Postgraduate Diploma Course in Indian Aesthetics | Postgraduate Certificate Course in Indian Aesthetics

Indian Aesthetics

JPM’s year-long postgraduate course in Indian Aesthetics (IA) is an ambitious, five thousand-year sweep of the field that delves deep into art history, archaeology, architecture, anthropology, literature, philosophy and visual culture to build an aesthetic and critical methodology to unpack Indian art. 

IA encompasses the premodern, the modern, and the contemporary, as well as popular traditions, to map the most significant areas of Indian aesthetics over roughly 5000 years. Indic philosophical systems and their transformations underpin the course, which starts by introducing students to principles of classical Indian aesthetics, the Sanskritic theory of Rasa, as well as the relations between form and content that generate artistic meaning.

Though the course uses art historical records and material remains, the aim is to uncover discursive meaning rather than just primary or explicit and secondary or implied understandings of texts and objects. Course scholars present current research and practice in the field, ensuring relevance and evolution of thought. Chronology and style are not emphasised as much as questions of “Why?” and “To what effect?”, which motivate the pedagogy.

After an archaeological and anthropological exploration of the Harappan civilisation, and an analytical examination of early terracotta and numismatics, India’s finest scholars proceed to elucidate Buddhist art, its iconography, and world view, through the earliest material remains and extant texts. Foundational notions of Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, and the beginnings of narrative representation and cosmology traverse the realms of orthodox Theravada, as well as examine the present-day political affiliations of the complex Vajrayana. The course moves to an elaboration of Jain philosophy and art, recreating the biographies of the Jinas and the Jain cosmos through painted, sculpted, and textual images as well as the visual aesthetics of temples, both structural and excavated, providing a comprehensive understanding of this world view. 

Several lectures offer a thorough examination of the origin, lives and iconography of deities such as Shiva, Vishnu, and Devi, moored in the Vedic, Brahmanical, and Puranic traditions. Examined through a wide range of seminal architectural, sculptural, and other visual forms, the course ensures that students are familiarised with existing debates in the literature, addressing the problematics of theory, method, and practice as well as the contentious definition of masterpieces. Temple architecture is analysed in terms of the placement of icons and their esoteric meaning, exemplifying how ritual and iconography are often at the fulcrum of philosophical systems. Subsequent lectures relate the concept of Shakti to the Agamas and Tantras, texts often couched in a purposeful and mysterious language, to explicate the relationship between macrocosm and microcosm. Concepts such as Nada, Bindu and Kundalini Yoga, to name a few, are addressed.

The course then enters the world of Islamic aesthetics and takes a close look at the manifold artistic and architectural funerary forms that were born of the intermingling of people, cultures and artistic traditions from the twelfth century onwards. 

At this juncture, the focus shifts to painting across several genres, treating the hoary tradition of mural painting evidenced in the Ajanta caves, early Buddhist palm leaf manuscripts, manuscripts produced with the introduction of paper and the veritable explosion of the Art of the Book. Both geographical space and historical time inhabit the realms of not only the indigenous Chaurapanchashika and Jain miniatures, but also South Indian temple murals. The syncretic quality of the triadical Sultanate-Mughal-Deccan and its tremendous impact on “Rajput Painting” create a veritable tapestry of a magical world, a key focus of this part of the course. The lasting impact of the Bhakti traditions, of the written word, which led to the creation of magnificently illustrated manuscripts and genre paintings such as Ragamala and Barahamasa, are explored with care.

The course then examines painting at Lucknow and Murshidabad in the early modern period, in which it is possible to discern a heteroglot world. The Western architectural aesthetic as it developed during the colonial period in India is considered through architectural styles and monuments such as the edifice of the colonial market hall. The philosophical and critical backdrop of this colonial encounter is offered through a study of Edward Said’s concept of “Orientalism” as well as an examination of the aesthetic theories of Tagore and Aurobindo. Course lectures foray into photography and take a close look at such representations, and examine the colonial interstices through formal analysis and critical theory, as exemplified in the understanding of the effect of technologies of mechanical reproduction on art production and consumption. The concluding lectures map post-independence twentieth-century Indian architecture where the stamp of the vernacular is prominent. The formidable sweep of the course exposes students to the diversity, richness, and incredible breadth of Indian aesthetics in its glorious multiplicity.

Reading is an important part of the course. Course Scholars have prepared synopses of their lectures and selected Required Reading for each session; this material is available on our online learning management-portal, JPM Think.

Lecture Schedule

17 July 2021

1) Orientation

2) Classical Indian Aesthetics – Its Principles

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


24 July 2021

1) History of Indian Aesthetics and its Theories

2) Abhinavagupta – His Yoga & Aesthetic Concerns

- Dr. Veena Londhe


31 July 2021

1) Form - Rhythm, Harmony, Iconometry, Materiality Line, Colour, Proportion

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


07 August 2021

1) Content & Meaning – Subject Matter Iconography, Iconology Dhvani, Symbolism

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


14 August 2021

1) Rasa Theory Content of Art Aesthetic Experience

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


27 August 2021 - Friday 6.30-9.00 pm

1) From the Beginnings of Agriculture to the Consolidation of Empire 7000 BC to 2000 BC - Mehrgarh to Rakhigarhi

- Dr. Kurush Dalal


28 August 2021

1:00 pm 3:30 pm

1) Early Indian Terracotta - Mass production in Antiquity

- Dr. Naman Ahuja

4:00 pm to 6:30 pm   

2) The Age of the Satavahanas: Numismatics, Art and History in Peninsular India c.200 BC - 200 AD

- Dr. Shailendra Bhandare



Karuna Rasa and Shanta Rasa – Compassion and Equanimity as Paradigms in Buddhism


04 September 20211

1) Buddha – Life, Events, and the 3 Bodies:  Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya

2) Dhamma – Early Buddhist Philosophy: The Noble Truths, Doctrine of Dependent Origination

3) Sangha – Tripitakas  

- Dr. Supriya Rai


11 September 2021

1) Aniconic and Iconic: The Development of the Buddha Image and The Notions of Kingship and Sovereignty

2) The World of Compassion: Mahayana, Bodhisattvas and Prajnaparamita

- Dr. Supriya Rai


18 September 2021

Vajrayana – The Tantric Arm of Buddhism:
1) Understanding Buddhist Tantra and its Practice in the Indo-Tibetan Sphere
2) The Subtle Body Practices of Buddhist Tantra: Art Historical Evidence

- Ms. Swati Chemburkar


The Primacy of Vira Rasa or Heroic Forbearance in Jain Thought


25 September 2021 - 1:30 pm to 6:15 pm

1) Jainism:  Philosophy and Art

2) Cave Architecture of the Victorious Ones

3) The Beginning: Rishabhnath As the Initiator of Change

4) Vira – The Hero as the Model of Ascetic: Krishna – Balarama as Prototype

- Dr. Viraj Shah


01 October 2021 - Friday 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

1) The Basics of Academic Writing I

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria


08 October 2021 - Friday 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

1) The Basics of Academic Writing II

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria


09 October 2021 - 1:30 pm to 6:15 pm

1) Nagas and Yakshas: Incorporating Human/Non-Human Heroes from Folk Fabric

2) The Great Hero: Vardhamana The Mahavira

3) Conquerors of Senses: Heroes of the Non-Material World

- Dr. Viraj Shah




16 October 2021

1) Introduction to Brahmanical Iconography I                          

a) Introduction

b) Ashtadikapalas: Guarding the Temple

c) Surya

d) Vishnu

- Mr. Arvind Sethi


23 October 2021

1) Introduction to Brahmanical Iconography II                         

a) Brahma

b) Ganesha

c) Kartikeya

d) Shiva

- Mr. Arvind Sethi


30 October 2021

1) Devi – Cosmic Charm of Vatsalya and Raudra Origin, Legends, Icons, Sacred Spaces and Places

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar




Temple – Hallowed Space and Time


13 November 2021

1) Elephanta caves - Structure, Symmetry and Coherence

- Dr. Alka Hingorani


20 November 2021

1) Evolution and Morphology of the Hindu Temple

2) Maratha Temples

- Dr. Pushkar Sohoni


27 November 2021

1) Acculturation and Hybrid typologies for Worship in Bengal - From the 18th century to the Present

2) From Bengal to Gujarat: Unexplored Dimensions in Jain Architecture and Aesthetics

a) Between Archaeology and Active Worship: Understanding Jain Architecture in Bengal

b) Between Defense and Faith: The Design of Medieval Jain Temples in Ahmedabad

- Dr. Kamalika Bose


Aesthetics of Tantra – Expanding Consciousness


04 December 2021

1) Shakti

2) Agamas & Tantras – The New Mystic Revelations and the Mechanisms of a Novel Order

3) Nada and Bindu – Primal Seeds of Sound, Space & Energy: Emanation of Mantras and Yantras

4) Kundalini Yoga: The Released and Soaring Dormant Energy: Chakras as Points of Contact

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


Indo-Islamic Aesthetics: Funerary Expressions in Indo-Islamic Art and Architecture


11 December 2021

1a) Adornments for Posterity: Commemorative Practices in Early and Medieval Islamic Cultures

b) Mausoleums, Funerary Complexes, Epitaphs: Commemorative Expressions and their Compositeness in Premodern Islam

2a) Funerary Expressions of Islam in the Indian Subcontinent: Sultanate Period

b) Imperial and Sub-Imperial Tombs

- Dr. Riyaz Latif


18 December 2021

1a) Indo-Islamic Funerary Structures and Regional Responses: Gujarat, Bengal, Deccan

b) Sufism and Popular Saint Veneration: Shrines and Dargahs

2a) Paradisiacal Visions: Mughal Funerary Monuments

b) Modern Responses to Memorialization and Commemoration: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s Mausoleum in Delhi Jinnah’s Mausoleum in Karachi; Dawoodi Bohra Rauzas

