Illustration from a Garland of Musical Ragas

Critical Sanskrit

Instructor: Arti Mehta
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

What can the study of Sanskrit teach us about the foundations of ancient Indic thought, from the Vedic hymns to Vedantic teachings, from the Ramayana to the Mahabharata, and the lasting influence these foundational texts have exercised on everything from popular art to contemporary South Asian politics? In Critical Sanskrit, students will undertake the structural acquisition of Sanskrit [samskrtam], with the aim of illuminating, through linguistic study, key principles of Indic philology, poetics, politics, and philosophy. Beginning with the alphabet and basic word structures, we’ll proceed to more complex morphologies and grammatical forms, ultimately developing the sophistication and skills for close reading and critical analysis. How do verbal and rhetorical Sanskrit forms participate in the articulation of philosophical principles and sacred practices? How have these forms and crucial vocabularies developed across changing historical contexts? And how do they continue as living practices, in poetics, philosophy, and politics, into the present?

Critical Sanskrit is a year-long intensive course organized across 12-week trimesters: Fall (September 9th – December 9th), Winter (February 10th – April 27th), and Summer (May 18th – August 3rd). Students may enroll in the program in its entirety or on a trimester-by-trimester basis. Our textbook will be Thomas Egenes’ Introduction to Sanskrit Part One (3rd edition, 2017) and Introduction to Sanskrit Part Two (2nd edition, 2016), to be supplemented throughout by readings from Sanskrit philosophical and literary writers. The course is capped at 12 students. Enrollees will be invited to attend a complementary multilingual, interdisciplinary lecture series featuring scholars working at the cutting edge of classics, and, moreover, have the opportunity to enroll in specialized reading groups, set to debut in Summer 2024. 

Payment plans are available; email for more information.

Course Schedule

Saturday, 10:30am-12:30pm ET
September 09, 2023 — August 03, 2024
12 weekly sessions per trimester (36 sessions), not including guest lectures