Raudra – The Righteous Rage

As a mother of two growing girls, my house is a constant battleground. The other day, my daughters were at daggers ends for the umpteenth time, having had a major disagreement on an issue that only they could disagree about!! The matter was so trivial that you and I could have simply laughed it off, but kids being kids, they decided to stretch it to the point of unarmed combat! They were totally possessed by their rage and fury and were absolutely blinded by their anger! They just couldn’t think straight!!

Moral of the story…..anger makes one oblivious to logic.

This emotion of anger is known by the name Raudra Rasa and is probably the most basic yet most powerful, dynamic, violent, fundamental and dominant amongst all rasas. It can fuel both preservation and destruction. Like nearly all other emotions, it manifests itself physically as well as mentally.  It is the fire within our belly which simmers like burning embers in our ears, head, and hands.  Anger, once ignited, rises like the molten lava from the turbulent cauldron of fury within us and manifests itself as a lump in our throat or a pounding in our chest. It ignites itself and erupts as a reaction to a perceived threat to us, our loved ones, our property, our self-image, or some part of our identity.

Anger is a normal emotion with a wide range of intensity, from mild irritation and frustration to rage. There are two types of angers. The first being destructive that exists for the sake of itself. The second is constructive anger which is born out of an injustice or dissatisfaction and leads to a will to make a change towards a positive. It can also be constructive if it is instructive, such as the anger of a mother toward her child, a teacher toward a student, a king toward his subjects, a friend toward a friend.

Raudra is mostly a characteristic of wicked personalities like Danavas, Rakshasas/ill-minded kings, very haughty human beings, etc., with regular battle as the immediate cause. But, it does not mean that good characters do not show Raudra. Though their basic nature is calm and collected, they have moments of anger, like when Lord Rama was trying to kill Ravana, Draupadi was humiliated in the hands of Dushshasana.

The presiding deity of Raudra rasa is Rudra and the colour associated with it is red. The activities connected with Raudra rasa are beating, tearing, harassing, chopping off, breaking, piercing, striking, hurling missiles, shedding blood, seizing of weapons and similar activities. The energy of anger expresses itself from mild irritation up to real fury.

Depiction of Raudra Rasa in Art

Like in any other art form, the practitioners of Indian painting too attempted to express this rasa and create its aesthetics with brushstrokes onto a canvas. By converging ideas, themes and symbols within a single frame work, their paintings convey this emotion to their audience. Raudra rasa can not only be portrayed as the violent streak in a person, but also as the fury imposed by nature in the form of unexpected natural calamities and disasters.

Nature anger-Devaraj Daniel Franco

Here are some examples of Raudra rasa represented by artists in their work:

Mahishasura (1996) by Tyeb Mehta

This painting demonstrates the demon Mahishasura in a new frame. He is pictured using the colours red and black which arouses the rasas Raudra and Bhayanaka respectively. The intensity of the use of these two colours intensifies the anger of the demon and at the same time creates a feeling of terror in spectators as well as the demon himself.

Mahishasura (1996) by Tyeb Mehta

The head series of 80s and 90s portraits

Indian Modern artist Sunil Das, through this Head series digs out the inner trauma and rage within the core darkness of a human. It reflects the fury and wrath towards the society.

Raudra Rasa Painting by Raj Maji

This acrylic painting on canvas is one among his “Indian Rasa” series. It depicts the aesthetic experience of anger which can be destroyed by love or happiness. The color also evokes the same emotion of the human mind.

Raudra Rasa Painting by Raj Maji

Raudra Rasa by Avantika Sharma

On 16 December, 2012, Delhi, witnessed an incident that shook India’s very soul. This rape or sexual assault is one of those unforgivable crimes that invoked true Raudra Rasa as much in the mind of the artist Avantika Sharma as many others. If there was a thought that came to her mind about expressing the extreme aggression of Raudra rasa, it was Nirbhaya, the victim of this horrible act.

Raudra Rasa by Avantika Sharma

Natraj by Avik Chakraborty 

This is an original impressionistic artwork (acrylic & ink on paper) with resplendent colours depicting the Hindu God, Shiva.

