinese, that I have yet to find. The one word that I have still not found is: "Senzar". Have made "guesses" as to it being: Tibetan, and am using: Sarat Chandra Das' (1902) Tib. Engl. Dictionary, and other more recent. My writing these "out" off to the side in margin gives me a greater appreciation of all that HPB knew in her "brief' lifetime, of 60 yrs.

    Have recently finished reading: Isis Unveiled, in November. Hope to finish S.D. before Dec. 2012. Am amazed of her knowledge of the Mayan's and Aztecs, that I run across every now and then. My question being...how can we get your mesteemed and brilliant Husband up to visit the Denver branch of: T.S. ? Have also just joined one group that now meets up in Longmont, near: Lafayette, Colorado. Blessings to you all. Tashi Delek, and Happy New Year to both of you. Sincerely yours: Julian Don Alexander II. (4:53 pm) 

Thank you, Leila, for your helpful reply. You probably used materials in Spanish for your own study of Sanskrit. If you could recommend a particular book in Spanish to study Sanskrit from, and start a parallel discussion in Spanish for learning Sanskrit here, that would be wonderful. There are undoubtedly many Spanish-speaking people who want to learn Sanskrit, and who would welcome this.

You are also quite familiar with many English language books on learning Sanskrit. Your input and participation here in this discussion is greatly valued. If there is a particular English language book that you prefer, and that you would like to answer questions on, that would also be wonderful. It is great to have resources such as yourself available here. Thank you.
Learning the Alphabet

    The first step in learning Sanskrit is to learn the letters of the alphabet. Sanskrit is usually written in the devanagari script. It is transliterated using roman letters (we have 26 in English), along with diacritical marks, to represent the 49 letters of its alphabet.

    In the text we are using, Judith Tyberg's First Lessons in Sanskrit Grammar and Reading, the alphabet is listed on page 1. On pp. 4-5 there is a diagram of the alphabet in devanagari with arrows showing the direction to write the strokes of each letter.
 
    The basic principle to follow in writing the devanagari script is to write the letters from left to right, and top to bottom.

    Also, as you are memorizing the alphabet, it is important to remember which class (or classification) that each letter belongs to. (On p. 1 of Tyberg's book, she has given the English classification for each row of consonants.) This will save you time later as you progress in your studies.
   
    The letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are arranged (and classified) in a very scientific manner, according to the position in the mouth from which each sound is produced. If you look at the chart of the alphabet on page 1 of Tyberg's book, you will see that the consonants begin with the guttural class (produced in the throat), and each successive class moves forward in the mouth, to the palatal class (palate), the cerebral class (roof of the mouth), the dental class (teeth), and the labial class (lips).   

    At first it may seem a bit intimidating to learn the alphabet in both roman and devanagari script. But as you notice the similarities and relationships that exist between certain letters, you will probably find it quite enjoyable.

Hi Nancy, thank you very much for giving help here - much appreciated!

I have two questions that hopefully are not too distractive. You wrote: "The basic principle to follow in writing the devanagari script is to write the letters from left to right, and top to bottom."

Question 1: It seems to be a characteristic attribute that devanagari letters are 'hanging from the sky' instead of 'standing on the earth' as latin letters. I mean, this is very interesting in our theosophical context. Any comments or insights on this?

Question 2: If this is true, would it not eventually be appropriate, to draw the horizontal line first and then 'hang the letter on it'?

Question 3: Looking at the devanagari letters it seems as if they have traces of having been written from right to left in older times. Examples would be na, ta, ja. One could assume that perhaps the vertical line has been the base of the letter and therefore drawn first, and then the extension to the left. Are there any indications for that?

Sorry for such seemingly nitpicking questions - it would be perfectly ok if you say 'in practise we do it so and so' or 'why bother'. However if there are insights on this maybe it would help to understand and go to the root of things?

Thank you

Hannes

Hi Hannes,

Thank you for your post with its very interesting thoughts. I don't think that anyone really knows about some of these things.
 
As for writing the devanāgarī script, I have not seen or heard of any other method of writing it than the general principle cited. As far as I know, this is the way it is done throughout India.  
 
Regarding your comment, "It seems to be a characteristic attribute that devanagari letters are 'hanging from the sky' instead of 'standing on the earth' as latin letters":  
 
The ancient Brāhmī script, from which the devanāgarī script evolved, did not have the horizontal line above. The earliest specimens of the Brāhmī script that we have are dated by scholars to the 3rd century B.C.E. Direct precursors to the nāgarī script appeared in the late 6th century C.E., with the horizontal line above. What scholars recognize as early devanāgarī script appeared in the 7th century C.E., and the script continued its development from there.
 

Hi Nancy,

thank you very much for taking the time to answer. While googling I found a reference that Brâhmî could indeed have been written from right to left originally but the source of this information does not seem clear.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%C4%81hm%C4%AB_script

Isn't wikipedia incredible sometimes?

Here is a very nice website I found which shows the origin and development of Sanskrit and similar letters on on one glance:

http://www.ancientscripts.com/sa_ws_cmp.html

All that being said I assume that not everything in the historical development of languages is obvious and I would indeed love to meet the people that invited the 'hanging on a line' principle in the transition from Gupta to Nâgarî and Sâradâ ... which is a stroke of a genius certainly :-)

Thank you, Hannes, for your reply and the links you posted. The South Asian ancient scripts chart is very helpful. It is interesting to compare the Brahmi with the Devanagari.  
 
