Tag Archives: Ram-Sita

Jatayu’s story – a tale of sacrifice

      A place in Kerala, south of India originally called Jatayumangalam has an interesting legend behind it. It is now called Chadayamangalam named after a bird Jatayu from the Indian epic Ramayana whose wings were clipped off by Ravana. Jatayu did the ultimate sacrifice by trying to stop Ravana, when Sitadevi was being carried off to Lanka by him. The rocks here hold striking carvings of Jatayu’s beak mark during his last breath and footprints of Lord Rama. The illustrations depicted capture the story and illustrate the bird’s devotion and supreme sacrifice to his object of worship !

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Jatayu fights Ravana, Hazara Rama Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, 15th century.

       The India epic Ramayana which is the story of Lord Rama, narrates the story of the sacrifice of Jatayu, the bird-vulture who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and knew that Lord Rama was his incarnation in human form. When Sita was found missing, Rama was highly aggrieved and he along with his brother Lakhsmana started searching the forests for her. She had actually been abducted and Ravana was waiting to avenge the humiliation of his sister Surpanakha by Lakhsmana.

As Sita was being carried off by Ravana in his flying chariot, she gave out loud wails for help to the forests with its all its flora and fauna. Nature heard her cries but no one could really help. At this time Jatayu was resting on a tree top. He heard the appeals of Sita and immediately flew off the tree and came close to Ravana’s aerial chariot. He tried to reason with him but Ravana was very angry and in no mood to listen. Jatayu then attacked him with his powerful beak and talons.

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Jatayu fights Ravana, painting, Illuminated Ramayana manuscript, Jammu, Punjab Hills, 1820.

In order to foil the evil act of abduction by Ravana, a fierce battle followed between Jatayu and Ravana. Ravana was way much stronger to him, but Jatayu managed to offset some of Ravana’s weapons and bring him down to earth with his chariot. But this enraged Ravana further and he shot arrows at the bird and slashed his wings with his dagger. Jatayu could no longer fly and hit the gound too. Sita rushed to his help but Ravana carried her off again in his aerial chariot.

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Jatayu with Lord Rama and Lakhsmana, painting, a local variation of Ramayana, Marwar, Rajasthan, 1820-40.

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Jatayu’s attempt to foil Sita’s abduction, folio from a Vaidehisha-vilasa, Kalighat painting, LACMA, USA, late 19th century.

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Jatayu-vadha, painting, Raja Ravi Varma, 1906.

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Book illustration, Myths of the Hindus & Buddhists, Ravana fighting with Jatayu” by K. Venkatappa, 1914.

       Sampati was Jatayu’s brother. On hearing of his sibling’s predicament from one of his tribe he rushed to his side. The sun was very scorching on that fateful day. Jatayu was lying wounded and would soon die; Sampati covered him with large wings so that he would be comfortable in his last moments. Rama and Lakshmana soon arrived on the  poignant scene. With great difficulty Jatayu related his tale and informed Rama of the abduction and the route that Ravana was taking. This was of great help to him to understand Sita’s whereabouts in order to bring her back. Jatayu was thus the first informer. It is believed that Sampati’s wings got so scorched that he could not fly again. This is one version of the story. However Jatayu died and got liberation (moksha or mukti)  from rebirth by the touch of Rama. Thus ended a saga of devotion and sacrifice in glory !

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Jatayu sculpture, Jatayu Earth Centre, Chadayamangalam, 20th century, Kerala.

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Ravana fights Jatayu, depiction at Bhabanipur Chandranath Chatterjee Lane Sarbojanin Durga Puja pandal, South Kolkata. Bengal School of Art. 2011.

 

References :

 

  • Myths and legends in India Art/S.D Trivedi and Atul Jairath, Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan, 2009.
  • wikipedia.org
  • Images are from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

Posted by ;

Soma Ghosh

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Happy Diwali – Lord Rama comes home

         Diwali is celebrated with great excitement and festivity in India. The day marks the return of Lord Rama to his capital Ayodhya with his wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and Hanuman, the leader of his vanarasena or monkey army after his win in battle over Ravana, the lord of Lanka.After the battle between Lord Rama and Ravana, Ravana was ultimately killed by Rama and Vibhishana, his brother was made the king of Lanka. It is recalled that the city was lit with thousands of lamps on his return.

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Every year this day is commemorated across India. This is as mentioned in the epic Ramayana, the part of the story from Uttarakanda, the final chapter in the epic tale by Sage Valmiki. Lord Rama comes back in his Pushpakvimana to be coronated as king to Ayodhya. Presented here are some amazing depictions of the return of Rama and his coronation which led to his rule of thousand years also called Ramarajya, a glorious rule.

 

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Lord Rama starting to return to Ayodhya, Kangra miniature, late 18th century, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, U K.

       The Pushpakvimana has been described as a self-moving painted car, which was large with two storeys and few chambers in it, also with flags and colourful banners, and gave a melodious sound as it made its way across the sky.

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Shri Ramachandra or Lord Rama seen on Pushpakvimana with his wife Sita, brother Lakshmana, Hanuman and others, print, Modern Litho Works, Bombay , early 20th century.

The Uttarakanda narrates that Lord Rama reached the kingdom of Ayodhya along with Lakshmana, Sita, Hanuman, Sugriva, Vibhishana and the host of monkeys.  After he reaches his kingdom, his brother Bharata who has waited from him to come back restores the kingdom to his elder brother. After that the preparations for the actual coronation begin;  royal barbers are called and Lord Rama and Lakshmana are bathed, shorn of their matted locks and dressed in splendid robes; Dasharatha’s queens deck Sita with  jewellery  and the priests give orders for the coronation to take place.

