In India, most of the sacred literature in Sanskrit was composed much before any other scripts were introduced. Sanskrit was written on palm-leaf even before the invention of paper. There was an existence of institutionalized Sanskrit teaching. Learned Brahmins considered it a part of their duty to train the next generation. Many consider that learning a classical language such as Sanskrit is important for our self-image and also for our sense to know and explore our own tradition. During the ancient time, there was a distinct style of interpretation of Sanskrit texts and various methods, critical as well as scientific were adopted to learn these texts. But with the advent of British rule, Western methods were introduced and gradually the ancient or traditional methods were forgotten. But the western methods were found to be insufficient for learning Sanskrit. So come, let us check out what is the traditional method of learning Sanskrit.
Traditional Method of learning Sanskrit:
The traditional Sanskrit education system was teacher-centric. A teacher offered to teach a subject depending on their own expertise and the students were able to enrol with a teacher depending on the teacher’s reputation and their own interest. If a student felt that he had learnt whatever he could from a particular teacher, he could politely shift to another. While learning Sanskrit you have to think in a complex structure. The more complicated the structure the better is the learning. And this gradually develops the student’s mind. In the traditional system of learning Sanskrit, it was learnt by the rote of one declension and verb class after another. The necessary memorization of certain important features is required to inherit the cultural features and special meanings of certain words and concepts.
There are 2 ancient or traditional methods of learning Sanskrit
The Dandanvaya method is where all the words are arranged in prose order according to their grammatical function and syntactic relation for easy understanding of a verse. It is also known as the Anvayamukhi method. Through the anvaya, a student could be able to determine the desired meaning.
The Khandanvaya Method – is also known as the dialogue or dialectic method or the method of question and answers. The Khandanvaya method resembles the Dandanvaya method in picking out the principal sentence at first but differs from it regarding the construing of remaining words of the whole sentence which is carried on in sections or khandas by framing questions on phrases or individual words. The basic structure of a sentence is given and other details are filled in by asking questions.
Both The Dandanvaya method and the Khandanvaya Method are analytico-synthetic process in which several analysed parts of a sentence are combined through comprehension of the inter-relations of words by means of the principles of mutual expectancy, consistency and proximity. And at the end, the students are led to the unified and comprehensive meaning of a passage or sentence as a whole. In the Dandanvaya method questions based on grammatical function is focused which is helpful for understanding quickly. But in The Khandanvaya Method, the questions are principally based on the subject matter. In the first one, the subject is generally picked up first followed by other arguments of the verbs and finally, the verb is picked up, whereas in the second one the verb is first picked up followed by its arguments.
Also in the traditional method practice was the important secret of learning Sanskrit. In ancient times, it was easy to learn Sanskrit as there were no grammar books, dictionaries and translations easily available for helping out. People used to take the original Sanskrit text and read it again and again in front of Guru or elders. The guru or the elder used to describe the difficult parts. Sanskrit used to be learnt with practice. The students trained in traditional methods were more apt at grasping the subtle shades of meanings of words in the texts. The traditional method of Sanskrit learning differed from place to place.
Learning a classical language like Sanskrit has a value of its own. And learning it following a traditional method is really beneficial. If you decide to learn Sanskrit, you can look forward to booking Sanskrit classes with Multibhashi. Here you will get an experience and a blend of traditional and a modern learning method that will be very much effective for your learning process. You will surely love the guidance of the guru’s of Multibhashi. So fear not and follow your dream of learning Sanskrit. Best wishes!