67058 - Sanskrit Language 2 B

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, the student will complete his/her mid-level competence in the Sanskrit language; he/she will be able to study the relevant literature and the problems related to it, referring to the most updated bibliography.

Course contents

For attending students, the syllabus includes the reading, translation and commentary of Sanskrit texts belonging to different literary genres. In particular, we will focus on the saga of the love between King Purūravas and the celestial nymph Urvaśī, of which we will read episodes from some of its many different literary hypostases: Rigvedic hymn (13th-11th century B.C.E.), late-Vedic narrative (Śatapathabrāhmaṇa, 7th-6th century B.C.E.), refined theatrical work (Vikramorvaśīya, 4th-5th century B.C.E., composed by Kālidāsa, considered the greatest poet of India), Puranic narrative re-elaborations (Padma- and Matsya-purāṇa, second half of the 1st millennium). With reference to Kālidāsa's drama, an introduction to the commentary tradition (in Sanskrit) accompanying the main works of Indian art literature (kāvya) will be offered.

Non-attending students will have to arrange with the lecturer a different set of texts to translate autonomously and bring to the exam; they will also receive from the lecturer a relevant bibliography of critical secondary literature. As for the rest, the program is the same as that for attending students.

Topic of the individual lessons
The programme will include an introductory lecture on the texts selected for reading and will conclude with a lecture devoted to a summary of the most relevant linguistic aspects and literary themes covered during the course. Exercises in preparation for the examination will be carried out during the course. The detailed programme of topics for each lesson will be presented in the first lecture.

A warning for all students

This course presupposes, on the part of the student, a knowledge of the basic grammar and lexicon of Sanskrit, as well as of the devanagari script, such as can be learned by successfully completing a "Sanskrit I" course.
Students who do not possess these skills at the beginning of the course are invited to review the contents of the Sanskrit I course, if they have attended it.
Alternatively, an in-depth study of M. Coulson, Sanskrit: An Introduction to the Classical Language, Sevenoaks: Hodder and Stoughton, 1976 (various re-editions), including all exercises, is highly recommended.


For attending students: all Sanskrit texts will be distributed by the lecturer in the classroom during the lessons, and will be made available in digital format via the University's "Virtuale" platform.

The reference grammar is: C. Della Casa, Corso di sanscrito, Milano, Unicopli, 2021.

The book is available as a printed volume and as a free pdf file; for the latter, see the website of the Associazione italiana di studi sanscriti (http://www.associazioneitalianadistudisanscriti.org/), under "Risorse".

The reference text for Sanskrit literature is: G. Boccali, S. Piano, S. Sani, Le letterature dell'India, Torino, UTET, 2000.

Students are required to obtain in good time, before the beginning of the course, the following dictionary: M. Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, which can easily be purchased online. Any publisher will do, as long as the title coincides with the one given above. Students are advised to purchase the dictionary in a single-volume edition.

All the books listed so far are mandatory.

A useful reference tool is: Tubb, G. A. - Boose, E. R., Scholastic Sanskrit: a handbook for students, New York: American Institute of Buddhist Studies, 2007.

Non-attending students will have to integrate the books above with a bibliography defined by the lecturer, according to the texts agreed upon for the exam.

Teaching methods

The teaching method consists in the reading, translation and comment of texts drawn from Sanskrit literature.

The texts will be chosen to provide students with an overview of the different styles and genres of Sanskrit literature, with a focus on the commentary tradition.

Multimedia tools will be used during the lessons.

Attendance is not mandatory but is strongly recommended.

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

The exam is oral and normally lasts 30 to 60 minutes. It consists in the translation of excerpts from the texts and exercises read in the classroom (for attending students) or arranged with the lecturer (for non-attending students).

Students are expected to show that they have acquired autonomy in the translation of excerpts from Sanskrit texts and have achieved a high level of knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, style.

The evaluation takes into account, besides the soundness of the preparation, the analytical and synthesis capabilities, the clarity of the exhibit and the ability to use appropriate terminology.

In particular:

  • The achievement of a comprehensive and concise vision of the topics of the course, combined with the ability to translate and comment on the agreed excerpts from Sanskrit texts demonstrating a high level of knowledge of grammar, lexicon and style will be evaluated with the highest marks (28-30+).
  • A good / acceptable but not in-depth knowledge of the subject, coupled with sufficient / good ability to translate and comment on the agreed excerpts from Sanskrit texts demonstrating a discreet level of knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, style, will be evaluated with marks ranging form mere pass level to average (18-27).
  • Poor knowledge of course topics, difficulty translating and commenting on agreed excerpts from Sanskrit texts, poor grammar, vocabulary and style knowledge will lead to the failure to pass the exam.

Please note:
This 6 CFU course can be chosen as a part of the 12 CFU Integrated Course "SANSKRIT LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE II (C.I.) (LM)". If the student has the Integrated Course (12 CFU) in his/her study plan, the final grade will result from the arithmetic average of the marks obtained in the two parts ("SANSKRIT LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 2A" and "SANSKRIT LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 2B").

Teaching tools

Handouts will be made available to students via the University's "Virtuale" platform. The handouts will contain didactic materials on specific topics, exercises and tests, software and fonts for writing Sanskrit texts on the computer, both in transliteration (using the IAST, International Alphabet for Sanskrit Transliteration) and the Devanāgarī script.

We advise again all students to obtain in good time, before the beginning of the course, the following dictionary: M. Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, which can easily be purchased online.

Office hours

See the website of Marco Franceschini