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Lakshmana abandons a pregnant Sita in the forest

UnknownEarly 19th Century

National Museum - New Delhi

National Museum - New Delhi
New Delhi , India

After Rama is crowned as king of Ayodhya, he receives secret reports that people in his kingdom perceive his wife Sita to have been unfaithful to Rama while she had been in captivity of the demon king Ravana. Rama, fearing ill repute, orders an unwilling Lakshmana to take the pregnant Sita into forest on the pretext of showing her the hermitage of the pious sage Valmiki and leave her there. Lakshmana takes an unsuspecting Sita, who is delighted by her outing into the dense forest amidst which the sage’s hermitage is located. There, with a heavy heart Lakshmana informs Sita that Rama, although fully aware of the chastity of Sita is afraid of the calumny of the citizens of his kingdom who suspect Sita to have been unfaithful to Rama during her captivity at Lanka, has forsaken her and has ordered Lakshmana to leave her near the hermitage of the sage Valmiki.

The artist has brilliantly conceived and used the undulations of the abstract and stylised hillocks to compartmentalise and segregate each part of the story, as well as employed their schematic design as a composite backdrop to the visual narrative. The multitude of trees dotting the landscape break the monotony of the hills, as well as suggest the wilderness in which Sita is deserted. The open spaces and glades become areas of interest, which the artist effectively highlights using bright and rich colours to mark out areas of interest.

On the top right, Sita is overwhelmed by grief having heard the ruthless words of Lakshmana. The artist depicts her lying down on the earth, her pose and gestures of her hands expressing her unspeakable anguish. Overwhelmed by anxiety and grief, sunk in sorrow, her sobs resound in the forest and the animals, moved by her plight surround her in sympathy.

In the middle register, Lakshmana stooping, heart heavy with the painful duty he has just performed, will cross the rivulet to go back to Ayodhya. In the lower right the Sage Valmiki having heard of the plight of Sita comes to comfort her and offers her shelter in his hermitage, accompanied by his train of followers who seem to have just foraged some fruits, and collected firewood from the forest.

Emotions are registered with subtle gestures and expressions are articulated through poses or stance of the body: the slight stoop of the shoulders, the bowed head or arms flung out in helpless despair.

Details

  • Title: Lakshmana abandons a pregnant Sita in the forest
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Early 19th Century
  • Physical Dimensions: 33.5 cm x 43.5 cm

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