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Rama Katha in Visual and Performing Arts of Rajasthan

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Item Code: NBZ270
Author: Neelima Vashishtha
Publisher: KHAMA PUBLISHERS, Delhi
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9788185495620
Pages: 273 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Other Details 11.00 X 9.00 inch
Weight 1.15 kg
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Book Description
About The Book

The narrative of Ramayana has enriched literary, visual and all performing creations of man throughout South Asia. This dynamism and universality in the narrative has also proved a binding thread in the region of Rajasthan for artistic creations as revealed in sculptures, paintings and folk arts. The present book, Rama Katha in Visual and Performing Arts of Rajasthan (ca.8th-20. Century A.D.) unravels examples of Rama Katha in sculptures of temples, in manuscripts as well as wall paintings and folk arts, such as, Kavada, Phada and Ramalila. As these arts are interrelated through the common content of the story of Rama, it has become exciting to perceive formations and intermingling of visual and aural images in concrete and abstract forms as well as in revealing aesthetic and ethical values of these arts. The continuity of the narrative is reflected in long relief panels in temples, manuscript illustrations and mobile temples, namely, Phada and Kavad, besides Ramalila.

The study of the continuity and change of various art forms tribal, folk and elite has also opened up new vistas for the study and research in techniques, social impacts, ethical values and change in patronage from royalty to common man in visual and performing arts. The monograph reveals the impact of Arsa Ramayana of Vaimiki, and the vernacular narratives of Ramayana in Awadhi, as well as in Hadoti, Rajasthani and other popular arts.

About the Author

Dr. NeelimaVashishtha has obtained Post-Graduate degrees in the disciplines of Sanskrit and Drawing and Painting, and also Ph. D. as Tagore Fellow in Art History. She taught Art History and Aesthetics in the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur from 1975 to 2001. She is actively engaged in research on Art History. Nine research scholars have obtained their Ph. D. under her supervision on the themes covering,Terracotta Art, Aesthetics in Rajasthani miniatures, Medieval architecture and sculpture, Krishna themes in Visual Arts, Dramatic elements in Visual Arts and Folk Arts and Crafts. She has edited two volumes entitled, Pathways to Literature, Art and Archaeology.

Dr. Vashishtha has specialized in Art History and Asthetics. She has authored seven books, many research papers and monographs on diverse fields of Indian culture and Arts. Amongst her major publications, Sculptural Traditions of Rajasthan ca. 800-1000 A. D. and Kala Vimarsh : Rajasthan Ka Sthapatya Evam Murtishilpa are acknowledged as pioneering research works in the art and cultural history of Rajasthan. Her publication on Tradition and Modernity in Indian Arts during the Twentieth Century, as Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, has been acclaimed as path breaking research work in the academic circles. Above all her lifetime work on Rama Katha in Visual and performing Arts of Rajasthan, ca. 8th-20th Century A. D. as Senior Research Fellow, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi has made a first move to validate the popularity of Rama Katha in Visual Arts and society not only in Rajasthan but also across other parts of India.


The Ramayana tradition, being all pervading and deep-rooted in the Indian soil, has immensely influenced the beliefs, customs and culture of India and largely the region of Rajasthan. Moreover, it has enriched literature, visual and performing traditions of Indian art. Of course, it originated and flourished in ancient period but its dynamic nature continues to inspire the creative urge of artists, chroniclers, poets and performers - classical as well as folk and tribal.

The Ramayana tradition has not only gained universality and dynamism but it has also developed appreciation for eternal, ethical and moral values in historical continuity and, above all, has proved a binding thread in uniting all social and cultural groups of the Indian society. It has flourished and complemented all arts internally as well as quantitatively. The sculptures, paintings, dance, drama and folk songs have embellished the temples, stepwells, cenotaphs, manuscripts, walls of buildings and also community life through visual representations and performances.

This continuous and extensive Ramayana tradition from the dawn of the historical era to the contemporary period was feasible because of its openness and flexibility. It has become a cultural force influencing all arts transcending all the territories, religions and castes. The scholars have even tried to trace the presence of Rama in the Rigveda, or appearance of Janak in the Taittiriya Brahmana, and Sita in the Krsnayajurveda.

In view of the details about the origin of the Ramayana theme and representation of its versions in several languages, it is appropriate to acknowledge that Valmiki Ramayana is acclaimed as the Arsa Kavya. There is a difference of opinion among the scholars about its date and versions, but it could be safely placed in the pre-Buddha and Mahavira epoch. It may be asserted that the power of appeal does not depend on its historicity but in its potential to inspire and elevate the self-reflection of people.

The popularity of the Ramayana theme is witnessed in post-Valmiki literature in Pali, Prakrta and classical literature. The Uttara-Ramacharita of Bhavabhuti even refers to visual representations of the theme in painting. It clearly indicates that painted versions of Ramayana were almost contemporaneous with literature.

