At Deer Park, as at Nalanda centuries ago, students come together from a vast array of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. While English is the primary language of instruction at the Institute, the study of classical languages enables students and practitioners to enter more deeply into the authentic meaning of the scriptures and philosophical treatises. Thus, we have held several courses in Sanskrit and Classical Tibetan, and we hope also to offer Pali classes in the future.
Raji Ramanan’s popular Essential Sanskrit course (held at Deer Park in December 2007, May-June & September 2008) offers students a unique opportunity to taste the authentic and rich classical Indian tradition. Participants in this program are introduced to the Devanagri alphabet (Sanskrit/Hindi script) and study the Heart Sutra, mantras and other key texts in Sanskrit. In May and October 2009, Raji also taught intensive workshops on the classic Sanskrit poetic text Praises to the Twenty-One Taras. Guiding students with great expertise and enthusiasm, she stresses the transformative experience of chanting with awareness of the meaning of each word.
Many students of Tibetan traditions study and practice using translated texts. With the effort to learn to read the texts in Tibetan, a fuller world of meaning opens to them as they discover the nuances that only the original language can convey. Deer Park’s first Tibetan Language course was held from December 2006 to February 2007, led by Khenpo Sonam Tashi. This was followed in February 2008 by Dr. Kurt J. Schwalbe’s intensive one-month Classical Literary Tibetan course. In 2009-2011, this course was offered again, at both beginner and intermediate levels.