Sanskrit and its literature represent a continuous cultural tradition that has lasted more than four thousand years. Used to write the Vedas in the second millennium B.C., the classical language of India is still used today as the language of religion and scholarship. It is the parent of the modern Indo-Aryan languages of north and central India, including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, and many others.

Sanskrit belongs to the Indo-European language family, and it is closely related to Latin and ancient Greek. Its literature covers wide-ranging genres including poetry, drama, religion and ritual, philosophy, law, grammar and linguistics, medicine, astronomy and astrology. Among the masterworks of Sanskrit literature are the poems and plays of Kalidasa, the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata (including the Bhagavad-gita, which constitutes a section of the latter), and the Upanishads.

A group of languages known as the Prakrits or Middle Indo-Aryan languages were derived from Sanskrit and were the vernacular dialects of ancient times, with their own literary traditions. These languages are usually studied together with Sanskrit, and our department offers courses in Pali and the Prakrits on a rotating basis.


We offer a complete range of courses in Sanskrit language and literature, including a basic three-year sequence and advanced courses.

Students can choose to specialize in or emphasize the study of Sanskrit as part of the following programs:

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