indian art - miniatures - archecticture - vedic philosophy

Classical - Kangra - Ramayana / Exile in the Forest
Plate 12 - Rama and Lakshmana Bemoaning the Loss of Sita  


First Picture


Pahari School, Chamba kalam, Kangra idiom
Circa A.D. 1780-1785 Size: 32.3 x 21.8 cm

Returning from the forest, Rama, who was seized with a fit of trembling, repeatedly inquired of Lakshmana, "Can all be well with Sita?" Eager to see her again, He quickened his pace and hastened on. But when He reached the hermitage, He found it deserted. Rama, overwhelmed with sorrow on not finding Sita, began to lament bitterly. The brothers searched for her here and there, near the river, at the lake, on the hills, and in the caves, but could not find any trace of her. Their hut and everything around, without Sita appeared desolate. Sunk in misery and in excess of anguish, Rama swooned. Lakshmana revived Him and tried to console Him. They again made endeavors to find Sita.

Rama, overcome by anxiety, kept inquiring from everything, be it a tree, a bird, or an animal, about His beautiful consort. Lakshmana observed that a deer from whom Rama had made an enquiry about Sita, seemed to indicate to them to proceed in a southerly direction. They thus decided to follow that path. Then they saw the great eagle Jatayu lying mortally wounded and about to die. The king of vultures, in a feeble and mournful voice, told Rama that while he was asleep he was awakened by the piercing shrieks of Sita. He then saw Ravana carrying Sita away forcibly. Thereupon he attacked Ravana and wounded him and destroyed his chariot. But Ravana had cut off his wings with his sword. The mighty and heroic Jatayu could speak no more and died. Thus passed away one of the noblest characters of the Ramayana.

In the picture the whole scene is set at the center against the empty hut while the two brothers are seen with their faces downcast. Everything near the hut appears in disarray. Rama looks crest fallen, His cap is lying on the ground and His garland in pieces shows His broken heart. We have been seeing in these paintings deer in pairs, but here at the left, a single deer is shown symbolizing the loneliness of Rama. The coloring of the painting is masterly in keeping with the sadness and desolation of the moment. Even the blue sky at this hour of dusk adds to the gloom. The artist himself, out of deep faith, must have experienced an intense feeling of sadness over this particular episode of the story as he painted it, and hence the splendid pictorial presentation of the most tragic episode of the exile in the forest.