This programme consists of the following courses: Features of Vedic Poetry (slot 1), The syntax of Vedic Prose (slot 2), Readings in Early Śaiva Literature: manuscripts and editions (slot 3), and How to slay a monkey king in Sanskrit theatre: Readings from Bhāsa’s Abhiṣekanāṭaka (slot 4).
- Slot 1: Features of Vedic Poetry (9.30 - 11.00)
- Slot 2: The Syntax of Vedic Prose (11.30 - 13.00)
- Slot 3: Readings in Early Śaiva Literature: manuscripts and editions (14.00 - 15.30)
- Slot 4: How to slay a monkey king in Sanskrit theatre: Readings from Bhāsa’s Abhiṣekanāṭaka (16.00 - 17.30)
Werner Knobl (Kyoto)
The Ṛgveda, which in 10 Song-Cycles contains more than 1000 hymns of over 10000 stanzas, was compiled some time before 1000 B.C. It is the oldest and richest poetical text-corpus of this size in any Indo-European language.
In our Vedic Poetry course, we will read — “as slowly as possible”; non multa, sed multum — a few particularly interesting and thought-provoking hymns of the Ṛgveda. To be sure, the interpretation of this highly complicated text depends on a thorough knowledge of Vedic grammar and syntax, on an intimate acquaintance with prosodic patterns both regular (e.g., verses of eight, eleven, or twelve syllables to the line) and exceptional (e.g., catalectic or hypermetrical verses). Also, the linguistic background of Vedic (i.e., Indo-Iranian and Indo-European) must be taken into account, and therefore comparative evidence will play an important role in our classes.
In addition to all this, the creative side of language will be highlighted, with greater emphasis than is usual in a course of this character. Examples of rather tricky poetic and rhetorical techniques, ranging from anacoluthon to zeugma (but also other, less well-known literary devices, such as “word haplology”, portmanteau formation, or “mid-word caesura”), will be discussed. All these tricks and artifices — which were employed by the word-artist, and can be enjoyed by us, in a quite natural way, even without any knowledge of the traditional terminology — testify to the often eccentric inventiveness of the Vedic poet, and, at the same time, may make him attractive to us.
A fairly good knowledge of Sanskrit Grammar and Literature is required in order to follow the classes with profit. Some familiarity with the Vedic language, not necessarily of the Ṛgveda, would certainly increase the students' understanding of the selected texts, and enhance the sensual as well as intellectual enjoyment of a particularly enjoyable kind of poetry.
Literature to read in advance
Participants who wish to prepare for this course may consult two easily accessible works by Arthur A. Macdonell:A Vedic Grammar for Students (Oxford, 1916; repr. Delhi, 1987, etc.) and A Vedic Reader for Students (Oxford, 1917; repr. Delhi, 1981, etc.). Those who have questions concerning the course may write to me at the following address:.
Werner Knobl (Kyoto)
The texts we are going to read in this course cover half a millennium of Vedic Prose. They will be chosen from Saṃhitās (Paippalāda-, Maitrāyaṇī-, Kaṭha-, Taittirīya-S.), Brāhmaṇas, Āraṇyakas, and Upaniṣads not only for their narrative or discursive interest, but also, and more especially, as examples of Vedic Syntax. Rules concerning word order in verbal and nominal sentences; the suppletive relation between certain defective verbs in the total verbal paradigm; the specific function of tenses and moods in various literary genres and periods of time; particularities of direct speech; the position of particles, pronouns, and vocatives; the ordinary ranking among these; the importance of sentence particles (hí, vái, etc.) in opposition to word particles (iva, evá, etc.); the distinctive deictic character of demonstrative pronouns; the unique multi-functionality of etád; the difference between adjectival and substantival use of the a-pronoun; and many other syntactical topics.
Participants are expected to have a good knowledge of Classical and, preferably, Vedic Sanskrit. I am confident, however, that even those who have studied Sanskrit for only two or three years may profit from this course; because my explanations will be very detailed (and, if necessary, repetitive). Students should feel free to contact me any time before the beginning of the course, and to make suggestions as to which text or topic they would like me to treat with preference. Here is my private e-mail address:.
