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A sutra (/ˈsuːtrə/; IAST: sūtra) is an aphorism or other teaching that is part of the ancient religious traditions originating in India, particularly Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.[1][2][3] The term sutra can broadly refer to a single aphorism, a collection of aphorisms in the form of a manual or even a condensed manual or text.[2] Sutras are considered a genre of ancient and medieval Indian texts.[3] In Hinduism, sutras are a distinct type of literary composition, a compilation of short aphoristic statements.[3][4] Each sutra is any short rule, like a theorem distilled into few words or syllables, around which teachings of ritual, philosophy, grammar, or any field of knowledge can be woven.[2][3] The oldest sutras of Hinduism
Hinduism
are found in the Brahmana
Brahmana
and Aranyaka
Aranyaka
layers of the Vedas.[5][6] Every school of Hindu
Hindu
philosophy, Vedic guides for rites of passage, various fields of arts, law, and social ethics developed respective sutras, which helped teach and transmit ideas from one generation to the next.[4][7][8] In Buddhism, sutras, also known as suttas, are canonical scriptures, many of which are regarded as records of the oral teachings of Gautama Buddha. The Pali
Pali
form of the word, sutta, is used exclusively to refer to the scriptures of the early Pali
Pali
Canon, the only texts recognized by Theravada
Theravada
Buddhism
Buddhism
as canonical.[citation needed] In Jainism, sutras also known as suyas are canonical sermons of Mahavira
Mahavira
contained in the Jain Agamas
Jain Agamas
as well as some later (post-canonical) normative texts.[9][10]

Contents

1 Etymology 2 History 3 Hinduism

3.1 Post-vedic sutras

4 Buddhism 5 Jainism 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 External links

Etymology[edit]

A 17th-century birch bark manuscript of ancient Panini Sutra, a treatise on grammar,[11] found in Kashmir.

The Sanskrit
Sanskrit
word Sūtra
Sūtra
(Sanskrit: सूत्र, Pali: sūtta, Ardha Magadhi: sūya) means "string, thread".[2][3] The root of the word is siv, that which sews and holds things together.[2][12] The word is related to sūci (Sanskrit: सूचि) meaning "needle, list",[13] and sūnā (Sanskrit: सूना) meaning "woven".[2] In the context of literature, sūtra means a distilled collection of syllables and words, any form or manual of "aphorism, rule, direction" hanging together like threads with which the teachings of ritual, philosophy, grammar, or any field of knowledge can be woven.[2][3] A sūtra is any short rule, states Moriz Winternitz, in Indian literature; it is "a theorem condensed in few words".[3] A collection of sūtras becomes a text, and this is also called sūtra (often capitalized in Western literature).[2][3] A sūtra is different from other components such as Shlokas, Anuvyakhayas and Vyakhyas found in ancient Indian literature.[14] A sūtra is a condensed rule which succinctly states the message,[15] while a Shloka is a verse that conveys the complete message and is structured to certain rules of musical meter,[16][17] a Anuvyakhaya is an explanation of the reviewed text, while a Vyakhya is a comment by the reviewer.[14][18] History[edit]

Sutra
Sutra
known from Vedic era[19]

Veda Sutras

Rigveda Asvalayana Sutra
Sutra
(§), Sankhayana Sutra
Sutra
(§), Saunaka Sutra
Sutra
(¶)

Samaveda Latyayana Sutra
Sutra
(§), Drahyayana Sutra
Sutra
(§), Nidana Sutra
Sutra
(§), Pushpa Sutra
Sutra
(§), Anustotra Sutra
Sutra
(§)[20]

Yajurveda Manava Sutra
Sutra
(§), Bharadvaja Sutra
Sutra
(¶), Vadhuna Sutra
Sutra
(¶), Vaikhanasa Sutra
Sutra
(¶), Laugakshi Sutra
Sutra
(¶), Maitra Sutra
Sutra
(¶), Katha Sutra
Sutra
(¶), Varaha Sutra
Sutra
(¶)

Atharvaveda Kusika Sutra
Sutra
(§)

