|Vinayak Damodar Savarkar|
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
|Born||28 May 1883
|Died||February 26, 1966 (aged 82)
|Cause of death||Self termination|
|Other names||Veer Savarkar|
|Education||Bachelor of Arts from Fergusson College, Pune, Barrister, The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn|
|Known for||Indian Independence Movement, Hindutva|
|Political party||Hindu Mahasabha|
|Children||sons Prabhakar (died in infancy), Vishwas Savarkar and daughter Prabha Chiplunkar|
Vināyak Dāmodar Sāvarkar (Marathi: विनायक दामोदर सावरकर) (May 28, 1883 – February 26, 1966) was an Indian revolutionary and politician, who is credited with developing the Hindu nationalist political ideology Hindutva. He is considered to be the central icon of modern Hindu nationalist political parties. The commemorative blue plaque on India House fixed by the Historic Building and Monuments Commission for England reads "Vinayak Damodar Savarkar 1883-1966 Indian patriot and philosopher lived here".
Savarkar welcomed the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine
Savarkar's revolutionary activities began when studying in India and England, where he was associated with the India House and founded student societies including Abhinav Bharat Society and the Free India Society, as well as publications espousing the cause of complete Indian independence by revolutionary means. Savarkar published The Indian War of Independence about the Indian rebellion of 1857 that was banned by British authorities. He was arrested in 1910 for his connections with the revolutionary group India House. Following a failed attempt to escape while being transported from Marseilles, Savarkar was sentenced to 50 years' imprisonment and moved to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
While in jail, Savarkar wrote the work describing Hindutva, openly espousing Hindu nationalism. He was released in 1921 under restrictions after signing a plea for clemency in which he renounced revolutionary activities. Travelling widely, Savarkar became a forceful orator and writer, advocating Hindu political and social unity. Serving as the president of the Hindu Mahasabha, Savarkar endorsed the ideal of India as a Hindu Rashtra and opposed the Quit India struggle in 1942. He became a fierce critic of the Indian National Congress and its acceptance of India's partition, and was one of those accused in the assassination of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, though he was acquitted by the Court. He spent the last years of his life writing and expounding on Hindutva.
Vinayak was born in the family of Damodar and Radhabai Savarkar in the village of Bhagur, near the city of Nasik, Maharashtra. He had three other siblings namely Ganesh, Narayan, and a sister named Mainabai. Vinayak was born in a Marathi Chitpawan Brahmin family. The family had a good social standing due to their jagirdars (landlords) lineage. Vinayak's mother died when he was nine years old during an outbreak of cholera. The siblings also lost their father seven years later when he died of plague in 1899.
After death of parents the eldest sibling Ganesh, known as Babarao, took responsibility of the family. Babarao played a supportive and influential role in Vinayak's teenage life. During this period, Vinayak organised a youth group called Mitra Mela (Band of Friends) and encouraged revolutionary and nationalist views of passion using this group. In 1901, Vinayak Savarkar married Yamunabai, daughter of Ramchandra Triambak Chiplunkar, who supported his university education. Subsequently in 1902, he enrolled in Fergusson College, in Pune (then Poona). As a young man, he was inspired by the new generation of radical political leaders namely Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai  along with the political struggle against the partition of Bengal and the rising Swadeshi campaign. He was involved in various nationalist activities at various levels. In 1905, during Dussehra festivities Vinayak organised setting up of a bonfire of foreign goods and clothes. Along with his fellow students and friends he formed a political outfit called Abhinav Bharat. Vinayak was soon expelled from college due to his activities but was still permitted to take his Bachelor of Arts degree examinations. After completing his degree, nationalist activist Shyam Krishnavarma helped Vinayak to go to England to study law, on a scholarship.. It was during this period that Garam Dal, (literally translated as Hot Faction) was formed under the leadership of Tilak, due to the split of Indian National Congress. The members of Garam Dal, did not acknowledge the moderate Indian National Congress leadership agenda which advocated dialogue and reconciliation with the British Raj. Tilak advocated the philosophy of Swaraj and was soon imprisoned for his support of revolutionary activities. Although generally espousing atheism, Vinayak began studying Indian history, Hindu scripture and observing religious traditions.
After joining Gray's Inn law college in London Vinayak took accommodation at India House. Organised by expatriate social and political activist Pandit Shyamji, India House was a thriving centre for student political activities. Savarkar soon founded the Free India Society to help organise fellow Indian students with the goal of fighting for independence through a revolution.
Savarkar envisioned a guerrilla war for independence along the lines of the famous armed uprising of 1857. Studying the history of the revolt, from English as well as Indian sources, Savarkar wrote the book, The History of the War of Indian Independence. He analyzed the circumstances of 1857 uprising and assailed British rule in India as unjust and oppressive. It was via this book that Savarkar became one of the first writers to allude the uprising as India's "First War for Independence." The book was banned from publication throughout the British Empire. Madame Bhikaji Cama, and expatriate Indian revolutionary obtained its publication in the Netherlands, France and Germany. Widely smuggled and circulated, the book attained great popularity and influenced rising young Indians and future revolutionaries, including Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh.
