[INDOLOGY] Where can you do a BA in Sanskrit?

Jan E.M. Houben jemhouben at gmail.com
Fri Jun 25 13:45:52 UTC 2021

Dear Dominik,
Thanks for asking this useful question.
In addition to Isabelle's earlier contribution to this thread I would like
to add a few elements: the BA in Sanskrit at the Sorbonne Nouvelle is
pedagogically one of the best in the world -- the only limitations I
would add are: in the occidental world, for a Western public, because the
strategy to teach Sanskrit to Indian / South Asian students can be and
should be different as most of them, even if their main subjects are IT,
engineering etc., are already so much familiar with Sanskrit and Sanskritic
vocabulary which often helps but may frequently also put the student on a
wrong or deceptive track.
Hence during my stay at IIT-Bhubaneswar as visiting professor in 2019
(teaching, among other things, an introductory course on Sanskrit, German
and comparative linguistics specially for IIT-students with an Indian
linguistic background), I planned and organized a seminar on "Functional
and Communicative Sanskrit" on 21 December 2019 with contributions by
Godabarish Mishra, Amba Kulkarni, Siniruddha Dash and others. My plan to
help to develop this further, in 2020, to an introductory course on
Sanskrit and comparative linguistics specially for these students could not
be realized due to the Corona crisis.
As for the BA in Sanskrit at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, another plus is that it
is in French, so that the student at the same time can develop familiarity
with the language which was the first occidental language of the scientific
study of Sanskrit, extensively used also by the earlier generation of
German Sanskrit scholars such as the brothers von Schlegel and Franz Bopp.
As for the Sorbonne Nouvelle, the manual used, or one of the major manuals
used, is *Le Sanskrit* by Nalini Balbir (Paris, 2013) of which an English
version is in preparation. The specialty of *Le Sanskrit* is that it
presents, for the first time, the language not only in its grammatical
structure but also as a living means of expression and communication, *entirely
on the basis of examples attested* in Sanskrit literature (fiction, fables,
dramas) -- hence it is different both from classical occidental
introductions to Sanskrit and from modern introductions to "spoken
Sanskrit". It is a worthy contribution to the series "Assimil" in which *Le
Sanskrit* is published, as it follows throughout the "assimilation" method (
*nipāna-rīti*) of language learning.
When it appeared I composed a brief verse:

निपानरीतिमार्गेण  संस्कृताध्यापनार्थकम् ।

चकार नलिनी शास्त्रम्  अतोऽध्येता प्रसिध्यति ॥

*nipānarītimārgeṇa   saṁskṛtādhyāpanārthakam |*
*cakāra Nalinī śāstram   ato’dhyetā prasidhyati || *
Jan Houben

N.B. Specifically to *practice and read* Sanskrit there is a yearly "stage
de Sanskrit" organized by Sylvain Brocquet at the Université de Provence et
Aix-en-Provence (https://cpaf.cnrs.fr/spip.php?article423&lang=fr); another
"stage de Sanskrit" is expected soon at the new institute ILARA, here in

On Fri, 25 Jun 2021 at 08:46, Isabelle Ratie via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> Dear Dominik,
> That our BA in Sanskrit includes a few courses without Sanskrit
> requirement does not disqualify our BA as one in Sanskrit! It definitely
> focuses on the Sanskrit language, as is specified on the first page to
> which I sent a link:
> son objet principal est le sanskrit et ses littératures, dont elle met en
> évi­dence la richesse: l’apprentissage du sanskrit s’y fait avant tout par
> la lecture et la traduction in­tensives de textes appartenant à des genres
> très différents (contes, épopée, poésie savante, litté­ra­ture
> historiographique, traités philosophiques, traités d’esthétique, etc.).
> With all best wishes,
> Isabelle
> Le ven. 25 juin 2021 à 04:44, Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com> a
> écrit :
>> What about
>> *l’histoire de la société, des philosophies et des religions indiennes*,
>> ou encore* l’histoire de la con­nais­sance de l’Inde*.
>> Those would not be courses involving reading Sanskrit as such, would
>> they?  They would be in French, about India?
>> Similarly at UT Austin, it looks like students have to take lots of
>> courses called,
>> Asian Studies related to South Asia
>> Again, that wouldn't be actual reading of Sanskrit texts, would it?  And
>> there appear to be a lot of courses under "Core" that are not Sanskrit. (US
>> History; Social and Behavioural Science, etc.).  Presumably students take a
>> few of these?  So it's a general humanities degree with a high Sanskrit
>> content.  Would that be right, or am I misunderstanding?
>> I was thinking about a degree that focussed on Sanskrit language and
>> literature, not a course where Sanskrit was a component (even a large
>> component).  I'm thinking of the Oxford BA, or the BA at SOAS, when it
>> existed, in the days when it was taught by Mr J. E. B. Gray with his
>> legendary cyclostyled, typewritten, four-year course.  Or the courses
>> taught at German universities in the days of the old MA system.
>> Best,
>> Dominik
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*Jan E.M. Houben*

Directeur d'Études, Professor of South Asian History and Philology

*Sources et histoire de la tradition sanskrite*

École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE, Paris Sciences et Lettres)

*Sciences historiques et philologiques *

Groupe de recherches en études indiennes (EA 2120)

*johannes.houben [at] ephe.psl.eu <johannes.houben at ephe.psl.eu>*


*https://www.classicalindia.info* <https://www.classicalindia.info>

LabEx Hastec OS 2021 -- *L'Inde Classique* augmentée: construction,

et transformations d'un savoir scientifique
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