National seminar on Indian Art

A three-day seminar was organized by International Forum for India Heritage (IFIH) at the National Museum, New Delhi, in collaboration with Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (IIAS), and National Museum Institute (NMI), on 17, 18 & 19 January 2003.

In his welcome address, the seminar’s director, Prof. Ranjan K. Ghosh, made clear the theme of the seminar by drawing a distinction between “philosophy in Indian art” and “philosophy of Indian art” and suggested that the focus of the seminar is not merely on the large number of specimens of Indian art that exemplify ideas, concepts, and exposition of a philosophical nature but rather the deeper concerns underlying art making, and appreciation which are indeed grounded on philosophical ideas.

In his inaugural address Prof. Kireet Joshi, Chairman, ICPR, stressed the need for value-oriented education through art and described art in terms of pedagogy of education. He expressed the view that values are not autonomous and suggested that the children should be educated and trained artistically, though the aim is not to make them artists but to flare up their imagination. He pointed out that the seminar aims at initiating discussions on issues related to Indian art with a view to disseminating insights into the rich artistic traditions of India and help in creating an educational curriculum that would inculcate a sense of values. The inaugural session was chaired by Dr. R. D. Choudhury, Director General, National Museum, who in his remarks lauded the objectives of the seminar. A vote of thanks was proposed by Smt. Sarita Saraf on behalf of IFIH.

There were 19 papers presented by scholars, philosophers, artists, art critics, and historians. These papers can be broadly divided into two two classes:


Papers concerning the conceptual philosophical framework underlying the Philosophy of Indian Art such as, “The Magic of Aesthetic Experience” ; “Theory of Purushartha and Art Experience” ; “Art : The Indian Tradition” ; “Rasa Siddhanta : worldly or other worldly” ; “History as Allegory”, “Art, Meditation, and Life”.


Papers concerning specific works of art included :Ardhanarishwara – The Androgyne God” ; “The Philosophical significance of the Surasundaris depicted on the temple wall” ; “Saundarananda Story in Sculpture and Buddhist Hermeneutics”, “Buddhist art and Jataka tales”, “Sri Yantra Chakra”. Folk forms such as, “Madhubani paintings”,Kumaoni wall paintings” were also discussed. Other highlights of the programme included a “slide-show of the latest works of Himmat Shah : A dialogue with the artist” on the first day, a film show “The Genius of India” on the second day, and a “Concluding Interactive Session” anchored by Ranjan K. Ghosh.

Those who participated in the discussions included artists Jatin Das, Biren De, Latika Katt ; philosophers and critics, Rekha Jhanji, Sharad Deshpande, G. B. Deglurkar, Kapil Kapoor, Indra Nath Choudhury, Priyadarshi Patnaik, Gitanjali Rao ; art historians, Ratan Parimoo, P. N. Mago, Jyotindra Jain, Alka Pande, Deepak Kannal, Madhu Khanna, A. Sengupta, Shefali Bhatnagar, B. L. Malla, Ajit Kr. Dutta, Nilima Das, Manisha Jha, Anindya Kanti Biswas ; art teachers, Jai Jharotia, Kanchan Chander, and a large group of students from Delhi College of Art, Jamia Milia Islamia University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, National Museum Institute and Delhi University.

The seminar was attended by 120-130 participants from different walks of society. Concluding the seminar, Prof. Kireet Joshi spoke of the importance of inculcating a sense of imagination in the minds of the young students which can be done effectively through their involvement with the arts at the school level. He also stressed the need for doing away with the Macaulay’s system of education which does not allow for the proper growth and development of human personality.

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