SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Sanskrit Poetry and Aesthetics

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 3
Taught in:
Full Year
This is a language based module for students with good basic knowledge of Sanskrit. Besides providing more practice in reading, understanding, and translating classical Sanskrit texts, it is designed as an introduction to the themes and style of court poetry and prose which form an essential part of Sanskrit literature.


Intermediate Sanskrit or equivalent

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The objectives of the module are to:

  • improve the student’s command of the grammatical and syntactic phenomena of Sanskrit verse and literary prose
  • introduce the student to the major genres of classical Sanskrit literature
  • increase the student’s awareness of the regularities of the high register of Sanskrit writing, including nominal compounding, impersonal constructions and other forms of periphrasis, and the more complex instances of finite verb forms (secondary conjugations, aorists, etc.).
  • make the student aware of the rhetorical and prosodic features of major genres of literary Sanskrit
  • extend and consolidate the student’s understanding of the society, culture, and politics of premodern South Asia
  • introduce the student to the major forms of premodern literary criticism and scholarship as they directly effect the interpretation of literary works


At the end of a module, a student should be able to demonstrate:

  • an improved competence in interpreting complex texts in their original language
  • familiarity the evaluative criteria by which literary excellence was assigned by premodern Sanskrit readers
  • an understanding of some of the formal devices used in literary Sanskrit, as codified by traditional literary criticism
  • knowledge of the major genres of classical literary Sanskrit prose and verse, major authors and styles, and the outlines of Sanskrit literary history


Total of 22 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week.

Method of assessment

  • Two Essays (2,500-3,000 words each) (20% each)
  • One 3-hour Exam (60%)

Suggested reading

The reading list for this module will be made available from the convenor at the beginning of the module.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules