Ramayana at British Library

I spent a whole morning at the British Library exhibition called Mewar Ramayana: Love and Valor in India’s Great Epic. The display included 400 paintings, produced by Hindu and Muslim artists between 1649 and 1653, that tell the story of Rama and Sita, a story that forms the basic mythology behind the Hindu vedas and called “arguably, the most influential secular work of world literature”.


The paintings often feature the same characters multiple times, as a way of showing multiple scenes through time, and they often move from bottom left in an anti-clockwise direction. The 5 books of the Ramayana were completed by 500BC, probably by the poet Valmiki, but two additional books that identifed Rama as an avatar of Vishnu were added around 100BC. The Ramayana existed on palm leaves and birch bark until it was finally printed as a book in the Sanskrit language. This work was done, according the library, in 1806 by two Christian missionaries named William Carey and Joshua Marshman on their press at Serampore, India. William Carey has been called the father of modern missions. You can view the paintings on the British Library’s website.

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Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Alan Cross says:

    Do you know anyone who might like to spend some time in Rishikesh on the Ganges in Northern India? I have visited there several times and it is one of the most holy cities for the Hindus. The place is crawling with Westerners looking for enlightenment, but the only Christians in the city are some Indians who are doing running a school and doing some work in the villages. There are no Western missionaries there at all and it seems like a good spot for some emerging/missional Christians to take up residence for a few months and strike up spiritual conversations with all of the Westerners that come through.
    I think that a missional pilgrimage of the Hindu holy sites by Western Christians to encounter other Westerners on a spiritual journey would be a great way to spend a few months. Generally, people who travel there are open. What if they met some believers? Just a thought. If anyone is interested, I could set them up.

  • andrew says:

    Hi alan. I have heard of people talking to the pilgrims on their way back from their pilgrimage to see how things went for them and if they could be of any assistance in giving spiritual guidance.
    But since India has far more of its own people as missionaries than foreigners, I would be looking for Christian Ashrams and Indians with a heart to serve spiritual pilgrims. Westerners might want to come under these national initiatives and serve them in their own efforts towards India.
    My German friends spent some time at a Christian Ashram there recently and loved it.

  • Alan Cross says:

    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking of. The Indian Christians are there and we are working with them. They are trying to establish way stations for the pilgrims walking into the mountains out of Rishikesh to visit the birth places of the gods. I was just thinking that a few Westerners to work alongside of them with all of the Westerners coming would be a good thing. I am thinking the same way that you are. When we were there in April, I got into a conversation with young pilgrims from the U.S., Australia, Singapore, Israel, etc. They were looking for enlightenment and were singing “This Little Light of Mine.” I told them that song was about Jesus and they were pretty shocked. Anyway, it was interesting and I saw some potential openings if anyone wanted to stay there a while.

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