Sanskrit for Modern Scientists
Fall 2011, Caltech Math Department: this is an informal
class that meets once a week (mostly on Thursday or
Friday afternoon) in Room 159 or 153 (whichever is available).
Brief Course Description
"So soll ich denn mit saurem Schweiss, Euch lehren was ich selbst nicht weiss" (Goethe, Faust)
The purpose of this class is to learn some basics of Sanskrit grammar and read some texts taken from Sanskrit literature, with a special attention to themes and philosophical concepts that appeal to the sensitivity of 21st century scientists.
Summary of classes
- First class: Davanagari alphabet
- Second class: Reading and learning words, some concepts in Indian philosophy, the cyclic and linear nature of time, the "Greekification functor"
- Third class: First elements of verb conjugation, principles of Advaita Vedanta, reading of the first stanza of Adi Shankara's "Hymn on the nature
of the Self"
- Fourth class: further comments on Shankara; Sanskrit verbs: the medium
and passive voice; tense structure of Sanskrit verbs; Aorist in Greek and Sanskrit; the Optative form; reading from Rg Veda, book 10, hymn 121; Declension of nouns: structure of cases, comparison with cases in other languages (Latin,
Greek, German, Russian).
- Fifth class: prepositions and cases; verb "as" present tense (short
and long form); Panini and the Ashtadhyayi: the origin of scientific linguistics (phonemes, morphemes, morphology, syntax, etc); Panini's influence on de Sassure and Chomsky: the origin of formal languages; reading of Bhagavad Gita 11:32 and comments on Oppenheimer's reading.
Here are some very rough handouts. At some point (time permitting) I
may turn them into some more structured and more accurate lecture notes.
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