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Rama returns to Panchavadi after slaying Maricha

This Pahari painting in Kangra style from Chamba, India is based on an episode from the great Indian epic, the Ramayana. Ravana, the brother of Surpanakha, whom Lakshmana had punished by cutting off her ears and nose, decides to avenge his sister’s humiliation and the insult to his family by abducting Sita. Using as a decoy the demon Maricha disguised as a beautiful golden deer, Ravana lures Rama away from the hermitage. Unable to capture the deer, Rama shoots it with an n arrow, wounding him fatally. Now Maricha assumes his real demonic form and cries out for help in Rama’s voice. Rama realizes too late that he has been tricked.

Hearing Rama’s shouts for help, Sita urges Lakshmana to go to his aid. She refuses to listen to Lakshmana’s assurance that no power on earth can harm Rama and accuses him of trying to get rid of Rama to usurp the throne of Ayodhya by foul means. Dismayed by the accusations hurled at him by Sita, Lakshmana reluctantly agrees to go in search of Rama after drawing a magic circle on the ground and enjoining Sita to remain inside the circle so that no harm will befall her.

As soon as Lakshmana leaves the hermitage Ravana, in the guise of a Brahmin mendicant arrives there and persuades her to leave the protection of the circle to offer him hospitality. Now Ravana seizes her and carries her off in his ‘pushpaka viman” or air borne chariot, after mortally wounding Jatayu. In this beautiful painting, we see Rama returning to the hermitage after killing Maricha.

This eighteenth century Indian painting from Chamba is a superb example of the art of miniature painting that flourished in India.