Hanuman Presents Rama's Ring to Sita Surrounded by Rakshasis

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Item Code: HC04
Water Color Painting on PaperArtist: Kailash Raj
Dimensions 7 inch X 10 inch
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Hanuman presents Rama's ring to Sita at Ashoka-vatika This highly simplified miniature depicts one of the most significant episodes from the Ramayana. It precedes the climax of Rama-katha, Ravana's defeat and death, re-union of Rama and Sita and Rama's return to Ayodhya. The painting relates to Hanuman's arrival at Ashoka-vatika in Lanka as Rama's emissary in search of Sita. It was at Ashoka-vatika that Ravana had kept Sita after her abduction. Hanuman, while searching Sita, finds Ravana's brother Vibhishana engaged in commemorating Rama's name, as he was a devotee of Rama. From Vibhishana he knows that Sita was housed in Ashoka-vatika. With his assistance Hanuman reaches Ashoka-vatika. He assumes a dwarf's form lest in heavily guarded Lanka he is seen and identified by anyone. Unobserved he mounts the tree Sita was sitting under. By his magic spell he sends she-demons attending on her into death-like slumber and keeping himself hidden behind the branches of the tree drops Rama's ring before Sita. He thought that she may not believe him, if he appeared directly before her. Hence, before doing so he wanted to know how she reacted when she saw Rama's ring.

A little before, Ravana with all kinds of his threats was there. Annoyed by Sita's insulting words he was even violent and had raised his sword on her but was somehow cooled down by his wife Mandodari accompanying him. After he left, a desperate Sita wished to end her life and prayed Trijata, the only one of Ravana's host she confided in and revered as her mother, to favour her with a pyre to burn herself in. Trijata consoled her and told her of an auspicious dream she saw only the preceding night, which indicated that her lord Rama was not far off from her. When tossing from desperation to hopes, Sita, to her utter astonishment and disbelief, finds before her the ring of her lord Rama fell from sky. She picks it up and its minute examination reveals that it is genuine.

This doubles Sita's dilemma. Ravana's threats evoke inauspicious thoughts and send her in shivers. How could Ravana or any of his men obtain the ring from the finger of her lord? by deceit or by harm? Trijata's consoling words, however, simultaneously generate fresh hopes. Is her lord really close by? In utter dismay, she looks towards sky and finds hidden behind the branches of the tree a monkey of baby-monkey size. For a moment she perceives in the whole episode Ravana's sinister designs but only the other moment, there generates in her heart the mother-like feeling for the monkey. Led by her affectionate looks, the monkey Hanuman appears before her with folded hands and conveys to her his Master's words.

Against an opaque steel-grey back-drop, suggestive of late evening, the painting renders, within a conventionalised but fine elegant border, Sita sitting on a 'chowki' with a huge majestic bolster behind her, under the Ashoka tree in Ravana's Ashoka-vatika. Even in captivity the glow of her costume and the brilliance of her jewels has not diminished. This and the other elements of regality, the golden chowki and the bolster, are partly the product of artist's reverence for her, but, besides, they also define the dimensions of the legend that he attempted to create on his canvas. When on their way to Panchavati, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana visit the hermitage of Saint Atri, whose wife Ansuya offers to Sita divine clothes and jewels which neither wore out, faded nor ever lost their glow and brilliance. Obviously, the artist, when rendering Sita in such bright costume and lavish jewels, despite that she is in Ravana's captivity, had Ansuya episode in his mind. He preferred a plain background to give his figures a brilliant portraitural quality.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.

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