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Sanskrit 1


Admission requirements



This course provides an introduction to the grammar of classical Sanskrit. Students are introduced to the phonology, morphology and syntax of the Sanskrit language and learn the accompanying terminology. Subjects that are dealt with include phonology, declension, conjugation, and verbal and nominal composition. The course is taught with reference to Gonda’s Elementary Grammar and the accompanying exercises. The exercises are prepared by the students in advance of each class and are the primary means through which the grammar is brought into practice during class. There are two two-hourly classes each week. The course requires active preparation and participation. Attendance of the classes is compulsory. In addition there is a one hour response meeting every two weeks.

At the end of the course students have a complete overview of the grammatical system of classical Sanskrit and are able to translate and analyze simple Sanskrit sentences and verses. The language is taught in Romanized transliteration. No knowledge of the Devanāgarī script is required during the first semester. Sanskrit 1 is the preparatory course for Sanskrit 2 taught in the second semester, in which pieces of Sanskrit literature are read in Devanāgarī following a brief introduction to the script.

Course objectives

  • Working knowledge of the grammar of classical Sanskrit, in particular paradigms of declension and conjugation.

  • Knowledge of accompanying terminology and the transliteration system.

  • Ability to translate simple sentences and verses from Sanskrit into English.

  • Acquiring elementary vocabulary of Sanskrit.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and participation are obligatory. Classes missed for a good reason (to the discretion of the conveners and to be discussed BEFORE the class takes place) will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course load

  • Classes (13×4), feedback hours (6×1) and exams (2×2): 62 hours

  • Preparation and revision of exercises, learning paradigms: 138 hours

  • Revision and preparation for exams: 80 hours
    Total: 280 hours (10 EC x 28 hours)

Assessment method

2 written examinations (w), covering respectively declension and conjugation:
1) at the end of the first block (40%)
2) at the end of the second block (60%)

The individual exams cannot be retaken. There is one opportunity for a resit of the entire course (100%).

The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.



Reading list

  • Jan Gonda, A Concise Elementary Grammar of the Sanskrit Language. With Exercises, Reading Selections, and a Glossary. Translated from the German by Gordon B. Ford, R. Leiden: Brill, 1966

  • Michael Coulson, Teach Yourself Sanskrit. An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language. Revised by Richard Gombrich and James Benson. Second edition. Kent: Hodder & Stoughton, 1992 (various reprints, used for background reading)


Students of the BA program South- Southeast Asia Studies are required to register through uSis before August 15. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Interested students from the MA Asian Studies need to contact the secretariat by e-mail clearly giving the course code and their student ID number to get registered for this course.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

(Studeren à la carte is not possible for this course.)


Dhr Dr. D. Cuneo


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).