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The history of the Department of Sanskrit, DU begins with the history of the University itself. The Department came into existence in 1922 when the University had come into existence. During the first two years of its commencement, the Department ran without postgraduate students. It was only in 1924 that the Department had one student in its M.A. program. Following the practice of the time Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Lakshidhar Kalla, the senior most of the teachers among the constituent colleges of the University occupied the position of Teacher-in-charge of the Department. As the Department had no faculty members of its own officially recognized some of the senior teachers from the colleges as Readers.

Pandit Lakshmi Dhar Shastri Kalla, the first in-charge of the Department belonged to St. Stephen's College. Those days the Postgraduate classes of the subject of Sanskrit were held at St. Stephen's College. Pandit Kalla pioneered the research programs in the Department of Sanskrit. He had come to the department with an illustrious background to his credit. After completing an archeological apprenticeship under Sir John Marshal, he had joined St. Stephen’s College as a lecturer in October 1916. He was an elected member of the Royal Asiatic Society. Apart from being well-versed in several Indian languages, he had the knowledge of Persian, Arabic, Greek, Latin, German, French, Russian and English. His books ‘The Birthplace of Kalidasa’ and ‘The Homeland of Aryans’ got high accreditations from the scholars across the globe. It goes without saying that his contributions in building the Department are unparalleled.

Dr. N.N.Choudhuri of Ramjas College took over as Head of the Department in the year 1949. A full-fledged University Department saw its inception only in the year 1953 when a post of Reader in Sanskrit was created and filled up. Dr. N. N. Choudhuri of Ramjas College, who was already working as the Head of the Department, was appointed in the said position of Reader and was asked to take over as the first regular Head. In 1955 a position of Professor was created. Dr. N. N. Choudhuri was appointed as the first Professor. For a long time the principal focus of the Department was to provide instructions to Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses. Research occupied prime attention only few years later. Dr. Ram Gopal was the first Ph.D. student of the Department in the academic year 1953-54. Even in the late fifties, there used to be only five or six students in its M.A. program and one or two students in Ph.D. program. This situation continued for a number of years. It was only during the early sixties that a marked improvement in the numbers of students was seen. From being a small Department it has now grown to be one of the biggest Departments in the University with more than four hundred postgraduate students, more than one hundred fifty research scholars and more than one hundred fifty teachers in colleges and the University Department.

The Department of Sanskrit enjoys the pride of having some of the stalwarts in the subject as its faculties in the past. Prof. R V Joshi, an internationally acclaimed Sanskritist introduced the modern European research methods to the Department. He is the recipient of Sahitya Academy award and ‘Pravasi Bhartiya Sammana’. The special feature of the creative strength of Prof. Joshi has been his ability to author in Hindi, Sanskrit, French, Spanish and Latin with equal ease. He has the credits of publishing books and articles in all these languages. He has published the books from USA, Europe and India. He has composed fifteen Kāvyas and Mahākāvyas in Sanskrit and has edited and translated several books with detailed introductions and critical notes. Dr. Joshi has published more than thirty eight books and hundreds of scholarly articles in national and international journals. Some of his major works are ‘Satyam’ - The Eternal  Truth, Radhāpanchashati, Upasanacintamani (A book in eight volumes consisting of 400 pages), Swarnamala - An Encyclopedia in four volumes,  Bhaktimimansa in four volumes, Shivalinga Rahasya, an epic Ramapratapacaritam in two volumes, Yogsutra Patanjali (in Spanish), Laxmi-nrsimha-sahasra-nama-stotras, Vide di un Saggio Parma, Italia etc. Prof. Satyavrat Shastri, former Professor and Head of the Department is another highly acclaimed Sanskrit scholar, writer, grammarian and poet. He has written three Mahakavyas, three Khandakavyas, one Prabandhakavya, one Patrakavya and five works in critical writings in Sanskrit.

During his career he has won many national and international awards including the Sahitya Akademi Award for Sanskrit. Sahitya Academy conferred on him an award in the year 1968 for his poetry work, Srigurugovindasiṁhacharitam. He became the first recipient of the Jñanpith Award in Sanskrit language. He also served as Vice-Chancellor of Shri jagannath Sanskrit University, Puri, Odisha.

Dr. S S Rana, Former Reader of the Department served as Dean of the Colleges, University of Delhi for more than 12 years. He also served as Principal of Shivaji College, University of Delhi. Prof. Vachaspati Upadhaya, the former Professor and Head of the Department served as Vice-Chancellor of Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi for a longest period of time (1994 to 2011). Prof. Satyapal Narang, Former Professor and Head of the Department served as Director, Institute Francaisede Indologies, Pondicherry. Former Professor and Head of the Department Dipti Sharma Tripathi served as Director of National manuscript Mission, Government of India for two consecutive terms -2010-2014. Dr. Shashi Prabha Kumar, former Professor of the Department served as Founder Vice-Chancellor, Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies, Sanchi, MP. She also served as Chairperson, School of Sanskrit and Indic Studies, JNU, New Delhi.