Department of Asian Studies
Department of Asian Studies

Nabanjan Maitra

PhD, University of Chicago

Assistant Professor of Instruction
Nabanjan Maitra


  • Office Hours: Fall 2021 1st yr Sanskrit: M 11-12 and by appt; 2nd yr Sanskrit W 11-12 and by appt; ANS361 T 2-3 and by appt.


Sanskrit | religious identity-formation and Institutions | discourses of religious power | reinventions of traditions


ANS 340D • Hist Of Hindu Relig Traditn

32545 • Spring 2022
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM GAR 0.128
GC (also listed as ANT 322N, HIS 364C, R S 321)

This course surveys the long and storied history of the religion now known as Hinduism, from the forgotten civilizations of the Indus Valley to the lively and robust traditions of the present day. As we move through the centuries, we will examine how legendary Hindu tales and doctrines continue to speak to each other in their own language, how they inform the lives of native speakers, and reward those who take the time to learn their language. By the end of this course, students will be able to identify key traditions, concepts, and personalities of the Hindu philosophical and mythological traditions and will have developed a foundational cultural literacy in the world’s third largest religion.

SAN 507 • First-Year Sanskrit II

33385 • Spring 2022
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM PAR 210

Detailed study of problems of grammar and syntax; reading of extracts from original Sanskrit texts. Five class hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Sanskrit 506 with a grade of at least C.

SAN 312L • Second-Year Sanskrit II

33390 • Spring 2022
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM MEZ 1.104

Introduction to classical Sanskrit poetry and philosophical literature; readings from the Upanishads and Kalidasa's Meghaduta.  Prerequisite: Sanskrit 312K with a grade of at least C.

ANS 361 • Meaning Of Life In Hinduism

33015 • Fall 2021
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CBA 4.344

This course seeks to answer a simple question. What did it mean to live a meaningful life according to the classical Hindu texts? The classical Hindu tradition identified three –later four –goals of human life: pleasure (kāma), power (artha), duty (dharma), and liberation(mukti). Part of our goal will be to read the foundational texts that theorized that, and how, humans should pursue each of these goals. We will read texts (in translation) across a variety of genres –theoretical treatises, plays, narratives, poetry –to try and understand how the classical Sanskrit tradition derived norms to comprehend the varieties of human experience. This course will impel us to think with these texts and against them. These texts will present us with an opportunity to raise large questions –where do norms come from? Who is subject to a set of norms? What distinguishes religious conduct from non-religious conduct? How do these texts conceive of and theorize different categories of being –human, man, woman, animal, god? How do these texts articulate the difference between nature and culture? Above all, this course is designed to teach students to raise productive questions to put to texts and traditions.


Grade Breakdown

Reading Responses:50%

In-class Presentation/Participation25%

Final Exam/Paper25%

SAN 506 • First-Year Sanskrit I

33905 • Fall 2021
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM CAL 221

Course Objectives and Outcomes

This course is the first semester of a complete introduction to the Sanskrit language. You will learn many essentials of Sanskrit grammar including present and past tense verbs, nominal declensions, participles, infinitives, gerunds, and compounds. You will also learn Devanāgarī (a script in which Sanskrit, as well as other South Asian languages, is commonly written). You will learn to recite Sanskrit verses, compose simple sentences, and you will discover the many different types of literary production that are written in Sanskrit (for example, law codes, ritual manuals, medical treatises, and love poems), as well as learn about the cultural contexts that produced them. You will also begin to translate original Sanskrit literature. Some say Sanskrit is a “dead” language, but through this course you will find that this ancient language is very much alive in music, literature, drama, politics, yoga studios, popular culture and in everyday life in South Asia and beyond.

SAN 312K • Second-Year Sanskrit I

33910 • Fall 2021
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM BUR 214

Introduction to classical Sanskrit prose literature; readings from the  Epics and Kathasaritsagara.  Prerequisite: Sanskrit 507 with a grade of at least C.

Course Description

स्वागतम्! Welcome! In this intermediate level Sanskrit course you will read authentic Sanskrit literature, primarily the Hitopadeśa, or “The Book of Useful Advice”. This is a collection of human and animal tales and maxims framed as advice to young princes who cannot be bothered to learn statecraft. It gives advice on how to gain and lose friends, recognize behaviors that lead to war, and ways to achieve peace. Through close reading and engagement with the text, you will consolidate and enrich your knowledge of Sanskrit grammar, grow your vocabulary, perform analyses of compounds and derivations, and improve your recitation skills. Through a collaborative blog assignment, you will also explore Sanskrit in popular culture, and deepen your understanding of the contemporary cultural contexts of the Sanskrit language. 


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