Natraj by Avik Chakraborty 

Raudra Rasa by John Patowary

According to this artist, the wrath of kings, the fury caused by it and the offense, the anger evoked over injustice and disrespect are all forms of Raudra Rasa. The Raudra Rasa is the integral part in presenting the characters of Kansha, Narashingha, Parashurama, Lord Shiva etc.

Tandav Nritya : Kroda by Anuja Aggarwal

This shadow puppet on canson paper of Shiva, the Natraja shows him performing the Rudra Tandav to express his rage and fury over the death of his wife, Sati.
The character has just one eye because that is the third eye which opens when Shiva is extremely angry.

Tandav Nritya : Kroda by Anuja Aggarwal

13 Paintings That Depict Bottled Up Anger

As the internal volcano of wrath continues to brew and bubble, its fury surges through our body and soul. How do we set it free without hurting anyone? Through art, of course. The following 13 paintings feature stories of rage, artists letting go of their demons through their palette of vibrant colors and their portrayal of the hues of people when they’re angry (click on thumbnail to see full image). Some of these I have described further on in the post.

Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Francis Bacon.

This painting was based on a reproduction of Diego Velazquez’s 1650 portrait of Pope Innocent X. The figure in the painting is surrounded by vertical brushstrokes, which Bacon referred to as a curtain, connecting to the idea of something precious that is kept in a protected space. However, the lines also look like the bars of a cage, making the figure appear trapped and isolated. The brushstrokes fan out around the lower part of the painting, appearing reminiscent of claw marks. Bacon’s use of colour also adds to the tension in this painting. He uses two complementary colours, yellow and purple, which sharply contrast against each other. Overall, the effect is of a man trapped by the very throne that gave him eminence, screaming in frustration and despair at the darkness that is within and around him.

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica

The next example is Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. Picasso painted this in response to the bombing of Guernica in the Spanish civil war by Spanish and German fascist forces. This painting can be interpreted as an expression of his anger at the injustice of civilians being hurt and killed in war – and not just in Guernica, but in all the wars the world over ever since.

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica

Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco Goya

Goya was apparently concerned with his own mortality, and was increasingly embittered by the civil strife occurring in Spain. Although the primary impact of this painting is one of horror and malevolence, I believe that it is also an expression of rage and despair.

The Disasters of War (Spanish: Los desastres de la guerra)

This is a series of 82 [A1] prints created by the Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya. Art historians view them as a visual protest against the violence of the 1808 Dos de Mayo Uprising, the subsequent Peninsular War of 1808–14 and the setbacks to the liberal cause following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814.
 Goya’s scenes of atrocities, starvation, degradation and humiliation have been described as the “prodigious flowering of rage”.

Elisabetta Sirani, Timoclea Killing Her Rapist (1659)

During Alexander’s invasion of Thebes, a captain in his army raped the titular Timoclea. Following the assault, the captain asked where her money was hidden. Timoclea led him to her garden well; as he peered into it, she pushed him in, dropping heavy rocks down the well until he died. The painting turns the story on its head, inverting the hierarchy quite literally: The rapist is shown upside down and helpless, feet flailing in the air, as she stands resolutely above him. Sirani daringly chose to show Timoclea’s justice, rather than Alexander’s mercy.

Elisabetta Sirani, Timoclea Killing Her Rapist (1659)

Judith Beheading Holofernes  by Artemisia Gentileschi  

The Biblical Judith and her maidservant bear down on their victim, the invading Assyrian general Holofernes, as Judith saws at his neck with a sword. Blood spatters in long, ropy arcs, spraying Judith’s chest and neck. It’s arguable that Gentileschi’s own experiences with sexual violence shaped her approach to depicting this brutal story. At age 18, she was raped by her painting teacher, the artist Agostino Tassi. Gentileschi testified in court against him but he was set free due to an intercession by the pope, while Gentileschi was forced to testify while being tortured with thumbscrews. Gentileschi’s Judith may have been a portrayal of her rage at the justice that she herself was denied.