¶: only quotes survive; §: text survives

Sutras first appear in the Brahmana
Brahmana
and Aranyaka
Aranyaka
layer of Vedic literature.[6] They grow in the Vedangas, such as the Shrauta Sutras and Kalpa Sutras.[2] These were designed so that they can be easily communicated from a teacher to student, memorized by the recipient for discussion or self-study or as reference.[3] A sutra by itself is condensed shorthand, and the threads of syllable are difficult to decipher or understand, without associated scholarly Bhasya or deciphering commentary that fills in the "woof".[21][22] The oldest manuscripts that have survived into the modern era, that contain extensive sutras, are part of the Vedas
Vedas
dated to be from the late 2nd millennium BCE through mid 1st-millennium BCE.[23] The Aitareya Aranyaka
Aranyaka
for example, states Winternitz, is primarily a collection of sutras.[6] Their use and ancient roots are attested by sutras being mentioned in larger genre of ancient non-Vedic Hindu literature called Gatha, Narashansi, Itihasa, and Akhyana (songs, legends, epics, and stories).[24] In the history of Indian literature, large compilations of sutras, in diverse fields of knowledge, have been traced to the period from 600 BCE to 200 BCE (mostly after Buddha and Mahavira), and this has been called the "sutras period".[24][25] This period followed the more ancient Chhandas period, Mantra
Mantra
period and Brahmana
Brahmana
period.[26]

(The ancient) Indian pupil learnt these sutras of grammar, philosophy or theology by the same mechanical method which fixes in our (modern era) minds the alphabet and the multiplication table.

— Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature[7]

Hinduism[edit] Further information: Hindu
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v t e

Some of the earliest surviving specimen of sutras of Hinduism
Hinduism
are found in the Anupada Sutras and Nidana Sutras.[27] The former distills the epistemic debate whether Sruti or Smriti
Smriti
or neither must be considered the more reliable source of knowledge,[28] while the latter distills the rules of musical meters for Samaveda
Samaveda
chants and songs.[29] A larger collection of ancient sutra literature in Hinduism corresponds to the six Vedangas, or six limbs of the Vedas.[5] These are six subjects that were called in the Vedas
Vedas
as necessary for complete mastery of the Vedas. The six subjects with their own sutras were "pronunciation (Shiksha), meter (Chandas), grammar (Vyakarana), explanation of words (Nirukta), time keeping through astronomy (Jyotisha), and ceremonial rituals (Kalpa).[5] The first two, states Max Muller, were considered in the Vedic era to be necessary for reading the Veda, the second two for understanding it, and the last two for deploying the Vedic knowledge at yajnas (fire rituals).[5] The sutras corresponding to these are embedded inside the Brahmana
Brahmana
and Aranyaka
Aranyaka
layers of the Vedas. Taittiriya Aranyaka, for example in Book 7, embeds sutras for accurate pronunciation after the terse phrases "On Letters", "On Accents", "On Quantity", "On Delivery", and "On Euphonic Laws".[30] The fourth and often the last layer of philosophical, speculative text in the Vedas, the Upanishads, too have embedded sutras such as those found in the Taittiriya Upanishad.[30] The compendium of ancient Vedic sutra literature that has survived, in full or fragments, includes the Kalpa Sutras, Smarta Sutras, Srauta Sutras, Dharma
Dharma
Sutras, Grhya Sutras, and Sulba Sutras.[31] Other fields for which ancient sutras are known include etymology, phonetics, and grammar. Post-vedic sutras[edit]

Example of sutras from Vedanta
Vedanta
Sutra

अथातो ब्रह्मजिज्ञासा ॥१.१.१॥ जन्माद्यस्य यतः ॥ १.१.२॥ शास्त्रयोनित्वात् ॥ १.१.३॥ तत्तुसमन्वयात् ॥ १.१.४॥ ईक्षतेर्नाशब्दम् ॥ १.१.५॥

Brahma
Brahma
Sutra
Sutra
1.1.1–1.1.5[32][33]

Some examples of sutra texts in various schools of Hindu
Hindu
philosophy include:

Brahma
Brahma
Sutras (or Vedanta
Vedanta
Sutra) – a Sanskrit
Sanskrit
text, composed by Badarayana, likely sometime between 200 BCE to 200 CE.[34] The text contains 555 sutras in four chapters that summarize the philosophical and spiritual ideas in the Upanishads.[35] It is one of the foundational texts of the Vedānta
Vedānta
school of Hindu
Hindu
philosophy.[35] Yoga
Yoga
Sutras – contains 196 sutras on Yoga
Yoga
including the eight limbs and meditation. The Yoga
Yoga
Sutras were compiled around 400 CE by Patanjali, taking materials about yoga from older traditions.[36] The text has been highly influential on Indian culture and spiritual traditions, and it is among the most translated ancient Indian text in the medieval era, having been translated into about forty Indian languages.[37] Samkhya
Samkhya
Sutra
Sutra
– is a collection of major Sanskrit
Sanskrit
texts of the Samkhya
Samkhya
school of Hindu
Hindu
philosophy, including the sutras on dualism of Kapila.[38] It consists of six books with 526 sutras.

