Department of Sanskrit and Lexicography

An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Sanskrit on Historical Principles

The project for the compilation of An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Sanskrit on Historical Principles was conceived and planned by Professor S. M. Katre, former Professor of Indo-European Philology and Director of the Institute in 1948. The well-established Sanskrit Dictionary Project now forms a part of the Department of Sanskrit and Lexicography. The late Professor A.L. Basham has stated in his book ‘The Wonder That Was India’ that the ‘Dictionary, when completed, will be the greatest work of Sanskrit Lexicography the world has ever seen’. It is one of the few Historical Dictionaries of the world and the only one for the ancient and rich language of Sanskrit.

Salient features of the Encyclopaedic Dictionary

The Encyclopaedia traces the linguistic development of Sanskrit words from the ancient text of Ṛgveda to the latest work of Hāsyārṇava (1850 A.D). It provides the detailed linguistic changes that have occurred in various words and their derivations. Also, the Deccan College Encyclopaedia traces the semantic development of various words. It provides the entire range of meanings prevalent in the Vedas and other texts. The meanings are logically analyzed and various nuances and shades are interlinked.

Expanse of the Dictionary

The corpus of the Dictionary expands to 62 branches of ancient knowledge. These can be broadly classified as :

  • Major disciplines such as Veda, Darśana, Epics, Dharmaśāstra etc.
  • Other branches such as Vedāṅga, Vyākaraṇa, Tantras,ancient Lexicons etc.
  • Literature, Poetics, Dramaturgy, Prosody, Anthologies etc.
  • Scientific subjects such as Mathematics, Architecture, Alchemy,Agriculture, Medicine, Veterinary Sciences etc.
  • As well as other branches such as Music, In-door Games,Inscriptions, Warfare, Arthaśāstra etc.

Dictionary is based on primary Corpus of around 1500 Sanskrit treatises covering the range of time span right from the Vedas (1400 B.C.) up to Hāsyarṇava of 1850 A.D.

Secondary sources such as other Subject-specific dictionaries, word indices, concordances etc. are also consulted for updating the data.


The Encyclopaedia is based on the Historical Principles. It arranges the words and their meanings strictly following the chronological order of their references. It records all the available vocables in the language from all its periods beginning with the Ṛgveda to the end of the 19th century.

  • Assigning context-based meanings considering different editions, commentaries and translations.
  • Logical analysis of meanings justified with illustrative citations for every minute meaning-shade from reference books.
  • Interlinking of various shades and minute nuances.
  • Furnishing entirely the related data of every Sanskrit word with all its meanings and occurrences.
  • Provides the Lemmata (Entry-word) and its transliteration as well as information regarding part of speech, accent, etymology and derivation.
  • Illustrative citations to reveal and corroborate the range of denotations.


Different meanings are arranged historically and under each meaning the citations are arranged chronologically to clarify the meaning, along with an indication of the discipline from which they are taken and a precise mode of reference. Chronological arrangement of meanings with earliest occurrence of the word given first in the series of citations arranged historically.

Encyclopaedic Nature

The Encyclopaedia provides information regarding the exact form of the vocables as a guide; the part of the speech of the word to which it belongs; accent; etymology of the word, origin, derivation and the development in Indo-Aryan; it records important and irregular forms; it gives traditional information regarding the vocable from Sanskrit itself; summary of meanings; analysis of meaning; peculiarities of usage and idiomatic expressions.

Also the encyclopaedia provides information regarding culture, history, archaeology, mythology, geography, indication of compound formations. Also it enters the vocables following the concepts of homonymy, synonymy, polysemy and hyponymy among words.


The Scriptorium, which houses the ten million slips, is the heart of the Sanskrit Dictionary. The Dictionary is based on an entirely new reading of the original texts and a fresh extraction of the material from 1500 books covering the entire gamut of Sanskrit Literature. Many eminent scholars and traditional Pandits during 1948 to 1973 contributed to the preparation of the Scriptorium which houses over one crore slips. Ten million vocables from the corpus are recorded in these slips. Each slip records the exact vocable, grammatical category, citation to attest the vocable, Śāstrī gloss or commentary if any, abbreviation of the book, exact reference or page-line, date of the text and names of persons who have compiled and checked the slips.


From 1973 editing of the Encyclopaedic Dictionary began and in 1976 the first Part of the Dictionary was published. Thirty-five volumes have been published till date consisting of 6056 pages, dictionary entries from a (अ) to abhigamyamānaparadārādi (अभिगम्यमानपरदारादि).


  • It is an extremely important and the only tool for tracing the development of Sanskrit language through ages which makes it Encyclopaedic in nature.
  • Vital resource for Qualitative and Quantitative Research in the field of Sanskrit, Indology and Oriental Studies. It assists the needs of Higher Research.
  • Since it covers the entire gamut of Sanskrit literature spread across 62 disciplines, it is an encyclopaedia for all these disciplines too.
  • It is the only tool for establishing inter-relation between these various disciplines with respect to word and concepts and their development.
  •  The magnitude of data makes it an important tool for various fields such as history, culture, linguistics, philology, computational linguistics, patents etc.

An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Sanskrit on Historical Principles is one of those few historical dictionaries of the world that is capable of bringing out the Indian Intellectual heritage and culture to the whole world in the most academic and reliable manner.

List of General Editors

Name Period
Prof. S.M. Katre 1948-1972
Prof. A.M. Ghatage 1972-1983
Prof. K.P. Jog 1983-1987
Prof. S.D. Joshi 1987-1993
Prof.(Mrs.) V.S. Gandhe 1993-1994
Prof. H.G. Ranade 1995-1997
Prof. V.P. Bhatta 1997-2010
Prof.(Mrs.) J.D. Sathe 2010-2017
Dr. Prasad Joshi 2017 onwards