 - Dr. Riyaz Latif




The Poetics of Painting


15 January 2022

1) Ajanta Murals and Chitrasutra of the Vishnu Dharmottara Purana

- Dr. Leela Wood


22 January 2022

Portable Paintings of the Pre-Mughal Period: 14th-16th centuries I

1) Painting for Jaina Patrons

2) The Chaurapanchashika style

- Dr. Kavita Singh


29 January 2022

Portable Paintings of the Pre-Mughal Period: 14th-16th centuries II

1) Sultanate Manuscript Painting

2) Sufi epics and the Early Deccan

- Dr. Kavita Singh


04 February 2022 - Friday 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Varaippu, Eḻuttu: line, word, letter, character, form

Murals and the written word in Early Modern Southeast India:

1) Writing the Self in Nayaka-period paintings

- Dr. Anna Lise Seastrand


05 February 2022

1) The Imperial Library of the Great Mughal: The Myriad Worlds of Biographic Pageantry, Realistic Portraiture and the Concern for Naturalism

2) The Eloquence of Illustrated Narratives in the Mughal Ateliers: Benchmarkers of Refinement and Sophistication

3) Sub-Imperial or Provincial Mughal: The Search, The Context

- Ms. Roda Ahluwalia


11 February 2022 - Friday 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Varaippu, Eḻuttu: line, word, letter, character, form

Murals and the written word in Early Modern Southeast India:

2) Picturing Place, Composing a Landscape

- Dr. Anna Lise Seastrand


12 February 2022

1) Lyrical Visions from the Hills – Pahari Painting and its Masters

2) The Sultans of the Deccan and their Artists: Scanning the Heights of Fantasy with a Direct Gaze and Rare Sensitivity

- Ms. Roda Ahluwalia


19 February 2022

1) Between Worlds: The Art of Lucknow During the 18th and 19th Centuries

- Dr. Parul Singh

2) Heteroglot Art of Early Modern Bengal: Paintings, Manuscripts and Patronage in Murshidabad

- Ms. Mrinalini Sil 


Krishna Shringara: The Many Manifestations and Meanings of Krishna’s Love


26 February 2022

1) Origins of the Amorous – From Gathasaptashati to Tamil Bhakti Poetry to Gita Govinda

2) In Braj Country with Vallabhacharya, Narsimha Mehta and Chaitanya

- Dr. Harsha Dehejia


05 March 2022

1) Texts and Genre Paintings in Bhashas and Popular Art – Rasikapriya, Barahamasa and Ragamala

2)  Centres of Devotion – Temples at Nathadwara, Pandharpur and Puri

- Dr. Harsha Dehejia


Trade and the Littoral; Colonialism, Nationalism, Modern and Contemporary


12 March 2022

1) Indian Maritime Historiography

2)  Coastal Shrines and their Audiences

- Dr. Himanshu Prabha Ray


26 March 2022

1) Orientalism                        

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria   


09 April 2022

1) A brief Introduction to Colonial Architecture

2) Monument of Modernity: The Colonial Market Hall                        

- Dr. Pushkar Sohoni


16 April 2022

1) Indian Aesthetics in the Early 20th century – Rabindranath Tagore and Aurobindo Ghosh

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria


23 April 2022

1) Modern Vernacular Architecture in India after 1947 I                                         

- Dr. Annapurna Garimella


30 April 2022

1) Modern Vernacular Architecture in India after 1947 II                                         

- Dr. Annapurna Garimella


Classes, unless otherwise specified on the schedule of lectures, are from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Saturday afternoons.

All classes will be online.

Students are expected to make a sincere attempt to attend all classes. To obtain an IA Diploma or IA Certificate, students must have at least 75% attendance at live online classes (held on Saturdays or on Friday evening). In addition, those pursuing a PG Diploma in IA are required to successfully complete three, supervised academic writing assignments: two short essays (1500 – 2000 words) and a final thesis (5000-7000 words). All students who attend 75% of the live online lectures will be given a PG Certificate in IA if they are not attempting the diploma.

For admission, you are required to submit:
a digital copy of each of your last degree certificates, CV, short bio (100 words) and passport size photograph.

International students can email us at to let us know which course they wish to register for. We will provide our bank details to enable the transfer of course fees. After making the transfer, please email all details of the transfer to us. At this point, international students cannot sign up for courses directly from our website. This issue will be addressed soon!

Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully before registering. 

Sorry, the registration seats are already full. 



17 Jul 2021 - 30 Apr 2022


Rs. 50,000
(PG Diploma)
Rs. 40,000
(PG Certificate)

Registrations Closed