Sanskrit Lookup?

Hi friends,

I hope you’re doing well.

I’ve noticed that on the new SC there are Pali and Chinese word lookups, but not a Sanskrit one, and I’m wondering what the likelihood is of implementing a Sanskrit lookup?

I’m asking mostly for funsies, but also because I’m about to start a graduate course where I’ll be diving head first into Sanskrit grammar and a lookup function would be SO NICE.

Thanks team, I hope you have a lovely weekend! :hugs:


If that helps at all.


A Sanskrit lookup would be awesomesauce. But it is hard!

Sanskrit itself is phonetically more complex than Pali, so the initial scope is intrinsically bigger. At the same time, the Buddhist Sanskrit texts are much more diverse linguistically than the Pali. They range from fairly close to classical Sanskrit to various degrees of Prakrit hybrids. Furthermore, the texts are not necessarily from a clean and highly edited source like the modern Pali texts. In a text like the Lokuttaravada Bhikkhuni Vinaya, for example, it is not at all uncommon to find the same word spelled differently in the same paragraph, let alone in different contexts. Finally, the number of texts is much smaller than Pali. Not to mention, of course, that our team knows Pali much better than Sanskrit.

Having said all that, if someone implements a good Sanskrit looker-upper in javascript, great, we can have a look and maybe adopt it. The same goes for Tibetan, as well. So if you encounter something in your travels, do let us know.

May I ask what your study involves? Where are you gonna be?


Hi Bhante, thanks for responding! I definitely understand that it’s not so straightforward, and I’ll keep an eye out to see if anyone has built a nice Sanskrit looker-upper.

I’ll be at the University of Oxford doing an MPhil in Buddhist Studies. I’m looking to focus on Vinaya/gender studies, particularly to do more research on whether transgender individuals can ordain in the Sangha, since there really hasn’t been any formal research done on the subject.

But my degree itself is really an overview of Buddhism/Buddhist studies with a focus on language.


It’s a bit disappointing really, there has, for many decades now, been quite a lot of work put into computing with Sanskrit, but little that is really useful is out there. The dictionaries are good these days, but still using old-school interfaces.

Cool. So who’s teaching there? BTW, if you meet Prof Gombrich or Ven Dhammasami, please give them my respects.

Fantastic, this is much needed. Keep us informed!

Okay, good. We should have a nice Pali learning widget ready to use some time. Stay tuned!


Wasn’t that transgender thing, quite an “Enlightenment” 18th century’s fad; resurging as last desperate call from outmoded philosophy ? . Wasn’t Adam Weishaupt unusually excited about this concept?

Did Lord Buddha ever adressed this rinky-dink personal subject ?

This part(s) should remain private.
Thinking below waist is no good in Buddhism.

I don’t know much about Javascript, but would it be an immense task to convert an old-school interface to Javascript?

The head of my course is (I believe) Stefano Zacchetti, but I’m also pretty excited to meet Polly O’Hanlon as well - who does some awesome work on India and gender studies.

I will definitely do! I’m stoked to meet Professor Gombrich.

:pray: Definitely!

Awesome! My focus will be in Sanskrit since they don’t offer Pali as a main language, but I hope to do a bit of Pali on the side as well.


You all probably know about this one already but it is my favourite. Digital Corpus of Sanskrit (DCS) - Online Sanskrit dictionary and annotated corpus . It will give you the incidences of a word for a particular corpus, for a wide range of texts, including the medical and legal ones. :smiley:


This is hilarious, I just started my course and came here to ask the EXACT SAME QUESTION bahahaha! So thanks!

Is there a Sanskrit to Pali dictionary out there at all anyone? (edit: or somewhere a resource that gives a rough guide of the relationship between Pali and Sanskrit - I know that they may not necessarily be able to be matched, but still?)


:joy: You’re welcome!

I’ve just contacted the Digital South Asia Library at the University of Chicago to see if they’ll let me borrow their source code for one of their Sanskrit → English dictionaries. So fingers crossed :crossed_fingers:!


This is an actual series of photographs of the last programmer who attempted to do this:



Lol :joy:! Well maybe if I learn enough javascript I’ll give it a shot at some point…so long as I don’t turn into a demon/Mara :japanese_ogre:.


Actually, it may not be as bad as that. There are three basic components:

  1. The UI. But we have our own UI, so this doesn’t matter.
  2. The text processing. Anything for stemming or recognizing Sanskrit forms. We can fake it with our Pali tools, but anything specialized is better.
  3. The dictionary data. Dictionary data is usually quite structured, so it should be possible to adapt any relatively sane dataset without too much problem.

There are a bunch of nicely formatted dictionaries, etc. available here, although I don’t think any of them are immediately relevant:

For what we want, the dictionaries at are probably the best. I can’t see any source files for these, but we can always ask nicely!


Neat! Thank you so much, Bhante! I’ll send an email to the Gandhari team as well. :pray:

1 Like

Here is the Gandhari team’s very lovely response:

Dear Brenna,

thank you very much for using our website!

As for our Dictionary, it is still work in progress and
changes every day. For the time being, we therefore
prefer to make it available through our website only.
Once it reaches completion and is formally published, we
do intend to make the dataset publically available. This
will probably be a few years from now.

You will be happy to hear, however, that the
functionality you describe – clicking on a word and
getting a popup with a translation – is something that we
have been planning to offer for a very long time on, and that we are very close to switching
that on. That (as well as greater image coverage) should
make the Gāndhārī corpus that we have assembled a whole
lot more accessible to beginning students as well as
scholars in this and neighboring fields.

All best wishes,
Stefan Baums & Andrew Glass


Update: the Gandhari team has provided the following link to Sanskrit-English dictionaries that are readily available to download on the internet: They also have a Github page.

Do we think these source files could be useful is establishing a lookup?


Yes, they would! The one we want is this:

It is an XML markup on the Monier-Wiliams dictionary, which despite its age is still a standard. The more recent dictionaries don’t seem to be freely available. Anyway, MW is good.

The XML markup is complex and needs to be studied carefully and adapted to the SC style. This should not be hugely difficult, but will take a bit of work. Once done, we can try it out and see.


Yay! :tada: Please let me know if I can help with anything.

1 Like