indian art - miniatures - archecticture - vedic philosophy

Classical - Kangra - Ramayana / Exile in the Forest
Plate 2 - The Agony of Bharata  


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Pahari School, Chamba kalam, Kangra idiom
Circa A.D. 1780-1785 Size: 34 x 23.1 cm

Dasaratha could not survive the grief and shock of the separation from his son Rama. On his death, swift messengers were sent to Rajgriha where Bharata along with Satrughna was living with his maternal grandfather, whose kingdom lay beyond the Beas in the North-West. Bharata had an ominous dream at night and was feeling sore, troubled, and depressed. Neither music nor other distractions were of any avail to cheer him up. Then came the messengers who, as advised by the sage Vasishtha, did not tell them anything about Dasaratha's death and the other events which had taken place. The two brothers started from Rajgriha with presents and a large retinue, which they left behind, and hastened to reach Ayodhya. On the seventh day of their journey they reached Ayodhya in the evening.

The city appeared charmless and deserted, as if it were plunged in gloom. Not finding his father at his usual place in the palace, Bharata went to his mother Kaikeyi. On learning of his father's death and the banishment of Rama with Sita and Lakshmana, he was overwhelmed by grief and reproached his mother Kaikeyi. He then went to Kausalya and after a long effort, convinced her of his ignorance of what had occurred. Bharata then performed the funeral rites of his father. After thirteen days of mourning, which period is considered impure, the ministers of the State decided to install Bharata as the king of Ayodhya and started all the preparations for the occasion. On hearing the sounds of drums, conches, and other instruments, Bharata felt very aggrieved and said to Satrughna "Behold, in what a mighty wrong the people are engaged on account of Kaikeyi. I cannot deprive Rama of the kingdom." Carried away by emotions and overcome by sorrow, he fainted.

In the picture we see Bharata full of grief and weeping. A nobleman seated near Bharata is supporting him while Kausalya is consoling him. Kaikeyi seated beside the tent looks remorseful. Her downcast head rests on her right hand. Her intrigues to make Bharata the king had borne no fruit and had only lowered her in the eyes of everyone, including her son. The intelligent Bharata, then coming to the assembly, surveyed the seated nobles and with a choked voice told them that only Rama deserved the kingdom. He did not appreciate the act of his mother and decided to bring back Rama.

The diagonal line of standing female figures at the center and the prominent curving river lend movement to the scene. The female figures disclose the influence of the Guler style. The heads of some of the men in proportion to their bodies appear slightly larger, but the rendering of the figures is delicate. Different idioms of the earlier and the new styles of painting in the picture suggest a period of transition. The predominance of green in the painting is a characteristic of Kangra painting and here serves as a foil for the figures clad in colorful costumes.