Founded on 25 February, 1824, on the basis of a recommendation by British officials, HT James Prinsep and Thomas Babington Macaulay, The Sanskrit College, from its very inception, was tasked with the prestigious duty of preserving, cultivating and advancing India’s rich Sanskritic heritage and Indological studies, particularly in the spheres of literature, education and philosophy. For 192 long years, the College performed this duty with remarkable success and distinction. Following its up gradation to University status in 2015-16, The Sanskrit College and University, has been working towards expanded goals, driven by a more ambitious and global vision.
To a large measure, The Sanskrit College and University owe its stellar reputation to its long association with the luminary figure of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar. Vidyasagar had been a student of Sanskrit at the College and later went on to serve his alma mater as the principal from 1851 to 1858. With Vidyasagar at the helm, Sanskrit College benefitted greatly and reached its apogee of glory and prominence. Realising the advantages of a curriculum that combined modern Western education with traditional Sanskrit learning, Vidyasagar introduced courses in English and Mathematics for the students. Furthermore, in a rather iconoclastic move for the times, he opened the doors of the institution for students of all castes and creeds. What followed was only history, the history of advancement of the liberal mind, the history of changing social consciousness.
Hitherto, the vision of the institution had been the preservation of the traditional, balanced against the trends of modernisation introduced into India by British imperialism. However, as University, the institution is on the threshold of transition to a more global approach to education and research. The core mission of Sanskrit University is the increasing excellence and diversification of Sanskrit education, so that the ancient, medieval and other knowledge sources in Sanskrit and the philosophy behind the language are shared and made available to all. The university has started a programme of massive digitisation so that it can place its 25000 manuscript collection in the cultural commons, contributing to a global interconnected network of sharing and multiplying knowledge.
Already advanced for its times, The Sanskrit College had been the first institution in India to introduce the system of dual degrees in education. Continuing this legacy of interdisciplinary education, Sanskrit University intends to reintroduce multidisciplinary courses in its curriculum. Contemporary fields of study such as museology, Indology, Oriental studies, manuscriptology, and studies on post/colonialism are also set to be introduced at the university as courses available to students and research scholars alike.
Particularly attractive to foreign scholars, researchers and academics are the copious opportunities for research and collaboration that The Sanskrit College and University afford. There is a full-fledged and active research department in Sanskrit and Indology, as well as a Publication Department, that allows for international scholars from various disciplines to come and engage in research and scholarly work. So far, the institution has published eighty-six books and eight lexicons, and more than seventeen titles are in press. Currently the University has successfully revived its prestigious journal, “Our Heritage.” The journal first began its illustrious journey in 1952. The famous philosopher and Sanskrit scholar Professor Sadananda Bhaduri was its first editor. After him Shri Gaurinath Shastri, Professor Sukamal Chowdhury, Professor Tara Shanker Bhattacharya etc. at different times took up the mantel of editorship. In this journal famous Sanskrit scholars such as Durga Mohon Bhattacharya, Kalidas Bhattacharya, B.N. Mukherjee, M.M. Chinnaswamy all published their valuable writings. Henceforth this journal was published under the auspices of the college. But from the last issue the university has taken up the entire responsibility of publishing it and maintaining its high standard.
The library and archive of The Sanskrit College and University is a veritable goldmine. It comprises of more than 200000 books and more than 25,000 manuscripts including some very rare ones. Additionally, the University has more than 15000 rare books in its archives. Noted for its immense historical importance, the library is frequently visited by research scholars from all over the world. The university is poised to inaugurate its Sanskrit Charcha Kendra in Nabadwip It is envisioned to be a state of the art research centre and archive on Sanskrit studies. The creation of this centre was a dream that was envisioned by the Honourable Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal Srimati Mamata Banerjee. It was her inspiration and support that made such a marvellous facility of international standards a reality.
In terms of scholarship and intellectual output then, the University strives to participate in, and contribute richly and meaningfully to the universal nexus of knowledge, growth, and learning. The programmes, library and archival resources,and research opportunities offered by The Sanskrit College and University serve as beacons, inviting academicians, scholars and researchers from all over the world to come together to work together towards this humble cause in the service of humanity. We urge everyone to come, share, contribute and revel in our dream of building a new and modern society based on the values and world view imparted to generations of scholars that is culled out of studying from Sanskrit literature, philosophy and culture. But that is not all that we do. Our curriculum encapsulates many disciplines some are common with courses offered in other universities but there are a number of courses which are exclusive to us in this state.