Asian Art and History
How to Be a Just Ruler: Lessons from the Indian Epic Ramayana
Qamar Adamjee, Ph.D., Provenance Researcher South and Southeast Asian Art, Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art
Despite tremendous challenges — becoming a victim of court intrigue, wrongful exile from his kingdom, his wife getting kidnapped, trying to get her back, finding new allies to help him, facing an invincible enemy with a powerful army and fighting to regain his place as leader of his people — Prince Rama, an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, is an exemplar of how one retains moral integrity and courage against all odds.
This talk examines the story of Rama, his brother Lakshmana and ally Hanuman; their search for Sita; and their battles against the formidable Ravana, as seen in Indian paintings and sculpture. Rama has inspired deep devotion over the centuries, and his trials and conduct continue to be relevant—especially in today’s social and political worlds.
This presentation is part of the Asian Art and History series.
Image: Ramakien depicted on mural at Wat Phra Keaw (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), c. 1800. Bangkok, Thailand. Public Domain.