While Savarkar was studying revolutionary methods and he came into contact with a veteran of the Russian Revolution of 1905, who imparted him the knowledge of bomb-making. Savarkar had printed and circulated a manual amongst his friends, on bomb-making and other methods of guerrilla warfare. In 1909, Madan Lal Dhingra, a keen follower and friend of Savarkar, assassinated British MP Sir Curzon Wylie in a public meeting. Dhingra's action provoked controversy across Britain and India, evoking enthusiastic admiration as well as condemnation. Savarkar published an article in which he all but endorsed the murder and worked to organise support, both political and for Dhingra's legal defence. At a meeting of Indians called for a condemnation of Dhingra's deed, Savarkar protested the intention of condemnation and was drawn into a hot debate and angry scuffle with other attendants. A secretive and restricted trial and a sentence awarding the death penalty to Dhingra provoked an outcry and protest across the Indian student and political community. Strongly protesting the verdict, Savarkar struggled with British authorities in laying claim to Dhingra's remains following his execution. Savarkar hailed Dhingra as a hero and martyr, and began encouraging revolution with greater intensity.
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In India, Ganesh Savarkar had organised an armed revolt against the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909. The British police implicated Savarkar in the investigation for allegedly plotting the crime. Hoping to evade arrest, Savarkar moved to Madame Cama's home in Paris. He was nevertheless arrested by police on March 13, 1910. In the final days of freedom, Savarkar wrote letters to a close friend planning his escape. Knowing that he would most likely be shipped to India, Savarkar asked his friend to keep track of which ship and route he would be taken through. When the ship S.S. Morea reached the port of Marseilles on July 8, 1910, Savarkar escaped from his cell through a porthole and dived into the water, swimming a long distance to the shore in the hope that his friend would be there to receive him in a car. But his friend was late in arriving, and the alarm having been raised, Savarkar was re-arrested. Arriving in Mumbai (then Bombay), he was taken to the Yeravda Central Jail. Following a trial, Savarkar was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment and transported on July 4, 1911 to the infamous Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
His fellow captives included many political prisoners, who were forced to perform hard labour for many years. Reunited with his brother Ganesh, the Savarkars nevertheless struggled in the harsh environment. Forced to arise at 5 a.m., tasks including cutting trees and chopping wood, and working at the oil mill under regimental strictness, with talking amidst prisoners strictly prohibited during mealtime. Prisoners were subject to frequent mistreatment and torture. Contact with the outside world and home was restricted to the writing and mailing of one letter a year. In these years, Savarkar withdrew within himself and performed his routine tasks mechanically. Obtaining permission to start a rudimentary jail library, Savarkar would also teach some fellow convicts to read and write.
Savarkar appealed for clemency in 1911 and again during Sir Reginald Craddock's visit in 1913, citing poor health in the oppressive conditions. In 1920, even as the Indian National Congress and leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Vithalbhai Patel and Bal Gangadhar Tilak demanded his unconditional release, Savarkar signed a statement endorsing the trial, verdict and British law, and renouncing violence, a bargain for freedom at the expense of ideals.
|“||I hereby acknowledge that I had a fair trial and just sentence. I heartily abhor methods of violence resorted to in days gone by and I feel myself duty bound to uphold law and constitution to the best of my powers and I am willing to make the [1919 Montague-Chelmsford Reforms] a success in so far as I may be allowed to do so in future||”|
Joglekar considers this appeal for clemency a tactical ploy, to be like Shivaji's letter to Aurangzeb, during his arrest at Agra, Lenin's travel by sealed train through Germany as a part of a deal with Germany and Stalin's pact with Hitler. On May 2, 1921, the Savarkar brothers were moved to a jail in Ratnagiri, and later to the Yeravda Central Jail. He was finally released on January 6, 1924 under stringent restrictions – he was not to leave Ratnagiri District and was to refrain from political activities for the next five years. However, police restrictions on his activities would not be dropped until provincial autonomy was granted in 1937.
