“Veer” – The Unsung Heroes

Bravery, Courage and Strength come to those who invoke the Warrior that dwells within. A hero doesn’t need weapons to show his valor. Gallantry is strong and vibrant when it emerges from the soul.

In today’s blog post, which is a continuation of my long pending “Navrasa Series”, I will be touching upon a very powerful emotion that we all experience at some time in our lives, either in body, or soul or maybe even both.  I am talking about Heroism, or Veer Rasa.

Veer means Bravery. It represents courage, confidence, grit and determination. Strength and guts are the virtues of a brave heart. When a soldier goes to war, he is fearless and the valor with which he undauntingly and selflessly lays down his life for others is also a facet of heroism. This noblest of all emotions is aptly interpreted and represented by self confidence. The never give up attitude, defending the tormented and standing tall in the face of death without backing out like a coward are all aspects of heroism.

The word Hero in English came from the Sanskrit word Vira (veer). Veer is our boldness to do the right thing at the right time, without worrying about the consequences or the obstacles we may encounter. This boldness makes us fearless and allows us to speak the truth anytime and every time.  A person who is bold and fearless is a good leader and is idealized by one and all.

There are several examples of brave and heroic personalities in Hindu mythology. In India, two holy men were called Maha Veer, i.e. Great heroes. They are Maruti or Hanuman and Mahavira, the 24th Tirthangara of the Jains. Many others including Lord Ram and Arjuna also bear this title. Lord Ram is known for his five ‘heroic qualities’, namely, sacrifice, compassion, wisdom, valor and righteousness.  

You must be wondering how the word hero/Veer is associated with virtues like compassion, righteousness and sacrifice. Hindus believe that it is easy to kill anyone but to uphold these virtues while doing so is the most difficult task to achieve. One can easily deviate from his or her principles for selfish gains, but Lord Ram never did violate any of the rules set down by the scriptures, thus showing that one can always follow the right path. This true inner strength is the mark of the quintessential hero. Lord Ram’s valor and sacrifice is a befitting example for us mere mortals to be just and upright no matter what. 

 Another veer from Hindu mythology was Abhimanyu, who displayed a different type of heroism when he went to war knowing fully well that he would be severely outnumbered and almost certainly die. Yet he fought bravely till his last breath.  Veer rasa is depicted by the color orange and is the bedrock of defense.

Veer rasa has also been depicted by artists with the help of mythological characters of the likes of Lord Ram and Hanuman, both being personifications of heroism in their own right. Apart from these, Lord Ram’s brother, Lakshman and the monkey king, Sugriv have also been used as subjects representing gallantry and valor.

Here are a few images of artworks depicting Veer rasa. (Click on the thumbnail to view the full image).

Aesthetic application of Veer rasa has been found in the art of woodcraft of Saharanpur in symbolic form. The motifs of Saharanpur woodcraft filled with courage and power enhance the aesthetic sense of fearlessness.It is a feeling of freedom and independence and the motifs like Sun, Lotus and Chakra are the representatives of veer rasa. Lotus represents the principal of growth and sun represents the power of the universe and great courage.

Mewar artists too have been inspired by Veer rasa and have taken inspiration from it to impart soul to their art compositions. This can be seen in the pictures of the famous book Prithviraj Raso, which was written in praise of the 12th century Indian king Prithviraj Chauhan and the holy book Bhagvad Gita, where the sentiment of chivalry has been expressed skillfully.

I too have attempted a subtle depiction of Veer rasa through my composition titled Veerangana – The Unsung Heroes. But before I charge into the battlefield of this supremely potent sentiment, here are a few lines I penned down as a tribute to the unsung hero I have portrayed in my artwork.

She wakes up wearily with listless eyes,

That cried a torrent of tears all night.

Her lonely heart is brimming with sorrow,

For her precious love won’t return tomorrow.

Yet she forces herself out of bed

And willfully pull her body up,

She holds back another silent cry

 And takes a deep breath….

SHE HAS TO TRY.

 She cooks and cleans, goes on with the day,

His thoughts will never come in her way.

