Indian art has a very long and an illustrious history. Painting as an art form has flourished in India from very early periods as is evident from various epics and other literary sources; and also from the remnants that have somehow survived the test of time, vagaries of nature and vandalism- wanton or otherwise - caused by humans.
The main characteristic of Indian art has been its remarkable unity and consistency. Though there were regional variations and individual styles, the works produced in diverse geographical and cultural regions shared certain common values, concepts and techniques. Indian art is often classified as religious art, though not all Indian art is purely religious, and some of it is only nominally so. The impression was perhaps grafted by the contemplative imagery presented by the ancient Indian art. But, the art, in general, was inspired by life, by reflecting upon human concerns and aspirations; and celebrating and delighting in the life of this world.
Even the religious art is not sectarian. It is at once Hindu, Buddhist and Jain, for its style was a function of time and region and not of religion. Thus, it is not strictly correct to speak of Hindu or Buddhist art, but, rather, of Indian art that happened to render Hindu or Buddhist themes. For example, an image of Vishnu and an image of Buddha of the same period are stylistically the same, religion having little to do with the mode of artistic expression.
The artists of Ajanta, who created those valuable treasures of the art world, were the inheritors of an ancient tradition that painted and decorated palaces, temples and caves. The theories, principles and techniques followed by those artists came down to them through oral traditions bequeathed by a long line of artists spread over several generations. The artists of Ajanta were also inspired and guided by the principles and techniques described in texts such as the Chitrasutra of the Vishnudharmottarra Purana, which attempted to preserve the ancient and pass it on in its purity to the subsequent generations.
All of these works of art, however, have stood the test of time and existed through centuries. This in itself proves the greatness and value of these paintings. It is something that is part of our culture that we can be pleased about.