Indian Art: The Philosophy Behind It

Prabodh Parikh

My class notes

Summary from the Program

The story of the Indian civilizations, expression and experience of beauty and its delights are intimately bound up with its spiritual and philosophic formulations. The history of artistic/literary and cultural practices covers a wide range of systems of beliefs and forms of life, each with their specific set of images, symbols and forms. Therefore, the picture that one draws would include at its minimum, varieties of perspectives, for example, sources from its religious and spiritual traditions, historical and epic narratives, its musical, literary folk and tribal cultures, built heritage, as well as landscapes of centers of pilgrimage. The aesthetic discourses of these matters have been lively and vibrant within the history of Indian philosophic reflections. The talk will develop a few of these points.

My Notes

- bringing together the ethical and the aesthetic allows...the survival of a civilization
- the metaphysical/philosophy heavily affects art here
- Indian civilization MUCH older than American
- esthetics (anywhere) are movement from the necessary to freedom
- Art as play
- Art treats everyone alike, regardless of caste, gender, money...
- folk and tribal traditions nourish art here
- art must cross class boundaries (or it will stagnate?)
- Indian art always deals with religion
- religions have systems of signs and symbols
- you need to understand the system for the environment to make sense
- there are many old religions here -> many traditions of signs and symbols
- the art doesn't make as much sense not knowing the system
- for example, does Buddhism lead to minimalism?
- Indian art is an attempt to recover the divine
- art allows you (when it affects you) to forget yourself, join with the divine
- artists are considered dangerous, politically, in the west - this doesn't really apply here
- well, mostly - some art is occasionally suppressed
- plays were governed by the police in the 1960s 
by giles