Introduction to Vedanta
Jaldhar H. Vyas
jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sun Apr 9 02:26:42 CDT 2000
On Thu, 30 Mar 2000, Ashish Chandra wrote:
> What did you find was the best way of learning Sanskrit. I learnt it for 5
> years in school but now I am barely able to make a cogent sentence even
> though I can recognize the words.
The way Sanskrit is taught in most Indian schools combines the worst
aspects of Western and traditional methods and probably has turned more
people off to Sanskrit than encouraged them.
Vocabulary is fairly easy for people who know Hindi,Gujarati etc. Grammar
is the tough part but unfortunately there is no easy way around it.
Western universities used to teach Sanskrit along the lines of Latin. So
you would have Professors who knew a lot about grammar but couldn't
pronounce tha or dha correctly. The new generation (many of whom have
spent time in India) are much better in this regard. Still this wasn't
too satisfying for me as their emphasis and interests are different from
The traditional way is to learn the sutras which is what I've tried to do.
This cuts down the stuff you have to memorise to a minimum but there is
still a lot of tedious work to begin with. I found it helpful to think of
it as a programming language with its own jargon, syntax etc. Many
Sanskrit natakas and kavyas come with a type of commentary called an
anvaya which breaks down difficult words and constructions into simpler
ones. And I totally annoyed my parents and teachers with hundreds of
Sometimes I wish I lived in India where there is more access to teachers.
I feel there are big gaps in my knowledge. Overall, I'm glad I made the
effort to do things right and I encourage others to do so. You'll be a
better person for it.
Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam
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