Without explanation: Soul is, for there is no proof that it is not. ( Sutra
Sutra
1, Book 6) This different from body, because heterogeneous. ( Sutra
Sutra
2, Book 6) Also because it is expressed by means of the sixth. ( Sutra
Sutra
3, Book 6)

With Vijnanabhiksu's explanatory bhasya filled in: Soul is, for there is no proof that it is not, since we are aware of "I think", because there is no evidence to defeat this. Therefore all that is to be done is to discriminate it from things in general. ( Sutra
Sutra
1, Book 6) This soul is different from the body because of heterogeneous or complete difference between the two. ( Sutra
Sutra
2, Book 6) Also because it, the Soul, is expressed by means of the sixth case, for the learned express it by the possessive case in such examples as 'this is my body', 'this my understanding'; for the possessive case would be unaccountable if there were absolute non-difference, between the body or the like, and the Soul to which it is thus attributed as a possession. ( Sutra
Sutra
3, Book 6)

Kapila
Kapila
in Samkhya
Samkhya
Sutra, Translated by James Robert Ballantyne[39][40]

Vaisheshika Sutra
Sutra
- is the foundational text of the Vaisheshika school of Hinduism, dated to between 4th-century BCE to 1st-century BCE, authored by Kanada.[41] With 370 sutras, it aphoristically teaches non-theistic naturalism, epistemology, and its metaphysics. The first two sutras of the text expand as, "Now an explanation of Dharma; The means to prosperity and salvation is Dharma."[41][42] Nyaya
Nyaya
Sutras – is an ancient text of Nyaya
Nyaya
school of Hindu philosophy composed by Akṣapada Gautama, sometime between 6th-century BCE to 2nd-century CE.[43][44] It is notable for focusing on knowledge and logic, and making no mention of Vedic rituals.[43] The text includes 528 aphoristic sutras, about rules of reason, logic, epistemology, and metaphysics.[45][46] These sutras are divided into five books, with two chapters in each book.[43] The first book is structured as a general introduction and table of contents of sixteen categories of knowledge.[43] Book two is about pramana (epistemology), book three is about prameya or the objects of knowledge, and the text discusses the nature of knowledge in remaining books.[43]

Reality is truth (prāma, foundation of correct knowledge), and what is true is so, irrespective of whether we know it is, or are aware of that truth.

– Akṣapada Gautama in Nyaya
Nyaya
Sutra, Translated by Jeaneane D Fowler[47]

Mimamsa
Mimamsa
Sutras - is the foundational text of the Mimamsa
Mimamsa
school of Hinduism, authored by Jaimini, and it emphasizes the early part of the Vedas, that is rituals and religious works as means to salvation.[48] The school emphasized precision in the selection of words, construction of sentences, developed rules for hermeneutics of language and any text, adopted and then refined principles of logic from the Nyaya
Nyaya
school, and developed extensive rules for epistemology.[48] An atheistic school that supported external Vedic sacrifices and rituals, its Mimamsa
Mimamsa
Sutra
Sutra
contains twelve chapters with nearly 2700 sutras.[48] Dharma-sutras - of Āpastamba, Gautama, Baudhāyana, and Vāsiṣṭha Artha-sutras - the Niti Sutras of Chanakya
Chanakya
and Somadeva are treatises on governance, law, economics, and politics. Versions of Chanakya
Chanakya
Niti Sutras have been found in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.[49] The more comprehensive work of Chanakya, the Arthashastra
Arthashastra
is itself composed in many parts, in sutra style, with the first Sutra
Sutra
of the ancient book acknowledging that it is a compilation of Artha-knowledge from previous scholars.[50] Kama-sutras Moksha-sutras Shiva-sutras Narada Bhakti
Bhakti
Sutra

Buddhism[edit] Further information: Buddhist texts
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and List of suttas

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Some scholars consider that the Buddhist use of sutra is a faulty Sanskritization of the Prakrit
Prakrit
or Pali
Pali
word sutta and that the latter actually represented Sanskrit
Sanskrit
sūkta, "well spoken, good news".[51] The early Buddhist sutras do not present the aphoristic, nearly cryptic nature of the Hindu
Hindu
sutras even though they also have been designed for mnemonic purposes in an oral tradition. On the contrary, they are most often lengthy, with many repetitions which serve the mnemonic purpose of the audience.[citation needed] They share the character of sermons of "good news" with the Jaina sutras, whose original name of sūya in Ardha Magadhi can derive from Sanskrit sūkta, but hardly from sutra.[citation needed] In Buddhism, sutra or sutta refers mostly to canonical scriptures.[citation needed] In Chinese, these are known as 經 (pinyin: jīng). These teachings are assembled in part of the Tripiṭaka
Tripiṭaka
which is called the Sutta Pitaka. There are many important or influential Mahayana
Mahayana
texts, such as the Platform Sutra
Platform Sutra
and the Lotus Sutra, that are called sutras despite being attributed to much later authors.[citation needed] Jainism[edit]

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Texts

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In the Jain tradition, sutras are an important genre of "fixed text", which used to be memorized.[52] The Kalpa Sūtra
Kalpa Sūtra
is, for example, a Jain text with scripture of monastic rules,[53] as well as the biographies of the Jain Tirthankaras.[54] Many sutras discuss all aspects of ascetic and lay life in Jainism. Various ancient sutras particularly from the early 1st millennium CE, for example, states M. Whitney Kelting, recommend "bhakti as devotionalism is a central part of a Jain practice".[9] The surviving scriptures of Jaina tradition, such as the Acaranga Sutra
Sutra
(Agamas) exist in sutra format,[10] as is the Tattvartha Sutra – a Sanskrit
Sanskrit
text accepted by all four Jainism
Jainism
sects as the most authoritative philosophical text that completely summarizes the foundations of Jainism.[55][56] See also[edit]

Ananda
Ananda
Sutram Sastra Sutra
Sutra
copying Sutram Chinese Buddhist canon Tibetan Buddhist canon Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta List of Majjhima Nikaya suttas

Notes[edit]

^ "sutra". Dictionary.com. Retrieved November 8, 2017.  ^ a b c d e f g h i Monier Williams, Sanskrit
Sanskrit
English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Entry for sutra, page 1241 ^ a b c d e f g h i M Winternitz (2010 Reprint), A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0264-3, pages 249 ^ a b Gavin Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-43878-0, pages 54–55 ^ a b c d Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 108–113 ^ a b c M Winternitz (2010 Reprint), A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0264-3, pages 251–253 ^ a b Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, page 74 ^ White, David Gordon (2014). The Yoga
Yoga
Sutra
Sutra
of Patanjali: A Biography. Princeton University Press. pp. 194–195. ISBN 978-0-691-14377-4.  ^ a b M. Whitney Kelting (2001). Singing to the Jinas: Jain Laywomen, Mandal Singing, and the Negotiations of Jain Devotion. Oxford University Press. pp. 111–112. ISBN 978-0-19-803211-3.  ^ a b Padmanabh S. Jaini (1991). Gender and Salvation: Jaina Debates on the Spiritual Liberation of Women. University of California Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-520-06820-9.  ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 150–152 ^ MacGregor, Geddes (1989). Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy (1st ed.). New York: Paragon House. ISBN 1-55778-019-6.  ^ suci Sanskrit
Sanskrit
English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany ^ a b Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, page 110–111 ^ Irving L. Finkel (2007). Ancient Board Games in Perspective: Papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium, with Additional Contributions. British Museum Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-7141-1153-7.  ^ Kale Pramod (1974). The Theatric Universe: (a Study of the Natyasastra). Popular. p. 8. ISBN 978-81-7154-118-8.  ^ Lewis Rowell (2015). Music and Musical Thought in Early India. University of Chicago Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-226-73034-9.  ^ व्याख्या, Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, page 199 ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, page 210 ^ Paul Deussen, The System of the Vedanta: According to Badarayana's Brahma
Brahma
Sutras and Shankara's Commentary thereon, Translator: Charles Johnston, ISBN 978-1-5191-1778-6, page 26 ^ Tubb, Gary A.; Emery B. Boose. "Scholastic Sanskrit, A Manual for Students". Indo-Iranian Journal. 51: 45–46. doi:10.1007/s10783-008-9085-y. Retrieved 2013-03-16.  ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 314–319 ^ a b Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 40–45, 71–77 ^ Arvind Sharma (2000), Classical Hindu
Hindu
Thought: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-564441-8, page 206 ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, page 70 ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, page 108 ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 101–108 ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 147 ^ a b Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 113–115 ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 108–145 ^ Radhakrishna, Sarvepalli (1960). Brahma
Brahma
Sutra, The Philosophy of Spiritual Life. pp. 227–232.  George Adams (1993), The Structure and Meaning of Bādarāyaṇa's Brahma
Brahma
Sūtras, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0931-4, page 38 ^ Original Sanskrit: Brahma
Brahma
sutra Bhasya Adi Shankara, Archive 2 ^ NV Isaeva (1992), Shankara and Indian Philosophy, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-1281-7, page 35 with footnote 30 ^ a b James Lochtefeld, Brahman, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8, page 124 ^ Wujastyk, Dominik (2011), The Path to Liberation through Yogic Mindfulness in Early Ayurveda. In: David Gordon White (ed.), " Yoga
Yoga
in practice", Princeton University Press, p. 33  ^ White, David Gordon (2014). The Yoga
Yoga
Sutra
Sutra
of Patanjali: A Biography. Princeton University Press. p. xvi. ISBN 978-0-691-14377-4.  ^ Samkhya
Samkhya
Pravachana Sutra
Sutra
NL Sinha, The Samkhya
Samkhya
Philosophy, page i ^ Kapila
Kapila
(James Robert Ballantyne, Translator, 1865), The Sāmkhya aphorisms of Kapila
Kapila
at Google Books, pages 156–157 ^ Max Muller
Max Muller
et al. (1999 Reprint), Studies in Buddhism, Asian Educational Services, ISBN 81-206-1226-4, page 10 with footnote ^ a b Klaus K. Klostermaier (2010), A Survey of Hinduism, Third Edition, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-7082-4, pages 334–335 ^ Jeaneane Fowler (2002), Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1-898723-94-3, pages 98–107 ^ a b c d e Jeaneane Fowler (2002), Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1-898723-94-3, page 129 ^ B. K. Matilal "Perception. An Essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge" (Oxford University Press, 1986), p. xiv. ^ Ganganatha Jha (1999 Reprint), Nyaya
Nyaya
Sutras of Gautama (4 vols.), Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-1264-2 ^ SC Vidyabhushan and NL Sinha (1990), The Nyâya Sûtras of Gotama, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0748-8 ^ Jeaneane Fowler (2002), Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1-898723-94-3, page 130 ^ a b c Jeaneane Fowler (2002), Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1-898723-94-3, pages 67–86 ^ SC Banerji (1989), A Companion to Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Literature, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0063-2, pages 586–587 ^ Thomas Trautman (2012), Arthashastra: The Science of Wealth, Penguin, ISBN 978-0-670-08527-9, pages 16–17, 61, 64, 75 ^ K. R. Norman: A philological approach to Buddhism: the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai Lectures 1994. (Buddhist Forum, Vol. v.) xx, 193 pp. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 1997. p. 104 ^ M. Whitney Kelting (2001). Singing to the Jinas: Jain Laywomen, Mandal Singing, and the Negotiations of Jain Devotion. Oxford University Press. pp. 84–85. ISBN 978-0-19-803211-3.  ^ John Cort (2010). Framing the Jina: Narratives of Icons and Idols in Jain History. Oxford University Press. pp. 138–139. ISBN 978-0-19-973957-8.  ^ Jacobi, Hermann (1884). Max Müller, ed. Kalpa Sutra, Jain Sutras Part I. Oxford University Press.  ^ K. V. Mardia (1990). The Scientific Foundations of Jainism. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 103. ISBN 978-81-208-0658-0. Quote: Thus, there is a vast literature available but it seems that Tattvartha Sutra
Sutra
of Umasvati can be regarded as the main philosophical text of the religion and is recognized as authoritative by all Jains."  ^ Jaini, Padmanabh S. (1998). The Jaina path of purification. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 82. ISBN 81-208-1578-5. 

References[edit]

Arthur Anthony Macdonell
Arthur Anthony Macdonell
(1900). "The sūtras". A History of Sanskrit Literature. New York: D. Appleton and company.  Monier-Williams, Monier. (1899) A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Delhi:Motilal Banarsidass. p. 1241 Tubb, Gary A.; Boose, Emery R. (2007). Scholastic Sanskrit: A Handbook for Students. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-9753734-7-7. 

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