Good Books to Learn Sanskrit (Samskritam)

Posted on December 22, 2006

In the beginning, when I wanted to learn Sanskrit, I started looking for useful websites that teach the language. I came across a great many websites, and some were exceptionally useful, but I was frustrated after a short while. For one, to learn using websites, you need to be online and use your computer. Another reason for my frustration was that no website offered a comprehensive tutorial or an easy to follow plan. I will write about the websites I encountered in another post. This post will concentrate on the best books money can buy to learn Sanskrit. A rudimentary knowledge of Sanskrit is essential for those interested in Hindu culture. It will open doors of understanding into yoga, tantra, the karmas needs to ensure happiness and the principles of hindu dharma. Even with the availability of many guides in English, there is nothing like learning the principles from the source. So I hope this article will be handy for those starting out with their yoga practice, vedic learning, and those looking for advice from the Vedas on how to live the complete life.

The Basics

If, for some reason, you can only buy one book, then that has to be either Introduction to Sanskrit, Part 1 or . Introduction to Sanskrit, Part 1 is a good stepping stone to other, higher-level Sanskrit lessons, and if you spend some time with it, you will have knowledge about the fundamentals of the language and be on your way to learning more. It is the best introduction to Sanskrit grammer, writing and structure that I have come across. The other book, “Learn Sanskrit in 30 Days” is available in most Indian stores, and is easily recognizable as it is part of the popular “National Integration” series of language learning books in India. It was published by Balaji Publications, 103 Pycrofts Road, Chennai, 600 014, India. If you are in India and cannot find the book try calling them at (044) 8532831 and (044) 8532653. The book was compiled by Vidyavisarada K. Srinivasachari, who is a Professor of Language at the Samskrita Bhasha Pracharini Sabha, Chitoor. This is an excellent book, but might not be available outside of India. The above links to Amazon might yield the book depending on your luck – I was lucky enough to find it at Amazon. Those familiar with the National Integration series of books will know that the book will guide you from the very basics of the script to popular phrases to rudimentary language usage. However, a small shortcoming of this book is that it treats the language from the “spoken language” aspect – which is not very essential, since we are more interested in being able to read and comprehend scriptures.

More Extensive Books

Teach Yourself Sanskrit Complete Course, New Edition (Teach Yourself Language Complete Courses)
The first book in the more extensive collection has to be Teach Yourself Sanskrit Complete Course – it has a lot of lists, tables and references that will come in handy time and again. If you are prepared to spend more effort that would be required with the basic books, then this is the book for you. You might find that the learning process becomes slower after the second chapter, but persist and you will be rewarded!

Devavanipravesika: An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language is an excellent second step. It has grammatical information, transliteration instruction, Sanskrit-English, English-Sanskrit dictionarys and wonderful reading selections that will break you into the habit of reading Sanskrit. This is definitely not a beginner’s book, so you might want to keep another easier introduction to Sanskrit handy.

Grammar Guides and Tutors

Samskrta-Subodhini: A Sanskrit Primer (Michigan Papers on South and Southeast Asia)
As you keep learning, you will understand that a proper understanding of the grammatical structures and language constructs will help you appreciate Sanskrit works much better. By this time, you should already be comfortable with reading the Devanagari script. At this point, you will be looking to expand you library and your ken. I will try to list a few books that you might consider buying for when you are more comfortable with the basics. The first has to be Samskrta-Subodhini: A Sanskrit Primer (Michigan Papers on South and Southeast Asia). This is a comprehensive text, with exercise to flex your knowledge, and a very friendly font. This might sound ridiculous to some, but I enjoyed reading this book all the more due to the very clear fonts and typesetting. Thomas Egenes’ Introduction to Sanskrit, Pt. 2 which is the second installment of the book I mentioned before for the basic stuff is a good buy if you like the style of the author from the first book. I bought it, but to be frank, did not use it too much. This is not so much because the book is not good, but because of time limitations. If you get the version with the Cassette, (and you still have a cassette player!), you can pick up the nuances of Sanskrit pronounciation quite well.

Readers

Ramopakhyana - The Story of Rama in the Mahabharata
If you are here looking for books to exercise your knowledge of Sanskrit, then you are looking for good reading material. The following readers will satisfy your thirst!

Ramopakhyana – The Story of Rama in the Mahabharata is a beautiful reader that is fully annotated with the verses in both Sanskrit(Devanagari) and English. The Bhagavad Gita (Suny Series in Cultural Perspectives) by Winthrop Sargeant is another good read. The author’s attention to detail makes the message of the Gita shine through.

Dictionary

The best, albeit most expensive (at $35+), English-Sanskrit dictionary I have is A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Keep this handy and you will notice that you progress much faster in your learning.

There are a lot more books that are available, that I would like to write about, but to keep this short and simple, I will save my comments about the books for another post. The books described in this article will be more than sufficient for the beginning Sanskrit student, and should keep you busy for a few months. Happy Learning.

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27 Comments so far
  1. Johanna December 22, 2006 12:55 pm

    Nice guide. Bookmarked – it is so hard to find recommendations on how best to learn a new language. I am intrigued by Sanskrit and may give it a go.

