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Basic Sanskrit

A simple guide.

The study of sanskrit can become very technical. It is a highly developed language. It would normally include the study of phonetics (the relationship of letters and sounds), grammar (syntax and rules for word usage) and etymology (evolution of words) in great depth. Many linguists have expounded the rules of sanskrit in great detail. There are many books about sanskrit grammar and learning. I will try to keep things simple for the purpose of providing a basic overview.

The beauty of sanskrit is in the use of sound vibration. The language has a rich heritage of verses for singing and chanting. There is an abundance of verses relating to spirituality, philosophy, science, politics, medicine and so forth, handed down from time immemorial.

The primary purpose of this guide is for helping people to understand the basics of sanskrit, especially for practitioners of yoga and/or ayurveda. It is designed mainly for people who are able to speak English.

There is a revival of sanskrit in India and amongst expatriates. There is a lot of material, both written texts and online videos, produced by 'native' speakers of sanskrit, and people who speak another Indian language as a first language. The internet today provides tremendous opportunities to learn the language. Therefore, I will refer to online resources which provide expert and detailed guidance if required. An in-depth study of the language is better carried out through courses such as that offered at university and other training institutions, as well as online. Hence I will try not to go into much depth here.

This is a work in progress. A sample from the first lesson, The Sanskrit Sound System, is included below. The full lesson, as well as subsequent lessons, are provided as PDF files for free download from each of the lesson webpages (currently five lessons).

The provided lesson material will be the basis for lessons conducted at the ashram (according to demand).

Currently the lessons are in the following order:

The Sound System

Basic Verbs

Basic Nouns



Where to Start?

Begin by clicking on the link to Beginners Lesson 1 at the bottom of this page and follow through to the next lesson. I encourage people to explore the language by all means, but in the beginning it is best to follow through with this lesson series. It is designed to make the beginning stages as easy as possible.

It is best to learn 'devanagari', the script used to write sanskrit (and hindi). Otherwise you will be missing out on the true richness of the language.

Sanskrit study begins with a study of the sound system (phonetics). A very good guide to the sound system:

learnsanskrit.org - Sanskrit Vowels

There are also many other websites for online learning. I may list some of these resources using relevant hyperlinks.

There are also many excellent books for learning sanskrit, some of which date back more than a century. Many of these are available freely on the internet as PDF files.

The full table is included in 'Beginners Lesson 1' (see below)

link to Sanskrit Beginners Lesson 1
Beginners Lesson 1
The Sound System
link to Sanskrit Beginners Lesson 2
Beginners Lesson 2
Basic Verbs
link to Sanskrit Beginners Lesson 3
Beginners Lesson 3
Basic Nouns
link to Sanskrit Beginners Lesson 4
Beginners Lesson 4
link to Sanskrit Beginners Lesson 5
Beginners Lesson 5