 His memories, she ever so proudly holds on,

They are her strength, they make her strong.

Her little ones have had it the hard way,

Their darling daddy has gone away.

They must go on and live their lives,

Their mother’s valor is their drive.

Time flew by, we all forgot,

But they live on, not all is lost.

The martyred souls have left behind,

Beloved ones, still strong in mind.

While we go on with our daily lives,  

They brave it all, they still survive.

The sacrifice they all have made

Is a debt that cannot be repaid.

A tribute to these unsung heroes,

The ones who still have to live on,

They give us strength, they inspire us on,

To never give up and forever be strong.

My version of Veer Rasa

Who is this ‘unsung hero’ you ask? I’m sure you all must be aware of the #Pulwama Attack.  On 14 February 2019, a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir in India. The attack resulted in the deaths of 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel.

 It has been a little more than nine months since that ghastly display of terror at Pulwama. The heinous attack witnessed these brave hearts fighting till their very last breath until they made the supreme sacrifice for their motherland. Despite being seriously injured, the “jawans” who initially survived the suicide bombing continued firing in retaliation and served the county with unparalled valor. While we all moved on with our lives as usual, those left behind by the slain soldiers are braving every passing moment every single day.

This artwork is not just homage to those martyred souls but also a tribute to the bereaved kith and kin they have left behind. These are the unsung heroes, who still have to be strong and live on. This piece of art is very close to my heart as it is my way of expressing not just gratitude towards our valiant warriors but also solidarity with their grief stricken, yet unyielding families, for they are no less heroic.

The word “Veerangana” in the title means heroine but in the context of my painting it encompasses much more. It represents all the loved ones of our lost serviceman, in particular his soul mate and offspring. They are no less heroic than the martyrs who laid down their lives, for even in the face of this tragedy they stand tall and continue to persevere  as they hang on to the memories of their beloved. I have represented these memories in the form of the military attire that adorned the fallen soldier before he walked into the arms of death. They have been lovingly encased in a wooden frame and preserved for posterity.

It has been my endeavor to bring out the steel and mettle that these heroic women and children are made of. Even though their expression gives away the sorrow and pain they are experiencing day in and day out, it does not bring down their resolve to prevail. The memorable moments they spent with their cherished one have become their strength and keep them going. The camouflage backdrop I have depicted in the composition is an inspiration to be brave and courageous no matter what, just like our fearless “jawans.”

The medium I have used for this artwork is mainly oil paints as I felt it is the best medium to depict a subject as profound as this. I also wanted to highlight the importance of the khakhi greens and other personal belongings of the fallen soldier in the lives of his near and dear ones. These will always have a special place in their hearts as they have remnants of his existence. It is for this reason that I have enhanced the picture frame in which they have been preserved. I did this by imparting it a 3D effect and the textural quality of wood using a hot glue gun. Then I gessoed it and once the gesso dried, I painted it in the natural colors of wood. The other shades used in the color palette comprise of earthy tones and military greens. In a way, I have deviated from using the conventional orange that is associated with Veer rasa.

So this was my interpretation of Veer rasa, a slightly different take for that matter. This artwork is not just my way of honoring the memory of the deceased but also paying my respects to the heroic souls who survive after them.  I wish to invoke this intense emotion inside the viewers of my art as well.  If I have succeeded in doing so, then it is a befitting tribute.

Sources and Photo Credits –

https://www.exoticindiaart.com/paintings/SouthIndian/

https://www.speakingtree.in/blog/five-heroic-qualities-of-lord-rama

Click to access AIJRHASS15-105.pdf

http://drvidyahattangadi.com/the-navrasa-of-life/

https://www.speakingtree.in/blog/9rasas-as-9-emotions-in-human-beings

https://www.amazon.in/Exotic-India-Veer-Hanuman-Painting/dp/B01N59S4C1

https://www.amazon.in/Lord-Rama-Canvas-Artist-Gomay/dp/B00B0E263Y

https://www.exoticindiaart.com/product/paintings/rama-in-battle-with-ravana-PC88/

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