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 premodern, modern, and contemporary forms, as well as popular and folk 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 theories of Rasa and Dhvani, 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, 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 to 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 and lives 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 and its readings include an analysis 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  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 forms that were born of the intermingling of people, cultures and artistic traditions from the twelfth century onwards. Central themes include the centrality of the Word and Book, the difficulties of figural representation, descriptions of paradisical imagery, and the relationship between poetry and illustrations, such as in the so-called Sufi romances.

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, and 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 the indigenous Chaurapanchashika and Jain miniatures. 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 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 printmaking during this period and take a close look at representations in the popular realm. The course also examines 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 nineteenth and twentieth-century Indian architecture, where the stamp of coloniality is prominent, and move into the present with a brief encounter with the fields of modern and contemporary Indian art. 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

18 July 2020
1) Orientation
2) Classical Indian Aesthetics – Its Principles
- Dr. Rashmi Poddar

25 July 2020
1) History of Indian Aesthetics and its Theories
2) Abhinavagupta – His Yoga & Aesthetic Concerns
- Dr. Veena Londhe

01 August 2020
1) Form - Rhythm, Harmony, Iconometry, Materiality Line, Colour, Proportion
- Dr. Rashmi Poddar

08 August 2020
1) Content & Meaning – Subject Matter Iconography, Iconology Dhvani, Symbolism
- Dr. Rashmi Poddar

29 August 2020
1) Rasa Theory Content of Art Aesthetic Experience
- Dr. Rashmi Poddar

05 September 2020
1) Political-Cultural Background of India Harappan Civilisation
- Dr. Shereen Ratnagar

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

12 September 2020
1) Buddha – Life, Events, and the 3 Bodies:  Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya Dhamma – Early Buddhist Philosophy: The Noble Truths, Doctrine of Dependent Origination Sangha – Tripitakas   
- Dr. Supriya Rai

19 September 2020
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. Leela Wood

26 September 2020
Vajrayana – The Tantric Arm of Buddhism:
1) Understanding Buddhist Tantra and its Practice in the Indo-Tibetan Sphere
2) Vajrayana: Text, Ritual and Architecture in the Political Sphere
- Ms. Swati Chemburkar

The Primacy of Vira Rasa or Heroic Forbearance in Jain Thought

03 October 2020 - 1:00 pm to 5:45 pm
1) Jainism:  Philosophy and Art
2) Cave Architecture of the Victorious Ones
3) The Beginning: Rishabhnath As the Initiator of Change
4) Vir – The Hero as the Model of Ascetic: Krishna – Balarama as Prototype
- Dr. Viraj Shah

09 October 2020 - Friday 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
1) The Basics of Academic Writing I
- Dr. Jaya Kanoria

10 October 2020 - 1:00 pm to 5:45 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 2020 - Friday 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
1) The Basics of Academic Writing II
- Dr. Jaya Kanoria

Temple – Hallowed Space And Time

17 October 2020
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

23 October 2020 - Friday 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
1) Introduction to Brahmanical Iconography I
a) The Weapons and Attributes of the Deities, Brahma
b) Ganapati, Ashtdikpalas and Surya
- Mr. Arvind Sethi

24 October 2020 
1) Evolution and Morphology of the Hindu Temple
2) Maratha Temples
- Dr. Pushkar Sohoni

30 October 2020 - Friday 6:15 pm to 8:30 pm
1) Introduction to Brahmanical Iconography I
a) Shiva and Devi
b) Vishnu
- Mr. Arvind Sethi

31 October 2020
1) Elephanta caves - Structure, Symmetry and Coherence
- Dr. Alka Hingorani

07 November 2020
1) Rudra Shiva – The Erotic Ascetic Origin, Legends, Icons, Sacred Spaces and Places
- Dr. Kirit Mankodi


21 November 2020
1) Vishnu – The Encompassing Sustainer Origin, Legends, Icons, Sacred Spaces and Places
- Dr. Kirit Mankodi

28 November 2020
1) Devi – Cosmic Charm of Vatsalya and Raudra Origin, Legends, Icons, Sacred Spaces and Places
- Dr. Rashmi Poddar

Aesthetics of Tantra – Expanding Consciousness

05 December  2020 - 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm
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

12 December 2020
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

19 December 2020
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

23 January 2021 - 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Portable Paintings of the Pre-Mughal Period: 14th-16th centuries I
1) Painting for Jaina Patrons
2) The Chaurapanchashika style
- Dr. Kavita Singh

30 January 2021 - 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
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

06 February 2021
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

13 February 2021
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

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

20 February 2021
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

27 February 2021
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

06 March 2021
1) Ajanta Murals and Chitrasutra of the Vishnu Dharmottara Purana
- Dr. Leela Wood

The Interplay of Colonialism and Nationalism

13 March 2021
1) Orientalism                      
- Dr. Jaya Kanoria                                       

20 March 2021
1) From the Colonial to the Contemporary: A Short History of “Indian” Photography
- Ms. Alisha Sett

27 March 2021
1) A brief Introduction to Colonial Architecture
2) Monument of Modernity: The Colonial Market Hall                         
- Dr. Pushkar Sohoni

Modern and Contemporary Architectural Practices

03 April 2021
1) Colonial Modernity, Nationalism and Everyday Space                                          
- Dr. Himanshu Burte

10 April 2021
1) The Spaces of Postcolonial Modernities         
- Dr. Himanshu Burte

17 April 2021
1) Dark Art History                      
a) The Grotesque in Indian Art
b) Gadhegals: Punishing men by degrading women
- Dr. Kurush Dalal                                                                         

24 April 2021
1) Indian Aesthetics in the Early 20th century – Rabindranath Tagore and Aurobindo Ghosh
- Dr. Jaya Kanoria

Timing: 1.30 - 5.30 pm

Also, ONLINE | Lectures will be streamed live from the institute's classroom or hosted on an online platform

EligibilityGraduation Degree

For admission, you are required to submit: A copy of your last degree certificate and two passport-size photographs (in hard copy for classroom students). 

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. 

Apologies, our seats for the course are already full.


18 Jul 2020 - 30 Apr 2021


Rs. 40,000
(PG Diploma)
Rs. 30,000
(PG Certificate)

Registrations Closed