Indological Programme

The Indological Programme will consist of the following courses:

Features of Vedic Poetry (9.30 - 11.00)

Werner Knobl (Kyoto)

The Ṛgveda, which in 10 Song-Cycles contains more than 1000 hymns of over 10000 stanzas, was compiled some time before 1000 B.C. It is the oldest and richest poetical text-corpus of this size in any Indo-European language.
In our Vedic Poetry course, we will read — “as slowly as possible”; non multa, sed multum — a few particularly interesting and thought-provoking hymns of the Ṛgveda. To be sure, the interpretation of this highly complicated text depends on a thorough knowledge of Vedic grammar and syntax, on an intimate acquaintance with prosodic patterns both regular (e.g., verses of eight, eleven, or twelve syllables to the line) and exceptional (e.g., catalectic or hypermetrical verses). Also, the linguistic background of Vedic (i.e., Indo-Iranian and Indo-European) must be taken into account, and therefore comparative evidence will play an important role in our classes.
In addition to all this, the creative  side of language will be highlighted, with greater emphasis than is usual in a course of this character. Examples of rather tricky poetic and rhetorical techniques, ranging from anacoluthon to zeugma (but also other, less well-known literary devices, such as “word haplology”, portmanteau formation, or “mid-word caesura”), will be discussed. All these tricks and artifices which were employed by the word-artist, and can be enjoyed by us, in a quite natural way, even without any knowledge of the traditional terminology testify to the often eccentric inventiveness of the Vedic poet, and, at the same time, may make him attractive to us.

A fairly good knowledge of Sanskrit Grammar and Literature is required in order to follow the classes with profit. Some familiarity with the Vedic language, not necessarily of the Ṛgveda, would certainly increase the students' understanding of the selected texts, and enhance the sensual as well as intellectual enjoyment of a particularly enjoyable kind of poetry.

Participants who wish to prepare for this course may consult two easily accessible works by Arthur A. Macdonell:A Vedic Grammar for Students  (Oxford, 1916; repr. Delhi, 1987, etc.) and A Vedic Reader for Students  (Oxford, 1917; repr. Delhi, 1981, etc.). Those who have questions concerning the course may write to me at the following address:


The Syntax of Vedic Prose (11.30 - 13.00)

Werner Knobl (Kyoto)

The texts we are going to read in this course cover half a millennium of Vedic Prose. They will be chosen from Sahitās (Paippalāda-, Maitrāyaṇī-, Kaha-, Taittirīya-S.), Brāhmaṇas, Āraṇyakas, and Upaniṣads not only for their narrative or discursive interest, but also, and more especially, as examples of Vedic Syntax. Rules concerning word order in verbal and nominal sentences; the suppletive relation between certain defective verbs in the total verbal paradigm; the specific function of tenses and moods in various literary genres and periods of time; particularities of direct speech; the position of particles, pronouns, and vocatives; the ordinary ranking among these; the importance of sentence particles (, vái, etc.) in opposition to word particles (iva, evá, etc.); the distinctive deictic character of demonstrative pronouns; the unique multi-functionality of etád; the difference between adjectival and substantival use of the a- pronoun; and many other syntactical topics.

Participants are expected to have a good knowledge of Classical and, preferably, Vedic Sanskrit. I am confident, however, that even those who have studied Sanskrit for only two or three years may profit from this course; because my explanations will be very detailed (and, if necessary, repetitive). Students should feel free to contact me any time before the beginning of the course, and to make suggestions as to which text or topic they would like me to treat with preference. Here is my private e-mail address:
In preparation for this course, those who are familiar with German may want to have a look at Berthold Delbrück's Altindische Syntax  (Halle an der Saale, 1888; repr. Darmstadt, 1968 and 1976) or at J. S. Speyer's Vedische und Sanskrit-Syntax  (Strassburg, 1896; repr. Graz, 1974). Those who are not conversant with German could consult Chapter VII “Outlines of Syntax” in A. A. Macdonell's Vedic Grammar for Students  (Oxford, 1916 etc.), pp. 283—368, instead.


Early Śaiva Literature (14.00 - 15.30)

Peter Bisschop (Leiden)

Course outline
For this course we will read capita selecta from two texts belonging to the early Śaiva (Pāśupata) tradition:

1) Pañcārthabhāṣya: Kauṇḍinya's commentary on the Pāśupatasūtra, datable to ca. the 4th/5th century.

2) Skandapurāṇa: an old Śaiva Purāṇa, databe to ca. the 6th/7th century.

Both texts will be read from new critical editions prepared by the course organizer. One of the main aims of the course is to introduce and illustrate issues of textual criticism. We will pay specific attention to reading and using the apparatus, discuss variant readings and editorial decisions, and consider the methods and aims of a critical edition. The course also provides an introduction into the development of early Śaivism.

The course is intended for students of Indology and requires good knowledge of classical Sanskrit. 


Readings in Gāndhārī Buddhist Literature (16.00 - 17.30)

Stefan Baums (Leiden)

In my classes, I will first provide an introduction to Gāndhārī language and literature, and then progress through easy texts to reading some of the very interesting commentarial texts (especially the commentaries on canonical verse anthologies and the Saṃgītisūtra commentary).