starting from scratch with Sanskrit

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starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:36 am

Is it possible, without participating in a cpurse, to get a decent level of skill in reading Sanskrit using books and online resources?
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:52 am

I only have elementary knowledge of Sanskrit, but I can recommend this work:

Reading Buddhist Sanskrit Texts: An Elementary Grammatical Guide. Authors, Dhammajoti, KL. Issue Date, 2012. Publisher, The Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong.

Also there are online dictionaries like this one which accelerate the process of learning:

http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/mwquery/

If you went through Dhammajoti's work and memorized the vocabulary lists you'd be able to understand basic texts. A lot of Buddhist texts are written in relatively simple Sanskrit.

After learning the basics, you could probably put the Sanskrit side-by-side to the Tibetan and understand whatever is unclear in the former. I do this with Sanskrit texts and Chinese.
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby ratna » Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:16 am

Some more resources:

The "traditional" academic way of learning sanskrit is Perry's Sanskrit Primer, then Lanman's Sanskrit Reader, then Whitney's Sanskrit Grammar. These books are over hundred years old. Studying them also makes one feel a hundred years old and, in fact, carries a significant risk of being bored to death. But they can be found online for free.

Some people recommend Antoine's A Sanskrit manual for high schools which also can be found online.

A newer book that many seem to like is Maurer's The Sanskrit Language: An Introductory Grammar and Reader.

A handy, concise overview of the grammar I like is Gonda's A Concise Elementary Grammar of the Sanskrit Language.

Some people recommend Killingley's Beginning Sanskrit for its vocabulary. The vocabulary list is available for Anki flashcard software: https://ankiweb.net/shared/decks/killingley. I highly recommend Anki for memorization (which learning Sanskrit involves a lot of -- not just vocab but also grammatical paradigms). It's free and also has a smartphone app, very useful for making use of any spare time.

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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby Tom » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:30 am

JKhedrup wrote:Is it possible, without participating in a cpurse, to get a decent level of skill in reading Sanskrit using books and online resources?


Not really. Despite books being named "Teach Yourself Sanskrit" you really need to take about three years of course work to get going. This is just a general rule there are of course exceptions. Tibetan is much easier to get up and going with but you have already done that.
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby meepmeep » Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:17 pm

Tom wrote:Tibetan is much easier to get up and going with but you have already done that.


Along that vein, can you recommend a place to start learning Tibetan?
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby Tom » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:17 pm

meepmeep wrote:
Tom wrote:Tibetan is much easier to get up and going with but you have already done that.


Along that vein, can you recommend a place to start learning Tibetan?


It depends on if you want to learn colloquial or classical Tibetan. They really are two different sets of skills.

If you want to learn colloquial Tibetan I would suggest starting with a summer school program to get the basics. For example something like the University of Virginia offers. Then after that you really need to spend considerable time in Tibetan communities. If you are going to a place like Dharamsala where everyone speaks English then enroll in a course. For example see Esukhia.org

If you want to learn classical Tibetan then it is a bit easier. You can also try Esukhia.org's online courses or similar places but they are more colloquial orientated. I think rather than doing a course the best way to learn classical Tibetan is to find someone to teach you one on one for a couple of months. You can learn the alphabet in a week and be up and reading the next week. Then spend a month and a bit practicing grammar with them. After that you should be at the stage to teach yourself and learn vocabulary with dictionaries and comparing English translations. To do this I usually suggest that people attend a basic Lam Rim type class with their lama and before each class prepare a translation for the next section of the text being taught. That way you can meet with the lama or their translator and discuss the sections that were tricky to translate. The funny thing is at this stage you can't really read Tibetan but you can "translate." To move to reading Tibetan it just takes tons and tons of hours of "translating"... hope this helps.
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:56 pm

Thank you everyone for the feedback. Are there people who teach Sanskrit out of an academic setting, for example by Skype like Esukiah does with Tibetan?

