Sanskrit

Classical Sanskrit is the transcultural, transregional language par excellence for the civilizations that have flourished in South Asia. For its beauty and complexity, it has been called “the language of the gods.” For nearly three millennia, South Asian seers and sovereigns, poets and philosophers, scholars and scientists composed texts of astonishing literary beauty and incredible logical rigor in Sanskrit. Indeed, to be a South Asian intellectual was to be a master of Sanskrit—not merely to be fluent in it, but to understand the rigorous linguistic underpinnings of the language (its morphology, syntax, and prosody) as well as to absorb the complex theories of aesthetics and hermeneutics that govern Sanskrit texts. The study of Sanskrit is therefore absolutely essential for unlocking the profundities and  the complexities of the life of the mind and of the heart in classical South Asia. It offers many lifetimes’ worth of insight into worlds of literature, linguistics, law, ritual, and philosophy—all the more so, since millions of precious manuscripts remain unstudied and untranslated in the original Sanskrit. Studying Sanskrit also provides a powerful foundation for studying the modern South Asian languages, most of which bear the deep imprint of the language of the gods. It is thus the key not just to South Asia’s past, but also to its present and to its future.
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Sanskrit 101A Elementary Sanskrit
Instructor: Nell S. Hawley; M/W/F, 12:00-1:15pm (Fall)
Students learn fundamental skills in Classical Sanskrit, the language that was, for many hundreds of years, the most prestigious and broadly-deployed medium of intellectual and literary expression across South Asia. In the first year of study, students develop capabilities in analytical reading (and, secondarily, in writing, speaking, and listening) that will enable them to interpret Sanskrit texts on a foundational level. Participation in this course lays the groundwork for students to engage with Sanskrit texts in a wide array of styles and genres­ -- poetry, narrative, philosophy, and beyond­. Most lessons and assignments involve students collaborating with their peers. Please note that the “Related Section” for this course will be a weekly review session led by the course's Teaching Fellow. Enrollment information: Enrollment will be by permission of the instructor. After reading through the syllabus, which is available on Canvas, students who intend to enroll in this course should email the instructor (Nell Hawley, nshawley@fas.harvard.edu) introducing themselves and requesting permission to enroll. Those students should simultaneously petition for enrollment in this course through my.harvard. No auditors will be permitted. Enrolled students must take the course for a letter grade.

Sanskrit 102AR Intermediate Sanskrit
Instructor: Nell S. Hawley; M/W/F, 1:30-2:45pm (Fall)
The intermediate-level Sanskrit course enables students to interpret Sanskrit texts in several major categories: epic, poetry, and commentary. Students expand and strengthen the skills in reading comprehension, grammatical analysis, and vocabulary retention that they developed during the first year of study. Students will be able to dissect and describe nominal compounds, verbal forms, poetic meters, and morphological and syntactical features of Sanskrit words, sentences, and verses in greater detail. As a whole, the course prepares students to participate in Sanskrit language and reading courses at the advanced level. Students achieve these objectives through focused study of three different texts. In the fall, students read a story from one of the two great Sanskrit epics, the Mahābhārata or the Rāmāyaṇa. In the first half of the spring term, students study a work of poetry (kāvya) that portrays the same story. In the second half of the spring term, students read select portions of a Sanskrit commentary on that kāvya composition. In Fall 2020, students will read a story from the Mahābhārata that describes an extraordinary encounter between Arjuna (one of the epic's protagonists) and the god Śiva, who is disguised as a hunter. This leads students to the first sarga (chapter, canto) of Bhāravi's celebrated sixth-century poem Kirātārjunīya ("Arjuna and the Hunter") in the Spring, and eventually to a commentary on the poem by the fifteenth-century scholar Mallinātha. Please note that the “Related Section” for this course will be a weekly review session led by the Teaching Fellow. Enrollment information: Enrollment will be by permission of the instructor. After reading through the syllabus, which is available on Canvas, students who intend to enroll in this course should email the instructor (Nell Hawley, nshawley@fas.harvard.edu) requesting permission to enroll. Those students should simultaneously petition for enrollment in this course through my.harvard. Students are required to have successfully completed an elementary-level Sanskrit course at the college level. No auditors will be permitted. Enrolled students must take the course for a letter grade. 

Sanskrit 201AR Advanced Philosophical Sanskrit
Instructor: Parimal Patil; T/Th, 12:00-1:15pm (Fall)
An advanced Sanskrit reading course focusing on the development of skills in either classical belles lettres (kāvya) or scholastic, commentarial prose (śāstra). In the former, emphasis is on the ability to re-arrange complex poetic forms into digestible prose word order. In the latter, students learn both the stylistic conventions of scholastic Sanskrit and the technical vocabulary of the relevant intellectual discipline. Please note that this course is a prerequisite for Advanced Sanskrit in the Spring.

Sanskrit 250R Nth Year Sanskrit
This course is not offered in Fall 2020
An advanced course for students who have completed at least four years of formal Sanskrit instruction. Texts and topics will vary from year to year.