Two Boys Sages Come to Request King Dushyanta to Protect their Sacrificial Fires from Demons

UnknownMid 19th Century

National Museum - New Delhi

National Museum - New Delhi
New Delhi , India

The folio depicts the point in the story when king Dushyant, after having encountered Shakuntala in the forest sanctuary of sage Kanva, returns to his encamped court captivated by Shakuntala’s charm and beauty. Eager to return to the hermitage under some pretext, to see his beloved again, he is shown in the folio seated upon a green carpet leaning against a bolster, devising and discussing strategies to enter the hermitage with his close confidante Madhavya.

Dushyant’s close confidante Madhavya, irked by Dushyant’s need to find a pretext to enter the premises of the hermitage, which Dushyant as the king owns, bitingly suggests that the king go to the hermitage to collect a tax on the wild rice shown in the sanctuary. Madhavya’s jibe underscores the fact that Dushyant is the king and the territory that he is so hesitant to enter is lawfully under his command. Dushyant on the other hand is greatly affronted by Madhavya’s suggestion, and snubs his suggestion.

Even as their discussion is on, two young ascetics from the hermitage enter the king’s camp to seek an audience with the king and ask for his protection against the demons ravaging the forest and creating havoc, impeding their sacrificial rituals. Dushyant, having just found an excellent excuse to enter the hermitage and meet Shakuntala, readily agrees to help.

The folio combines two events of the story and depicts the ascetics first entering the camp and seeking an audience with the king in Dushyant’s court in the upper register, while they are shown in the lower register as having just entered before the king folding their hands in greeting.

The artist articulates the precise moment of their entry by depicting Madhavya turning his head in a sudden surprised motion. The choice of the small scale used in the rendering of the ascetics is in order to portray them as children or young boys.

The comparative proportions used in the construction of the figures in the folio however, is distorted. Madhavya’s larger scale when compared to the scale used for Dushyant, whose status as king should have ensured that he is depicted in a scale larger than Madhavya, suggests that the anomaly in rendering of scale is mainly due to the artists’ excessive reliance on stencils or charbas and his inability the reconcile the differing scales due to it use to render his figures.


  • Title: Two Boys Sages Come to Request King Dushyanta to Protect their Sacrificial Fires from Demons
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Mid 19th Century
  • Physical Dimensions: 33 x 37 cm
  • Style: Nalagarh / Hindur
  • Accession Number: 89.503/41

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