I am wondering what would be possible with an hpur or two of self-study a day plus a weekly Skype vonference.
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:24 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Thank you everyone for the feedback. Are there people who teach Sanskrit out of an academic setting, for example by Skype like Esukiah does with Tibetan?

I am wondering what would be possible with an hpur or two of self-study a day plus a weekly Skype vonference.


Try RYI summer intensive for Sanskrit.
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby Huifeng » Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:24 am

JKhedrup wrote:Is it possible, without participating in a cpurse, to get a decent level of skill in reading Sanskrit using books and online resources?


Venerable!

While I think that you could learn something, it would be difficult to reach "a decent level of skill" in this manner. I think that the best method is regular classes with a good teacher, and then after some time, some full text readings in small groups, again led by a good teacher. In your own case, for the texts, I'd suggest using those Indian texts that you're already very familiar with to start with. That way you're first focusing on the Sanskrit language, not language plus new ideas.

Note: Ven. Dhammajoti's book, while one of the few which specifically uses Buddhist textual material (and remember, Buddhist Sanskrit is really quite unusual from a Paninian POV), I understand it is presently out of stock at CBS HKU. You may be able to find a equivalent PDF if you were to contact one of his old TAs for that class. :hi:

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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:55 am

It might be worth asking if you know Pali already, because if so you have a very good head start. Pali covers a lot of the same vocabulary, and is transcribed in Roman script making it a bit easier to learn (albeit with many differences also, but generally of a regular type. I have passed University exams in both subjects in the past, although have forgotten most of what I learned since, as it takes constant practice and exposure to retain those kinds of skills in my experience.)
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby Tom » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:25 pm

jeeprs wrote:It might be worth asking if you know Pali already, because if so you have a very good head start. Pali covers a lot of the same vocabulary, and is transcribed in Roman script making it a bit easier to learn


Maybe it is clear but Sanskrit is also transcribed in Roman script. Pali is certainly much easier to learn if you already know Sanskrit. I imagine it is much the same to go the other way (Pali to Sanskrit) maybe it is just a little more difficult since Sanskrit grammar is more complex/structured.

JKhedrup, it is possible to get Skype-tutors for Sanskrit. I have friends who have tutored like this in the past to make some extra money. I think probably the best way to do this is to look online at the different Sanskrit programs at various colleges. Then see who the teaching assistants are and then email them and ask if they would like to do private classes. In your case it would be also great if you can find someone who also knows Tibetan. If you have no luck with this then you can PM me and I will ask around to see if anyone I know is interested.
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:52 pm

Sanskrit texts may be transcribed in Roman text but they are generally written in, and read in, Devanagiri, are they not? All I meant was that when learning Sanskrit one needs to learn to read the Devanagiri script as well as the language itself. Having studied both I would think it would be easier to start with Pali, using A K Warder.
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby Tom » Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:19 pm

jeeprs wrote:Sanskrit texts may be transcribed in Roman text but they are generally written in, and read in, Devanagiri, are they not?


I don't get the distinction your trying to make here - it is not as if Pali texts were originally written in Roman. If you studied Sanskrit in any depth, then I thought you would know that many of the critical editions of texts are produced in Roman. In any case Devanagri is so easy to learn it should not be an issue. If for some reason it happens to be a stumbling block then just use Coulson's introductory text which gives both Devanagri and Roman.
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby JKhedrup » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:16 pm

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Tom that sounds like a great idea. I will most likely contact you when I get back to Holland in a couple of weeks.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby Wayfarer » Sat May 10, 2014 11:50 am

I went to an AABS (Australasian Assoc. of Buddhist Studies) meeting last night, and the Sanskrit classes at ANU were mentioned. Said to incorporate the possibility of 'flexible delivery', i.e. online and remote learning. ANU (Australian National University) has a very good reputation for Asian studies subjects - might be worth investigating.

http://chl.anu.edu.au/languages/sanskrit/

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Re: starting from scratch with Sanskrit

Postby JKhedrup » Mon May 12, 2014 1:10 pm

Thanks so much I will investigate more later.
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