The painting illustrates a Rama-katha event from the end-part of the Kishkindha-Kanda. After the abduction of Sita, Rama’s consort, by Ravana from their cottage in Panchavati Rama and Lakshmana set out in her search. When in Kishkindha region, Hanuman, one of the ministers of Sugriva, Kishkindha’s exiled monkey-king, meets them, initially for ascertaining if they were Bali’s spies, Sugriva’s brother who had usurped from him Kishkindha’s throne, as also his wife, and now was searching him to kill him. However, after Hanuman knew that they were Ayodhya’s princes Rama and Lakshmana in exile, he brought them to mountain Rishyamuka, Sugriva was hiding at, assuring to assist them in the task of searching Sita. At Rishyamuka Rama and Lakshmana were befittingly received. Sugriva re-asserted Hanuman’s assurance; however, he also prayed that till Bali was alive, his monkeys could not freely move. Rama promised to kill Bali and restore his state and wife.
At appropriate time Rama did as he had promised. Sugriva and entire retinue moved to Kishkindha and reoccupied his palace and town. Under his vow Rama did not enter Kishkindha and awaited Sugriva’s response. However, indulged in merriment with his wife and in luxuries of his re-gained kingdom Sugriva forgot his words. This conduct of Sugriva hurt Rama. Lakshmana could not bear this plight of his brother and reached Kishkindha. His enraged face and angered words terrified Sugriva and all. All rushed to him, apologised for not keeping their words and instantly despatched several teams of their monkeys in Sita search. One of the teams had a chance meeting with Sampati, the brother of the great bird Jatayu that Ravana killed when it obstructed him from abducting Sita, and learnt from him that Sita was in Ravana’s custody at Lanka.
Now after it was known that Sita was abducted by Ravana for knowing her whereabouts someone was required to go to Lanka across the ocean. It was a difficult task. Angad, Bali’s son now Rama’s trusted aide, offered to wade ocean but all knew that he could not do it. Jamvan knew that Hanuman, when a child, had leapt over to the sun and had caught it, though due to a curse he did not now remember his divine powers. He also knew that it was provided that he would regain those powers whenever reminded of them. Jamvan hence reminded Hanuman of his powers and that he could just leap across the ocean and reach Lanka. Hanuman recalled everything and proposed to go on the task. However, he doubted if mother Sita would believe him that he was Rama’s emissary. On this Rama gave to him his ring as a token of his genuineness. The painting represents Rama extending his ring towards Hanuman.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.