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Books for Learning Sanskrit

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Pre-Introductory Books

Sanskrit is a highly-inflected language like Greek, Latin and other ancient languages. Practically speaking, what this means for the beginning student is that the grammar can be somewhat daunting in the early stages. In addition, it uses the Devanagari alphabet. Prof. Thomas Egenes has written an excellent series of books to make learning easier for those who haven’t had experience with other ancient languages. The first book is a workbook for learning the alphabet. The next two books provide an more gradual introduction to Sanskrit which will make using the other Introductory books much easier.


Sanskrit Workbook: Learning the Alphabet (Language of Nature) (Paperback)


Introduction to Sanskrit, Part 1 (Hardcover)

Introduction to Sanskrit, Part 2 (Hardcover)


Introductory Books

Devavanipravesika: An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language (Paperback)

This is a highly regarded introductory textbook written for at the University of California, Berkeley and widely used elsewhere. Since it is intended for classroom use, it does not have answers to the exercise which is a drawback for those wishing to use it for self-study.

Teach Yourself Sanskrit Complete Course (Paperback) by Michael Coulson

This is a useful book but many readers complain that it uses too much grammatical and linguistic terminology. Also, it does not use the Devanagari alphabet which limits its use in later reading the traditional texts. It has answers to the exercises.

Sanskrit: an Easy Introduction to an Enchanting Language (or SEL) by Ashok Aklujkar (Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia)

This course forms "a well-integrated whole of grammar, vocabulary and reading that takes the students to a stage where he/she can begin to read on his/her own the Sanskrit of texts like the Mahå-bhårata." It comprises multiple volumes plus it has the valuable and somewhat unique inclusion of audio cassettes or CDs so that the student can learn the sounds of Sanskrit as well.



Books We Haven’t Read

Samskrta-Subodhini : A Sanskrit Primer (Michigan Papers on South and Southeast Asia) (Paperback) by Madhav Deshpande

University of Michigan Professor Madhav Deshpande is a highly respected scholar and Amazon.com readers like the book.

The Sanskrit Language: An Introductory Grammar and Reader (2 Vol set) (Hardcover) by Walter Maurer

This is a highly regarded textbook that begins by teaching the necessary grammatical terms for understanding Sanskrit. It is unfortunately very expensive ($150-170).

Sanskrit Books with a Spiritual Angle

First Lessons in Sanskrit Grammar and Reading (Paperback) by Judith Tyberg

Sanskrit Pronunciation (Paperback and Cassette) by Bruce Cameron


Intermediate Books on Sanskrit

The following books on some of the most important classical Sanskrit texts assume the reader already knows Sanskrit grammar.

Ramopakhyana - The Story of Rama in the Mahabharata; A Sanskrit Independent-Study Reader Paperback by Peter Scharf

This book provides a comprehensive resource for the intermediate Sanskrit student and because it provides definitions of all the words and explanations of the grammar, it is excellent for independent study.

The Bhagavad Gita (Suny Series in Cultural Perspectives) Paperback by Winthrop Sargeant

This popular book provides translations and grammatical analysis of all the words.

Sanskrit Reader (Text, Vocabulary and Notes) Hardcover by C.R. Lanman

This is a classic, although somewhat dated, Sanskrit reader. It is still a widely-used and valuable reference.


Reference Books

The Concise Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Vasudeo Govind


Concise Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Vasudeo Govind Apte

Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages (Hardcover) by Monier-Williams


Concise English Sanskrit Dictionary (Paperback) by Vasudeo Apte

Concise English Sanskrit Dictionary (Hardback) by Vasudeo Apte

English Sanskrit Dictionary (Hardcover) by Monier-Williams


Sanskrit Grammar by William Dwight Whitney


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