Sanskrit is one of the classical languages of South Asia, and the oldest well-preserved language in the Indo-European family. It is the major language in which the sacred texts of Hinduism have been written, as well as some of Buddhism and Jainism, and the lingua franca of premodern South Asia for disciplines such as linguistics, medicine, philosophy, ritual, etc. Through four millennia, it has had incredible literary productivity: knowing Sanskrit is the key to understanding premodern South Asia.

Yale is the first university in the US to have introduced the study of Sanskrit, in the middle of the nineteenth century, and historically it has been a major place of Sanskrit education and scholarship. At present Sanskrit continues to be taught at all levels, from Introductory to Advanced, and across genres and disciplines.