75692 - Sanskrit Language and Literature 2A (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student has acquired a first set of intermediate level skills in the Sanskrit language. He knows how to handle the relevant literature and the issues related to it, by referring to the most updated bibliography.

Course contents

For attending students, the program of the course includes:

  1. Exercises and insights on Sanskrit grammar. The program concludes and cements the grammatical learning of the course Sanskrit I, and introduces elements of Sanskrit metrics and prosody as well as the discourse concerning different literary genres and styles.
  2. Reading and translation of Sanskrit texts of intermediate difficulty, belonging to the following genres: folk tales (kāthās); epics and history (itihāsa, purāṇa); poetry and drama (kāvya, nāṭya); philosophy and science (sūtra, śāstras). The texts to be read will be chosen by the teacher every year and notified to the students during the first lesson of the course.
  3. Historical-critical analyses on the translated texts.
  4. In the a.a. 2023/24 we will read the Sixth Canto of the Bhāgavadgītā.

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.

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: Carlo Della Casa, Corso di sanscrito, 2nd ed., Milano, CLUEB-Unicopli, 1998.

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

The reference dictionary is: 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.

Non-attending students will have to integrate the texts above with a sound knowledge of Coulson, M., Sanskrit: An Introduction to the Classical Language, Sevenoaks: Hodder and Stoughton, 1976 (several editions), including all its exercises.

Teaching methods

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

The texts will be chosen both to illustrate the grammatical rules learned in the classroom, and to provide students with a wide view on the different styles and genres of the Sanskrit tradition. Particular attention will be given to the correct prosodic reading of the texts in verses.

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 excercises read in the classroom (for attending students) or arranged with the lecturer (for non-attending students).

Grading is based primarily on student's linguistic preparation, but will also take into account the clarity of exposition, the ability to use an appropriate terminology, and the fluency with which one reads the Devanāgarī script.

Broadly speaking:

  • The ability to identify without hesitation the grammatical forms met with in the texts and to describe them precisely, using an appropriate grammatical terminology, together with a fluent reading of the Devanāgarī script and a correct and elegant Italian translation, will be evaluated with excellent marks (28 to 30+).
  • The ability to recognise a good part of the grammatical forms in the texts and to describe them through a decent grammatical terminology, together with an acceptable fluency in reading the Devanāgarī script and a correct Italian translation, will be evaluated with decent to average marks (24 to 27);
  • A limited ability to identify the grammatical forms in the texts, a patchy knowledge of the grammatical rules, a laborious reading of the Devanāgarī script and an inadequate Italian translation, will lead to mere pass marks (18 to 23);
  • The inability to identify a substantial part of the grammatical forms in the texts, to describe the relevant rules, to read the Devanāgarī script or to provide an Italian translation, will lead to exam failure.

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.

Office hours

See the website of Svevo D'Onofrio