|During their exile in the forest, Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana arrive at the hermitage of the sage Atri, represented by a simple hut amidst trees draped with flowering vines. Seated beneath a tree, from which hangs a shawl, the meditating sage is seen holding his prayer beads. The tranquility of the setting is further enhanced by the tame deer and the sacred tulsi (basil) plant.|
The Sage's Wife Clothes Sita
India, Punjab Hills, Kangra, ca. 1780. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper. Lent by the San Diego Museum of Art: Edwin Binney 3rd Collection.
|Within the hut, Sita meets with the sage's wife, Anasuya, herself an illustrious ascetic. Anasuya approves of Sita's accompanying Rama into the forest and blesses her with the gifts of heavenly raiment that will never wear out, fine jewelry, a garland, and an unguent that would guard against the rigors of the forest climate. We see Sita twice. In the first appearance she receives the gift of clothes from Anasuya and exchanges her leaf-and-bark dress for a red skirt and blue shawl; in her second appearance she displays the gift to Rama.