Hanuman crossing the Ocean over to Lanka (Early 18th Century) by UnknownNational Museum - New Delhi
After learning that Ravana of Lanka, the king of demons, has abducted Sita and is holding her captive on his island kingdom, Jambavan the King of the bears urges Hanuman, son of the wind god, to take the leap across the enormous ocean to Lanka as the only one capable of accomplishing this daunting feat.
Hanuman expands to an immense size and leaps off from the summit of Mount Mahendra with his arms outstretched and tail curved behind him.
The folio depicts the moment when Hanuman has just taken a gigantic leap from the Mainaka mountain.
The ocean commands Mainaka the underwater mountain, which guards the entrance to the patal loka, the subterranean realms of the universe located under the earth, to rise above the waters and serve as a resting place for Hanuman midway in his flight.
Hanuman however considers the mountain as an obstacle, and his resting as a neglect of his duty, merely taps the mountain with his hand and leaps off again.
Hanuman flies in the sky with effortless ease, his long wrap fluttering in the wind.
Such is the speed of his flight that the trees on the mountain are flung away in all directions.
As he passes through the glistening rain-filled clouds in the sky, disappearing then appearing once again from behind the clouds, Hanuman flies in the sky, “like the moon who shines and is hidden alternately” (Valmiki Ramayana 5.1.82).
On seeing Hanuman flying past in the sky, celestial beings such as the devas and gandharvas shower him with multi-coloured floral blossoms.
The folio is painted with a bold gusto that wonderfully limns the heroic endeavour of Hanuman. Background accoutrements are reduced to a bare minimum and clear narrative action takes precedence.
The trees are rendered with an imaginative abandon in brilliant fantastical colours.
The figure of Hanuman, depicted lithe and fast moving, engages the viewer, and the artist convincingly conveys the ability of Hanuman to undertake this superhuman feat.
One can feel the strength and energy with which Hanuman flies, the swerving clouds are whipped up by the tremendous speed of Hanuman.
The ocean is rendered like a river curving upwards towards Hanuman, attenuating his flying motion.