Retired teacher’s unique passion to honour martyrs — paintings in his own blood
Retired schoolteacher Ravichandran Gupta has a bloodthirsty passion. The 72-year-old, who has researched lesser-known young martyrs of the freedom struggle, wanted to have them painted... in his own blood! Nivedita Khandekar reports.delhi Updated: Oct 03, 2009 01:03 IST
Retired schoolteacher Ravichandran Gupta has a bloodthirsty passion. The 72-year-old, who has researched lesser-known young martyrs of the freedom struggle, wanted to have them painted... in his own blood!
But before you think the septuagenarian is crazy, Gupta has the support of painter Gurudarshan Singh Binkal, 45, who made the paintings.
The month-long exhibition at Red Fort, that began on Friday, has paintings done in blood donated by both of them.
But why blood?
“Netaji Subhash [Chandra Bose] had said ‘Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe aazadi dunga’ (Give me your blood, I will give you freedom). It is the blood of such martyrs that have given us freedom. So it is apt to have these paintings in blood,” Gupta said.
He founded the Shaheed Smriti Chetna Samiti in 1997 and started researching about lesser-known freedom fighters. It was then he came across very young martyrs, which prompted him to look for more.
“I travelled to a lot of places in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra to know more about these children who died very young — from 6-7 years to 20 years — in the freedom struggle. I also did a lot of research in the National Archives here in Delhi,” Gupta said.
Although he has documented more than 500 such young martyrs, the exhibition has paintings of only 35 children, only those whose photos were available. These — and there are other paintings related to the freedom struggle as well — in his blood have been done over the last few years.
When doctors prohibited Gupta from donating blood, Binkal stepped in. The paintings were made after mixing an anti-clotting chemical to the blood.
The exhibition has its share of admirers.
“I used to think since I’m the mother of a child, I can’t do anything for the country. But if those children could die for the nation, I as a 25-year-old can always do something,” said an overwhelmed Reena Soodan.