21 March 2014
Last updated at 17:36 ET
A stunning manuscript of the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana, is brought together by the British Library for the first time in 150 years. In the top right section of this painting, the main protagonist, Rama, is told by his father that he will succeed him as king.
The 17th Century manuscript was split between Britain and India in the early 19th Century and has been reunited in digital form by the British Library and the CSMVS Museum in Mumbai. Here, Rama heads into exile with his wife and brother after his stepmother intervenes to get her son crowned instead.
The paintings show various scenes, featuring the characters at various stages of their epic journey. Here the exiles make camp as they wander in the forest. Rama is perched on a rock and marvels at the flowering trees and plants that cover the mountain.
The 1,200 pages of the manuscript of the Mewar Ramayana were written by one scribe but there were many more artists. Back in the kingdom of Ayodhya, Rama's sandals are placed on the throne. His half-brother Bharata had tried to persuade Rama, who is an incarnation of the great god Vishnu, to return. He refused, bound by his word to stay in exile for 14 years.
It is considered one of the most important and beautiful versions of the Ramayana, produced in the 17th Century for the royal court in Rajasthan. In this image the brothers seek the help of the monkey king after Rama's wife, Sita, is kidnapped by a demon king. Rama intervenes with his bow in a fight involving the monkey king, Sugriva - an alliance is cemented.
Part of the manuscript was presented as a gift to a British official in Rajasthan in the early 19th Century. Here Sugriva divides his forces into search parties to look for the kidnapped Sita. Rama gives his ring as a token to the esteemed captain, Hanuman, who will lead the expedition to the south.
Hanuman finds Sita on the island of Lanka, where she is surrounded by demon guardians. Sita says she cannot allow him to rescue her as the glory for such a feat must be reserved for Rama himself. However, she hands over a jewel as a token for Rama.
Hanuman is wounded and captured in a titanic battle with the demons. He is overcome only after the intervention of the creator god, Brahma. Hanuman decides to submit as he wants to meet the demon king, Ravana.
Rama advances with his brother, Laksmana, and one of the monkey armies for an assault on Lanka. They attack the northern gate where the demon king, Ravana, has his stronghold.
Laksmana is speared by the demon king in the fierce battle that ensues. Ravana is eventually felled after a fierce assault from Hanuman who had escaped captivity and returned to Rama after causing much destruction in the demons' domain. On the left, the fallen Laksmana is lain at his brother's feet.
An army of demons attempt to awaken Ravana's brother, the giant Kumbhakarna, to get him to join the fight. Piles of food and dead animals are laid out for him to eat should he wake up. But he has been cursed to spend most of his life asleep.
Rama arrives in triumphant procession at the banks of the river Sarayu. He enters the waters and ascends to heaven, accompanied by Sugriva, his brothers, monkeys, bears and other humans. They ascend to the celestial realm with Rama.