King Dushyant attending a Yagna Performed by the Sages

UnknownMid 19th Century

National Museum - New Delhi

National Museum - New Delhi
New Delhi , India

A warm fire blazes merrily, its little red-gold flames erupting out through small gaps between the pile of logs. Seated around the dancing flames, three sages perform their ritual sacrifices to the gods, one kindling the fire by offering ritual oblations with an extended metallic ladle fashioned as a hand, holding its arm in his right hand. The billowing wisps of smoke from the fire rise up in curls taking the ritual offerings to the gods in the celestial realm. Another young sage recites the prescribed mantras reading out from a scriptural text. The eldest sage sits cross-legged overseeing the ritual performances of the two young sages.

For the sacrificial rites, ritually prescribed offerings and objects lay scattered around the fire - the dhruva grass, and earthen pots and vessels woven from leaves carrying the offering of the samidha, flowers and rice reproduced in delightful detail.

Overseeing the ritual sacrifices of the sages and ensuring that they are performed without any obstruction by the nasty demons who have been vandalising the sacred precincts, king Dushyant sits on a mat woven of dried grass, himself beading a rosary, while an array of weapons - a bow and quiver of arrows and a sword - lie beside him. He exemplifies the ideal king as a warrior-sage - the one who has temporal might perfectly balanced by his spiritual prowess. Despite his chanting of sacred mantras on the count of his rosary beads, his hand remains near his sword in alert anticipation to counter any untoward incident that might occur.

Even though Dushyant is placed further in the plane from the viewer, he is rendered in a scale far larger than the other sages sitting nearer to the viewer, visually indicating his social and political hierarchy.

Apart from the cosy circle of the ritual performers bound within a charmingly rendered fence, the undulating waves of the mountain ranges suggest a vast expanse of space beyond the grove. Pretty little birds peep through gaps in the branches of the trees, perched on the branches of the trees, or swoop and fly about in the idyllic landscape. Tiny areas of a clear cornflower blue sky peek through the thicket of trees. In a lower stepped enclosure than the group of sages, a cow reposes peacefully lying on its side, its eyes shut in deep sleep.


  • Title: King Dushyant attending a Yagna Performed by the Sages
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Mid 19th Century
  • Physical Dimensions: 33 x 37 cm
  • Style: Nalagarh / Hindur
  • Accession Number: 89.503/35

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