indian art - miniatures - archecticture - vedic philosophy

Classical - Kangra - Ramayana / Exile in the Forest
Plate 9 - The Demon Maricha in the Guise of a Deer  


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Surpanakha, whose nose and ears had been cut off by Lakshmana, came to her brother Khara emitting shrieks and with blood dripping from her wounds. Khara was greatly infuriated on seeing his sister with her face disfigured. She narrated the episode and asked her brother to avenge her. Burning with anger she wanted to drink the blood of Sita and the two princes. Khara sent fourteen powerful demons with her to slay them. In the encounter all the fourteen demons were killed by Rama and Lakshmana. Seeing the demons fall, Surpanakha, filled with rage, sped to her brother Khara who himself, with an army of fourteen thousand demons headed by their general Dushana, set forth to attack the two brothers. On seeing a huge army, Rama asked Lakshmana to take Sita to a cave in the hill for safety while He Himself fought and killed the entire host of demons. Dushana, Trishira, and Khara too were slain, one by one. Akampana, one of the Titans, speedily repaired to Lanka to apprise Ravana of his brothers' death, the annihilation of his entire army, and the humiliation and injury suffered by his sister Surpanakha. He told Ravana that it would be difficult to kill Rama in an encounter, but if His beautiful wife Sita could be seized, Rama would die of grief at separation.

Ravana felt gratified at the suggestion and went to the demon Maricha to obtain his help in a plan to abduct Sita. Maricha, who had had experience of Rama's velour, counseled Ravana to abandon his design, as that would bring destruction to him and all the Titans. Ravana, changing his mind, returned to Lanka where Surpanakha again urged him to slay Rama. She flattered Ravana by relating to him his past victories and then described the beauty and charming figure of Sita. She told her brother that he was unaware of the danger threatening his kingdom. Ravana thereupon again decided to abduct Sita and went to Maricha and forced him to assist him in his plan. Maricha, possessing magical powers, assumed the marvelous form of a deer and entered the hermitage of Rama. His radiance filled the whole atmosphere. Sita, who was collecting flowers, is seen at the right where the wonderful deer first appeared. She was enamored by the beauty of the deer and prayed Rama to capture the deer, as it would serve as a playmate for her. In the picture the deer again appears near the two brothers who are looking at the animal with a feeling of amazement. Sita's desire to possess the deer was so great that Rama, disregarding Lakshmana's advice, went out in chase of the deer saying that if the wonderful animal was in reality the demon Maricha it was essential to slay it. The horizon with crimson and white streaks of curving clouds is an idiom peculiar to Chamba and Nurpur.