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

22 July 2023 - (Online)

1) Orientation

2) Classical Indian Aesthetics – Its Principles

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


29 July 2023 - (Physical)

1) History of Indian Aesthetics and its Theories

2) Abhinavagupta – His Yoga & Aesthetic Concerns

- Dr. Veena Londhe


05 August 2023 - 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm – (Physical)

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

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


12 August 2023 - (Online)

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

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


19 August 2023 - 11:00 am to 3:00 pm - (Online)

1) Rasa Theory Content of Art Aesthetic Experience

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


26 August 2023 - (Physical)

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

- Dr. Kurush Dalal


02 September 2023 

1:30 pm - 3:30 pm - (Recorded & Online Q&A)

1) Mass production in Antiquity –     An aesthetic reappraisal through early historic terracottas of India

- Dr. Naman Ahuja

4:00 pm - 6:30 pm - (Online)

1) 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


09 September 2023 - (Online)

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


16 September  2023 - (Physical)

1) The Basics of Academic Writing I

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria


22 September 2023 - Friday 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm - (Online)

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

- Dr. Supriya Rai


23 September  2023 - (Physical)

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


29 September 2023 - Friday 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm - (Online)

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

- Dr. Supriya Rai


The Primacy of Vira Rasa or Heroic Forbearance in Jain Thought


30 September 2023 - 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm – (Online)

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


07 October 2023 - 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm - (Online)

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




14 October 2023 - 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm - (Online)

1) Introduction to Brahmanical Iconography I                          

a) Introduction

b) Ashtadikapalas: Guarding the Temple

c) Surya

d) Vishnu

- Mr. Arvind Sethi


21 October 2023 - (Online)

1) Introduction to Brahmanical Iconography II                         

a) Brahma

b) Ganesha

c) Kartikeya

d) Shiva

- Mr. Arvind Sethi


28 October 2023 - (Physical)

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

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


Temple – Hallowed Space and Time


04 November 2023 - (Physical)

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 Defence and Faith: The Design of Medieval Jain Temples in Ahmedabad

- Dr. Kamalika Bose




18 November 2023 - (Physical)

1) Evolution and Morphology of the Hindu Temple

2) Maratha Temples

- Dr. Pushkar Sohoni


25 November 2023 - (Online)

1) Imperial temples, goddesses and the gopura in south India

2) Festivals, processions, and Tamil temple urbanism

- Dr. Crispin Branfoot


Aesthetics of Tantra – Expanding Consciousness


02 December 2023 - (Physical)

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


09 December 2023 - (Physical)

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


16 December 2023 - 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm - (Physical)

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


13 January 2024 - (Online)

1) Ajanta Murals and Chitrasutra of the Vishnu Dharmottara Purana

- Dr. Leela Wood


20 January 2024 - (Online)

Indian Portable Paintings of the 14th-16th centuries I

1) Painting for Jaina Patrons

2) The Chaurapanchashika style

- Dr. Shailka Mishra


27 January 2024 - (Online)

Indian Portable Paintings of the 14th-16th centuries II

1) Sultanate Manuscript Painting

2) Sufi epics and the Early Deccan

- Dr. Shailka Mishra


03 February 2024 - (Online)

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


10 February 2024 - (Online)

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


17 February 2024 - (Online)

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

- Ms. Mrinalini Sil

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

- Dr. Parul Singh 


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


24 February 2024 - (Physical)

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


02 March 2024 - (Physical)

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


09 March 2024 - (Online)

1) Indian Maritime Historiography

2)  Coastal Shrines and their Audiences

- Dr. Himanshu Prabha Ray


16 March 2024 - (Physical)

1) Orientalism                        

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria   


23 March 2024 - (Online)

1) Through Colonial Eyes: The use of the camera as a device for surveillance, racial derivations, voyeurism, and political control during the Raj

2) Through Local Eyes: ‘Democratization’ of the camera and self-documentation by the local population under the Raj, emulating and challenging modes of colonial representation. A study of the major figures of Indian photography during the colonial period

- Dr. Suryanandini Narain   


30 March 2024 - (Physical)

1) A brief Introduction to Colonial Architecture

2) Monument of Modernity: The Colonial Market Hall                        

- Dr. Pushkar Sohoni


06 April 2024 - (Physical)

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

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria


13 April 2024 - (Physical)

1) Whitespace: the continuing Coloniality of Modern Indian space (and what to do about it)                                      

- Dr. Himanshu Burte


20 April 2024 - (Online)

1) Contemporary Art Practice                                         

- Ms. Sumakshi Singh


27 April 2024 - (Online)

1) Contemporary Art Practice                                         

- Ms. Varunika Saraf

Classes, unless otherwise stated, are from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Saturday afternoons.

The sessions where the scholar will be present at Jnanapravaha have been indicated with the word 'Physical'. All sessions will also be online. Students may attend in either mode.

Local scholars will be in class for physical classes as indicated below their names in the schedule, barring an emergency.

We would warmly welcome students to our space for all classes and expect local students to be with us.

Questions from both physical and online students will be addressed.

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 or 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 or 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 to

Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully before registering. 

Thank you for your overwhelming response, our seats for PG Diploma is now closed. However the seats to the certificate are still open. 





22 Jul 2023 - 27 Apr 2024


Rs. 50,000
(PG Certificate)

Registrations Closed