Sanskrit is one of the most ancient languages on the planet. A sister of Greek and Latin, Sanskrit was the language of choice for the giant of Indian literature for thousands of years. Learning Sanskrit is an opportunity to study works of poetic genius, such as Kalidasa’s Shakuntala, in their original form. Since Sanskrit was the language used historically in India, learning Sanskrit is also useful for students of Indian history. Let’s take a look at three powerful resources that can help you learn Sanskrit online, for free!
Chitrapur’s Step-by-Step Guide
The Chitrapur Ashram in India has created a website that contains a 20-month step-by-step guide to learning Sanskrit. Designed for a complete beginner, the website includes lessons in pdf formats, and is divided into two learning levels – one for absolute beginners, and the second for those with some previous exposure to Sanskrit. The lessons cover basic and intermediate grammar, important vocabulary, and review exercises.
Sanskrit Grammar Guide
The Sanskrit Grammar Guide was created as a comprehensive resource on all aspects of Sanskrit grammar. Students often find that Sanskrit grammar is difficult to grasp initially. This guide splits the grammar into various parts such as consonants, vowels, verbs and nouns, and lists the many rules associated with these branches. The examples given also help one inculcate these rules in speech, while the pronunciation guide can be very helpful for those who have no prior exposure to Indian languages.
University of Michigan – Center for South Asian Studies
The Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan includes 44 lessons and 10 reading exercises in Sanskrit, meant for beginners. Though not as straight-forward or comprehensive as the Chitrapur step-by-step guide, the advantage of this site is that the lessons are offered in audio, allowing students to grasp pronunciation easily. This site is especially useful for those whose first priority is to learn to speak Sanskrit.
Since most of India’s ancient scriptures were written in Sanskrit, studying these scriptures can be a valuable resource while learning the language. The scriptures have also been translated into English, allowing you to crosscheck meanings for words you are unsure of. The Shiv Puran is a good resource to begin with, while the Vishnu Puran is also a good option.
Additionally, it helps to spend time listening to spoken Sanskrit, to get a feel of the pronunciation. Listening to Sanskrit songs is a very entertaining way of doing this. The Nishchala Blog has a list of devotional songs to Lord Shiva that are sung in Sanskrit.