Truth Coming Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind (1896) by Jean-Léon Gérôme

This one is academic French painter Jean-Léon Gérôme’s take on the allegorical figure of Truth (specifically, the philosopher Democritus’s aphorism: “Of truth we know nothing, for truth is in a well”). A beautiful nude woman emerges from a well, an open-mouthed shout of anger on her face and a whip in her hand, rather than the usual mirror. Although she is nude (a blunt reference to “the naked truth”), she looks ready to charge straight for the viewer in a full-throated battle cry. Today, the painting has become a popular meme, due both to its unusually vivid depiction of female anger and its overall weirdness. Truth’s nudity reads here as power and moral purity rather than sexual availability; her fury makes her dangerous.

Truth Coming Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind (1896) by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Anger as art by women artists

The exhibit “Women and Anger: Resistance, Power, and Inspiration,” at the Koehnline Museum of Art featured 83 works by women artists from the United States and around the world. One got to see here that representations of anger can have many, many faces. The exhibit’s theme allowed women to make art about anything that might make them angry.

The Anger of Achilles by Jacques-Louis David

This painting shows the moment in Greek myth when Agamemnon reveals to Achilles that he has not actually brought his daughter Iphigenia to him as a bride, but rather intends to sacrifice her in order to appease the goddess Artemis. Achilles begins to draw his sword in anger upon hearing this, while Agamemnon’s wife, Clytemnestra, looks on in grief and sadness with her hand on her daughter’s shoulder.

The Anger of Achilles by Jacques-Louis David

Art against Terrorism Painting by Lea Schock

This oil painting on canvas is the artist’s tribute to the terrorist attack in Paris that took place on 13 November 2015. It is an intuitive expression of his displeasure, horror and anger against the heinous act. While painting, he only heard the voices of the reporters and politicians from the radio, and so he included the French President F. Hollande automatically. (Bottom left corner.)

Art against Terrorism Painting by Lea Schock

Shiva Paintings by Abhishek Singh

Abhishek Singh is a brilliant artist who has painted the Hindu Gods, mainly Shiva and Krishna, through his unique style. He depicts the Gods in a whole new perspective, which makes you lose yourself and makes your mind enter a trance. Here are few of his depictions of the Lord Shiva in his full fury.

Depiction of Anger by Leonid Afremov

Yes! My favorite artist has done it too!!

ANGRY TIGER — PALETTE KNIFE Oil Painting On Canvas By Leonid Afremov

Other depictions of Raudra Rasa

Here are some other paintings and artworks that have been depicted by various artists in their own unique styles:

Depiction of Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva is one name that everyone in the world is aware of. Many artists have been portraying the spirit of Shiva through their paintings. Generally, the “Tandava” of lord Shiva is considered as the classic example of Raudra rasa and it is for this reason that Lord Shiva is famous for his “Rudravtar”. Here are some more artistic renditions of the Lord of Fury apart from the one I have described earlier:

Depiction of Goddess Kali

Kali or death mother is the most powerful and ferocious Hindu Goddess. She is known for her intense power, violence and aggression, which she utilizes against dark evil forces to bring peace back to earth. She is the incarnation of Ma Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva and encompasses Shakti which is a feminine energy, creativity, and fertility. Kali is represented as a fearful deity who wears a garland of human heads, a skirt of arms, lolling tongue and a knife dripped in blood. She is a goddess of death, time and doomsday and is regarded as the God of destruction. She is often depicted naked to symbolize that she is pure and free of “maya” (illusion of worldly pleasures).

My Depiction of Raudra Rasa

Shiva is synonymous to the Raudra rasa, but in a good way. Durga killing the demon of Anger called Mahishasura symbolizes our ability to kill the demon of anger inside of us with the help of our good and divine energies, such as forgiveness, acceptance, calmness, humor, and so on.

I have chosen to represent Lord Shiva and Durga for the depiction of this Rasa. But what is the relationship between Kali and Shiva? The Vedas describe Kali and Shiva as a symmetry that is as complex as it is simple. They are not two but one but appear as two beings. All of existence is but Shiva and His inseparable Shakti. The masculine gender is Lord Siva. The feminine gender is Sri Bhavani Devi. The universe functions when these two function together. Shiva is consciousness and Shakti energy. Kali and Shiva are very close. They can be considered the Yin and Yang of creation.

