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This resplendent oil painting portrays Hanuman, who is invoked by millions of his devotees for protecting them in difficulties, his basic attribute for which he is worshipped - 'Ko nahin janat hai jag mein Kapi Sankat Mochan nama timharo' who knows not in the world, O Monkey God, redeemer in crisis is thy name. To his devotees, Hanuman is possessed of unfathomable knowledge and immeasurable virtues; with his name shine all three worlds; unparalleled in might is Anjani's son Hanuman; Rama's emissary Hanuman takes his devotees to him. He thus redeems from worldly difficulties as also from the cycle of birth and death and thus from the world itself. In the entire Hindu pantheon Hanuman is not only the most widely worshipped divinity but also has dedicated to him a far greater number of shrines than has even Rama, his master. He protects his devotees always and everywhere. He is their Kherapati, patron deity of the village, Ghatoria, protector of ghata valleys, to include river crossings, descents, ascents, forts and village-boundaries, Balaji, protecting them from evil influences and maladies and driving away ghosts and evil spirits, and Bajaranga who is as strong and penetrating as vajra or thunder-bolt. The legendary courier of the herb Sanjivini that cured Lakshmana of his swoon, Hanuman's name is ever since the curer of all ailments. By uttering his name, which is by itself the supreme 'mantra', is dispelled evil, and by commemorating it is attained success in all walks of life. Except that in his animal form is seen supreme divinity enshrining suggestive of cosmic unity and oneness of existence, no philosophy or dogmatism, and mysticism in the least, are associated with him. Easily pleased Hanuman does not allow evil to prevail wherever he has even his nominal presence. He accompanies his devotees wherever they go and like an impenetrable wall stands in between them and imminent misfortune. A contemporary work, the painting has been rendered on a large size canvas, measuring 38 by 50 inches, obviously conceived to cover a larger space and command by its glow ambience in its entirety. This imposing presence of the benevolent Hanuman will not only draw to it every eye but will also radiate a greater volume of divinity around and purge of evil the entire atmosphere.
Rama's servant and always on an errand as his master's messenger, or for accomplishing a devotee's prayer, or to protect him, Hanuman is always in a posture of readiness. Hence in iconographic tradition his votive images are almost always in standing position and with his mace in hand, as if ready to rush and strike. Like Lord Ganesh, another divinity with animal head and largely diluted into folk tradition, Hanuman is hardly ever conceived in any other position except when part of a composition portraying him in Rama-durbar or with Rama, illustrating a text or legend, or otherwise. Like Ganesh, he neither dances, nor sits carefree or has a consort, or even a family to pass time with. Adhering to the tradition, the image of the great god has been drawn here in standing position. His image in this portrayal dually assures his devotees to be fear-free by the gesture of his right hand and by his readiness to strike with his mace carried in his left hand if anything adverse comes in their way. The figure has been enshrined in an arched pavilion comprising carved decorative pillars on sides and pointed corbels and side spaces beautified with arabesques and inlay above. He is believed to have incarnated the sun-god Surya apart, one of the popular myths in regard to him is that when a child he swallowed the sun taking it for a ripe fruit. This transformed his body into vermillion red, the colour which defines his complexion in the painting here. The name of Shri Rama inscribed on his right hand suggests that it is from his master that he gains his power to protect his devotees. The artist has used actual gilded metal foils and semi-precious stones to define his crown, ornaments, borders of his loincloth and the mace that he carries. His face radiates into a blue halo, symbolic of cosmos, which his tail encircles suggesting that with his energies Hanuman pervades the entire universe.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.