Lava and Kusha Battle Rama's Army. A Painting from the Dispersed Ramayana Series



Lava and Kusha Battle Rama's Army. A Painting from the Dispersed Ramayana Series


ca. 1810-1820




Opaque pigments on paper
Frame: 17 1/2 x 20 1/2 in. (44.5 x 52.1 cm)
Maximum (visible): 15 3/4 x 12 1/4 in. (40 x 31.1 cm)

Object Number



This folio illustrates a story from the Uttara Kanda, the final book of the Ramayana. After his coronation in the city of Ayodhya, Rama begins the kingly ritual of the horse sacrifice, the ashvamedha. For a period of one year, a horse, accompanied by an army led by Rama's brother Shatrughna, travels the vast lands of the subcontinent marking the territory of Rama's kingdom, after which the horse will be sacrificed.

During the journey, the horse comes upon the hermitage of the great sage Valmiki, where, unbeknownst to Rama or his army, his wife Sita and their twins, Lava and Kusha, have been residing during their exile. As the horse wanders into the hermitage, Lava and Kusha capture it, along with the rest of Shatrughna's army. In response, Rama sends army after army led by his remaining brothers to battle, not knowing that he is actually battling his only sons. After Lava and Kusha defeat army after army, Rama himself goes into battle against his sons and is defeated as well.

This folio depicts several scenes from this battle. Moving clockwise from top left, Sita embraces her two sons, Valmiki instructs the twins at his hermitage, and Lava returns the captured Hanuman, Rama's most ardent devotee, and Jambavan to the battlefield. The center image shows the culmination of the battle with Rama and his armies; Rama (labeled as Shri Ramaji), all his brothers, Bharata, Shatrughna, and Lakshmana, as well as his closest companions, Sugriva and Vibhishana have all been killed.

This particular version of the battle between Lava, Kusha, and their father has been told in several versions of the Ramayana, the earliest of which is the Jaimini Bharata, a retelling of portions of another great Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata. Contemporary folk versions of the Uttara Kanda are still performed in modern-day Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, and West Bengal.

Credit Line

Gift of Jayantilal K. and Geeta J. Patel & Family to further the study of Hinduism


MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, October 27, 2014 - November 7, 2016


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2014.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

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“Lava and Kusha Battle Rama's Army. A Painting from the Dispersed Ramayana Series,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed January 18, 2018,

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