indian art - miniatures - archecticture - vedic philosophy

Classical - Kangra - Ramayana / Exile in the Forest
Plate 11 - Rama Meets With Adverse Omens  


Next Picture


The time of the episode seen in this painting is the hour of dusk. Gray and dark tones suggest the prevailing gloom. At the hermitage when Sita was alone, Ravana, in the guise of a mendicant, availing himself of the opportunity, rapidly came there. He stood there gazing on the glorious Sita of incomparable beauty. He praised at length every part of her perfect body and inquired of her who she was and why was she living in the forest. Taking Ravana to be a true Brahmin, Sita offered him a seat, brought water for washing his feet, and offered him food. She was anxiously expecting the return of Rama and Lakshmana and was searching the vast and darkening forest with her eyes. Sita told Ravana that she was the daughter of Janaka, the king of Videha, and the consort of Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. She narrated the cause of their coming to the forest.

Sita in her curiosity, inquired about Ravana and his lineage. Ravana described himself as the king of Titans, in fear of whom all creatures tremble. He told her his name was Ravana and in order to frighten her he said that he had subdued his brother Kubera, the lord of wealth, and that Lanka, his capital, stood in midst of the sea, rich in every respect, and was inhabited by powerful demons. Ravana implored Sita to become his chief queen and bid her not to think of Rama any more, as His end was near. Sita, filled with indignation, said that being the brother of Kubera, it did not behove him to commit such an infamous deed and warned him that any sinful action of his would bring destruction to him and all of his race. Hearing these words, Ravana revealed his true demon form and seized Sita who began to cry aloud, "Rama! Rama!" But Rama was far away in the depths of the forests.

After slaying Maricha, Rama is shown in the picture returning to the hermitage. He saw terrible portents, namely jackals and wild beasts howling. A ghost-like figure is shown laughing from behind a tree. An owl seated on the tree has started hooting. When Rama went a little farther towards the hermitage, He saw Lakshmana approaching. Rama, having been deceived by Maricha, was seized of a dread and now He became more distressed and anxiously inquired about Sita. He told Lakshmana that He had done an irremediable wrong by leaving Sita alone in the forest and thus reproached His brother.

The atmosphere of the painting is in keeping with the state of mind of Rama. A broken tree with only its trunk still standing is seen near Him and anticipates a surrealistic approach. An eerie atmosphere prevails over the whole scene conceived and executed by a master artist.