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Why Study Sanskrit at SOAS?

An interest in historical linguistics; a desire to know more about the long history of religious belief and practice; or perhaps a wish to know more about India's culture both ancient and contemporary: just a few of the reasons that might motivate you to study Sanskrit to advanced level at SOAS Language Centre. Here three students who followed the course in 2006 talk about their aspirations and experiences.

Michael Yossif, Sanskrit student

"I have always been interested in ancient Indian culture and history. SOAS has given me the opportunity, through studying Sanskrit, to combine this interest with a long held ambition to learn a classical language. I have enjoyed all aspects of the classes and, in particular, found reading the literature and philosophy fascinating" (Michael Iossif).

Peter Sahota, Sanskrit student

"I am studying Sanskrit as it is an important member of the Indo-European language family. As well as providing a firm lexical foundation for Indian intellectual and cultural traditions, Sanskrit has also been a lingua franca for scholars in various countries. As such, I would like to become more familiar with its extensive literature, which stretches across the last 4,500 years in its various forms, including Vedic, Epic and Classical Sanskrit. So far in class, in addition to Sanskrit grammar, we have been reading poetry, plays and novels, as well as studying literary theory, philosophy and other subjects. Although tuition fees are high, the quality of teaching at SOAS is of a very high standard. This course is of benefit to me in a wide variety of ways. It enables me to enjoy the beauty of Sanskrit literature and access Indian knowledge-systems, and also may be of practical benefit in visiting India and interacting with Indian people. In addition to attending class, I am an active participant in the student-run Sanskrit Sammelana, which holds monthly meetings on particular topics in Sanskrit studies" (Peter Sahota).

Stephen King, Sanskrit student

"At the age of ten, I chanced to borrow a children’s French textbook from my local library. This was the beginning of a long fascination with human languages that eventually led me to Sanskrit. I was fortunate to live within range of SOAS, which is one of the few places in Britain where one can study Sanskrit formally. With its complicated grammar and seemingly endless vocabulary, Sanskrit is not an easy language to learn, but it offers many rewards to anyone interested in linguistics, philosophy or Indian culture. It has a vast and varied literature, both sacred and secular, and the language itself is of great intrinsic beauty" (Stephen King).