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Paintings > Hindu > Attendants Waking Kumbhakarana, Ravana’s Younger Brother
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Attendants Waking Kumbhakarana, Ravana’s Younger Brother

Attendants Waking Kumbhakarana, Ravana’s Younger Brother

Attendants Waking Kumbhakarana, Ravana’s Younger Brother

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Water Color Painting on Paper
Artist: Kailash Raj

12.0 inch X 7.8 inch
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A curious phenomenon, the painting represents a number of soldiers striking with clubs, tridents and other weapons on the mountain-like huge body of Kumbhakarana, the younger brother of Lanka’s demon king Ravana, snoring with his wide open mouth, in an effort to wake him. While a number of female musicians, playing on double drum, Santoor and Vina – both stringed musical instruments, are supplementing the efforts of waking him by their music – the softer means, columns of elephants and horses treading his body with heavy feet and animal-headed demons and others, piercing into his ear with their nails and loud sounds, are doing it by using painful tougher means.

Pots containing drinks and water and heaps of raw meat of buffalos, elephants and other animals and human beings have been piled up in the space close to his head. For suggesting the hugeness of the amassed meat the artist has painted along it many severed heads of elephants, buffalos, human beings and others. The artist has used contrasts for portraying the largeness of Kumbhakarana’s body. He has painted his feet of a size larger than the size of human figures, and his thighs, as having the volume to which the size of elephants falls short. Drawn against a lemon yellow background the figure of Kumbhakarana, painted in coffee-brown, stretches covering the entire length of the canvas, as if denoting two ends of the space which, as have scriptures, Kumbhakarana’s figure spanned. The painting illustrates how Ravana, when most of his sons and major warriors were slain and he felt helpless, thought of his younger brother Kumbhakarana, a mighty warrior who could still turn the battle’s course from defeat to victory, and sent his men and women to wake him by whatever means. They take help of elephants, horses, musicians and others to wake him.

Apart Kumbhakarana’s personal identity as it reveals in various myths and his role in the Rama-Katha, the story of Lord Rama, Vishnu’s seventh incarnation and the hero of the great Sanskrit epic Ramayana, world literature abounds in identical legends of giants and dwarfish men and women : tales of travels in the lands of Giants and Lilliputians. Kumbhakarana’s presence and role in the Rama-Katha is limited but his queer mountain-like form, strange sense of hunger, his life-routine with six months’ long sleeping period by themselves comprise some of the most dramatic situations in the Rama-Katha. The painting effectively enacts this drama and for one, not acquainted with the legend of Kumbhakarana, it is at least the tale of contrasts : of giants and dwarfish men and women, something which texts perhaps can not so effectively narrate.

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.

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