Sanskrit: the Oldest Language, Sacred and Eternal?
Whenever we embark the intense journey of learning a language, we are not just studying grammatical rules and phonetics, but we are also getting in touch with an entire culture, expressed through sounds, metaphors and phrases that are unique to a certain area or a particular era.
Sanskrit is the ancestor of many languages and dialects: some of the most important and ancient religious books are written in this ancient idiom.
How could we approach this fascinating world? Dr. Antonia Ruppel will tell us a little more about Sanskrit, while presenting her innovative teaching method. At Shankra Festival Sri Lanka 2022, she will be offering a talk entitled "Sanskrit: the oldest language, sacred and eternal?" and at least one Sanskrit taster lesson for complete beginners.
The Cambridge Introduction to Sanskrit (CIS) was written to address this question. It employs modern pedagogical methods and tools used successfully in textbooks for various other ancient languages. It does not expect any prior knowledge of linguistics, language learning or languages other than English.
The CIS pushes students a little further, by presenting new literary examples that are approachable to everybody, together with a large number of original Sanskrit texts (from short excerpts to two complete chapters of the Bhagavadgītā), each annotated so as to perfectly fit the student’s knowledge at that specific point of the course.
The devanāgarī script (the main way of writing Sanskrit) is introduced right at the beginning but used in parallel with transliteration for a full seven chapters. That way, students can progress with their actual language knowledge while slowly mastering the new script. Being able to read Sanskrit in both devanāgarī and transliteration means students can read more or less all Sanskrit texts available in print, as well as vast numbers of manuscripts.
Dr Antonia Ruppel started learning Sanskrit when she was 19 and a student at Cambridge, not because it was part of her studies, but because it sounded interesting. Over the past 15 years, she has taught hundreds of students in secondary school, university, and online, and in 2017, her Sanskrit textbook was published. She is a part-time Sanskrit researcher at the University of Oxford and a part-time Sanskrit lecturer at the University of Munich (three cheers for the possibility of working online!) and offers Sanskrit language and literature courses for Yogic Studies.