17 episodes

In-depth explorations into the field of Sanskrit Studies. Featuring candid conversations and interviews with scholars of Sanskrit across the disciplines of Indology, Linguistics, Religious Studies, Philosophy, History, and more. Hosted by Dr. Antonia Ruppel.

The Sanskrit Studies Podcast The Sanskrit Studies Podcast

    • Education
    • 4.5 • 19 Ratings

In-depth explorations into the field of Sanskrit Studies. Featuring candid conversations and interviews with scholars of Sanskrit across the disciplines of Indology, Linguistics, Religious Studies, Philosophy, History, and more. Hosted by Dr. Antonia Ruppel.

    16. Amba Kulkarni | Sanskrit and Computers

    16. Amba Kulkarni | Sanskrit and Computers

    My guest this month is Amba Kulkarni from the Department of Sanskrit at the University of Hyderabad, who has also been associated with IIT Kanpur and the National Sanskrit University. Professor Kulkarni is best known for her work linking traditional Indian linguistic theory (starting with Pāṇini and focussing on aspects such as Śabdabodha  and Kāraka theory as studied especially within the Navya-Nyāya/'Neo-Logical' school of philosophy) and AI theories of Knowledge Representation to effect computer-based cognition of Sanskrit texts.  Find out more about her recent book 'Sanskrit Parsing based on the theories of Śabdabodha' here.

    The article by Rick Briggs that she mentions as her inspiration to apply her Computer Science background to Sanskrit is reprinted here, that by Rajeev Sangal and Vineet Chaitanya can be accessed here, and there is discussion of  Bhāratīkṛṣṇa Tīrtha's book on Vedic Mathematics here.

    She has collaborated extensively with Gérard Huet, best known in Sanskritist circles for his Sanskrit Heritage Site (part of which is the Segmenter). Relating to the parsing of the sentence yānaṃ vanaṃ gacchati  'the vehicle goes to the forest', she mentions the factors śabdabodha considers essential for verbal cognition: yogyatā or mutual compatibility, ākaṅksā or expectancy and saṃniddhi or proximity (read some discussion of these here). More on the three types of meaning of a word (abhidhā  or literal, lakṣaṇā or metaphoric/extended and vyañjanā  or suggested meaning) e.g. here.

    If you are a Sanskritist interested in working in computational linguistics, Professor Kulkarni suggests a thorough focus in Kāvya/Kāvyaśāstra, Mīmāṃsā, Nyāya or

    • 1 hr 12 min
    15. Robert Zydenbos | The Life of Sanskrit Traditions

    15. Robert Zydenbos | The Life of Sanskrit Traditions

    My guest this month is Robert Zydenbos, who is Professor of Modern Indology at the LMU Munich. (Full disclosure: we thus are colleagues!)
    His first point of contact with Indian languages and philosophies was through Collier's Encyclopaedia. It introduced him to such ideas as rebirth, a concept found in various traditions (see e.g. here, here or here)

    His first degree was in Indian Studies at the University of Utrecht, at an institute that developed into a centre of Tantric Studies and that has in the meantime been closed.  His teachers included Jan Gonda, T. Goudriaan , Henk Bodewitz,  Leen van Dalen , George Chemparathy, Kamil Zvelebil, Sanjukta Gupta, Karel van Kooij. He did his PhD and much subsequent work in Mysore, where he frequently visited the university and the Oriental Research Institute; and whereas his early interest in Jainism brought him to Karnataka, he also studied religious currents such as Vīraśaivism and Mādhva Vaiṣṇavism.

    Through his close acquaintance with Bannanje Govindacharya, he began working on Madhvācārya and his writings, also those concerning the Bhagavadgītā. (The article he mentions may be found here.)

    He would use the SSPRG, the Sanskrit Studies Podcast Research Grant, to learn Old Javanese.

    For anyone interested in learning about Sanskrit  for the first time, he recommends Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat's Le sanskrit/The Sanskrit Language.

    • 1 hr 44 min
    14. Saroja Bhate | Vyākaraṇa and Good Teachers

    14. Saroja Bhate | Vyākaraṇa and Good Teachers

    My guest this month is Professor Saroja Bhate, former Professor of Sanskrit and Head of the Department of Sanskrit and Prakrit Languages at Pune University, who has published prolifically on Vyākaraṇa.

    Her first contact with Sanskrit was through the recitation of stotras. She was educated at Pune University and at Ṭiḷaka Mahārāṣṭra Vidyāpīṭha, and among her teachers were Pundit Vāmanaśāstrī Bhāgavata, T. G. Mainkar and S. D. Joshi.

    Among the texts she read during her studies are the Rāmāyaṇa, Mahābhārata including the Bhagavadgītā, Meghadūta, Raghuvaṃśa, plays by Kālidāsa and Viśākhadatta, Śiśupālavadha, Kirātārjunīya as well as selections from the Brāhmaṇas and the Upaniṣads.

    The linguistic texts she mentioned include Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī, the Brahmakāṇḍa, a portion of Bhartṛhari's Vākyapadīya, the Paramalaghumañjūṣā, texts from the Cāndravyākaraṇa and Kātantra traditions,  and the works of Nāgoji (or Nāgeśa) Bhaṭṭa, such as the Paribhāṣenduśekhara. The modern linguists she mentioned are George Cardona and Paul Kiparsky.
    Her advice for those embarking in the field includes learning languages and studying Mīmāṃsā, Nyāya, manuscriptology, and symbolic logic.

