Bharata Performs Rites at His Father's Death
Page from a dispersed series of the Ramayana
Artist/maker unknown, India
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The purity of purpose embodied in this scene from the Ramayana epic is echoed in the spare style of painting. Dasharatha, king of the northern city of Ayudhya, has just died and is being cremated at the upper left of the composition. At the right of the painting, Prince Bharata explains to the sage Vaishista and the gathering of noblemen that he will not take the throne but will work to return his brother Rama, the rightful leader by both birth and temperament, to the kingship. Rama had earlier been banished into the forest through the scheming of one of his stepmothers, who wanted her own son to inherit the throne.