Literature to read in advance
In preparation for this course, those who are familiar with German may want to have a look at Berthold Delbrück's Altindische Syntax (Halle an der Saale, 1888; repr. Darmstadt, 1968 and 1976) or at J. S. Speyer's Vedische und Sanskrit-Syntax (Strassburg, 1896; repr. Graz, 1974). Those who are not conversant with German could consult Chapter VII “Outlines of Syntax” in A. A. Macdonell's Vedic Grammar for Students (Oxford, 1916 etc.), pp. 283—368, instead.
Peter Bisschop (Leiden)
This course provides hands-on experience in working with Sanskrit manuscripts and reading and preparing a critical edition. We will read and discuss selected portions of two early Śaiva texts. As in previous years, my own draft editions of these texts will form the starting point of the readings, but the course also explicitly encourages students to work actively with the manuscripts themselves (all of which are in North-Indian scripts, ranging from the ninth to the early twentieth century). We will read capita selecta from two of the following three texts:
1. The Pañcārthabhāṣya, the commentary on the Pāśupatasūtra by Kauṇḍinya
2. The Śivadharmaśāstra, an early anonymous text of lay Śaivism
3. The Skandapurāṇa, the original work of this title
One of the main aims of this course is to introduce and illustrate issues of textual criticism in Sanskrit literature. To this end, we will pay specific attention to reading manuscripts, setting up a critical apparatus, reporting variant readings and making editorial decisions, and consider the methods and aims of a critical edition. We will also discuss cultural aspects of the texts, in particular those that are relevant to the history of early Śaivism.
The course requires a working knowledge of classical Sanskrit. The course can be attended by students who have attended my course in previous years and those who have not yet attended my course. The selected portions have not been read in previous years. Draft editions and images of the manuscripts used will be distributed among all participants.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the course: email@example.com.
Slot 4: How to slay a monkey king in Sanskrit theatre: Readings from Bhāsa’s Abhiṣekanāṭaka (16.00 - 17.30)
Daniele Cuneo (Leiden)
The course will focus on reading, translating and discussing the Abhiṣekanāṭaka, one of the thirteen dramas attributed to Bhāsa. Besides being among the earliest extant Sanskrit dramas, it is part of the contemporary repertoire of Kūṭiyāṭṭam, a form of Keralese theatre deeply rooted into the classical Sanskrit dramatic tradition. The story of the play is culled from Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa, but readapted to the needs of the dramatic art and the choices of the playwright. The reading will focus on the first act, the Vālivadha, “a little tragedy by itself”, as Winternitz called it. It narrates the seemingly righteous killing of the monkey king Vālin on the part of the heroic Rāma, as a means to secure the help of Hanumān and the monkey army in finding and rescuing Sītā, abducted by the demon king Rāvaṇa. The classes will concentrate on the comprehension and translation of both Sanskrit and Prakrit passages of the play, but we will also analyse the dramatic art of Bhāsa —interpreted in the light of the axioms of the Nāṭyaśāstra and the later works on dramaturgy— as well as try and disentangle the moral dilemma implicit in Rāma’s ambushing the monkey king as he was dueling with his own brother Sugrīva. Moreover, passages from the Rāmāyaṇa will be compared with the text of the play to highlight some instances of innovativeness and traditionality in the poet’s dramatic choices. The course will ideally culminate with the performance of the play’s first act on the part of the students, who will therefore get not only direct practice in reading a classical Sanskrit drama, but also hands-on experience in enacting it in front of a sympathetic audience. The course will make full use of the materials and insights provided by the Bhāsa Project, University of Würzburg ().
The course requires a working knowledge of classical Sanskrit. No previous knowledge of Prakrit is required. The selected texts will be distributed at the beginning of the course.
Please free to contact me if you have any question about the course: .