SHOOR-E-AZAADI / The Passion for Freedom
Portrait of Madam Bhikaiji Cama, Oil on Canvas, 36"X48", 2011

Known as Mother of Indian Revolution, Bhikaiji Rustom Cama (1861 –1936) was a prominent figure in the Indian independence movement. She was born as Bhikai Sorab Patel in Bombay (now Mumbai) into a large, well-off Parsi family.
In October 1896, the Bombay Presidency was hit first by famine, and shortly thereafter by the bubonic plague. Bhikhaiji joined one of the many teams working out of Grant Medical College in an effort to provide care for the afflicted, and later on to inoculate the healthy. Cama subsequently contracted the plague herself, but survived. Severely weakened, she was sent to Britain for medical care in 1901.
She was preparing to return to India, when she came in contact with many Indian nationalists who were actively perusing the cause of Indian freedom struggle while staying in Britain. She joined fellow comrades in their struggle for independence. She was told by the British authorities  that her return to India would be prevented unless she would sign a statement promising not to participate in nationalist activities. She refused and relocated to Paris, where together with other notable members of the movement, she co-founded the Paris Indian Society. Here she wrote, published and distributed revolutionary literature.
On 22 August 1907, Cama attended the International Socialist Conference in Stuttgart, Germany, where she described the devastating effects of a famine that had struck the Indian subcontinent. In her appeal for human rights, equality and for autonomy from Great Britain, she unfurled what she called the "Flag of Indian Independence” Her flag had the green, yellow and red fields to represent all major denominations of India. The crescent and the sun again represent Islam and Hinduism. The eight lotuses represented the eight provinces of British India. The words in Devanagri script read Vande Mataram "[We] Bow to thee Mother [India]".In 1935, gravely ill and paralysed by a stroke that she had suffered earlier that year, she petitioned the British government to be allowed to return home. She arrived in Bombay in November 1935 and died nine months later, aged 74, on 13 August 1936.