Indological programme

This programme consists of four courses: Vedic poetry (Knobl), Vedic prose (Knobl), Learning Tamil Through Sanskrit: An Introduction to Late Tamil Manipravalam (Ciotti), Sanskrit Drama Hitting Below the Belt: Readings from Bhāsa’s Ūrubhaṅga (Cuneo).

Time slot 1: Features of Vedic poetry (9.30-11.00)

Werner Knobl (Kyoto)

Course description
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.

Level 
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: wernerknobl@hotmail.com.

Time slot 2: The syntax of Vedic prose (11.30-13.00)

Werner Knobl (Kyoto)

Course description
The texts we are going to read in this course cover half a millennium of Vedic Prose. They will be chosen from Sahitās (Paippalāda-, Maitrāyaṇī-, Kaha-, 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 (vái, etc.) in opposition to word particles (ivaevá, 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.  

Level
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: wernerknobl@hotmail.com.

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.

Time slot 3: Learning Tamil Through Sanskrit: An Introduction to Late Tamil Manipravalam (14.00-15.30)

Giovanni Ciotti (Hamburg)

Course outline

The course intends to provide Sanskritists with a “soft entry” into Tamil grammar through the reading of 19th century Tamil Manipravalam texts. Tamil Manipravalam (literally “gems and corals”) is a mixed language, or a register of Tamil, that, on the one hand, combines Sanskrit nominal and verbal roots with Tamil morphology, and, on the other hand, presents Tamil words in both their formal and colloquial forms.
During the first week, the course will introduce the Dravidian language family, and address in detail the core features of Tamil grammar (phonology, morphology, and syntax) and its diglossic character. Furthermore, students will be introduced to the various literary traditions of South India that have employed forms of Manipravalam. In each class time will be allotted to the study of two scripts, namely Tamilian Grantha, used to write Sanskrit in South-East India, and Tamil, used to write Tamil language. This will allow students to read texts directly from manuscripts.
During the second week, the focus will be on reading from a selection of 19th century texts: 1. the initial section of the Viṣṇupurāṇavacaṉam (a Manipravalam adaptation of the Viṣṇupurāṇa) with an eye to its linguistic variations across manuscripts, and 2. the commentary of the invocation verse of the Nāmaliṅgānuśāsana (aka Amarakośa) as found in manuscript RE22704 of the Institut Français de Pondichéry. The latter will also give students the chance to make a first encounter with elements of Telugu (sporadically used in the commentary to paraphrase Tamil), thus rounding off the picture of the complex multilingual background in which late Tamil Manipravalam was used.

Level
The course requires a working knowledge of classical Sanskrit. No previous knowledge of Tamil is required. The selected texts will be distributed at the beginning of the course.

Contact
Please feel free to contact me if you have any question about the course: giovanni.ciotti@uni-hamburg.de.

Time slot 4: Sanskrit Drama Hitting Below the Belt: Readings from Bhāsa’s Ūrubhaṅga (16.00-17.30)

Daniele Cuneo (Leiden)

Course outline
The course will focus on reading, translating and discussing the Ūrubhaṅga, one of the thirteen dramas attributed to Bhāsa. Most probably among the earliest extant Sanskrit dramas, this extraordinary play represents one of the few ‘tragic’ pieces in the whole history of the Sanskrit dramaturgical tradition. Although it is not enacted any more in present-day India, the play was also part of the medieval repertoire of Kūṭiyāṭṭam, a form of Keralese theatre deeply rooted into the classical Sanskrit dramatic tradition. The story of this one-act drama is culled from the Mahābhārata epic, but readapted to the needs of the stage by the very original choices of the playwright. It narrates how the seemingly heroic Bhīma, the middle brother among the Pāṇḍavas, slew the Kaurava leader, Duryodhana, by unlawfully smashing his thighs. The classes will concentrate on the comprehension and translation of the Sanskrit original and its few Prakrit passages, but we will also analyse the dramatic art of Bhāsa —interpreted in the light of, and in contrast with, the axioms of the Nāṭyaśāstra and the later works on dramaturgy— as well as try and disentangle the moral dilemma implicit in Bhīma’s act of literally ‘hitting below the belt’. Moreover, passages from the Mahābhārata will be compared with the text of the play to highlight numerous instances of innovativeness and traditionality in the poet’s dramatic choices. The course will ideally culminate with the performance of an adapted version of the play on the part of the students, who will therefore get not only direct practice in reading a c lassical 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 (http://www.bhasa.indologie.uni-wuerzburg.de/).

Level
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.

Contact
Please free to contact me if you have any question about the course: d.cuneo@hum.leidenuniv.nl.