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April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015
How to Learn Sanskrit
While Sanskrit is one of India's official languages, it is not commonly used in everyday society. Instead, it is widely used for literary and scholarly purposes, and is one of the liturgical languages of the Hindu religion. In addition, Sanskrit is also used in the Yoga Sutras, which are the main texts regarding the practice of yoga. These 196 sutras discuss adherence to yoga practices and discipline. Among some Western practitioners of yoga, there is a keen interest in learning Sanskrit in order to read these sutras in their original language. Sadly, the commentaries and translations that are available in English or other languages tend to vary widely in quality.
Yoga instructors may find it very beneficial to learn Sanskrit. Not only will they develop a better understanding of the Yoga Sutras, they will also be able to better understand the meaning of the mantras that they both teach and use. Learning Sanskrit will deepen their own yoga practice and will enrich their students' practice as well.
Learning Sanskrit is quite different from learning French or Spanish. However, as with any language, constant practice and exposure is the key to success. While Sanskrit is often written using Latin characters, it can also be written in the Devanagari alphabet, as well as the Siddham, Sharda, and Grantha alphabets. While transliterated Sanskrit texts exist, learners of the Sanskrit language may want to acquaint themselves with at least the Devanagari alphabet before they begin their formal study.
If a learner is lucky enough to live in or near a major city, then there may be live Sanskrit classes offered by various institutes or ashrams. In the United States, The American Sanskrit Institute offers intensive Sanskrit lessons on various weekends and makes CD's available for home use. In addition, the Learn Sanskrit series by Thomas Egenes provides a great resource for home learners. Sanskrit is even offered as a course at many major universities. Learners should contact the lecturers or professors teaching Sanskrit and ask if they can audit the course. This will provide the student with a community of people with whom they can practice. Accompanied with daily study, they will be able to comprehend more and more Sanskrit, and can even begin attempting to read the Yoga Sutras in the original language.
Ultimately, learning Sanskrit is a rewarding experience for all practitioners of yoga. By dedicating oneself to understanding the original language which has shaped the written philosophy of yoga itself, practitioners can better understand why and how yoga can benefit their lives.
October 22, 2013
Here are a few online resources I've found:
Best of luck!
April 27, 2015
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