The Arrival of King Dushyant at Sage Kanva’s Hermitage

UnknownMid 19th Century

National Museum - New Delhi

National Museum - New Delhi
New Delhi , India

As King Dushyant reaches at the hermitage in a gilded chariot pulled by a team of white horses, he is apprised of his arrival by his charioteer who turns around to inform the king. His advent was fervently awaited by the ascetics of the hermitage and he is welcomed by a young boy sage, who greets him with folded hands.

The scene of the hermitage is charmingly set among the undulating hillocks and lush verdure of a grove of trees that shade and envelop a cozy hut. The delightful little hut is bordered with a small fence of dried branches roped together setting off its premises from the expansive wilderness of the highlands dotted with young pines.

Although Dushyant has arrived to shield the ascetics residing in the sanctuary from the onslaught of the ravaging demons so that the sages may be able to perform their prayer rituals unhindered, there are no ominous signs of the havoc caused by them. The lush forested hermitage presents an image of picturesque calm, with a serenely sleeping cow curled up in a corner tethered to the fence, little birds perched on the trees, a small rivulet gently meandering below and the unruffled calm of the still leaves of the trees.

The ascetics in the hermitage are engaged in the task of setting up the consecrated space for their ritual prayers - a bundle of wood for the sacred fire and other articles required are being arranged again.

Little details animate the scene. Note for instance the detail of the little fire with wispy curls of smoke billowing upwards in front of the hermit who sits engaged in deep meditation in the tiny cavern below right, or the mouth of the deer skin that serves as seat holding a hand shaped ladle used to make offerings of purified butter into the Vedic fires. Other articles such as pots, woven baskets and ritual objects to be used in the sacred ceremony are rendered with intricate detail.

The realism that marks the features of the sages is missing in the rendering of the king and his charioteer who are rendered more as stylised types. The king is distinguished by an unnatural pallor that sets him apart from his swarthy companion and the other sages who are rendered in darker tones.


  • Title: The Arrival of King Dushyant at Sage Kanva’s Hermitage
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Mid 19th Century
  • Physical Dimensions: 33 x 37 cm
  • Style: Nalagarh / Hindur
  • Accession Number: 89.503/36

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