In the famous Ram Raksha Stotra(श्रीरामरक्षास्तोत्रम्), in of the place while describing the charecteristics of Lord Rama, it is mentioned as follows:

ध्यायेदाजानुबाहुं धृतशरधनुषं बद्धपद्‌मासनस्थं

And the meaning for above is

May he be meditated upon, who has arms reaching his knees, who is holding a bow and arrows, who is seated in a lotus pose

Also, in the Bala Kanda of Valmiki Ramayan, below is the description of Lord Rama

आजानु बाहुः सुशिराः सुललाटः सुविक्रमः

So, Rama is described as Ajanubahu(आजानुबाहु) which means "One whose arms are long enough to reach his knees" in Rama Raksha as well as Valmiki Ramayan.

But I do came across many images of Rama in day-to-day life (in religious places, during religious festivals etc.) but in those images, Rama does not quite appears Ajanubahu(आजानुबाहु).

Below are some images that I found on internet.

enter image description here

enter image description here

Is this intentional? Or these image-creators does not paid much attention to the fact that how Rama really was and missed this important characteristic of his?

Why Rama is not depicted as Ajanubahu(आजानुबाहु)?

  • 6
    Rama is described as having his arms extend to his knees in the very first chapter of the Valmiki Ramayana, not just the Rama Raksha Stotram. But yeah, artists often don't depict things accurately. Like they paint Vishnu light blue when he should be dark blue. Apr 1, 2016 at 5:58
  • @KeshavSrinivasan This Lack of attention to details means only confusion to anyone reading these Stotra. Imagine a kid learning Hindu scriptures reads these beautiful verses and that ignites the interest to explore more about a specific God (why hands are long enough to reach knees) only to find contrasting/incorrect depictions to add to confusion Apr 1, 2016 at 6:12
  • The question is not related to any of the scriptures it is a question about why artists draw shri rama in a certain way. Btw i am not the one to downvote. The simple answer to your question would be that the artists are illiterate and they dont know details mentioned in scriptures or they just take creative liberty.
    – Yogi
    Nov 30, 2016 at 20:24

1 Answer 1


Or do these image creators not pay much attention to how Rāma really looked and missed this important characteristic of his?

Yes, you are right. Moreover, we don't know if Vālmīki is using superlative terms in his poetry and did not mean his readers to take all those physical descriptions literally.

In many other instances, he uses words such as dīrghabāhu and mahābāhu for Hanumān, Daśaratha, Lakṣmaṇa, Rāvaṇa, Indrajit and so on.

Long-armed Daśaratha:

तत्राकरोन्महायुद्धं राजा दशरथ स्तदा | असुरैश्च महाबाहुः शस्त्रैश्च शकलीकृतः || ९-२-१५

15. tadaa = then; dasharathaH raajaa = king Dasaratha; akarot = created; mahaayuddham = great battle; tatra = there; mahaabaahuH = the long-armed Dasaratha; shakaliiR^itaH cha = was made into pieces; shastraiaH = with weapons; asuraiH cha = by demons.

Then, king Dasaratha fought a great battle there. With their weapons, demons made into pieces the long-armed Dasaratha.

Long-armed Hanumān:

स तम् गृह्य महाबाहुः काल आयस परिष्कृतम् || ५-५३-४३ रक्षिणः तान् पुनः सर्वान् सूदयामास मारुतिः |

43. saH mahaabaahuH = that long-armed; maarutiH = Hanuma; punaH = again; gR^ihya = taking; tam = that rod; kaalaaasapariSkR^itam = made of iron; suudayaamaasa = killed; sarvaan = all; taan rakSiNaH = tose guards.

That long-armed Hanuma, again taking that rod made of iron, killed all those guards.

Both Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa are long-armed:

दीर्घ बाहू विशालाक्षौ शर चाप असि धारिणौ | कस्य न स्यात् भयम् दृष्ट्वा हि एतौ सुर सुत उपमौ || ४-२-२०

20. diirgha baahuu vishaala akshau = lengthy arms, broad eyed ones; shara chaapa asi dhaariNau = arrow, bow, sword, wielders of; kasya na syaat bhayam = to whom, will not, be there, scare; dR^iSTvaa etau = on seeing, these two; sura suta upamau = Divinity's, sons, in simile.

"Lengthy are their arms, broad are their eyes and they are the wielders of arrows, bows and swords... and on seeing them, to whom there will be no scare? These two are like the sons of some divinity..." Sugreeva thus spoke to Hanuma. [4-2-20]

Long-armed Lakṣmaṇa:

हन्तुकामस्य मे बाष्पं चक्षुश् चैव निरुध्यते | तदेवैष महाबाहुर्लक्ष्मणः शमयिष्यति || ८९-६-१८ वानरा घ्नन्तुं सम्भूय भृत्यानस्य समीपगान् |

18. me = my; chakShuH = yes; nirudhyati = are clouded; baaShpam = with tears; hantukaamasya = even when I wish to kill him; eShaH = this; mahaabaahuH = long-armed; lakShmaNaH eva = Lakshmana alone; shamayiShyati = will finish; tam = him; vaanaraaH = O monkeys!; sambhuuya = all of you together; ghnata destroy; bhR^ityaan = his servents; samiipagaan = standing beside; asya = of him.

My eyes are getting clouded with tear, even when I think of killing him. This long-armed Lakshmana alone will finish him. O Monkeys! All of you, together, kill his servants standing beside him.

Long-armed Rāvaṇa:

तम् उद्वीक्ष्य महाबाहुः पिन्ग अक्षम् पुरतः स्थितम् | रोषेण महता आविष्टो रावणो लोक रावणः || ५-५०-१ स राजा रोष ताम्र अक्षः प्रहस्तम् मन्त्रि सत्तमम् |

1. saH raavaNaH = That Ravana; mahaabaahuH = the long armed; lokaraavaNaH = who causes the people to cry; udviikSya = looking up; tam piN^gaakSam = at that mokey; sthitam = standing; purataH = in front of him; mahataa kopena aaviSTah = affected with violent anger; shaN^kaahR^itmaa = with his mind seized with suspicion; dadhyau = speenlated; kapiindram = about Hanuma the formost of monkeys; aavR^itam = who was invested; tejasaa = with splendour.

That Ravana, the long-armed, who caused people to cry, looking up at that monkey standing in front of him, was affected with violent anger, having his mind seized with suspicion, speculated (as follows) about Hanuma, the jewel among the monkeys, who was invested with splendour.

Apart from few physical characteristics, Vālmīki also attributes 16 nonphysical qualities to Rāma. Imagine an artist trying to incorporate all these in his painting; I'm not sure if we will like the final image.

  • most of those 16 qualities are non-physical and hence their picture depiction is irrelevant. So I guess it is fair to assume that those who draw the pics of Rama may not be aware of his actual looks, or they just draw it by ignoring those attributes. Dec 1, 2016 at 11:52
  • 1
    @AADHinduism Some people were attempting to close your question :) I partly agree with them. I neither upvoted nor downvoted your question. The best I could do was answer it. There cannot be correct or definite answers to such questions. Like I stated in my answer, both Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa are दीर्घ बाहू so both need to be represented with very long arms to do justice to Vālmīki and the Dāśarathi-s. In the entire Ramayana, Valmiki uses आजानु बाहुः only twice for Rāma. But obviously such discussions cannot come to a proper conclusion. So I'll leave it at that. Dec 1, 2016 at 17:54
  • Agree. it is hard to answer any WHY in Hinduism IMHO. If community wants to close this Post I am all ok with that as its community decision :) thanks for your answer! Dec 2, 2016 at 7:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .