The Indological programme will consist of the following courses:

Time schedule

Timeslot 1 (9.30 - 11.00)
W. Knobl: Features of Vedic poetry

Timeslot 2 (11.30 - 13.00)
W. Knobl: The syntax of Vedic prose

Timeslot 3 (14.00 - 15.30)
preparation time

Timeslot 4 (16.00 - 17.30)
V. Sadovski: Kālidāsa, “Vikramorvaśīya”

Timeslot 3 is left open for allowing the students to do their homework and to visit the Library of the Kern Institute, which will be open during these hours. It is of course also possible to choose, for instance, one of the courses of the Indo-European programme (Introduction to Indo-European phonologyand morphology or Historical grammar of Sanskrit) or of the Semitic programme (The History of the Alphabet: An Introduction to Semitic Epigraphy).

Features of Vedic poetry (9.30 - 11.00)

Werner Knobl (Kyoto)

We will read – "as slowly as possible" (non multa, sed multum) – a few particularly interesting and thought-provoking hymns of the Rigveda. To be sure, the interpretation of this highly complicated text-corpus (compiled ca. 1000 B.C.) depends on a thorough knowledge of Vedic grammar and syntax, on an intimate acquaintance with prosodic patterns both regular (e.g., verses of eight or eleven syllables) and exceptional (e.g., catalectic or hypermetrical verses).

Also, the linguistic background of Vedic (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 artistic side of language will be highlighted.

Examples of partly rather tricky poetic and rhetorical techniques, such as alliteration, anacoluthon, anagram, aposiopesis, assonance, catachresis, climax vs. anticlimax, enjambement, ellipsis, hendiadys, hypallage, hyperbole, hysteron proteron, litotes, metaphor, palindrome, paronomasia, pathetic fallacy, prolepsis, or zeugma, as well as other, less well-known literary devices like "word haplology", portmanteau formation, or "mid-word caesura" will be discussed. All these tricks and artifices – which, not unsurprisingly, were employed by the artist (and can be enjoyed by us) in a quite natural way, even without any knowledge of the (mostly Greek and Latin) 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 at least Epic or Classical Sanskrit is required in order to follow the classes with profit. Some familiarity with the Vedic language, not necessarily of the Rigveda, would certainly increase the usefulness of this course, and enhance the intellectual enjoyment of a particularly enjoyable kind of poetry.

Students who wish to prepare 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:

Time schedule

The syntax of Vedic prose (11.30 - 13.00)

Werner Knobl (Kyoto)

The texts we are going to read cover half a millennium of Vedic Prose. They will be chosen from Sa.mhitās (Paippalāda-, Maitrā, Ka.tha-, Taittirīya-S.), Brāhma.nas, Āra.nyakas, and Upanishads 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 different literary genres and periods of time; the position of pronouns, particles, and vocatives; the ordinary ranking among these; the distinctive deictic character of demonstrative pronouns; the multi-functionality of etád; the difference between adjectival and substantival use of the a-pronoun of proximal deixis; 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 of 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.

Time schedule

Kālidāsa, “Vikramorvaśīya” (16.00 - 17.30)

Velizar Sadovski (Vienna) 

This course has a triple aim. First, to present the work of India's national poet Kālidāsa, no doubt the most popular individual author of Classical Sanskrit literature - whose vita remains semi-legendary till today but whose works show such a highly elaborated linguistic, stylistic and meta-linguistic form that they furnish perhaps the best source about the personality, the époque and the reception of Vedic and Post Vedic cultural heritage in what is traditionally called "Classical" Indian times. An introduction to the life and work of Kālidāsa must be kept short in our framework, just like the introduction into Sanskrit drama as a literary gender; but a detailed bibliography with annotations when necessary, will give material enough for participants that have special interests in this matter.