The omnipresent and creative potential of the epic and its expressions in literature and fine arts have been highlighted by many erudite scholars. The relevance of the Ramayana theme has also been emphasised by the scholars in conferences and published works (in three volumes) of Sahitya Academy, New Delhi. Besides, the creative potential has also been utilized and experimented by dancers, poets, playwrights, novelists, musicologists and story-writers. But, the proofs of its popularity and pervading influence in artistic creations in Rajasthan have been overlooked by scholars. Of course, some scholars have given marginal references related to the Ramayana themes in sculptures and paintings. The present study fulfils this desideratum.

The present study proposes to examine the various manifestations of Ramayana tradition in all the visual and performing arts of Rajasthan. There are four major fields in which the impact of Ramayana tradition is discernible. These are literary, the visual, the oral and the performing arts. Due to the popular adoration of Ramayana in the society, its impact not only exists, overlaps and intermingles mutually in these four areas, but it also promotes the manifestation of the Ramayana tradition in separate individual arts and society. Several voluminous works have been carried on at institutional level as well as by individual scholars on varied areas of Ramayana tradition, but there is no comprehensive work on Rajasthan showing its reverberations in art, literature and so in its society.

The present study entitled, "Rama Katha in Visual and Performing Arts of Rajasthan (ca. 8th -20th century A.D.)," includes all these major areas of Ramayana tradition. Hence, this study would also facilitate the comprehension of nuances in all arts of Rajasthan and the culture of its people along with the growth and development of visual and performing arts.

The present monograph is divided into five chapters dealing with the representation of Ramayana themes in literature, sculpture and painting - miniatures and murals, as well as performing arts of the Phada, Kavada and Ramalila. This work is based on the study of literary sources, temple-sculptures, manuscript illustrations and paintings preserved in private and government collections and wall paintings in havelis, cenotaphs, wells and the palaces of the erstwhile rulers of Princely States of Rajputana. Besides, source-material was also collected for this research work from Survey Reports of Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur and by watching Ramalila performances and by interviewing Ramalila performers.

The present study has been completed as a Senior Research Fellow of the Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi. I am grateful to the Indian Council of Historical Research for the grant of Fellowship for the completion of this research project and also for accepting its publication under the patronage of the Council. Most importantly, I am grateful to Prof. Arvind P. Jamkhedkar, Chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi, for his constant encouragement and keen interest in the publication of this work. I also take this opportunity to thank, Dr. Rajesh Kumar, Director (Journal, Publications and Library), Indian Council of Historical Research for his cooperation and the publication of the work expeditiously and on time. Moreover, I am thankful to Shri Anupam Banerjee, Khama Publishers, Delhi, for planning the entire production of this work efficiently and promptly.

This work has been the result of painstaking research for several years. I am grateful to the Divine without whose grace this work could not have been accomplished. Several institutions assisted me in the course of this rewarding journey. I owe my heartfelt gratitude to the British Museum and Library, London, the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai, the Rajasthan Oriental Institute, Jodhpur, the Ummed Palace Museum, Jodhpur and the Sawai Man Singh II Trust Museum, Jaipur for providing me the copies of paintings from the Ramayana manuscripts from their repositories. I am also grateful to the American Institute of Indian Studies, Gurugram, for supplying me photographs from its archives. I express my sincere thanks to the Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur and the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur for extending facilities to consult their Libraries and Museums.


I am, indeed, very happy to put on record that this publication is the outcome of rigorous research of Dr. Neelima Vashishtha, completed under Indian Council of Historical Research fellowship scheme, 'Senior Academic Fellowship'. The publication is the part of Council's monograph series continuing for decades. As indicated by the title, Ram Katha in Visual and Performing Arts of Rajasthan (ca. 8th to 20th Century AD), it unravels examples of Ram Katha in sculptures of temples, manuscripts, wall paintings and folk arts, such as Kavada, Phada, Ramlila,etc. The present study, perhaps, includes all major areas of Ramayana tradition that would facilitate the comprehension of nuances in all arts of Rajasthan and the culture of its people along with the growth and development of visual and performing arts.

I must congratulate the Dr. Neelima Vashishtha for her dedicated and sincere efforts for presenting the research before the reading public. At the same time, I compliment the officials and staff of the ICHR for extending their services in bringing out the publication with care and attention. I thank Prof. Kumar Ratnam, Member Secretary, Dr. Rajesh Kumar, Director (Journal, Publication & Library), Dr. Omjee Upadhyay, Director (Research & Administration) and Dr. Md Naushad Ali, Deputy Director (Publication), and Dr. Saurabh Kumar Mishra, Deputy Director (Journal) for their sincere efforts put in during the process of this publication. Last, but not the least, I thank Mr. Anupam Banerjee of the Khama Publishers for giving his personal attention to help in bringing out the publication in a neat and presentable format.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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