It is for this reason that my portrait Raudra – The Righteous Rage is a fusion of the two deities, one being part of the other. My objective is to depict the oneness and amalgamation of Shiva and Kali in their “Rudra” form.Both Shiva and Kalitake form when evil strikes and are the harbingers of doom for the demons of dark evil.

There is so much immorality in the world these days, that man seems to be possessed by his own vices and humanity is slowly being devoured by the demons of misdeed. These include the seven deadly sins, namely, sloth, greed, wrath, gluttony, envy, pride and lust.

When we fall prey to these vices, we resort to aggression which leads to suffering and eventually destruction. This aggression takes shape when we submit to our ego which is subservient to the seven vices or sins that control us.  Our aggressive fury in response to these is totally oblivious destroys anything and everything that comes in its path.  

But when anger freed from ego, it ceases to be aggression and simply becomes energy. This pure, enlightened energy can be channelized inwards into the deepest crevices of our soul to annihilate those very demonic vices that gave birth to the negative rage in the first place. It gives birth to a will to make a change towards a positive and more peaceful way of existence, thereby cleansing our body, mind and spirit and paving the path for self awareness and expression.   

By harnessing the powerful energy of anger positively, one can attain detachment from worldly possessions, fears and desires and use this purify oneself. So if we do not feed anger with negative thoughts, but turn it back onto these very antagonizing feelings, we will succeed in slaying them once and for all, just as Shiva and Kali have exterminated the demons that threatened the goodness in the universe.

The medium and technique I have employed for this artwork are acrylics and impasto respectively, which makes it a mixed media canvas. I have used modeling paste to impart texture to the untamed dreadlocks of Lord Shiva and the color blue is an attempt to highlight them furthermore. I have also tried to provide a subtle texture to the dark tresses of Kali in the form of striations on top of the impasto paste. The color palette mainly consists of blues, as that is the color of choice used for depicting Hindu deities. Each of the 7 deadly sins or vices has been depicted by a skull in the artwork. This is also a symbolic representation of the demons that Kali would slay and then wear a garland of their skulls around her neck as her trophies. Each skull has been rendered in the same color that symbolizes that particular vice, namely:

Sloth – Light Blue, Greed – Yellow, Wrath – Red, Gluttony – Orange, Envy – Green, Pride – Violet and Lust – Dark Blue.

I have also endeavored to augment each of the vices through the facial expression of each skull. The fire engulfing these skulls symbolizes their destruction by the positive energy of anger.

While the body and face of Kali have been rendered in light blue, those of Shiva are a darker shade of blue, with the exception of his throat, where the lighter blue is an indication of the “vish” or poison he drank (another story from Hindu mythology for another time!) The serpent around his neck is his trademark adornment and has been rendered in a golden acrylic hue with black outlines to amplify the scales. I have also used impasto to give texture to the rudraksha beads that hold Shiva’s hair in a bun.

There is a Shiva and a Kali inside each man and each woman. All we need to do is invoke the power within us and awaken our third eye to vanquish our vices through it furious glance and purify our mortal existence.  That is the message I wish to convey through this rendition of Raudra Rasa and hence I call it the “Righteous Rage.”

DISCLAIMER – All the information, data and imagery in this blog post is for informational and educational purpose only. While there may be copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner, I have only made it available with the sole effort to stimulate creative progress and artistic enrichment.Some images may have been taken from the links included below and I give full credit to these websites/pages, thereby in no way claiming them to be my own. I have also used these links for reference purposes and collection of data for this post, therefore I give full credit to the respective web pages. Most of the data in this post is based on my personal experiences and opinions and I am not responsible for any material that is found in the links at the end of this post.

Sources and Photo Credits –










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One thought on “Raudra – The Righteous Rage

  1. i wait for each of your blog entries because they are opening a new window into the world of art for me. In my view a lot of people need to examine this rasa as it is spilling into real life today. your art work and the art of this genre may be a representation of women and the downtrodden rising up across the world today.


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