Synopses & Reviews
A new approach to learning Sanskrit that synthesizes Eastern traditional and Western academic methods
Sanskrit has been taught in two ways: the age-old Indian technique involves learning language through the central, sacred texts; the formal Western methodology teaches the alphabet, declensions, grammar, and vocabulary building. The burgeoning interest in Sanskrit among yoga practitioners and changes in the academic discipline indicate that a new approach is in order.
Zoë Slatoff-Pontés Yogāvatāraṇam integrates traditional and academic methods of learning and allows students to read texts as soon as possible. The first section of the book teaches reading and basic grammar. The second covers more extensive grammar, and by the third section the student begins to look at and understand more complex texts such as the Upaniṣads.
Yogāvatāraṇam is appropriate to many levels of study, from those who are new to Sanskrit to students who already have some experience in reading devanāgari script, pronunciation, meaning, and grammar.
The traditional Indian method of learning Sanskrit is through oral transmission, by first memorizing texts and then learning their meaning. The Western academic approach methodically teaches the alphabet, declensions, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary building. Zoe Slatoff-Ponte's Yogavataranam integrates the traditional and academic approaches for a full and practical experience of Sanskrit study.
Yogavataranam approaches language systematically and at the same time allows students to read important and relevant texts as soon as possible, while emphasizing proper pronunciation through its audio accompaniment. The first section teaches reading and basic grammar, the second covers more extensive grammar, and by the third, students can begin to read and understand even more complex texts, such as the Upanisads.
Step-by-step instructions on how to correctly write the alphabet
Exercises throughout, along with review exercises for each chapter
Sidebars on Indian philosophy, culture, etymology, and more
Vocabulary building based on important texts
An extensive glossary of terms
Consideration of translation techniques and challenges
Original translations of passages from central texts, such as the Yogasutra, Bhagavadgita, Hathapradipika, and various Upanisads
In addition, Web-based audio files accompany each chapter to teach proper pronunciation.
Yogavataranam is appropriate for all levels of study, whether a student is brand-new to Sanskrit or already has experience in pronunciation, reading devanagari script, interpreting meaning, or learning grammar-and whether the course is academic or based in yoga. This new approach joins theory and practice to invoke an active experience of the philosophy, the practice, and the culture that together inform the multiplicity of meanings contained within the single and powerful word "yoga."
About the Author
Zoё Slatoff-Ponté has a masters degree in South Asian language and culture from Columbia University. Her thesis was a translation and exploration of a Sanskrit text on yoga and Ayurveda. She has practiced yoga since the age of fifteen; has traveled to Mysore almost annually to study at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, R. Sarath, and Sarawathi; and has been teaching for a dozen years. Her school, Ashtanga Yoga Upper West Side, is located in New York City.