Scholars have long studied classical Sanskrit culture in almost total isolation from its courtly context. Originally published in 2004, this book focuses exclusively on the royal court as a social and cultural institution. Using both literary and inscriptional sources, it begins with the rise and spread of royal households and political hierarchies from the Gupta period (c. 350-750), and traces the emergence of a coherent courtly worldview which would remain stable for almost a millennium to 1200. Later chapters examine key features of courtly life such as: manners, ethics, concepts of personal beauty, and theories of disposition. The book ends with a sustained examination of the theory and practice of erotic love in the context of the wider social dynamics and anxieties which faced the people of the court.