SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Sanskrit Language 1 (PG)

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year

PLEASE NOTE: This module will be divided into two 15-credit modules next academic year (i.e Language A and Language B). The overall objectives and outcomes for the year will not change. There may be some slight changes to the formal assessment. Students will be required to take a written test in the last week of Term 1 and should therefore not plan to be absent from SOAS at this time.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, a student should be able to demonstrate . . . 

  • a basic understanding of the grammar, syntax, and usage of Classical Sanskrit
  • the ability to read simple narrative Sanskrit texts with the help of a dictionary
  • the ability to reproduce the nominal and verbal systems of the language
  • the ability to comprehend simple Sanskrit prose
  • the ability to compose simple Sanskrit prose
  • knowledge and understanding of the role of language in general, and Sanskrit in particular, in language-based scholarship and research (specific learning outcome for PG students)


This module will be taught over 20 weeks with 4 hours classroom contact per week of language classes.

Scope and syllabus

The basic text for the module: Walter Maurer's The Sanskrit Language. This main text will be supplemented by additional materials developed by the instructor. Teaching terms are devoted to a systematic introduction to Sanskrit grammar and usage. During these terms, there are weekly homework assignments and in-class exercises, drills of the recurrent structural features of the language, in addition to four homework assignments. The third term will be devoted to review of major features of the language and preparation for the final examination.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May/June (40%); a 2,000 word portfolio of marked homework, translation or essay agreed with the convenor (30%); 4 homework assignments (due 1st class after reading week (1st and 2nd terms); first class in term 2 and first class in term 3 (15%); weekly paradigm quizzes during terms 1 and 2 (15%).

Suggested reading

  • Robert Goldman and Sally Sutherland Goldman, Devavàõãprave÷ikà: An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language Berkeley CA: Center for South Asian Studies.
  • Adolf F. Stenzler. A Primer of the Sanskrit Language. Translated with some revision by Renate Söhnen-Thieme. London: SOAS.
  • Michael Coulson, Teach Yourself Sanskrit: An Introduction to the Classical Language. Sevenoaks: Teach Yourself.
  • A.L. Basham. The Wonder that was India. London: Sidgwick and Jackson.
  • Thomas Burrow. The Sanskrit Language. London: Faber
  • John Dowson. A Classical Dictionary of Hindu mythology and religion. Calcutta: Rupa (reprint).
  • Monier Monier-Williams. A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon.
  • Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty. Hindu Myths Harmondsworth: Penguin
  • Sheldon Pollock. The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • William Dwight Whitney. Sanskrit Grammar; including both the classical language, and the older dialects, of Veda and Bràhmaõa. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press (reprinted many times).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules