The efforts of such pioneers as Sir William Jones (1746-94), H.T. Colebrooke (1765-1837), Alexander Hamilton (1765-1824) and the publication of Friedrich Schlegel's on the Language and Wisdom of Indians (1808) aroused much enthusiasm in England for the Study of Sanskrit language and its literature. This zeal soon declined due to the problems and perplexities experienced by students of English trying to Learn Sanskrit. It is with the publication (1878) of Monier-Williams' A Practical Grammar of the Sanskrit Language, arranged with reference to the Classical languages of Europe, that the study of Sanskrit was commenced in earnest.
Monier-Williams' grammar belongs to the category known as the Grammar of form, which deals with the system of inflexions and syntactical usages, characteristics of a language. It recognizes the difficulties of the English learner accustomed to the Roman script. A whole chapter-the first-dealing with the Devanagari script with its pronunciation, classification, interchange of Sanskrit, Greek and Latin letters and method of Writing takes full care of this problem. Then begins the adventurous journey through the Labyrinth of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections. It is rounded-off with exercises in translation, parsing and a scheme of the more common Sanskrit metres. The Student is so carefully conducted through all the intricate mazes of Sanskrit grammar, that at the end of the journey, he scarcely notices the peculiarities of Sanskrit - that it has three numbers for its nouns, pronouns and verbs; that its nouns have genders assigned to them by prescription and usage which cannot be altered; that one can speak of his spouse as DARA: (masculine), BHARYA (feminine) and KALATRAM (neuter); that its verbs follow one of two Patterns (PADA) and are formed into ten Groups (GANA). He is fully equipped for his voyage across the Ocean of classical Sanskrit.
This book provides the open-sesame for all those who seek the treasures of knowledge, wisdom and beauty lying hidden in the Sanskrit classics. None can afford to neglect this; for here Monier-Williams is at his best.