SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Sanskrit Poetry and Aesthetics (PG)

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
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.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able 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


This module is taught over 22 weeks and consists of 2-hour weekly lectures.

Scope and syllabus

The passages to be read, translated, interpreted, and discussed in class in this language-based module are selected from Sanskrit treatises on poetics and from Sanskrit poetry (kāvya). Students will become acquainted with the literary history of South Asia and gain knowledge of the most important authors, genres, styles and conventions of Sanskrit literature.

Method of assessment

  • Two essays (3,000 words each) (20% each)
  • One Exam (3 hours) (60%)

Suggested reading

Siegfried Lienhard, A History of Classical Poetry: Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 1984.

Edwin Gerow, Indian Poetics, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 1977.

The Dhvanyaloka of Anandavardhana with the Locana of Abhinavagupta, edited and translated by Daniel H. H. Ingalls, Sr., translated by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson & M. V. Patwardhan, Harvard Oriental Series 49, HUP, 1990.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules