Sanskrit language and literature

A.Y. 2020/2021
9
Max ECTS
60
Overall hours
SSD
L-OR/18
Language
Italian
Learning objectives
The course aims at providing students with a knowledge of the main grammatical structures of Sanskrit, and with an introduction to Indian literature in Sanskrit.
Expected learning outcomes
Essential notions on: phonological features and morphosyntactic structures of Sanskrit; literary categories of ancient and classical India; history of writing.
Ability to: correctly read a classical Sanskrit text both in IAST (International Alphabet for Sanskrit Transliteration) and devanāgarī script; master some basic vocabulary; translate simple Sanskrit passages through morphosyntactic analysis; contextualize literary works in ancient and classical Indian cultural history.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
The lessons will be held in a blended modality: four lessons (8 hours) will be in praesentia, simultaneously available by streaming; the remaining lessons will be in absentia. The lessons in praesentia aims at taking partially the place of the participative classes, and will mainly deal with topics such as Devanāgarī Script; exercises of translation; examples of translation with linguistic comment of stanzas from the Bhagavadgītā.
The lessons in absentia will consist mostly of taught classes; therefore, they will deal in particular with theoretical subjects (Introduction to the Sanskrit Literature; History of the Sanskrit Language; Monographic Topic). Though, they will be adopted also for teaching linguistic subjects, providing further examples of linguistic exercises, such as the translation of stanzas form the Bhagavadgītā.
The lessons in absentia will be mostly asynchronous, by means of Power Point slideshows with audio support, uploaded to the platform Ariel; they will be occasionally alternate with synchronous lessons which will be held by Microsoft Teams: these will be useful for exploring more deeply and by means of participative classes the same topics already taught by the Power Point slideshows, especially in case of linguistic topics.
The exam will be taken in telematic form, by Microsoft Teams.
All the students interested are kindly required to contact the teacher by e-mail (paola.rossi@unimi.it) at the beginning of the course.
The students can find all the information about participating in the lessons (e.g. link, etc.), possible changes of programs, and variations in the bibliography in Ariel.
Course syllabus
The main topics discussed in the course are:
- Introduction to the Sanskrit Literature: Vedic-Brahmanical Literature
- Elements of Sanskrit Grammar: phonology, introduction to nominal morphology, introduction to verbal morphology, nominal composition, main syntactic structures.
- History of the Sanskrit Language: excursus about the definition of the Sanskrit bhāṣā; orality and literacy: points at issue.
- Translation and linguistic comment of stanzas from the Bhagavadgītā
- Voices of sovereignty: modality and means of legitimacy of the power in the Vedic India
- The Devanāgarī script

The aforementioned topics will be organized in three sections, 20 hours each, as follows:
Section A (20 hrs)
- Introduction to the Sanskrit Literature: Vedic-Brahmanical Literature
- Elements of Sanskrit Grammar: phonology; basic lexicon; Devanāgarī script
- History of the Sanskrit Language: excursus about the definition of Sanskrit bhāṣā

Section B (20 hrs)
- Elements of Sanskrit Grammar: introduction to nominal morphology, introduction to verbal morphology, nominal composition, main syntactic structures
- Translation and linguistic comment of stanzas from the Bhagavadgītā
- History of the Sanskrit Language: excursus about the definition of Sanskrit bhāṣā
- Orality and literacy: points at issue

Section C (20 hrs)
- Elements of Sanskrit Grammar: nominal morphology, verbal morphology, nominal composition, main syntactic structures: continuation
- Translation and linguistic comment of stanzas from the Bhagavadgītā
- Voices of sovereignty: modality and means of legitimacy of the power in the Vedic India. Reading and comment of Vedic passages.
Prerequisites for admission
No prerequisites for admission
Teaching methods
The course consists normally both of taught classes and participative classes. The former ones are adopted for learning theoretical subjects (Introduction to the Sanskrit Literature; History of the Sanskrit Language; Monographic Subject), and are supported by Power Point slideshows, while the latter ones are especially aimed to the linguistic learning (Elements of Sanskrit Grammar; Devanāgarī script; Translation and linguistic comment of stanzas from the Bhagavadgītā), and are based on linguistic exercises. The attendance is mandatory especially for this section of the course: the linguistic exercises, which are to be made lesson by lesson, are extremely important for the basic learning of the Sanskrit language, and for developing the expected skills.
For other initiatives and news, students should also regularly refer to the Sanskrit Language and Literature page of Ariel, and the website of the Indological courses of our University (https://sites.unimi.it/india/).
Teaching Resources
6 CFU (Sections A-B)
· G. Boccali, S. Piano, S. Sani, Le letterature dell'India, Torino, UTET Libreria, 2000, pp. 7-65.
· Atharvaveda. Il Veda delle formule magiche, a cura di P.M. Rossi, Mimesis, Milano: ONLY EDITION 2020, Premessa.
· C. Della Casa, Corso di Sanscrito, Unicopli, Milano (See the Sanskrit Language and Literature page of Ariel): phonology section (Unit A). Sandhi, nominal and verbal morphology, nominal compounds, main syntactic structures
· J. E. Houben, LInguistic Paradox and Diglossia: the emergence of Sanskrit and Sanskrit Language in Ancient India, Open Linguistics, DE GRUYTER OPEN, 2018, Historical Sociolinguistic Philology, 4 (1), pp. 1-18. https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01807465
· A. Aklujkar, The Early History of Sanskrit as Supreme Language, in J. E.M. Houben (ed.), Ideology and Status of Sanskrit. Contributions to the History of the Sanskrit Language, Leiden-New York-Koln, E.J. Brill 1996, pp. 59-85 (See the Sanskrit Language and Literature page of Ariel).
· J.E.M. Houben, "From Fuzzy-Edged "Family-Veda" to the Canonical Śākhas of the Catur-Veda: Structures and Tangible Traces", in VEDIC ŚĀKHĀS: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE, edited by Edited by Jan E.M. Houben, Julieta Rotaru, Michael Witzel. Cambridge, Mass. HOS Opera Minora IX, 2016, pp. 159-192.
· Ch. Malamoud, Nerezza della scrittura + Note sull'apparizione della scrittura in India, in Il gemello solare, Adelphi, Milano 2007, pp. 177-211.
· R. Salomon, Indian Epigraphy, Oxford University Press 1998; pp. 7-56; 72-94.
· Didactic material delivered during the course (See the Sanskrit Language and Literature page of Ariel)


9 CFU, in addition (Section C)
· C. Della Casa, Corso di Sanscrito, Unicopli, Milano (See the Sanskrit Language and Literature page of Ariel)
· M. Witzel, Early Sanskritization. Origins and Development of the Kuru State, in "Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies", 1995, pp. 1-26.
· Atharvaveda. Il Veda delle formule magiche, a cura di P.M. Rossi, Mimesis, Milano: SOLO EDIZIONE 2020; complete text.
· Sani, S. Ṛgveda. Le strofe della sapienza, Marsilio, Venezia 2000: selected texts.
· P. Sylvain-Lévi, La dottrina del sacrificio nei Brāhmaṇa, Adelphi, Milano, 2009 [Tr. italiana di La doctrine du sacrifice dans les Brâhmanas, Paris 1898].
· Didactic material from websites (See the Sanskrit Language and Literature page of Ariel).
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam is oral, and lasts approximately 30 minutes. Broadly, it consists of two sections: the former aims to verify linguistic knowledge and skills, the latter knowledge and skills about literary subjects and other not exclusively linguistic topics, delivered during the course. As to the first section, linguistic knowledge and skills will be evaluated through reading, translation and grammarian comment of texts translated and explained during the course. As to the second section, it consists no less than two questions regarding the topics covered by the programme, with a peculiar focus on the monographic part.
Grading, on a scale of 30, will take into account: the student's general preparation, and the familiarity with the bibliography of the course; linguistic knowledge and skills; understanding and command of fundamental historical and cultural concepts; capacity for synthesis and critical analysis in the presentation; use of appropriate language; accuracy and relevance in the oral presentation.

International or Erasmus incoming students are kindly requested to contact the teacher of the course. Also students with disabilities should contact the teacher of the course, in order to discuss alternative examination methods, in agreement with the competent Office.
Unita' didattica A
L-OR/18 - INDOLOGY AND TIBETOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
L-OR/18 - INDOLOGY AND TIBETOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
L-OR/18 - INDOLOGY AND TIBETOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours