Hello everyone! This post is extremely special as the artwork I am sharing today is the culmination of my Navrasa Series of works. For the uninitiated, Navrasas are the 9 emotions that form the foundation of Indian classical dance and music, theatre, art and literature, essentially the traditional Indian performing arts. These are the basic emotions, moods or sentiments that figure in the daily lives of every human being. (Click on the following link to learn more about these 9 emotions and the concept of Navrasas – https://theartdungeon.blog/2019/09/21/the-art-of-emotions/)
Coming to the emotion I am covering today, that is, Vibhatsa Rasa. The word “Vibhatsa” is a Sanskrit word that means “disgust” and is traditionally represented by the color blue in Indian art and literature. It is a feeling of Disgust or dissatisfaction with oneself and others. Vulgar, uncivilized, and perverted actions, using bad words and manners, and showing bad intentions to others are all manifestations of the Vibhatsa Rasa. All creative arts, dance and theatre to fine arts and literature and poetry are replete with imagery that pertains to Vibhatsa.
In today’s post, I am sharing my depiction of the Vibhatsa rasa through my artwork titled Vibhatsa – The Web of Disgust. This painting is an expression of how much a woman detests being considered as an object of gratification by the society and is disgusted by its countless atrocities. She loathes the unending discrimination and is sickened by the web of deceit and immorality that has been spun around her by the social order. She is so outraged by the incessant delinquency of the world around her that she is absolutely repulsed by it, just like the spindly gossamer of a spider that clings to the skin until it evokes a feeling if disgust. The medium I have used to create this artwork is oil paints and the color palette mainly consists of warm earthy tones of the likes of cream, off-white, browns etc. This of course is a deviation from the traditional color of blue that has been designated to the emotion in question, but I have always been one to break the norm. Here’s an image of the artwork followed by links to a couple of videos displaying the making of the artwork and some behind the scenes snippets:
As is visible in the painting, it depicts disgust through the lacy spindles of a spider’s web which portrays within itself the various atrocities and injustices that the feminine gender endures. Apart from this, I have also used symbolism in the form of the eye and the eye ball to represent the objectification of the fairer sex and the claw-like hands to signify the society preying on her.
When it comes to a subject like emotions, their portrayal and in turn their interpretation becomes a matter of perspective, not just for the artist but for the viewers as well. What may seem positive to the artist may be perceived as negative by his audience or vice versa. Moreover, it also depends on the mindset of the person, hence emotions in art are a totally subjective prospect.
Vibhatsa being a negative emotion in itself ideally comes across negatively in art but it has been my sincere attempt to bring it out as positively as possible through this painting. I intend it to be thought provoking and serve as an eye opener to the society with an aim to bring in the winds of change. I hope that this message emanates loud and clear through this artwork and is interpreted positively rather than negatively.
DISCLAIMER – All the information, data and imagery in this blog post is for informational and educational purpose only. Some images and data 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. Other data is based on my personal experiences and opinions.
Ever got inspired by a book you have recently read to create art? I am sure we all have, but ever felt inspired enough by art mentioned in the same book?
Read on if you want to know more!
We all wonder where artists get all their inspiration from. Well, as is true for all creative fields, when it comes to finding inspiration, sky is the limit. One good source of inspiration though for most artists is books. I firmly believe that it’s very important for every artist to delve into books as not only do they light up that creative spark in them, but also help keep it burning. The key to making good art consistently lies in extracting the right amount of inspiration from the literary sources at hand. So don’t just read books, let them spur your imagination and awaken the artistic streak!
Being an avid reader myself, I am on a constant mission for artistic revelation in whatever I read. It doesn’t matter what genre it belongs to, as long as it creates ripples in my imagination and brews up a creative storm, it works for me.
As an artist, there are times when I hit a dead end and it is in such periods of creative drought that I turn to books to jump start my imagination. Moreover, books help me evolve and develop my artistic skills in new and different ways. Books are like that breath of fresh air that helps me tide over my creative hypoxia. Besides, reading is my second most favorite activity next to art!
It was during one such recent literary sojourns that I came across inspiration for my artistic endeavors. I have just finished reading the third book in the fast-selling Ram Chandra Series by the Indian author Amish Tripathi – Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta. This book is part of an ongoing mythological-fiction series about the life of Lord Ram, Lady Sita, and Ravan and the third book chronicles the life of Ravan in particular.
Through this book, the author has not only presented Ravan as the darkest villain in Indian literature by reinventing his evil, but has also put forth deep-rooted philosophies through his portrayal as an artist. One such excerpt from the book describes a painting made by Ravan that is not only a character sketch of himself but also a logically befitting portrayal of the concept of “dharma” or the “righteous path”. Here’s the excerpt I am talking about:
What inspired me the most in this excerpt was the beautiful artwork created by Ravan. I felt it was the most innovative and intelligent description of Ravan as the ten headed demon, encompassing all his greys and whites in the form of the nine emotions (navrasas), which also symbolize the emotions that control us during various phases of our lives. It is also a profound portrayal of our struggle to attain the right direction through the “moral compass” called dharma.
The artwork has been so beautifully described by the author that I can literally picturize it in my mind. I am so inspired by this imagery that I have added it to my wish list and I can’t wait to create my own version of this beautifully explained philosophy onto my canvas! Will share the final outcome here whenever I get down to doing it so, watch out for it!
Disclaimer – All the information, data and imagery in this blog post is for informational purpose only. Though the images included in this post have been quoted from the book title provided below, I give full credit to the original author, Amish Tripathi for this creation in its entirety, thereby in no way claiming it to be my own. Other data is based solely on my personal experience and opinions.
Sources and Credits –
Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta (Book 3 of the Ram Chandra Series by Amish Tripathi).
Hey folks! After a really long hiatus, I’m back with another post. Apologies for being M.I.A! Will try not to disappear for too long in future!!
Today’s post is a continuation of my Navrasa series of paintings, where I am depicting each of the “rasas” (i.e., emotions or sentiments) through my art. Just to recap, in Indian philosophy, there are nine rasas, hence the title Navrasa, where “nav” means nine. Till now, I have depicted 7 of these emotions – “Shringar” (beauty), “Shanta” (peace), “Hasya” (happiness), “Veer” (bravery), “Karuna” (compassion), “Raudra” (anger) and “Bhayanaka” (fear).
The emotion portrayed in the artwork featured here today is the “Adbhuta rasa” or the emotion of curiosity, astonishment and wonder. To understand this sentiment better, let’s delve a little deeper into it.
Adbhuta rasa deals with wonder. It is the sentiment of mystery, astonishment and curiosity. The feeling of wonder comes when one recognizes one’s own ignorance. Since Adbhuta rasa depicts the feeling of wonder, it is also referred to as the “marvelous sentiment”. The predominant color of Adbhuta rasa is yellow which also evokes the same emotion of the human mind. According to Indian philosophy, the element of wonder or astonishment is aroused when one experiences the unimaginable or the unexplainable like seeing heavenly beings, gaining one’s desired object, or seeing a flying chariot or a magic show, etc.
Coming to my artwork. I call this one Adbhuta – The Tree of Life. As is evident from the title, this painting depicts the aesthetics of the feeling of amazement and wonder about the most miraculous aspect of life – the creation of life itself. Here’s an image of my artwork along with a small video of its making:
From the dawn of civilization, human beings have tried to understand everything about the birth of life. It’s this element of mystery surrounding the miracle of life that arouses our curiosity and consequently evokes a feeling of amazement. It makes us wonder and ask ourselves the most basic questions – Where do we come from and Where are we going?
Life has come a long way from miniscule single cells to the human frame. Isn’t it simply amazing how diverse it is, from the tiny microscopic organisms to the fungi and algae, plants, insects, birds, marine life, reptiles, amphibians, animals and finally the most advanced form – us, the humans? Most of us wonder how it all happened. Was there really a big bang that gave birth to life or was it divine intervention? Hence the first question – Where do we come from? No matter what one believes in, be it God or the theory of evolution, both are equally amazing and wonderous.
That brings us to the next question – Where are we going? What’s next in this amazing chain of existence? With so must advancement in science and technology, what is it that the future holds for the human race and more importantly life itself? Are we going to see an amalgamation of artificial intelligence with organic intelligence and end up with a new species? Super humans, androids or will it be a hybrid of both – humanoids? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
I have made use of the most basic unit or building block of organic life – the DNA double helix to represent the tree of life. It is this seed of life that has germinated and established its roots on the surface of our planet, eventually developing into the tree of life.
I have attempted to symbolically depict each stage in this story of the evolution of life with the help of basic imagery for each respective stage. For instance, I have rendered the algae and fungi in the form of mushrooms, insect life as butterfly wings whereas aquatic life is a collage of skin textures and patterns of the likes of a snake, crocodile, frog, turtle, lizard, fish, etc. Similarly, animal life is symbolized by tiger and zebra stripes, leopard and cheetah spots, giraffe spots, etc. A human fetus was my obvious choice for representing us homo sapiens.
The background of the painting displays the vast universe towards the lower part and the digital world in the form of the circuitry on a motherboard in the upper part of the painting. Both seem to be merging into each other, hence my attempt to depict the gradually fading boundaries between the material world and the virtual one.
I felt that just the use of the conventional color designated to the emotion of wonder, i.e., yellow, does not do justice to a concept as diverse as life . So, I have extended my color palette to various other hues of the color spectrum.
The primary medium I have employed for the painting is acrylic paints, blending it with modelling paste wherever required in order to impart a 3D effect, specifically the wood-like texture for the DNA double helix tree, the roots spreading out on planet earth and the circuit board. Apart from this, I have also used alcohol markers, micro tip pens and gel pens for the finer details of the painting.
This one has been a huge challenge for me as it’s not easy depicting an emotion as profound as wonder. It is something that we feel and express on a daily basis and it knows no bounds. Anything and everything can become a cause of wonder for the human mind. So, the question I asked myself while working this one out was what is the greatest wonder for the human race and this is the concept I came up with. I hope it appeals to your element of wonder as well. Looking forward to your inputs and comments!
Last week I had published a post about mind mapping. This one is an extension of that, wherein I have delved into the intriguing world of mind maps and attempted to organize the whirlwind of ideas storming my brain into something meaningful.
The mind map displayed in this post is a precursor to my next painting which is part of my long pending Navrasa Series covering the 9 basic human emotions (refer to previous posts to view the series). The emotion I will be depicting next is called “Adbhuta Rasa” which in simpler terms means “wonder” and “amazement.” This one has been a huge challenge for me as it’s not easy depicting an emotion as profound as wonder. It is something that we feel and express on a daily basis and it knows no bounds. Anything and everything can become a cause of wonder for the human mind. So the question I asked myself while working this one out was what is the greatest wonder for the human race?
Without going too much into detail about the concept behind this artwork, here’s a draft of my thoughts and ideas that I have plotted graphically using an online mind mapping app called Ayoa (https://app.ayoa.com/). So let my mind map do the talking!(Click on the link below the image to view the map in detail)
Imagine walking down a dark, lonely street late at night. Suddenly you hear the soft crackle of dried leaves….someone or something is approaching you. Your heart beat quickens, you have sweaty palms, your limbs start trembling, your throat feels parched and a general sense of unease sets in. What could be lurking in the shadows? What is this feeling that you are experiencing?
This feeling of unease and uncertainty, which is the end of our comfortzone, often signals an experience in our bodies that we call fear. The emotion or rasa that is equivalent to this feeling of fear is called the “Bhayanaka Rasa.”
Fear can be creatively defined as False Evidence Appearing Real. Our fears are in fact irrational beliefs that we have about ourselves, our actions, objects, other people or events. These fears only appear to be real within the recesses of our minds, however, they have absolutely no basis in reality. They are in some respects made-up interpretations within the physical world. Fear is nothing more than the uncertainty we feel about the outcomes, circumstances and unpredictability of future events.
Fear is closely linked to attachment. We are fearful of losing people or things we are attached to. We are all attached to our egos, our lovers and most of all our own selves. Our ability to think irrationally makes us preach about “what if” situations till doomsday. Fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of disease, fear of flying, fear of catastrophes and fear of failure are all commonly noted as “fear”. We are also fearful of losing our health, our home, our jobs, our relationships. Fear is also associated with our desires. More the desires, more fears may arise.
Bhayanaka rasa or the terrible sentiment is experienced on hearing hideous sounds, seeing something scary or ghastly, loneliness or seclusion, death, etc. Fear can arise in different people due to different reasons. The term phobia is coined to explain different kinds of fears. Something that causes an individual fear may not necessarily cause someone else the same. The extent and degree may also vary from person to person.
Fear is a spooky thing. It can overcome even the strongest parts of our intelligence. It can remain in a comatose state in our subconscious until it is awakened or triggered by some worrying situation or circumstance. Our fears, like our dreams, are indeed dreadful figments of our imaginations, which arise from the deepest abyss of our mind and can seem totally realistic. Our fears can cripple us intellectually and snatch away our dreams, our aspirations and our will to progress and prosper.
However, fear is also our natural protection that keeps us away from harm. For our ancestors, the feeling in the pit of the stomach came as a warning sign: danger. Even today, our fear response is still alive. Fear, dread, fright, alarm, panic, terror, all mean painful agitation in the presence or anticipation of danger. Our lives literally depend on our response to fear – flight, fight, or freeze. When it comes to human survival and achievement, anxiety and fear actually motivate us to take necessary action.
One good example of Bhayanaka rasa which we all can relate to is Halloween. It is the perfect recipe for fright, with all the necessary ingredients stirred together into a concoction capable of creating the emotion of fear in our psyche. But this fear can be very subjective. It can be our very own personal demons that make us cower or it can be an external factor scaring us. A clear definition of fear is described as ‘An anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience.’ Since fear is such a dark emotion, the colour given to it is understandably black.
In the famous words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: ‘Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’
Depiction of Bhayanaka Rasa in Art
Like in any other art form, the practitioners of Indian painting too attempted to express fear and create its aesthetic appeal through their representations. In a painting expressing the Bhayanaka sentiment, the subject is generally portrayed as vile, frightful, contemptible, murderous and almost decaying. It can also be symbolized by a perplexed face and a look of confusion in the eyes, cowered down owing to fear on sighting evil or danger. Here are some examples of artists who have expressed the Bhayanaka Rasa through their artworks.
Mother and Child (2017) by Mahesh Pal Gobra
This expressionistic painting presents the lament of a mother with a baby in her hand. The lady covers her face with her hand as though unable to have a look at her child. The black colour creates a horror-filled background and induces terror. The tree and the sky are both painted black. Everything in the background is depicted in black. This is the artist’s rendition of the Bhopal Gas tragedy, a gas leak incident in India which is considered as the world’s worst industrial disaster. An Acrylic on Canvas, this painting is the artist’s tribute to the victims of the tragic accident.
Bhopal Disaster Series – Black Water (2013) by Chinmaya BR
The same rasa can be traced in the art work Bhopal Disaster Series – Black Water (2013), also dedicated to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Through this painting, the artist exposes the impact of this catastrophe and tries to impart the same within spectators. The irony is that the black colour appears only in a few areas of the painting. But the effect which is produced through those black bold curves reproduces the tragedy within a canvas. Other than black, no other colours could have been interwoven with the emotion of fear forming a perfect blend of the rasa Bhayanaka.
Fear of a New Dawn by Ranbir Kaleka
In “Fear of A New Dawn”, one awakens to a sense of fear.It is a brooding collection of video art installations which feature juddering islands, gray balls of tumbleweed, a coffin-like block of burnt wood, among other spectral images like the severed head of a donkey and doppelgangers staring and merging into each other. The artist says about this installation that, “The current political situation and the events in the recent past have affected us deeply. I remember, as a student in London, one of my professors was looking at an oil painting of a hellscape by another student. My professor asked him if his painted image frightened him, and said that if it didn’t, it was stupid to paint it. So, the fear has to happen to you. The urge to make the work has to come from within the artist.”
Fear and Horror through the Ages
Not until the Romantic period of the late 18th and early 19th centuries were fear and horror both explicitly illustrated and seen as emotions and feelings to be actively enjoyed – hence the popularity of horror movies. The power of painting to produce these emotions was first and perhaps most successfully shown by Goya and Fuseli. Turner illustrated the fearful attraction of Alpine scenery. The horrors of war were shown more explicitly in art through the 19th century, culminating in the paintings of the war artists of the First World War, and Picasso’s Guernica in the 20th century. Here are some paintings from the past, which in my opinion, induce a feeling of fear.
The Scream by Edward Munch
“I stood there trembling with anxiety and I felt a great, infinite scream through nature.” This was how Edvard Munch described the experience while out walking that led him to paint The Scream (1893). Munch’s The Scream is an icon of modern art and defines how we see our own age – wracked with anxiety and uncertainty. Essentially The Scream is autobiographical, an expressionistic construction based on Munch’s actual experience of a scream piercing through nature while on a walk, after his two companions, seen in the background, had left him. Fitting the fact that the sound must have been heard at a time when his mind was in an abnormal state, Munch renders it in a style which if pushed to extremes can destroy human integrity.
Rachel Whiteread’s Place (Village), 2006-08
Rachel Whiteread’s celebrated artwork Place (Village) (2006-2008) is a sculptural work featuring a ‘community’ of around 150 Dolls’ houses which were collected by Whiteread over 20 years. The artwork joins the 100+ Dolls’ houses in the Museum collection. The large-scale artwork is an assembly of vintage Dolls’ houses in a variety of architectural styles and averaging around one meter high. The houses sit on stepped platforms, evoking a sprawling hillside ‘community’. The houses are lit from within, but deserted, their emptiness evoking haunting memories and melancholy.
John Isaacs’ I can’t help the way I feel (2003)
‘I Can’t Help the Way I Feel’, is a sculpture by British artist John Isaacs. It is a huge, amorphous blob of realistic-looking human fat, complete with hideously swollen legs, angry veins, and blotchy, irritable sores. It illustrates our anxieties about our bodies and our fear of obesity.
Self Portrait by Pieter Van Laer (1638)
This painting by Dutch artist Pieter Van Laer epitomizes fear. He’s screaming out in terror as he sees the approach of the devil, as depicted by the monster-like hands reaching for him from the right side.
Salvador Dali didn’t suffer from phobias, he reveled in them. His list of pathological fears ran from childhood ereuthophobia, a fear of blushing, to acrididophobia, a fear of grasshoppers. A general fear of insects was connected to delusional parasitosis—a feeling of nonexistent bugs infesting one’s skin. He also feared, among many other things, the female body and becoming a father.These powerful phobias were matched by profound fascinations. Dali’s surrealistic images retain their impact decades later, and they’re always worth another look.
Crawling and swarming black ants. Beautiful, colorful butterflies floating individually and in clusters. An oversized lone grasshopper perched over the mouth of a deformed head, Dali’s paintings are infested with the very insects that terrify him. Ants, a common image, signify decay, suggesting a fear of death. Grasshoppers, which pop up with some regularity, he so feared as a child that other children threw them at him for fun, just to see him react.
Painting by Unknown Artist at 2011 Armory Show
This painting also depicts fear. Why do you think that is? Is it because of the extra big, extra round eyes, or the teeth that seem to be chattering?
Shawn Cross’s terrifying illustrations of phobias
Artist Shawn Cross has illustrated some of the most common phobias, to be exact 31 of them, and shared them on his Instagram account. Even if you aren’t scared of any of the following things, Shawn’s impressive and terrifying drawings are bound to haunt your dreams tonight. Here are some of his finest creations.
Deep Dark Fears by Fran Cross
Everyone has at least one irrational fear, but it’s often too ridiculous, embarrassing, or simply odd to share with anyone else. Perhaps this is why it’s so amusing to see others’ fears denuded in these morbid comics by Fran Krause, the illustrator behind the Deep Dark Fears. Anyone can submit their own personal irrational fear or a ghost story for it to be illustrated by Krause and presented to the curious public. If you‘re not the sharing type, though, take a look at these cool examples of the craziest, deepest, and darkest fears of others instead.
Artworks inducing fright
Here are some works of art either inspired by, or evoking, all that scares us —some of them so spooky that they’ll leave you shuddering with fear!
Louise Bourgeois’ Maman, is a gigantic spider installation outside the front doors of the National Gallery of Canada. Twenty-six white marble eggs incubate in its belly, threatening the capitol with an outbreak of arachnids.
2. But Maman’s arachnid would be no match to Marlin Peterson’s two gargantuan, photo-realistic creepy-crawlies on top of Seattle’s Space Needle.
3. In Mu Pan’s Spider Woman, Spider-Man is seen hemorrhaging in the jaws of yet another monstrous beast. This one takes fear to a new level altogether!
4. Paris-based photographer Guido Mocafico’s Serpens series is a collection of one of the most common fears…snakes! These photographic compositions of the mascots of Slytherin House can freak out even the bravest!
5. Brian Andrews’ Hominidis a 2012 shot film that fuses human and animal X-ray films to create a new, hybrid beastie, a cross between a spider and a human. These surreal, spliced-together creatures, having half arachnid and half human form look even more horrific with the human skull and spider skeleton.
6. Laurence Demaison’sLa novice is a surreal, black-and-white photograph that aggressively distorts the human form — or just our sense of reality — with a ghostly effect. This one is definitely not for you if you fear needles, so watch out all you trypanophobes!
7. Brooklyn artist Ted Lawson’s Ghost in the Machine is a take on homophobia (fear of blood). In 2014, he fed his own blood into a robot via I.V. The machine was programmed to paint with the stuff flowing directly out of his veins, ultimately producing a self-portrait. See it to believe it — if you can handle the sight of blood.
8. Cao Hui’sresin sculpture series, Visual Temperature will make you shriek in horror as it induces a mix of disgust and fear in you.
9. Naoki Sasayama’s Blue Sky and Recollection are not for people with Aviophobia. In other words, if you fear flying, do not view the next two images.
10. Trent Parke’s The Camera is God is a set of eerie portraits from his 2013 series. Set up on an Adelaide street corner, Parke captured candid pictures of strangers with a remote shutter. When a passerby crossed the intersection, his camera would snap 30 frames in four seconds and these fleeting moments came out as the ghostly images of fear.
11. German illustrator Bjorn Griesbach’s Hollow Children series is not for the weak at heart. Besides their Julia Roberts smiles, his faceless portraits are a sure shot scare.
12. According to artist Jonathan Borofsky, his piece, Walking to the Sky, is meant to be “a symbol for our collective search for wisdom and awakened consciousness,” but according to me, it is the scariest nightmare for anyone who’s afraid of heights.
13. Breath, a photo series by Japanese artist Tomohide Ikeya, examines the struggle between life and death, and as per his artist’s statement: “When we are covered in water, the fear inside of us comes to the surface.”
14. A Kind of You, a set of images, by Finnish artist Perttu Saksa, can be an expression of pediophobia (fear of dolls). The real-life subjects have an arguably more troubling story. Those are real circus monkeys under the doll masks. Saksa photographed them in Indonesia, where they were subjected to controversial training methods.
In memoriam by Joseph Noel Paton
This painting was painted two years after the revolt of 1857 in India. The main objective of the artist was to express the helplessness of the English women and children during the period of the revolt. It depicts the subjects huddled together in a circle, appearing absolutely scared and helpless. Their facial expressions suggest as if they were almost waiting for the horrible event to happen, anticipating the worse in the form of humiliation, violence and eventually death.
Sharing a few more images of art that depicts Bhayanaka rasa or fear (click on thumbnails to view full images):
My Depiction of Bhayanaka Rasa
The Bhayanaka Rasa depicts fear and worries that are evoked while facing something that is more powerful than oneself. It is a feeling of being helpless. The most powerful form of Bhayanaka rasa is the fear of death.
It is this extreme form of the emotion that I have attempted to express in my artwork titled Bhayanaka Rasa – The Terminal Fear.
“The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else,” wrote Earnest Becker in his book, The Denial of Death. It’s a fear strong enough to compel us to go on a crash diet, sweat it out in the gym till we drop and book a doctor’s appointment at the first sight of an abnormal growth in our bodies.
Death terrifies us. Fear of death can end up in mental health disorders, including anxiety, panic attacks and depression. And we’re too scared to talk about it.
Death is the greatest mystery ever. Since the origin of life itself, every race and civilization has sought to explain this mystery. It is a puzzle that has baffled humanity under its inevitable gloom. The rich or the poor, the black or the white, the powerful or the weak, all will end up in the grave eventually. Death is the cessation of life and all associated processes; the end of an organism’s existence as an entity independent from its environment and its return to an inert, nonliving state.
The mystery of death is so profound that, inspite of millennia of religious as well as scientific theories and hypotheses, we are still shrouded by uncertainty about it.
So what happens when we die? Do we go to Heaven? Or Hell? Or are we Reincarnated? Or do we just end up in nothingness and disappear into oblivion? All these questions about the uncertainty of death make it the dark unknown that we dread facing. The mere thought of death makes one break into a sweat and can make one’s heart race. Even though we know it’s inevitable, we live in constant denial and hope against hope that the end never comes. Death is like a ticking time bomb and the countdown to our obliteration begins the moment we take our first breath. It’s just a matter of time when the counter will hit zero. This constant fear of dying according to me is the scariest thing terrorizing the human race and best symbolizes the terror sentiment or Bhayanaka rasa.
But what symbolizes death?Remember that dark lonely street I asked you to imagine walking down at the beginning of this post? Now picture doing this all over again. As you walk along, you sense a shadowy, cloaked figure who suddenly appears in front of you…holding something…something that looks like a scythe. This sinister figure is the Grim Reaper.
Death has been personified for thousands of years, by the Grim Reaper—usually a skeletal silhouette, draped in a dark, hooded robe and carrying a scythe to “reap” human souls. But why the skeleton, the scythe and the robe? Skeletons symbolize death, representing the human body after it has decomposed. The robe is a reminder of the robes that religious figures of ancient times wore when conducting funeral services. The scythe is taken from agricultural practices of the time – harvesters used scythes to reap or harvest crops that were ready to be pulled out from the soil…so, when our time has come, we are extracted from this earth. With this scythe, the Reaper severs the soul’s last ties with life.The Grim Reaper’s is as mysterious as death itself and is someone you definitely don’t want to meet any time soon.
But how did the Grim Reaper originate? In the fourteenth century, when Europe was ravaged by the Black Plague, artists began painting death as a horrific figure. Skeletons, armed with deadly weapons, danced among plague victims in the street or rode white horses with wagons full of bodies attached. Eventually, the first recognizable Reaper, a black cloaked figure, began taking shape. His dark costume and curved scythe may have been inspired by plague doctors, who wore dark shrouds and bird-like masks to protect themselves from breathing infected air. Even today, the Grim Reaper continues to rule over our imagination and has become the global icon of death. Most legends claim that the mere presence of the Grim Reaper draws the soul from the body. With the crook of one boney finger, he snatch you from the world of the living forever.
I chose to paint the Reaper in his full glory with a dark, hollow skull, almost like a void beneath his deep hooded cloak, with only his eyes and nasal cavity emitting their sinister glow. His long, black cloak is endless and engulfs within its folds whatever life it comes across. I have attempted to incorporate and depict this in the form of the infinite creases and wrinkles in the cloak. His scythe is usually a long pole with a curved blade at the top, but I decided to stylize it further, with a blade on both ends, one each on the top and bottom of his hourglass. His hourglass, which he uses to measure the amount of time left in a life represents the apprehension of every human being about his inevitable end. The hand within the hourglass emphasizes this fear furthermore and how we all are slowly sinking into the sands of time, inching closer to our demise. This image, literally scares us to death.
The medium for this artwork is mainly acrylics with the use of modeling paste and the impasto technique for imparting requisite textural effects to the fiery flames which form the backdrop for the Grim Reaper’s upper hooded form. For the folds and creases of the cloak, I have employed the technique of decoupage, wherein, instead of using the usual decoupage paper, I have used cling wrap or cling film. The procedure is simple. Once the cling wrap adhered to the canvas with the help of the mod podge, I gessoed it and then painted over it with acrylic paints.
If my rendition of Bhayanaka rasa in the form of the ultimate fear of death sends a chill down your spine, then I have managed to invoke the sentiment of terror in you, for the Grim Reaper is the embodiment of Death and thus fear itself.
As they say, nothing can be more fearsome than uncertainty and the unknown. Death is both of these things and so we fear it the most.
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; 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Natraj by Avik Chakraborty
This is an original impressionistic artwork (acrylic & ink on paper) with resplendent colours depicting the Hindu God, Shiva.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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!!
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.
“Compassion sooner or later triumphs.” – Sir Chinmoy.
Today’s blog post is about the most benevolent of all emotions, which is Compassion. In the Indian context of rasas it is called “Karuna rasa.”
The Sanskrit word Karuna means “Sadness”, representing grief and compassion. This rasa finds expression in many forms of art, literature, and theatre in India. The feelings of unspeakable tragedy and despair, hopelessness and heartbreak, the sorrow caused by parting with a lover, the pain caused by the death of a loved one are all Karuna. However, in its highest form, Karuna rasa depicts compassion or sympathy.
Some examples of Karuna are a mother’s reaction while seeing her son’s body returning home after being killed in a war, Sri Krishna’s reaction to Abhimanyu’s death during the Kurukshetra War and most of the Shakespearean tragedies.
Mastering Karuna means transforming ignorance for a person or situation into compassion. Karuna is also very empathetic and makes one relate to the others’ state of unhappiness. Pity and sadness are consequences of ignorance and attachments. When we feel sad for all who do not see through suffering as a result of their ignorance, then we experience Karuna. Karuna not only transcends the world, it also transcends the self for it is the bridge to one’s higher self and the thread that binds every human being to the other as well as the mystery of creation.
Karuna is not a negative emotion. It is a positive feeling of empathy and understanding for others in response to their suffering, accompanied by a desire to help. Compassion when based on rational notions such as fairness, justice and interdependence is beautiful. Karuna Rasa takes birth at the sight of death, murder, torture, or anguish and is depicted by the color grey.
While sadness is the key ingredient of Compassion, true Compassion goes beyond sadness to an unending kindness that doesn’t taste like sadness at all but transforms into love and truth.
True Compassion is without discrimination and can be felt for humans as well as for animals, plants, or enemies. It makes us a kind person, extending loving kindness to every being we meet. Real Compassion is a divine quality that makes a person a real human being. This Karuna polishes our consciousness of the Divine, making it stand out more clearly and beautifully. It is the cause of many spiritual thoughts and ideas and promotes religion very well.
Buddha and the Dalai Lama are examples of Compassion. The former did not feel pity for the suffering of others but for the ignorance that causes suffering and that is why he set himself on the path of self-realization. Compassion plays a very central role in Buddhism, where the term “Karuna” is much more directly translated as Compassion, rather than Sadness. The Christian cross is also a powerful symbol of Karuna, as it represents suffering that has emerged out of Compassion for others.
Depiction of Karuna through Art
Buddhism and Christianity have been the most widely used vehicles of art for Karuna, hence Compassion, the Buddha being the most common subject.
Among some of the greatest works depicting empathy and compassion are those by the American Impressionist Mary Cassatt who has created some sensitive representations of maternal empathy and compassion in oil paint and pastel.
Another unique representation of Karuna rasa and a rather abstract one at that is an acrylic painting by Tiril Benton, simply titled, Karuna (Compassion). In the artist’s own words, “my work is a testament to my understanding and experience of Consciousness, the Divine, God, Source. A mystery. A known mystery. The external experience serves as the catalyst for the internal striving to comprehend the connectedness of all on an energetic level. Is it not the quest of the human journey to balance the life of matter to the life of spirit. The ego to the true self. The experience of the painting is the microcosm of this eternal struggle. Facing the tension between illusion and reality.” His use of colors like red, black, blue, white, violet and green break the conventional norms of the color grey associated with Karuna rasa.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the most popular subjects for expressing Karuna is the Buddha and one set of artworks that do so beautifully are Karuna II and III by Jazmin Angeles. In the former, the Buddha epitomizes compassionand the action taken by him to diminish the suffering of others is translated into “compassionate action.” The latter is a more abstract representation of the act of compassion.
When individuals experience enlightenment, they perceive all beings as one and extend compassionate action to everyone without distinction. Because of the oneness of all beings, it is understood that Karuna is not only extended to others out of love, but also because it is an entirely logical thing to do. It is also stated in the Buddhist literature that Karuna must be accompanied by wisdom in order to have the right effect.
Karuna is the motivating quality of all enlightened beings who are working to end suffering on Earth. They continually send an unlimited amount of healing energy and guidance to us, but not all are receptive to it. As you develop Karuna in yourself, not only are you helping others, but you also become more receptive to the Karuna that is being sent by all enlightened beings. Thus your healing is quickened as well.
Sometimes compassion can be depicted by the least expected artists. So I was pretty surprised when I can across Reinaldo Dennes, a murder convict on death row. He has been painting his visions in meditation and dreams since 2003 using original means (watercolors, oil paints and brushes are not available in the prison shop), such as broken crayons, diluted in water, chalk, toothpaste, hair made into brushes. All pictures are painted on cardboard (thick cardboard) 38.5 x 51 cm.
Death row inmates are not allowed to have paints so he mixes all painting materials together himself. He crushes colored pencil lead and blends it with shaving cream or shampoo or whatever is available to create the color and consistency desired. All the more astonishing are his paintings, full of life, love and truth.
Among his many though provoking artworks are two paintings that are stunningly beautiful depicts of compassion. The first one is titledDoor of compassion and this is his description for it –“The blond lady with black baby = Doors of compassion. In America when a white woman is left alone with a black baby she is condemned and stoned to death in their hearts (no compassion, door is closed). In the second door a little compassion some give her a little money but no help. The greatest love shown to her is from a stranger older couple who take her home and care for her. The more compassion more love.”
The second painting by Dennes is titled Karuna itself and is also a warm representation of compassion.
Then there is Compassion by Tammera Malicki–Wong, which is equivalent to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood. There is an aspect of compassion which regards a quantitative dimension, such that individual’s compassion is often given a property of “depth,” “vigour,” or “passion.” According to the artist, is a virtue—one in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy (for the suffering of others) are regarded as a cornerstone of greater social interconnectedness and humanism.
Compassion, an original painting on canvas using acrylic paint by Toadeng, shows a woman with a sad face and a tear trickling down her face and a caressing gesture of her hand.
Two more artworks based on the subject of Compassion have been created by the artist Raajendran V and are titled Compassion Drawing and Compassion Painting respectively.
Karuna or Compassion is not just a subject of inspiration for artists but the artists themselves become the means of improving the world through feelings of kind-heartedness, sensitivity and love for one and all. There have been several women artists who have been witness to this and have been propagating compassion through their art.
One such artist is Kate Langlois, who has created a painting of a woman artist as the healer of the world. According to her, “Where healing and creativity meets we connect to the world. This is how we give voice to compassion with creativity. Cultivating compassion often begins from nurturing love for our own self.
Generally we find by reaching out to others in need, we feed our own seeds of compassion. Reaching outside of our own experiences helps us move beyond ourselves, finding connection to our larger circle in the world community. Inclusive of all abilities, creativity is truly for all of us.
Renewing hope in ourselves and others, art has the capacity to lift us up. Not simply a coping mechanism, art has proven to also be a tool to transform.”
As an artist and teacher, she’s part of a growing art movement that uses the concept of Intentional Creativity as a way to shift through life experiences. Creating with paint and writing, she has processed through personal tragic events as well as those of others, thereby witnessing firsthand powerful transformations toward healing.
Applying this same method to world events, the subject matter she’s following in her current art works on canvas are human rights issues. She believes that discovering the bridge between these larger world events and ourselves is a powerful way to invite the resonance of compassion.
She also says that “just as a sick heart can lead to the death of a body and all the other organs in it, the sickness of any of our earthy parts is detrimental to the whole.” Bringing visibility to social injustices and sharing the voice of those who are suffering is what she wants to bring into the world through her art.
In all of the pieces she imagines what the situation would look like if it was whole, healed, shifted. She tries to connect with the emotional feeling of that shift she wants to see as if it’s already happened.
She painted about artist and poet Liu Xiabo who continues under house arrest in Beijing, China as the threads that follow back to herself as of both isolation and freedom.
In her painting of Saudi women human rights activists Ms. Wajeha al-Huwaider and Ms. Fawzia al-Oyouni, she seeks out how women view each other in both the East and the West. She discovered even though the perspectives may contradict how we view ourselves, we ultimately desire the same over-arching freedoms.
While working on a painting about home and displacement that spans between Iraqi refugees fleeing to Mount Sinjar to the issues of U.S. immigration, she echoed her own family’s eviction and her community’s housing crisis in the City of San Francisco, California, U.S.
Here are images of some more paintings depicting Karuna rasa.
Karuna Rasa through my Art
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ― Albert Einstein.
This quote by the scientific genius Einstein has greatly inspired me while depicting Karuna in my artwork titled Karuna – A touch of compassion.
We refer to our planet as mother earth as she nourishes us with all her treasures in the form of the environment, just like a human mother who nourishes her children. Life in all forms on earth is interlinked, forged out of the same ingredients of origin. Not only is this the fundamental truth of all existence, it constitutes a delicate balance and interdependence between nature and all life forms. Mother Earth gives us the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and healing herbs to cure our ills. Every breath we inhale contains our planet’s nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and trace elements.
As man evolved, he learnt and gained much from his technological and scientific advances leading up to modern times, but this knowledge has now become his bane as his most recent discoveries are proving to be more of a curse than a blessing. Mother Nature is finding herself drained and helpless, pleading for all of humanity to awaken to its responsibility of taking care of this precious planet and all living creatures. The Earth and all species on Earth are in real danger.
Yet if we can develop a deep relationship with the Earth, we’ll have enough love, strength and awakening in order to change our way of life. The ultimate solution is undoubtedly to show compassion for the one home we have, from which all life originates and on which all life eventually depends.
This artwork is an attempt to depict two sides of the same coin. While one side shows how fortunate we are to have Nature’s blessings in the form of her beautiful flora and fauna, the other side opens our eyes to how we are destroying this beautiful gift by polluting our environment. This is my appeal to stop pollution and thereby show “Karuna” (Compassion) towards our magnificent planet and its captivating inhabitants.
The right half of the painting displays what we are doing to our beautiful planet and Mother Nature. Not only are we destroying our soul provider, but also its inhabitants which include us. This is evident as human decay in the form of the skeletal hand I have portrayed in the painting. The cigarette between the crooked bones of this hand represents the toxic poisons we are exhaling into our atmosphere through our industrial chimneys. Not only does this smoke symbolize the industrial infection that we are spreading but also the impending doom of nuclear warfare. The skeletal and decomposing remains of the elephant represent the consequences of our ignorance resulting from selfish acts like poaching, deforestation and our greed for more.
The left side of the artwork shows what Mother Earth will look like in her full glory, if we give her the chance to live. The foliage of green leaves with a scattering of blossoms, the lush green grass and the robust image of the elephant set against a bright blue sky all bear witness to the Earth’s masterful creativity. Mother Nature has always been there for us, offering us everything we need for our nourishment and healing – the miraculous grains to quell our hunger, the refreshing streams to quench our thirst, the fragrant forests, the majestic snow-capped mountain peaks and the joyful birdsong at dawn to satiate our senses. All we have been doing is taking from her and have brought her to the point where soon she will have nothing left to offer.
The time has come to contemplate on both halves and realize what lies in store for us and what we can do to stop it before its too late. We need to apply each and every advancement of our scientific progress towards the betterment of this wondrous planet. Only when we’ve truly fallen back in love with the Earth will our actions spring from reverence, and the insight of our interconnectedness. I have symbolized this love for Mother Nature through the hand on the left, which epitomizes the hand of compassion.
As is mentioned in the image, this is a mixed media artwork where I have employed every medium ranging from oils, to acrylics as well as impasto and decoupage. I have achieved the visual effects for the elephant’s head through acrylic pouring. The text on top is actual newspaper cuttings which have been fused with the acrylic pour backdrop with the technique of decoupage. The various 3D effects providing texture to the foliage and the elephant tusks have been achieved with the help of the hot glue gun. I have taken special care to highlight the difference between a healthy tusk and a decaying one by depicting the latter in a mangled and fragmented state. The remainder of the painting has been rendered with oil paints.
I hope to invoke Karuna for our Mother Earth and her environment through this portrayal of the rasa and would like to sum up my message through the following quote and some self composed poetry thereafter:
“To be conscious of enriching the environment and not polluting it is a spiritual principle, a social responsibility and a natural expression of compassion. We need to treat the earth with respect, for we are dependent on her. There is also a proper method to utilize nature and not exploit nature.”
Pollution – The Man-made Infection
Silently it stalks us, craving to prey.
Belching clouds of noxious fumes , turning our skies gray.
A host of demons it holds inside, longing to be set free.
Ready to unleash their lethal force, onto our land, air and sea.
Effortlessly it glides through, sinking its fangs deeper.
Aggressively it spreads its venom, making its victims weaker.
The winds of change brought more harm than good.
Our misguided science failed to do what it should.
Our bright blue skies are forever a haze.
Our earth gets scorched by the raging sun’s blaze.
Crystal clear seas have lost their gleam.
White ocean floors are littered with plastic streams.
Where are the tall grasses? Where are the trees?
We chopped them down and replaced them with industries.
The crops and the flowers are overdosed with sprays.
The animals and the birds with their lives have to pay.
The grasslands are littered with plastics and tins.
Our world has become a global garbage bin.
The ground is parched, longing for rain.
The oceans are drying, the fish perish in disdain.
The beaches and streams are covered with tar and foam.
Smoke and smog choke the streets and our homes.
About the ozone layer and greenhouse effect I need not linger.
The air smells fowl and the earth has become warmer.
But who created this monster? Whose is he to tame?
We brought him to life, we have none else to blame.
Is this the legacy to our future generations we leave?
They deserve a cleaner world than what they receive.
They’ll have no tomorrow, unless we pay heed,
And slay this monster created by our own greed.
So let’s clear up this mess, before it’s too late.
Or we’ll have no option left, but to give them this fate.
Let’s keep the air fresh and Reduce our waste.
Reuse and Recycle, with plenty of haste.
Let’s plant more trees and make our rivers clean.
LIVE AND LET LIVE, let’s make the earth green.
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 artistic progress and enrichment. However, 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 for their data. 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.
Did you hear about the attempt robbery at the museum?
They had run out of gas a few blocks away when the police caught them, and they said, “We didn’t have the Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.”
Made you go “ha ha?” Sure made me laugh like a maniac! I’m not saying it would have done the same for each and every one of my readers. Some of you might have just smiled, others giggled and others still might have guffawed and rolled over! I’ll never know for sure, but if I managed evoke even one of these reactions, then my purpose of posting it here is served. Wondering what that is? Will let you know in just a moment.
Imagine a world without joy, where there is no humor. How dreary and melancholic it would be without even a single burst of laughter. This cacophony of hysterics is what we all thrive on and our very existence depends on it. It is the oxygen to our soul and we would all perish into oblivion in its absence.
Since my current series of artworks is all about emotions, that’s exactly what this intro was meant for…to invoke a new emotion in all you wonderful people…the emotion of joy.
So, today’s blog post is all about “Hasya Rasa”, a portal into the delightful world of humor, laughter, happiness and contentment. The word “Hasya” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Hasyam” which means laughter, mirth, comedy or comic. The nature of this rasa is a reflection of the nature of response to it as well as its aftermath. If the consequence is harmless, it leads to Hasya or simple laughter, but if it is intended to hurt emotionally, it becomes satire or sarcasm.
Hasya is the rasa used to express joy or mirth. Pure, unadulterated Hasya is true happiness, a joy that comes from within. Hasya can represent simple happiness, riotous laughter and everything in between. The term “Hasya” itself means laughter. It gives one relief from tensions and worries. Hasya is self-focused when one makes fun of oneself and it is focused on others when fun is made of others.
So how is Hasya rasa depicted through art? In Indian art, the rasas become apparent, for example in the color in which a certain deity is depicted which hints at the predominant character trait associated with this deity, or in the color of the aura of a person.For instance, a black aura indicates a frightened person, and a red aura indicates that the character is angry. Hasya symbolizes pure joy and is aptly represented by the purest of all colors, that iswhite. Now that’s the conventional take on Hasya rasa but my take in terms of colors associated with it is a little different. But I’ll delve into that a little later.
When Hasya is associated with art and aesthetics, it is perceived as a sense of heightened delight or, a kind of spiritual bliss. Hasya Rasa is joy that comes from the soul, when we feel that life is good. Humor is its most typical expression and may also cause joy to others. But the minute the intellect starts intervening, real humor is impossible. Then innocent laughter transforms into mockery or ridicule.
Hasya has always been one way through which Hindus have related to their gods and goddesses. In fact, for most Hindu traditions, the philosophy and expression of bhakti (devotion) is actually incomplete without humor (hasya).
For instance, the most hilarious take on hasya rasa has to be the one by the artist Makhan Saha about Hanuman’s tail — one when Ravana refuses to offer a seat to him in the court and Hanuman makes a spiral chair for himself from his tail as he laughs at the circumstances. Another when Pandavas are proceeding heavenwards, Hanuman decides to play the fool with them and lies down in their path. Bhim gets very incensed and rebukes him to remove his tail saying that he was obstructing the mighty Pandavas’ path. Hanuman challenges him to remove his tail as he is a mere “vanar”(monkey). When Bhim goes to do that the tail becomes so heavy that he is unable even to move it. Hanuman reveals his true self.
Another rare depiction that explores the hasya rasa is the comic emotion between a hero and a heroine in Bengal’s perception of Hara Gauri lila. It says “returning from a tavern, there comes Hara Shiva upon the bull in drunken revelry. Seeing such condition of Bhava, Bhavani loses her calm and twangs her brows as a command to her pet Lion. The Lion gives a great roar and chases the Bull Nandi as a result of which the drunken Shiva is dumped on the floor. At such a scene the Mother Gauri jumps giggling like a little girl clapping her hands and throttling shouts -how does it feel? Strange and adorable are the ways of this divine couple free from all conditionings. May the devout always meditate on this auspicious vision.”
Not just in paintings, Hasya rasa has also been depicted through sculpture as well, specifically the one called “Hasya Mask” by Anuja Aggarwal. It is the face of a man made out of clay with acrylic on it. The artist describes him by stating that “happiness defines him. He spreads colors as he goes. Wearing single eye spectacles of colours, he sees the world with the humorous perspective. And also with a rational human eye to judge between the right and the wrong, the happy and the sad. The big moustache that decorates as well as dominates his face is something that represents his pride in being a happy man. Always and forever.”
Apart from gods and goddesses, there have been several other takes on Hasya Rasa by various renowned Indian artists. Glimpses of this rasa can also be found in the act of Lord Krishna in the “keli Gopal Naat” and also in “Rukmini Haran Naat” written by the Great Vaishnavite Saint. Here’s a gallery of some of my favorite artworks for your viewing pleasure (click on the thumbnail to view full image).
Hasya Rasa has also been represented by artists in other parts of the world, but in a more literal sense, that is, laughter.
“Rarely have more humorous paintings been produced than in the Dutch Golden Age. Naughty children, stupid peasants, foolish dandies and befuddled drunks, quack doctors, pimps, procuresses, lazy maids and lusty ladies — they figure in large numbers in Golden Age masterpieces,” – Written about the exhibition “The Art of Laughter: Humour in the Golden Age” on the Frans Hals Museum web site.
The Dutch painting of that period abounds in smiles and laughter. Elegant ladies and gentlemen smile to spectators and each other, playing children trill with laughter, revelers guffaw at a dirty joke… In those distant years, elusive laughter was the desired goal for great masters and amateurs: it was depicted by the Utrecht Caravaggists, countless masters of gallant scenes, portrayers of tavern life, and also Rembrandt, Vermeer and Brauer. Though, the great Frans Hals was the best to paint laughter.
A painting by Dutch master Rembrandt titled Rembrandt Laughing, painted in around 1628, one of only a handful of paintings made on copper, is thought to be a self-portrait of the 17th Century Dutch master.
Here’s a small gallery of some more paintings from the Dutch Golden Age.
My personal favorite is a painting called The Laugh by Julia Pappas. A mixed media on canvas, the expression of happiness on the face of the child has been brought out beautifully by the artist. The closed eyes and the hand covering the face depict the pure innocence of the little one and the happiness on the face seems to be a consequence of either some mischievous feat or maybe it’s just pure, unadulterated laughter!
I love colors and like to make my art as vibrant as possible. It’s for this very reason that an acrylic painting titled Colors Laughter by the artist Uma Bharathi inspired me. I feel she has spoken my mind when she says, “When colours laugh, they spread the happiness.”
Another unique and unconventional depiction of laughter is the acrylic painting titled The Last Laugh by Kundan Mendake. This is how the artist describes the artwork – “His exuberant laughter echoed the room. He had held it inside him for a while now, but everything about their depravity was so funny, he broke all barriers and laughed. The worst was over, it was their worst and it had saved him. And then, he laughed a little more. ARTIST’S NOTE – I was stuck with the fragments of this image in my head until I brought it to paper and colors. We all create from our impressions of the world. Sometimes they are personal sometimes they are universal. To me his laughter belongs to every individual who has managed to see humor and irony in his failures and who has managed to rise above reality of his helpless in a given moment.”
Yet another wonderful depiction of laughter and happiness is a painting titled Colorful Painting African Portrait of a Little Girl Laughing, “Smile”.A little girl in a hooded coat dissolves into giggles, closing her eyes in mirth. Her sweater is unbuttoned, her necklaces crooked, yet nothing deters her enjoyment of the moment. “The smile on her face puts a smile on mine and makes me feel happy,” artist Kwesi Botchway says. “I hope the painting puts a smile on your face, too.” He works in a palette of colorful acrylics to create this charming portrait.
There are so many such marvelously beautiful representation of hasya, therefore laughter in works of art all over the world but if I start talking about all of them, it would take me centuries!
Hasya – My version
Diving into a vibrant ocean of colours, I transform my thoughts into reality. Each creation an expression of my life’s journey, My dreams and aspirations, my fears and tribulations. What I was yesterday, is history that I have etched onto my canvas. What I want to be tomorrow, I bear patiently on my palette. My creations are a glimpse of my soul, For each piece I create is a part of me. Passion runs deep through my veins, When I put my brush to the canvas. Emotions fuel my skills, as I speak with my brush strokes. I say things with colours and shapes,things I couldn’t put in words. Hues and tints become my syllables, light and shade my vowels. My mind and spirit become one, as my hands systematically create my identity. And that is when my spirit smiles,my soul is happy and my mind healthy.
For my art can cure ailments medication never will.
Hasya or laughter in its purest form is not created by an event or an act. Pure Hasya is real happiness, a joy that comes from within for no apparent reason. It may come when we feel that God or life is kind. This Hasya or Joy is a divine Rasa, an expression of divine bliss.
Humor is a very powerful tool against Sadness, Fear, and Anger. All one can do to increase the occurrence of Hasya in life is to love life and others, release tensions, maintain a healthy body and attitude to life, and be uninhibitedly open to laughter when it comes.
I personally believe in the theory that for a sound body and mind, one needs to feel joy deep down within the soul. This joy trickles down to each and every particle of our mortal existence and rejuvenates us with renewed strength and vigor. It is only when the mind and spirit are healthy and happy that the body can be fit and fine. But how does one achieve this? It’s simple….by doing what you love doing the most. It can be your job, a hobby or even a small act of kindness. What we love doing is what we are passionate about and it is this passion that fuels our soul, acting as the elixir with the power to heal any infirmity.
My representation of Hasya Rasa in my artwork titled Hasya – Joy to the Soul revolves around this very concept. As an artist my passion is my art which has therapeutic effects on me like no medicine can. My love for colors is reflected in my painting and each color symbolizes anything and everything that makes my soul happy.
My illustration of Hasya represents sense of humor in the form of laughter, happiness and contentment. When we laugh, it is easier to slip into a carefree state, because the mind has been freed from its usual workload of thoughts, and we can simply be open, free and happy in that moment.
These myriad hues form the vibrant palette of an artist that helps him to bring out the best in himself. Similarly, the palette of one’s life, when filled with colors of joyful acts, makes one a better human being, not just in body but also in mind. That is when true happiness or joy emerges from within and is reflected on the face in the form of the most radiant smile ever seen or the sound of the most divine laughter ever heard. So don’t let go of your passion, for that is what will cure all ills and make your spirit smile.
The striking color palettes I have displayed in my painting are all symbolic of the various acts that give us joy until these vibrant hues seep deep into our mind, eventually transforming it into a brilliantly hued palette itself, each color symbolizing our happiest thoughts.
In terms of techniques, I have explored to a great extent with impasto in this artwork so as to impart each and every color its own individual character by giving it a subtle textural effect. I have once again taken the help of my trusted friend, the hot glue gun, to enhance the outlines of each color palette in the painting and then executed the usual drill of gesso and paint over it. The medium of choice for this and the rest of the painting is once more my favorite oil paints.
This is my individualistic approach towards the emotion of laughter and happiness and one that I like to apply in my life as well. On that positive note, I promise to return next week with yet another emotion. Until then, Ciao adios amigos!
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 artistic progress. However, 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 for their data. 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.
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.
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.
Before I embark on today’s blog post, I want you all to sit
back and relax your bodies, minds as well as souls. When you become absolutely still and quiet, you will be at peace. When
you are at peace, you become so full that you are empty.
Didn’t quite make sense? Let me explain. I
am referring to the second rasa in
my Navrasa Series, namely, “Shanta” Rasa, which
will take you into a world of deep calm and tranquility. So let’s get the ball
rolling and commence our journey!
“Shanta” means to be peaceful, tranquil or contented. It represents a state of calm and untroubled steadiness. Shanta exhibits
complete harmony between the mind, body
and universe. It is what Buddha felt when he was enlightened, thus leading
him to salvation or nirvana which freed him from the cycle of life and death. It does not require an absence of activity or emotion; rather it is the
stability that comes with the true experience of peace, which can be
carried anywhere, while doing anything. It holds in itself non-violence, as
well as equanimity (balanced peace).
Equanimity is the ground for wisdom and
freedom and is the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of
equanimity as neutrality or aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance
and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as
“abundant, exalted, and immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will”.
Shanta is a rasa that is simple in its
physicality but profound in the feelings it can evokes. All of these feelings together
constitute Shanta. Buddha centralized the role of suffering in transformation.
For Him Shanta represented the space of Enlightenment and He is one of the most
beautiful archetypes of this rasa. Vishnu’s archetypal physicality of reclining
on the ocean nuances surrender a bit differently as a restful but aware
observer of the universe. For Him ‘suffering’ does not exist because He has no
Acting in surrender is central to Shanta
and all other feelings go towards creating this state of submission. Surrender
is an active, committed and empowered feeling where one has the ultimate realization
about life being transitory and impermanent.
Shanta is the state of freedom from everything, be it worldly
desires or actions. Its foundation is patience, service-mindedness,
philosophical knowledge, self-control, pure spirits and freedom from all kinds
of bondage. Its key note is non-violence or “Ahimsa”. If Shanta rasa has to be
depicted through facial expressions, it is expressed by keeping the face in a
peaceful expression or with the eyes turned upside as if doing penance and also
by half closing the eyes.
The purpose of recreating this rasa is to depict the
attainment of detachment from
everything (or “Moksha”) and salvation.
This is the representation of contentment or aesthetic bliss. It is experienced
through the attainment of knowledge or the realization of truth, practiced
through self-control & meditation and generates feelings of calmness,
As this rasa represents serenity and peace, it is a
state of calm and unruffled repose that is marked simply by the lack of all emotion.
Sages in India meditate for entire lifetimes to attain this state of being. Shantarasais symbolic of the clearest form of
aesthetic bliss and has been described as “as-good-as but never-equal-to the
bliss of Self-realization experienced by yogis”. In music, it is often
represented through a steady and slow tempo.
Shanta is a
clear and cloudless state. Shanta
is untroubled steadiness. Shanta
is the key to eternity.
As mentioned in my earlier blog post,
Indian art is based on the ancient aesthetic theory of rasa which, by extension, refers to the ‘essence’ and emotional
qualities crafted into a work of art (or a performance) by the maker and to the
response the contemplation or perception of the artwork evokes in the viewer,
in other words, it is a viewer-response theory. That is the reason why in
Indian paintings and sculpture a narrative mode predominates – a narrative
gradually unfolds over the area of a painting or the length of a wall or even
The aesthetic application of Shanta rasa has been caught in the woodcraft of Saharanpur, a city situated at the Ganga Yamuna doab region of Western Uttar Pradesh, one of the famous Indian states for craft. The significance of this rasa is based on the visual perceptions of the individuals. Some motifs found in nature are eye-pleasing such as when a person sees the moon at night, he or she feels calm and peaceful. Shanta rasa is a reflection of the still mood so the application of auspicious and sacred motifs in woodcraft conveys the message of calmness and softness. These motifs create a spiritual atmosphere in nature. Auspicious motifs and geometrical structures also increase a calm and peaceful environment for the spectators such as Kalasha, Swastika and jali work with different geometrical shapes and forms.
In Indian art, the rasas become
apparent, for example in the colour in which a certain deity is depicted which
hints at the predominant character trait associated with this deity, or in the
colour of the aura of a person.For instance, a black aura indicates
a frightened person, and a red aura indicates that the character is angry. The
god Krishna, who is the archetypal lover and hero, is always
depicted with a blue-black complexion and yellow garments. The color of Shanta rasa is white.
So how did I depict Shanta rasa? For me, this rasa defines the ultimate desire that we all are striving for and that is the desire to attain Peace of Mind, which is also the title of my second painting of this series.
As I had mentioned earlier, one of the core elements of Shanta
rasa is non-violence. But like peace, violence also takes shape in the mind. As
our mind jumps from one thought to another, its gets lost in the chaos created
by doubt and fear emerging from continuous speculation and contemplation on
these thoughts. Our narcissistic nature (believe me, we all are to some extent!)
and our ego cannot accept any suggestions or situations that go against us and
the fearful demons of ambiguity and worry give birth to some very violent ideas.
These ideas that happen unconsciously and
against our will, are facets that we dislike in ourselves as well as in others.
Thoughts spill over into words and actions and lead to stresses and strains
both physically as well as emotionally. The random comings and goings of
stressful thoughts wreak havoc in our consciousness. Our thoughts and impulses are the result of
impersonal conditions but by taking them personally, we become uneasy which
leads to upheaval in our minds.
Another cause for mental turmoil is
our tendency to judge people by their actions and not for who they really are. This
particularly applies to our loved ones. If their actions do not agree with us,
we overlook their true nature which eventually takes a toll on our relationship
with them. Consequently, it strains our emotional faculties further, thus
adding on to the stress. There comes a time when our mind becomes a mangled
array of stressful thoughts and worries. That is when we start to yearn for
peace and order.
With all the advancement of science, no remedy has yet been found
for lack of inner peace and tranquility. Often, even when we are in good
financial condition or good health, we lack peace of mind, which only proves
that peace of mind does not depend on external conditions or on any scientific
or technical progress.
does one attain this Inner peace? How do we acquire that peace of mind that
we are desperately looking for all around us? The solution to this
dilemma lies within us, not in external means.
“There is nothing permanent but change.” This famous quote by Heraclitus holds good
in this context as well. We need to realize that everything changes and we
can’t hold on to anything, so the mind needs to stop clinging on to its
emotional baggage and learn to let go.
Letting go brings equanimity; greater the letting go, deeper the equanimity.
Once equanimity is achieved, peace and tranquility follow.
To depict the mental commotion, I have personified them in the form of the branches of a tree that keep growing
and spreading until they start encroaching on our intellect. I found the
perfect medium in the form of a hot glue gun to execute this effect.
The thermoplastic property of the molten adhesive worked like magic! I went on
to personify the thoughts as well
with….you guessed it! Birds!! This
being a mixed media artwork, I have used a combination of acrylics as well as oil paints, the former for the branches, birds
and sky and latter for the face and its backdrop. Once again, I chose to break
the norm and opt for a color palette of
greens instead of the conventional white that is used to portray Shanta
So remember, worries are like flightless
birds entrapped in the cage of the mind….give them wings, set them free to soar
away and find that inner peace you have been searching for far and wide.