Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia


Brown University offers instruction in both Hindi-Urdu and Sanskrit through the Center for Language Resources and the Classics Department, respectively. Beginner, intermediate and advanced classes are offered in both courses of study.


Instructed at all levels by Senior Lecturer Ashok Koul. The courses offered are:

HNDI 0100/0200: Beginning Hindi or Urdu

Introduces conversation, reading, and writing of modern standard Hindi and the Devanagari script. Those who already know Devanagari but have rusty conversation skills may join the class second semester; obtain instructor's permission during the first semester. Those who prefer to learn Urdu and the Persian script should contact the instructor.

HNDI 0300/0400: Intermediate Hindi-Urdu

A continuation of HNDI 0100-0200. Introduces the variation of the Persian script used for Urdu. Prepares students to communicate in written and spoken language. Activities are conducted in Hindi/Urdu. Meets four hours weekly.

HNDI 1080: Advanced Hindi-Urdu

Each student follows an independent reading list determined in consultation with the instructor. The readings may include folk tales, journalistic prose, 20th-century literature, classical Urdu poetry of the 17th to 19th centuries, or subjects in nonfiction. The class meets together three hours weekly for discussion. Each student also spends one hour weekly with the instructor. Prerequisite: HNDI 0400.


Instructed by Professor David Buchta at all levels, courses offered in Sanskrit are as follows:

Sans 0100: Elementary Sanskrit I

This course introduces Sanskrit to students who have no prior knowledge of any language other than English. Students quickly learn to read the Devanagri script and study the basics of the sound-system of Sanskrit. The course rapidly surveys the basics of Sanskrit grammar while using adaptations of classical Indian myths and stories as reading exercises.

Sans 0200: Elementary Sanskrit II

This course continues the survey of grammar and the reading exercises of SANS 100. The second half of this course reads selected passages of the Bhagavad Gītā and the beginning of the classic story of Nala and Damayantī from the Mahābhārata. Prerequisite: SANS0100

Sans 0300: Sanskrit Epic Narrative

Consolidates and extends the knowledge of Sanskrit grammar introduced in first year Sanskrit; acquaints students first-hand with basic themes of ancient Indian culture, and cultivates the reading and interpretive skills necessary to read epic and closely related Sanskrit narrative with comprehension and increased fluency. Prerequisite: SANS 0200.

Sans 0400: Classical Sanskrit Story Literature

Introduces students to the more challenging Sanskrit of classical story literature and continues to extend the knowledge of Sanskrit grammar introduced in first year Sanskrit and developed in SANS 0300, as well as present basic Indian cultural themes. Prerequisite: SANS 0300.

Sans 1080: The Critical Episodes of the Mahabharata

A guided tour of the structure of the Mahabharata, "The Great Epic of India," through the reading in Sanskrit of selected critical passages.

Sans 1600: Sanskrit Belles Lettres

Introduction to kāvya (classical Sanskrit belles lettres)--poetry, drama, and prose narrative--through the reading of authors of the Classical Period as well as works on aesthetics and commentaries upon them.