 

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Return of Lord Rama, miniature painting, Sahib Din, 17th century, British Library, London, U.K.

”Making use of Ravana’s flying chariot, the exiles have left Lanka and flown swiftly northwards, the directional imperative now being from right to left. Reunited with Bharata and Shatrughna, who have kept Rama’s kingdom for him during the fourteen years of exile, they enter Ayodhya in triumph. They drive through the bazaars with their festive hangings to the palace where they are received by their mothers. Even Kaikeyi is forgiven. The monkey king Sugriva, his minister Hanuman and the other chief monkeys have assumed human form. Rama’s coronation begins his auspicious reign, a truly golden age for mankind – Ram-raj , Rama’s rule”…The British Library.

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Return of Lord Rama in a pushpaka vimana and preparations for his coronation, miniature painting,  Mewar, Rajasthan, 17th century.

      The Uttarakanda further narrates that Lord Rama as king was visited by many sages from far and near,they came from east and west and north and south, led by Sage Agastya, and Lord Rama venerated them and provided them with seats of sacrificial grass and gold-embroidered deer-skin. Then the sages praised him as he had won the battle and also slain  Ravana, the sons of Ravana, and had delivered men and gods from fear.

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Lord Rama’s as King of Ayodhya, artwork, 1940s.

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Woman holding sparklers, India, 19th century, Honolulu Museum of Art, U S A.

 

References:

  • vyasaonline.com
  • Images are from Wikimedia Commons, freepik.com (lamps image)

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

 

Ram-Sita in art : varied depictions

      Rama is the main protagonist in the great Indian epic, Ramayana of Hinduism. Rama is believed to be  the seventh avatar of Vishnu from the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.The Ramayana is the story of his ideals, his greatness, his life events,  his marriage, his exile, the abduction of his wife Sita and his battle with Ravana.  Scriptures and texts based on the Ramayana exist in many cultures in south Asia.

   Rama was the eldest son of King Dasaratha and Kaushalya of  Kosala (area in present day Uttar Pradesh). Rama is considered to be a perfect man and Sita is considered to be an avatar of Goddess Lakshmi  and a great woman. Rama is revered for his exemplary courage and devotion to religious values, dharma.  Lord Rama faces many obstacles and hardships in his life, serves an exile of fourteen arduous years in the forest along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. During this time ,Sita is abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka. After a long search and with the help of Hanuman, his devotee, she if found there and after a colossal battle with monkey armies where Ravana is killed, he frees Sita. He finally returns to Ayodhya and is crowned to rule with justice and prosperity ; the period is called Rama-rajya.

  Lord Rama is known by other names as Raghava, Raghunandan, Siyavaara, Dasarathaputra, Maryada-purushottama among others.

Lord Rama,painting, probably Thanjavur or Tiruchirapally,Tamil Nadu,early 19th century.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

              The epic Ramayana is composed by the sage  Valmiki. The Bhagavata purana retells the events up to the defeat of Ravana and Rama’s coronation in Ayodhya. As per the  Vishnu purana, Lord Rama is the seventh  avatar of Vishnu.The stories of Rama are mentioned in the Mahabharata too. In Buddhist texts the Dasaratha Jataka mentions Rama.

  Sita,also known as Siya, Vaidehi, Janaki, Maithili or Bhoomija, is the wife of Rama in Ramayana. She is the daughter of King Janaka of Videha and his wife Sunaina. She is revered for her feminine virtues,dedication, self-sacrifice, courage and purity.Sita has been a much revered figure amongst the Hindus. She has been portrayed as an ideal daughter, an ideal wife and an ideal mother in various texts and stories. Sita is often worshipped with Rama as his consort, as Ram-Sita.

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Marriage of Rama and his brothers,Mandi artists,1750.

By Mandi Artists [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsFile:Rama taking leave of Dasharatha.jpg

Rama taking leave of Dasaratha,painting,late 16th century.

By Asian Art at the San Diego Museum of Art [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Rama,Sita and Lakshmana in exile,painting,19th century.

By Raja Ravi Press [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Ravana visiting Sita as an ascetic,oleograph,19th century.

By Raja Ravi Varma (http://www.barodaart.com/oleographs-ramayana.html) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Ravana approaching Sita during her captivity,painting,20th century.

Nina Paley [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

            Various versions of the Ramayana exist in major Indian languages. In Tamil the epic poem Ramavataram by 12th century poet Kambar, the Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas in the 16th century in Hindi  have been celebrated. Some contemporary versions too have gained importance like Shri Ramayana darshanam by Kuvempu in Kannada and Ramayana kalpavriksham by Viswanatha Satyanarayana in Telugu. 

   Ancient sources say that Rama was born in the end of Tretayuga ,880 thousand years ago. However Ramayana in its current form is dated to 7th-4th century B.C.

 

Rama,Sita and Lakshmana at Rishi Bharadwaj ashram, painting, Kangra,Himachal Pradesh,18th century.

By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Lakshmana and Sita leave Ayodhya,painting,Kangra, early 19th century, Honolulu Academy of Arts,USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Sita during agnipariksha, painting, Mughal school,1600s.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Ram-Sita, bazaar art image,1950.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rama,Lakshmana and Sita setting up their house at Panchavati, illustration,Mewar,17th century.

By Sahib Din – he Mewar Ramayana manuscriptshttp://www.bing.com/images/search?q=ramayana&view=detail&id=0C0E701EB344D9DE7CB522AF96579BA349080A53&first=271&FORM=IDFRIR, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18323491

 

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Rama and Sita, Kalighat painting, 19th century,Kolkata.

By Unknown – The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41948605

 

 

References :

  • wikipedia.org
  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporevala and Sons.

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

 

© author