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Sanskrit is a classical language of India, and a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. A wide range of texts, including poetry, drama, scientific, technical, philosophical and religious texts exist in Sanskrit. Contemporary Hindu religious rituals use Sanskrit in hymns and mantras.
Panini, a Sanskrit scholar who lived in India in 4th century BCE, was the first person to write a descriptive grammar of any language. Kalidasa was the greatest Sanskrit poet and playwright, called the Shakespeare of India. His plays and poems greatly influenced the 19th century poets, including Goethe. Sir William Jones, the founder of modern linguistics, was a British civil servant in Calcutta and founded the Asiatic Society there. He was the first to recognize the Indo-European family of languages by exploring the similarities between Sanskrit and other classical European languages.
First, second, and third year Sanskrit language courses are offered each year. It is possible to major in Asian Cultures and Languages with a Sanskrit specialization or minor in Sanskrit.