Death of Vali
The fall of the mighty hero Vali has created a deadly hush in the atmosphere of the forest. The orange sky of the evening is empty of the flutter of chirping birds. Vali, huge even as he lies on the ground, is wounded by an arrow aimed at him by Rama, an ally of his younger brother Sugriva. The episode where Rama hid behind a tree and shot Vali while he was engaged in combat with Sugriva is narrated in the 23rd Sarga of the Kishkindha Kanda of Valmiki's Ramayana.
Rama, Lakshmana, and Sugriva stand close to Vali. Vali's face is distraught with the agony of death as he asks, "Rama, I was engaged in a fight with another man (Sugriva), for what did you then strike me down?" Rama, painted blue, is trying to pacify Vali by explaining the reasons for his unforgivable act, as suggested by the gesture of his hands. Sugriva, though victorious, seems sad at the death of his brother. The vast undulating green ground of the forest has a few trees - one of them with branches but without a canopy, and one with a crooked trunk. The limited use of colours and the bare foreground reflect the mood of the occasion. The fair complexioned Vali, Sugriva, and Lakshmana and the white stone cover of the cave suitably contrast with the green ground, while the bluish hollow of the cave balances with the blue Rama.
The scene, very sensitively handled here by a Guler artist, is rarely depicted in other Ramayana series.
Indian Miniature Paintings
Opaque watercolour on paper
Indian Miniature painting
Guler, Himachal Pradesh
20.8 x 32 cms.