    • 1 hr 1 min
    13 Patrick McCartney | Sanskrit in the World

    13 Patrick McCartney | Sanskrit in the World

    My guest this month is Patrick McCartney. His written work, on Sanskrit-speaking villages, Sanskrit in the Indian census, the popular use and the politics of Yoga (and many other topics), is very conveniently linked to here. His Yogascapes project has its own website. The Himāl article on Spoken Sanskrit he mentions is linked to here.

    His videos, including his 'A Day in our Ashram' and the videos on his search for the Sanskrit-speaking villages, are available on his YouTube channel.

    You can read more about the Sanskrit programme at Australia National University here. (And of course there is the SSP interview with the wonderful McComas Taylor, the heart of Sanskrit at ANU.)

    The article on the 'Sanskrit Boulevard' from the Hindustan times is here; this is a related article. Read more about M. N. Srinivas and the concept of Sanskritisation. If you are interested in the SOAS- based Haṭha Yoga Project, their website is here; this is a brief introduction to pole yoga or Mallakhamba.

    The books Patrick recommends for people interested getting into the field are Asko Parpola's Roots of Hinduism and Sheldon Pollock's Rasa Reader.

    • 2 hr 39 min
    12. Andrew Ollett | Beyond Sanskrit

    12. Andrew Ollett | Beyond Sanskrit

    My guest this month is Mr Prakrit, Andrew Ollett, who teaches at the University of Chicago  Perhaps his most well-known publication is the book 'Language of the Snakes', which you can download for free here.

    Among his teachers were Eleanor Dickey,  Gary Tubb and Sheldon Pollock (whose book 'The Language of the Gods in the World of Men' Andrew mentions)

    He talks about his work comparing the language of Theocritus with that of Prakrit poetry, about the work of Mātṛceṭa and Aśvaghoṣa , about the rock inscription of Rudradāman, and the influence that the Sātavāhana courts had on Prakrit.

    Among the languages and language forms he mentions are Vedic, Pali, Apabhraṃśa, Gāndhārī and Old Gujarati or Rajasthāni .  Among the Prakrit texts he talks about are the Gaha Sattasai (and its recent translation by Khoroche and Tieken), the Setubandha, the works of Kundakunda, the Rasikaprakāśana by Vairocana,  the Jain niryuktis ascribed to Bhadrabāhu, and the use of Prakrit in Sanskrit plays.

    You can find out a little more about Madhav Deshpande's book Sanskrit and Prakrit: Sociolinguistic Issues here.

    For his Sanskrit Studies Podcast Research Grant Project, Andrew will work on Kannada.

    He recommends A. K. Ramanujan's Speaking of Śiva, the Daśakumāracarita in Isabelle Onians' translation,  Tamil Sangam poetry and especially the Kuruntokai, and suggests you go read Bhavabūti's Uttararāmacarita right now. 

    (And I apologize for the sounds of my cat beating up his toys in the background!)

    • 1 hr 8 min
    11. Wendy Doniger | Translating India

    11. Wendy Doniger | Translating India

    My guest this month is Wendy Doniger. Read more about her and her many wonderful books here and here. She was educated at Radcliffe, the only part of Harvard then to admit women, and at Oxford. She has taught at SOAS, but has spent most of her career at the University of Chicago's Divinity School, on the Committee on Social Thought, and in South Asian Languages and Civilizations.
    Among her teachers, she lists Daniel Ingalls at Harvard, Robert Zaehner at Oxford, and in India, Ali Akbar Khan, from whom she learnt to play the Sarod, and the Purāṇic scholar Rajendra Chandra Hazra.

    Among the many texts that find mention today are the Kāmasūtra,  Kālidāsa's Kumārasaṃbhava (and that same story as it appears e.g. in the Śivapurāṇa), the story of Nala from the Mahābhārata, and among Professor Doniger's own books, The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology, Dreams, Illusion and Other Realities, The Donigers of Great Neck and An American Girl in India, which she talks about here. 
    Read more about Mircea Eliade,  Santiniketan,  the mā niṣāda śloka,  and see the hotel from Gentlemen's Agreement.

    Among the books Wendy Doniger recommends for kindling our interest in India are The Wonder That Was India, Midnight's Children, A Passage to India, Village India, The Inner Life of Dust, the works of A. K. Ramanujan.

    Her review of the Goldman translation of The Rāmāyaṇa can be found here.

    • 1 hr 12 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
19 Ratings

19 Ratings

Wackernagel ,

Insightful look into the world of Sanskrit

Very enjoyable first episode that touches on a range of topics related to Sanskrit pedagogy and scholarship. This podcast should be relevant for anyone interested in the Sanskrit language. I look forward to more episodes!

JamesIn10003 ,


45 mins into a podcast and you still have your guest talking about himself. Real fascinating stuff there. 🙄

Methow Samadhi ,

Great Start to Series

It was a delight to listen to this conversation with McComas Taylor. His story is charming and his insights fascinating. When the podcast was over I immediately downloaded his open source Vishnu Purana and Little Red Book. As someone just starting out with Sanskrit, I welcome as many viewpoints as I can find on the subject. I look forward to future podcasts.

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