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

20 July 2024 - (Physical)

1) Orientation

2) Classical Indian Aesthetics – Its Principles

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


27 July 2024 - (Physical)

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

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


03 August 2024 - (Physical)

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

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


10 August 2024 - (Physical)

1) Rasa Theory Content of Art Aesthetic Experience

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


17 August 2024 - (Physical)

1) History of Indian Aesthetics and its Theories

2) Abhinavagupta – His Yoga & Aesthetic Concerns

- Dr. Veena Londhe


24 August 2024 - (Physical)

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

- Dr. Kurush Dalal


31 August 2024 - 1:00 pm to 3:15 pm – (Online)

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

- Dr. Naman Ahuja


Iconography I


14 September 2024 - (Online)

1) Introduction to Brahmanical Iconography I                          

a) Introduction

b) Ganesha

c) Kartikeya

d) Shiva

- Mr. Arvind Sethi


20 September 2024 - Friday 6:30 pm to 8:30 PM - (Physical)

Shaiva Pashupatas: The earliest Indian missionaries 

- Ms. Swati Chemburkar


21 September 2024 - (Online)

1) Introduction to Brahmanical Iconography II                         

a) Brahma

b) Ashtadikapalas: Guarding the Temple

c) Surya and the Navagrahas

d) Vishnu

- Mr. Arvind Sethi


Numismatics as Art


27 September 2024 - Friday 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm - (Physical)

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

- Dr. Shailendra Bhandare


Iconography II


28 September 2024 - (Physical)

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

- Dr. Rashmi Poddar


04 October 2024 - Friday 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm - (Physical)

1) The Basics of Academic Writing I

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria


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


05 October 2024 - (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


The Jain Temple


09 October 2024 - Wednesday 6:30pm to 8:45 pm - (Online)

1) Introduction: Planning Principles in Jaina temple architecture in India

2) Jaina temple architecture in Karnataka: climatic and resource dependencies 

- Prof. Julia Hegewald


11 October 2024 - Friday 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm - (Physical)

1) The Basics of Academic Writing II

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria


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


19 October 2024 - (Physical)

Vajrayana – The Tantric Arm of Buddhism:

1) Understanding Buddhist Tantra and its Practice in the Indo-Tibetan Sphere

2) Prajnaparamita: The Text that became a Goddess

- Ms. Swati Chemburkar


26 October 2022 - (Online)

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




The Primacy of Vira Rasa or Heroic Forbearance in Jain Thought


08 November 2024 - Friday 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm – (Online)

1) Jainism:  Philosophy and Art

- Dr. Viraj Shah


09 November 2024 - (Online)

1) Cave Architecture of the Victorious Ones

2) The Beginning: Rishabhnath As the Initiator of Change

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

- Dr. Viraj Shah


16 November 2024 - (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


Temple – Hallowed Space and Time


23 November 2024 

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm - (Online)

1) Evolution and Morphology of the Hindu Temple

- Dr. Pushkar Sohoni

3:30 pm to 5:30 pm – (Online)

2a) Acculturation and Hybrid typologies for Worship in Bengal - From the 18th century to the Present

2b) Unexplored Dimensions in Jain Architecture in Bengal Between Archaeology and Active Worship:  Understanding Jain Architecture in Bengal

- Ms. Kamalika Bose


30 November 2024 - (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


07 December 2024 - (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


14 December 2024 - (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


21 December 2024 - (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 I


18 January 2025 - (Physical)

1) Ajanta Murals and Chitrasutra of the Vishnu Dharmottara Purana

- Dr. Leela Wood


25 January 2025 - (Online)

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

1) Painting for Jaina Patrons

2) The Chaurapanchashika style

- Dr. Shailka Mishra


01 February 2025 - (Online)

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

1) Sultanate Manuscript Painting

2) Sufi epics and the Early Deccan

- Dr. Shailka Mishra


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


08 February 2025 - (Physical)

Aesthetics of Krishna Shringara: from the Bhagavata to Bollywood I

1) The Aesthetics of Krishna Shringara in the Bhagavata Purana

2) The Evolution of Krishna Shringara in the Gita Govinda

- Dr. Harsha Dehejia


15 February 2025 - (Physical)

Aesthetics of Krishna Shringara: from the Bhagavata to Bollywood II

1)  The Aesthetics of Krishna Shringara in poetry: Vidyapati, Bhanudatta, Narsinh Mehta, Muslim Vaishnavas and the Ritikal poets 2) The Evolution of Krishna Shringara in the Gita Govinda

2) Krishna Shringara in miniature paintings from the 15th to the 20th century  

3) The Aesthetics of Krishna Shringara in Bollywood films

- Dr. Harsha Dehejia


The Poetics of Painting II


22 February 2025 - (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) The Diffusion of Mughal Painting Content & Style to Regional Courts: Pan-Indian Interactions

- Ms. Roda Ahluwalia


01 March 2025 - (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


08 March 2025 - (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 


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


15 March 2025 - (Online)

1) Indian Ocean History 

- Dr. Elizabeth Lambourn


22 March 2025 - (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   


29 March 2025 - (Physical)

1a) Edward Said’s Orientalism: A brief Introduction 

b) Orientalism in the Metropole (i) European Orientalist painting (ii) British Romantic literature   

c) Orientalism in the Colony (i) Reflective images in the Colony: Romantic, Picturesque, Sublime (ii) Refractive images in the Colony: Raja Ravi Varma  

2a) ‘Mapping’ the Colony: The Prism of Company Painting and Beyond 

b) Questioning Orientalism: Tempering Culturalism through the Economic Paradigm

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria   


05 April 2025 - (Physical)

1) A brief Introduction to Colonial Architecture

2) Monument of Modernity: The Colonial Market Hall                        

- Dr. Pushkar Sohoni


12 April 2025 - (Physical)

1) Postcolonial and Modern Indian Architecture

- Dr. Alka Hingorani


19 April 2025 - (Physical)

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

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria


26 April 2025 - 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm – (Online)

Contemporary Art Practice

1) Scene unseen: Art as contemplations on Becoming and Dissolving                                         

- Ms. Sumakshi Singh



Classes, unless otherwise stated, are from 1:30 pm to 5:30 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, short bio (100 words) and passport size photograph to

Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully before registering. 

Thank you everyone for your overwhelming response and support. The Diploma seats are now closed. Registrations to certificate are still open. 




20 Jul 2024 - 26 Apr 2025


Rs. 1,00,000
(PG Diploma)
Rs. 75,000
(PG Certificate)