Re: the Wiki article in which the author says that Brahmi was written from right to left originally. Like you said, the source isn't clear. As for the 4th century B.C.E. coin on which Brahmi was written right to left, one wonders if there was only one coin found, or was there more evidence.
 
Yes, it would be nice to know how the Devanagari came to be written as "hanging on a line."

Hi Nancy, as I said, I friend of mine studied in that University and he helped me with sanskrit.

As far I know, there are no books written directly in spanish yet. In his college they were working on that (he even did some research in order to do readers for students), and the professor is writing a grammar, I think.

Indian studies are in baby phase, the last year was published the first dictionary hindi-spanish. And the only sanskrit grammar is Jan Gonda's Simplified Grammar (or something like that). Very small and nearly all paradigms, very little explanations, few texts and few vocabulary items. So, the main resources allways were Monier Williams Grammar and Dictionary and Renou's Grammaire and Dictionnaire.

Egenes and Macdonell were used too, so regarding spanish resources there is nothing yet.

So, I can help following the posts and saying something sometimes because I am not a specialist.

I will be following the discussion and posting, hoping being of some help.

Nancy Reigle said:

Thank you, Leila, for your helpful reply. You probably used materials in Spanish for your own study of Sanskrit. If you could recommend a particular book in Spanish to study Sanskrit from, and start a parallel discussion in Spanish for learning Sanskrit here, that would be wonderful. There are undoubtedly many Spanish-speaking people who want to learn Sanskrit, and who would welcome this.

You are also quite familiar with many English language books on learning Sanskrit. Your input and participation here in this discussion is greatly valued. If there is a particular English language book that you prefer, and that you would like to answer questions on, that would also be wonderful. It is great to have resources such as yourself available here. Thank you.

Thank you, Leila, for letting us know the state of affairs of Sanskrit studies in Spanish. We did not know this. I appreciate your willingness to help with this discussion. Any contributions that you would like to make here from your own studies will be very welcome.



Leila Becquer said:

So, I can help following the posts and saying something sometimes because I am not a specialist.

I will be following the discussion and posting, hoping being of some help.

Thanks Nancy.

I hope not being out of place, following in my way of doing blind posts (because i haven't that book) I want to add that it is important to distinguish between hard and soft consonants and aspirates and non-aspirates. It will take some time but it is important to feel the points of articulation, trying to pronounce the letters. This will help with some natural understanding of sandhi rules. In colloquial english occurs the same phenomenon, so parallels must be made.

Another issue are the aspirates letters, because the transcription resembles english sounds, it can induce to confussion, so pha is not like photo and cha not as in chemistry, so, learn to pronounce separate sounds could be a hard task but is important in order to learn aspirates.

Attached is a chart of the Sanskrit alphabet in devanagari script with transliteration into roman type according to the International Transliteration System, which has now been adopted worldwide. 

In Judith Tyberg's book that we will be using for this forum, First Lessons in Sanskrit Grammar and Reading, she basically uses this international transliteration system, with the following exceptions. Until we are able to display diacritical marks, I will have to describe them verbally. 
(Does anyone know how I can get a Unicode font work to work here?)

    Tyberg:                                                                                      
    short vowel ri (with a dot under the r)
    long vowel ri (with a dot under the r and macron over the i)
    short vowel lri (with a dot under the r)
    long vowel lri (with a dot under the r and macron over the i)

    cha (hard consonant, unaspirate)
    chha (hard consonant, aspirate)

    sha (the cerebral sibilant)

On pp. 8-9 of her book, she explains that she made these changes in transliteration to help students recognize and pronounce these sounds correctly.


By comparing the above letters with those on the International Transliteration chart, you will see the changes she made. 
 
*    *    *    *    *    *    *

When learning the alphabet, it is so important to learn the class and classification of each letter. As Leila so aptly said:


"...it is important to distinguish between hard and soft consonants and aspirates and non-aspirates. It will take some time but it is important to feel the points of articulation, trying to pronounce the letters. This will help with some natural understanding of sandhi rules.
Another issue are the aspirates letters, because the transcription resembles english sounds, it can induce to confusion, so pha is not like photo and cha not as in chemistry..."


Thank you also, Nicholas, for providing us with the link to this site: http://buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/BDLM/en/lesson/fan/lesson_fan1.jsp               

There Chapter One lists the alphabet, and also has a chart that gives the class of most of the letters. (You can also listen to the pronunciation of each letter, although the sound quality is poor.)
  
Judith Tyberg has a chart in her book also, on page 164, that lists the class of each letter of the alphabet.

*At this point, the important thing for new students is to learn the alphabet itself. Then we can discuss more of its distinctions.*

Attachments:

RSS

Search Theosophy.Net!

Loading

What to do...

Join Theosophy.Net Blogs Forum Live Chat Invite Facebook Facebook Group

A New View of Theosophy


About
FAQ

Theosophy References


Wiki Characteristics History Spirituality Esotericism Mysticism RotR ToS

Our Friends

© 2017   Created by Theosophy Network.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service