indian art - miniatures - archecticture - vedic philosophy

Classical - Kangra - Ramayana / Exile in the Forest
Plate 5 - Rama at the Hermatige of Sage Agastya  


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When Rama, with Sita and Lakshmana, in the course of their wanderings, entered the vast Dandaka forest, they were welcomed by the ascetics living there with offerings of fruits and flowers. They begged Rama to protect them from the rakshasas roaming in the forest. Sita was once carried off by the demon Viradha whom the two brothers attacked with arrows and other weapons. Sita was saved and the demon, possessed of tremendous strength, was destroyed, but with great difficulty. Further on their way they arrived at the hermitage of the sage Sarabhanga. This sage had acquired great merits by penances. The god Indra himself had come to conduct the sage to Brahma-loka, but he refused to accompany Indra as he intended to enjoy Rama's presence at his hermitage. Sarabhanga, gratified by Rama's visit, ascended to Brahma-loka. The ascetics who assembled there supplicated Rama to defend the countless Brahmins and ascetics living in the forest from the cruel persecution of the Titans. Rama consented to slay these demons.

Sita, out of love for her consort, implored Him not to attack the demons without provocation, as that would amount to a sin. Realizing the sufferings of the pure-soured ascetics of virtuous practices, Rama had promised them protection; a promise He could not violate. Meeting several sages, the holy Sutikshna, who was Agastya's brother, Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita, after ten years, arrived at the hermitage of the sage Agastya where several other ascetics were also living. Beside the hermitage is seen a tranquil lake full of lotus flowers and leaves. The holy sage, seen seated on a deer skin in front of Rama, rests his left arm on an ascetic's crook. Agastya, with a feeling of bliss visible on his face,
beholds with veneration the handsome countenance of Rama. The sage, as a symbol of homage, offered Rama fruits, roots, flowers, water and other things in great profusion. The illustrious sage also gave Rama mighty weapons of god Vishnu - a powerful bow, a Brahma-datta dart resembling the sun, two inexhaustible quivers filled with sharp arrows, and a sword. Rama felt overwhelmed with the favors shown to him and paid obeisance to the great sage and expressed his gratitude. Rama requested the sage to indicate to him a place abounding in trees and with abundant water where they could dwell in peace. The sage suggested they should live at Panchavati where roots, fruits, and water abounded, and where there were many deer. He said that it was an enchanting woodland close to the Godavari river that would delight Sita.

The inclusion of bushes in profusion, trees of various shapes, and even leafless trees seen in the painting, enhance the beauty of the landscape. The bushes also add to the textural value of the painting. The tall tree with thick foliage under which Rama is seated symbolizes the greatness of the hero.