While working for the East India Company in Bengal, Charles Wilkins (1749–
1836) became one of first Europeans to master the Sanskrit language. He
proceeded to set up a printing press in Calcutta to publish works in Sanskrit and
other Indian languages. Wilkins also undertook further related projects, including
this work, published in London in 1808, which was part of his larger scheme to
write a dictionary of the language and to translate a great epic poem, the
Mahabharata. The grammar was the only part of the project that was completed.
He never finished the dictionary, and only translated about one-third of the
poem, though the part he worked on, the Bhagavad-Gita, became famous. The
grammar attempts a comprehensive explanation of the language, ranging from
the Devanagari alphabet to indeclinable words, and it was a vital resource in
making Indian languages accessible to an English-speaking public.