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10 November 2016

Sanskrit Lessons at King's

King’s College, Taunton, is opening a partner school, King’s College, India, in the city of Rohtak, just north of New Delhi. The students in the Indian school will follow a curriculum very similar to that of their counterparts in Taunton, with allowances made for the local context. One of these differences will be that the Indian students will study Sanskrit, the ancient precursor of modern Indian languages, instead of Latin.

The Headmaster of King’s, Taunton, Richard Biggs, discovered that King’s itself once offered Sanskrit as a subject. Before 1900 a number of King’s pupils won Sanskrit scholarships to Oxford. He wondered whether there might be an appetite for reviving the language in his own school. The Head of Classics, Lisa Cashmore, took up the idea …and Sanskrit is now being taught to a small group of six keen students in Taunton. Five of the pupils are from King’s itself and another joins the class each week from Bishop Fox's School across the road.

Lisa Cashmore writes:

“I am beginning to think that Sanskrit at King’s may become a more permanent feature. I have six pupils, of all ages, (seven if you count me!) studying it for 45 minutes per week

After the first five lessons we had learnt how to say and write all the vowels using the ISER videos – a freely available online resource that will continue to accompany our learning alongside a number of books.

We are all finding learning this new language a challenge, but it is also a lot of fun and is a really enjoyable end to a Monday afternoon – I am particularly enjoying the fact that we are all learning together and I am not the teacher.

We are unsure where the learning of Sanskrit will take us. Some are keen to complete the IGCSE, others to enjoy reading some of the ancient texts written in the language.”

Sanskrit grammar was formalised in 400BC, although the origins of the language can be traced back several millennia before that. Its relationship to the current languages and cultures of the Indian subcontinent is similar to that of Greek and Latin in the West.

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