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A little before, Ravana with all kinds of his threats was there. Annoyed by Sita's insulting words he was even violent and had raised his sword on her but was somehow cooled down by his wife Mandodari accompanying him. After he left, a desperate Sita wished to end her life and prayed Trijata, the only one of Ravana's host she confided in and revered as her mother, to favour her with a pyre to burn herself in. Trijata consoled her and told her of an auspicious dream she saw only the preceding night, which indicated that her lord Rama was not far off from her. When tossing from desperation to hopes, Sita, to her utter astonishment and disbelief, finds before her the ring of her lord Rama fell from sky. She picks it up and its minute examination reveals that it is genuine.
This doubles Sita's dilemma. Ravana's threats evoke inauspicious thoughts and send her in shivers. How could Ravana or any of his men obtain the ring from the finger of her lord? by deceit or by harm? Trijata's consoling words, however, simultaneously generate fresh hopes. Is her lord really close by? In utter dismay, she looks towards sky and finds hidden behind the branches of the tree a monkey of baby-monkey size. For a moment she perceives in the whole episode Ravana's sinister designs but only the other moment, there generates in her heart the mother-like feeling for the monkey. Led by her affectionate looks, the monkey Hanuman appears before her with folded hands and conveys to her his Master's words.
Against an opaque steel-grey back-drop, suggestive of late evening, the painting renders, within a conventionalised but fine elegant border, Sita sitting on a 'chowki' with a huge majestic bolster behind her, under the Ashoka tree in Ravana's Ashoka-vatika. Even in captivity the glow of her costume and the brilliance of her jewels has not diminished. This and the other elements of regality, the golden chowki and the bolster, are partly the product of artist's reverence for her, but, besides, they also define the dimensions of the legend that he attempted to create on his canvas. When on their way to Panchavati, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana visit the hermitage of Saint Atri, whose wife Ansuya offers to Sita divine clothes and jewels which neither wore out, faded nor ever lost their glow and brilliance. Obviously, the artist, when rendering Sita in such bright costume and lavish jewels, despite that she is in Ravana's captivity, had Ansuya episode in his mind. He preferred a plain background to give his figures a brilliant portraitural quality.
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.