Second, in reading Kālidāsa's prominent drama 'Vikramorvaśīya', we will have a look of one of the most popular mythological subjects of Old Indian Literature: It is the myth of the love between king Purūravas and the nymph Urvaśī that have been treated in so many different ways from the Rig Veda (X, 95) onwards - including a brāhma.nic version in the Śatapatha-Brā, a purā.nic one (Bhāgavata-, and Matsya-Purā.na) and Kālidāsa's very personal variant, which sets completely new accents from literary, philosophical and purely human point of view. The comparison of the various versions can cast a bridge between the Vedic and Classical Sanskrit parts of the Indological programme, showing common features and inherited motifs, on the one hand, and the elements of discontinuity and (conscious) break with tradition, represented in such an impressive way especially in Kālidāsa's drama.

The third task is perhaps the most pertinent one, for it concerns the linguistic aspect of the lecture: Indeed, the reader of Classical Indian drama is constantly confronted with two language forms - not only with Sanskrit, the linguistic form reserved for the protagonists, the higher social strata, and there especially, for men - but also with vernacular languages, with Prākrit, used in the drama in a massive but, sociolinguistically, very specific way. This double linguistic shape of the drama will give us the occasion to make a survey of basic characteristics of the two language forms: On the one hand, of Sanskrit (in which the main part of our selection is composed) - as a very particular form of Old Indian, petrified and pedantically codified, but also able to be developed in a highly creative way, according to the meta-linguistic rules set up by Pā.nini and the native grammatical tradition. Kālidāsa will give us material enough to see how original, sometimes extravagant can be such a kind of linguistic creativity in the framework of a "dead language" when applied by an artistic personality, master of the solemn style of great poems (mahā-kāvya-) but also of the whole spectrum of intimate lyrics and above all, of the kaleidoscopic, rapidly variegate, complex literary forms we find in Indian drama.

On the other hand, we will take a chance of reading small portions in the specific Prākrit form of the text and see, "in real time", how the linguistic registers (both Sanskrit and Prākrit) change and how essential the knowledge of this literary gender can be, not only in poetic and stylistic regard but also from the point of view of "historical sociolinguistics" (and even of gender studies) of Classical India. An important parenthesis will be dedicated to poetics, especially to metrical analysis, e.g. of rhythmic patterns that do not occur in this form in Vedic poetry, or of the figures of speech, in accord both with the traditional Indian doctrine (ala.mkāraśāstra-) and with rhetoric and stylistic concepts used in modern linguistics.

A fourth aspect in the framework of the course will be connected with philological aspects of the reading - so we are going to use, in a more advanced stage of our work, several pages of manuscript facsimiles, just in order to see how our text, gained from so many manuscript variants as a certain "abstraction" of textual criticism, looks like in its authentic, variant forms, handed over to us by the autochtonous tradition of learning by heart and writing by hand.

Handouts on various aspects of study will be given in due course. For students who wish to have preliminary information about the work and its context, we recommend e.g.:

- the editions "Vikramorvaśīya of Kālidāsa", ed. with a complete transl. into Engl., notes (crit. and explanatory), introd. and appendices by R. D. Karmarkar. (The Vrajajivan indological studies 13). Delhi 2002 or "The Vikramorvaśīya of Kālidāsa", critically ed. by H. D. Velankar. With a general introd. by S. Radhakrishnan, repr. New Delhi, 1981.

- the translations by Horace Wilson ("Vikrama and Urvasi, or The hero and the nymph. A drama translated from the original Sanscrit", 1st ed. Calcutta 1826, repr. e.g. Delhi 1979) or by Lyne Bansat-Boudon ("Le théâtre de Kālidāsa, trad. du Sanskrit et du Prākrit, présenté et annoté par Lyne Bansat-Boudon. Paris 1996) as well as the metrical translation made by Ludwig Fritze ("Urvasi: ein indisches Schauspiel", Leipzig, 1. Aufl. 1880, with multiple reprints);

- or even an opera version composed by Wilhelm Kienzl and published under the title "Urvasi: Oper in drei Aufzügen, nach dem Indischen des Kalidasa von W. Kienzl. Cassel: Voigt 1886 [etc.]" by Vaclav Juda Novotny, simultaneously in German and in Czech language ("Kalidasa Austro-Bohemicus"!).

Time schedule