Sanskrit as optional in UPSC
“The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity is of wonderful structure, more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin and more exquisitely refined than either.” – Sir William Jones
Not many IAS candidates take up Sanskrit as their optional subject in the UPSC civil services. Despite being a scoring subject, this ancient language does not find many takers. One reason is the general unpopularity of this language among school children itself. Most students prefer a commonly used language. Also, there is a perception that Sanskrit is a tough language. The two things that make it seem tough are the very precise and scientific grammar rules in this language, and the fact that one cannot hear Sanskrit spoken on a daily basis. But there are students who do take Sanskrit as their optional subject in the civil services. On an average, the success rate for this optional is about 8% which is not that bad.
Ideally, this optional should be taken up only if you have previously studied Sanskrit in school for many years and you are comfortable in it. Although you are allowed to take up Sanskrit optional even without studying it beforehand, it would not be a wise move to start learning this language from scratch for the UPSC exam. Let us look at the pros and cons of taking Sanskrit literature as your IAS optional.
Pros of Sanskrit optional
- Sanskrit is a very scientific language. Its grammar rules are precise and those who enjoy learning such a language will find it easier.
- You can write most of the answers in Sanskrit or your medium of examination. So, you need not write everything in Sanskrit. This makes it easier. Only some questions are to be answered in Sanskrit compulsorily.
- It is a scoring subject as not much is left to interpretation.
- If you can master the grammar part, you can score well in those portions.
- For those who like the subject, it is very interesting and enlightening.
- It does reveal certain aspects of ancient Indian history.
- UPSC Sanskrit optional syllabus is not vast.
- In this paper, you don’t have to worry about the current affairs part!
Cons of Sanskrit optional
- It is recommended only for those with a prior knowledge of Sanskrit.
- Sanskrit grammar can be difficult unless you have a knack for it.
- The IAS study material for Sanskrit is not as readily available, unlike other more popular subjects. However, you can use books used at the university level to study for this optional.
- You might need to learn by rote certain things. If you are not comfortable mugging up things, this might be a problem.
Strategy for Sanskrit optional
- Basically, you can divide the Sanskrit syllabus into two:
- Learn all the shabda roop, dhatu roop, and a lot of vocabulary. This will help you in understanding and translations.
- Start with Sanskrit Vyakaran Praveshika by Dr. Baburam Saxena.
- Practice a lot to improve your fluency and speed in Sanskrit.
- For other material, any MA Sanskrit textbooks would be sufficient.
Read about IAS topper with Sanskrit here.