  2. Learning Sanskrit Online : Hindu Sutra January 21, 2007 6:38 pm

    [...] Earlier we had seen the books that are good for learning Sanskrit. However, since not everyone who wants to start with learning a new language might be willing, or able, to invest in books, this article will provide a free online option for learning Sanskrit. [...]

  3. D.RADHAKRISHNAN. March 19, 2010 1:11 am

    i want to learn sanskrit get me the books about books and price shamkrish

  4. venkatesh May 5, 2010 6:47 am

    i want to learn sanskrit basics. please guide me which book that can make starter in snaskrit.

  5. Gotosmart February 2, 2011 1:16 pm

    A pain that drives you crazy is something that can ruin your whole life! Keep on struggling! That’s what i want to say here.

  6. Vikash Kumar June 28, 2011 10:58 pm

    I want to learn sanskrit because I want to read with understand the great shastra, Vedas and epic of India.

  7. Deepthi August 20, 2011 3:30 am

    Sir,
    I want to know if there is any guide/notes available to learn Sanskrit exam viz Parichaya,Abigya , Vichakshana etc other than regular books.I will be grateful if you mention
    if you could share the price and the address for the same.

    Thnaks

  8. vignesh August 28, 2011 11:15 pm

    i like to learn samskritam

  9. rama February 9, 2012 10:42 pm

    goood

  10. Pallavi March 1, 2012 9:38 am

    Thank you for this information on sanskrit books. I really want to learn sanskrit and was looking for material on the web. This blog helped me. I am going to buy one of the books and start learning. I have learned sanskrit for 3 years in school in India but have lost touch with it ever since. I want to start back up again so that I can understand some of the Indian scriptures in its original language. Do you think I can start with Sanskrit Sambodhini or the Introduction to Sanskrit, part 1?

    Thanks.

  11. Dr. TM Ramakrishna July 20, 2012 4:27 am

    Please suggest some basic sanskrit books which are available in the market as I want to learn the language.

  12. ????? ???? November 5, 2012 9:03 am

    ????? ???? ?????? ???? ????? ?? ????? ?? ??????? ????? ????? ??? ????? ???? ?????????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ???? ??? ?? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?? ?? ??? ?? ?????? ????? ???????

  13. sonia bisht December 3, 2012 12:33 am

    my hindi is good. iwant to larn sanskrit. please guide me which book is helpfull for me to learn sanskrit

  14. AJITHAN VARRIER December 3, 2012 8:51 am

    Wants to know more from our rich culture

  15. vijay December 31, 2012 1:13 pm

    my hindi is good. iwant to larn sanskrit. please guide me which book is helpfull for me to learn sanskrit

  16. proton October 15, 2013 4:31 am

    Please recommend a book to learn Sanskrit in HINdi. I’m native here, so fluent with HINDI and want to learn Sanskrit using HINDI as other language.

  17. proton October 15, 2013 4:37 am

    I’m fluent in hindi and I want to learn Sanskrit using HINDI as second language. Please recommend some books, and if possible..

  18. Hemant July 8, 2014 12:11 am

    Such a nice post sir. Hare Krishna!!!

  19. milind September 17, 2014 6:37 am

    sir i want sanskrit books of basics grammer and gauideline

  20. Pinaki Bhattacharya November 20, 2014 11:17 pm

    Dear Sir,
    My daughter want to learn sanskrit basics. please guide me which book that can make starter in snaskrit.she want to learn sanskrit get me the books about books and price.I want to buy the sanscrit books, please help me.

    Pinaki Bhattacharya
    Near station Bazar,po-Memari,dist-Burdwan
    Pin-713146
    Mobile no-9836723231

  21. ashok kumar sharma December 12, 2014 3:51 am

    I am interested to learn Sanskrit from Hindi, Is there such type of book by going through which one can learn Sanskrit and able to understand, translate from Hindi and speak in Sanskrit. My mother tongue is Hindi.

  22. ashok kumar sharma December 12, 2014 3:52 am

    I want to learn Sanskrit from Hindi, Please suggest me some book.

  23. Fhris August 4, 2015 5:26 am

    ??? ?? ?-? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?? ??? ??? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?? ? ??? ? ? ? ? ? ?? ? ?? ? ?? ? ? ?? ? ? ?? ?? ? ?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ? ??? ?? ?? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ? kirpya ?? ?? ?? ? ? ?? ? ?? ?? ?? ?? ? ? ? ? ?? ? ??

  24. h.rajeswari August 14, 2015 12:26 am

    good guidance.it is too difficult to teach language for a new learners .dhanyavadhaka.

  25. s September 19, 2015 7:54 pm

    If you are Indian use this list of books
    - Thom Egenes part 1
    - Samskrita Bharati. Pravesh (part 1)
    - Thom Egenes part 2, he introduces Bhagavat Gita chapter verses 45 -72.

    all three above available in India for under Rs 1000 or US under $200.

    Within next three months of your study, if you are not motivated and enchanted by the similarities bw Samskritam and your Indian mother tongue, my strong advice is to leave Samskritam studies and turn to something more vyaharika like finance or film-making or blog writing :P

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