Ways of Presenting Love in Ancient Sanskrit Literature
Mark Rothko, "Untitled (Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow on White and Red)," 1949: oil on canvas, 81 ½ x 66 inches (207 x 167.6 cm) - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York: Gift, Elaine and Werner Dannheisser and The Dannheisser Foundation, 1978: 78.2461



How to Cite

Baldissera, F. (2016). Ways of Presenting Love in Ancient Sanskrit Literature. Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures, (2), 34–51. https://doi.org/10.13130/interfaces-7465
Received 2016-08-10
Accepted 2016-10-18
Published 2016-06-30


This study traces the appearance and relevance of love motifs in Sanskrit texts. It deals with preclassical, classical and medieval literature, with excerpts from the Vedic scriptures, the epics, the normative texts and the courtly formalized Kāvya. Attention is paid to the change in the status of women, whose position becomes gradually more subordinate over time. Several conventional topoi of Sanskrit erotic literature are examined, such as love enjoyed in the union of the lovers, or suffered in their separation; divine love; the traditional belief that women are more passionate than men; the different religious/philosophical schools' outlook towards love; love in the dramatic theory of aesthetic experience; the importance of marriage, and marital love as opposed or complementary to illicit love. Finally there is a brief survey of a few scientific disciplines that have something to say about the experience of love, like Āyurveda, astronomy/astrology, and the treatises on Dharma and those on the science of government.


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