“More than an epic”
by B.N. Goswamy

Extracts from the preface

“I remember all those evenings when we as children – my siblings and I, and our mother – would sit around our father, on the floor, hands devoutly joined, legs crossed, as he recited, almost sang, passages from the Ramayana.”

“Everyone naturally brings his or her own utsaha, or energy, to the text. I find myself particularly drawn to what painters in the Indian tradition do with it : picking out episodes, interpreting situations, penetrating characters, empathizing.”


B.N. Goswamy

B.N. Goswamy, distinguished art historian, is professor emeritus of art history at the Punjab Universtiy, Chandigarh. A leading authority on Indian art, his work covers a wide range of different areas, and is regarded, particularly in the area of Pahiri painting, as having influenced much subsequent thinking. B.N. Goswamy has been responsible for major exhibitions of Indian Art in Paris, San Fransisco, Zurich and San Diego. He has taught as a visiting professor at the universities of Heidelberg, Pennsylvania, California (Berkeley and Los Angeles), Austin (Texas) and Zurich.


His thought-provoking preface sheds light on the fundamental place held by the Ramayana in Indian civilization and culture, and the importance of its message with respect to the laws of dharma. By bringing to the fore his own relationship to the holy text, he shows how even today, the Ramayana is a companion and guide at all times. B.N. Goswamy, distinguished art historian, is Professor Emeritus of Art History at the Panjab University, Chandigarh.

Trained as a historian, he moved early on to art history, teaching and researching, after a brief career in administration (Indian Administrative Service, 1956-1958). His work covers a wide range and is regarded, especially in the area of Indian painting, as having influenced much of the subsequent thinking. Some paradigm shifts and a number of significant discoveries have marked his work over the years.


Professor Goswamy has been the recipient of many honours, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, the Rietberg Award for Outstanding Research in Art History, the Padma Shri (1998) and the Padma Bhushan (2008) from the President of India. He has taught, as Visiting Professor, at several universities across the world, among them the Universities of Pennsylvania, Heidelberg, California (at Berkeley and Los Angeles), Texas (at Austin), Zurich, and the ETH (Federal University) at Zurich. He has also been responsible for major exhibitions of Indian art in Paris, San Francisco, Zurich, San Diego, New York, Frankfurt, and New Delhi.


Among his many publications are:

  • Pahari Painting: The Family as the Basis of Style (Marg, Bombay,1968)
  • Painters at the Sikh Court (Wiesbaden, 1975)
  • Essence of Indian Art (San Francisco, 1986)
  • Wonders of a Golden Age: Painting at the Court of the Great Mughals (with E. Fischer; Zurich, 1987) Pahari Masters: Court Painters of Northern India (with E. Fischer; Zurich, 1992)
  • Indian Costumes in the Collection of the Calico Museum of Textiles (Ahmedabad 1993)
  • Nainsukh of Guler: A great Indian Painter from a small Hill State (Zurich, 1997)
  • Painted Visions: The Goenka Collection of Indian Paintings (New Delhi, 1999)
  • Piety and Splendour: Sikh Heritage in Art (New Delhi, 2000)
  • Domains of Wonder: Selected Masterworks of Indian Painting from the Edwin Binney Collection (with Caron Smith; San Diego, 2005)
  • I See No Stranger: Early Sikh Art and Devotion (with Caron Smith; New York, 2006)
  • The Word is Sacred; Sacred is The Word: The Indian Manuscript Tradition (New Delhi, 2006), and
  • Indian Paintings in the Sarabhai Foundation (Ahmedabad, 2010).