Bharata Injures Hanumān

hindu aesthetic
3 min readMar 2


Bharata Shoots at Hanuman as He Flies overhead with the Medicinal Herbs, Folio from a Ramayana Series, Maharashtra, Paithan, circa 1850; LA County Musuem of Art

This 19th century Paiṭhān painting from Maharastra depicts the event from the Rāmāyaṇa that took place in the Laṅka kāṇḍa of the Rāmcaritmānas. Produced by the Citrakathi caste in Maharastra, the paintings served as illustrative tools for the Citrakathis to narrate the epics in song and verse. The scene depicted in this folio is as follows:

As Hanumān flew overhead holding the Saṃjīvanī, Bharata, who kept vigil at night ever since his return from Citrakuṭa, espied a colossal figure coursing through the air, and thinking it to be a demon, drew his bow and struck him with a headless shaft.

देखा भरत बिसाल अति निसिचर मन अनुमानि।
बिनु फर सायक मारेउ चाप श्रवन लगि तानि। ५८ ॥

dekhā bharata bisala ati nisicara mana anumāni
binu phara sāyaka māreu cāpa śravana lagi tāni | 58 ||

Struck by the arrow, Hanumān dropped unconscious to the ground, crying “Rāma, Rāma, O Lord of the Raghus!” The moment Bharata heard these pleasing words, he rushed and reached post-haste by the monkey. Seeing the monkey swoon, the prince clasped him to his bosom and tried every means to bring him back to consciousness, but in vain. With a dejected look on his face, much distress in his heart and his eyes full of tears, he spoke the following words. “The selfsame providence who alienated me from Śri Rāma has also inflicted this terrible suffering upon me. If in thought, word and deed, I cherish sincere devotion to Śri Rāma’s lotus feet, and if the Lord of the Raghus is kindly disposed towards me, may this monkey be relieved of all exhaustion and pain.” As soon as these words were uttered, the monkey chief arose and sat up, crying “Glory, all glory to the Lord of Kosala!”

Paiṭhaṇī paintings are ordinarily laid out horizontally, however, paintings depicting this particular theme of Hanumān and Bharata are designed to be vertically aligned. According to Anna Dallapiccola, “the exceptional treatment of the scene hints at the wish of the artist to surprise his audience, not only by the narration of a prodigious event — for instance, Hanuman flying through the sky carrying the mountain with the healing herbs, but also by infringing, as it were, the rules of normality by using another dimension of space.”

(adapted from the Gita Press Translation of the Rāmcaritmānas by Gosvāmi Tulsidās)


‘’Paithan’’ Paintings: The Epic World of the Chitrakathis by Anna L. Dallapiccola, in Picture Showmen: Insights Into the Narrative Tradition in Indian Art by Jyotindra Jain


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