During his incarceration, Savarkar's views began turning increasingly towards Hindu cultural and political nationalism, and the next phase of his life remained dedicated to this cause. In the brief period he spent at the Ratnagiri jail, Savarkar wrote his ideological treatise – Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?. Smuggled out of the prison, it was published by Savarkar's supporters under his alias "Maharatta." In this work, Savarkar promotes a radical new vision of Hindu social and political consciousness. Savarkar began describing a "Hindu" as a patriotic inhabitant of Bharatavarsha, venturing beyond a religious identity. While emphasising the need for patriotic and social unity of all Hindu communities, he described Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism as one and same. He outlined his vision of a "Hindu Rashtra" (Hindu Nation) as "Akhand Bharat" (United India), purportedly stretching across the entire Indian subcontinent:
|“||the Aryans who settled in India at the dawn of history already formed a nation, now embodied in the Hindus.... Hindus are bound together not only by the tie of the love they bear to a common fatherland and by the common blood that courses through their veins and keeps our hearts throbbing and our affection warm but also by the tie of the common homage we pay to our great civilisation, our Hindu culture."(Page108)||”|
Scholars, historians and Indian politicians have been divided in their interpretation of Savarkar's ideas. A self-described atheist, Savarkar regards being Hindu as a cultural and political identity. While often stressing social and community unity between Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, Savarkar's notions of loyalty to the fatherland are seen as an implicit criticism of Muslims and Christians, who regard Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem as their holiest places. Savarkar openly assailed what he saw as Muslim political separatism, arguing that the loyalty of many Muslims was conflicted. After his release, Savarkar founded the Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha on January 23, 1924, aiming to work for the social and cultural preservation of Hindu heritage and civilisation. Becoming a frequent and forceful orator, Sarvakar agitated for the use of Hindi as a common national language and against caste discrimination and untouchability. Focusing his energies on writing, Savarkar authored the Hindu Padpadashashi – a book documenting and extolling the Maratha empire – and My Transportation for Life – an account of his early revolutionary days, arrest, trial and incarcertaion. He also wrote and published a collection of poems, plays and novels.
Although disavowing revolution and politics, Savarkar grew disenchanted with the Congress's emphasis of non-violence and criticised Gandhi for suspending Non-cooperation Movement following the killing of 22 policemen in Chauri Chaura in 1922. He soon joined the Hindu Mahasabha, a political party founded in 1911 and avowed to Hindu political rights and empowerment. The party was disengaged from the Indian independence movement, allowing Savarkar to work without British interference. As his travel restrictions weakened, Savarkar began travelling extensively, delivering speeches exhorting Hindu political unity and criticising the Congress and Muslim politicians. Savarkar and the Mahasabha did not endorse the Salt Satyagraha launched by the Congress in 1930, and neither Savarkar nor any of his supporters participated in civil disobedience. Savarkar focused on expanding the party's membership, revamping its structure and delivering its message.
In the wake of the rising popularity of the Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Savarkar and his party began gaining traction in the national political environment. Savarkar moved to Mumbai and was elected president of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, and would serve until 1943. The Congress swept the polls in 1937 but conflicts between the Congress and Jinnah would exacerbate Hindu-Muslim political divisions. Jinnah derided Congress rule as a "Hindu Raj," and hailed December 22, 1939 as a "Day of Deliverance" for Muslims when the Congress resigned en masse in protest of India's arbitrary inclusion into World War II. Savarkar's message of Hindu unity and empowerment gained increasing popularity amidst the worsening communal climate. However, Savarkar and the Mahasabha joined several political parties including the League and the Communist Party of India in endorsing the war effort. Savarkar publicly encouraged Hindus to enlist in the military, which his supporters described as an effort for Hindus to obtain military training and experience potentially useful in a future confrontation with the British. When the Congress launched the Quit India rebellion in 1942, Savarkar criticised the rebellion and asked Hindus to stay active in the war effort and not disobey the government. Under his leadership, the Mahasabha won several seats in the central and provincial legislatures, but its overall popularity and influence remained small.
The Muslim League adopted the Lahore Resolution in 1940, calling for a separate Muslim state based on the Two-Nation Theory, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar summaries Savarkar's position, in his Pakistan or The Partition of India as follows,
|“||Mr. Savarkar... insists that, although there are two nations in India, India shall not be divided into two parts, one for Muslims and the other for the Hindus; that the two nations shall dwell in one country and shall live under the mantle of one single constitution;... In the struggle for political power between the two nations the rule of the game which Mr. Savarkar prescribes is to be one man one vote, be the man Hindu or Muslim. In his scheme a Muslim is to have no advantage which a Hindu does not have. Minority is to be no justification for privilege and majority is to be no ground for penalty. The State will guarantee the Muslims any defined measure of political power in the form of Muslim religion and Muslim culture. But the State will not guarantee secured seats in the Legislature or in the Administration and, if such guarantee is insisted upon by the Muslims, such guaranteed quota is not to exceed their proportion to the general population.||”|
Towards the end of the war, Savarkar and the Mahasabha became increasingly confrontational with the League and Muslim politicians. Hindu Mahasabha activists protested Gandhi's initiative to hold talks with Jinnah in 1944, which Savarkar denounced as "appeasement." He assailed the British proposals for transfer of power, attacking both the Congress and the British for making concessions to Muslim separatists. Soon after Independence, Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee resigned as Vice-President of the Hindu Mahasabha dissociating himself from its Akhand Hindustan plank, which implied undoing partition.
Savarkar in a statement issued on 19 December 1947, expressed joy at the recognition of the claim of Jewish people to establish an independent Jewish state, and likened the event to the glorious day on which Moses led them out of Egyptian bondage. He considered that justice demanded restoration of entire Palestine to the Jews, their historical holyland and fatherland. He regetted India's vote at the United Nations Organisation against the creation of the Jewish state terming it a policy of appeasement of Muslims.
Veer Savarkar wrote more than 10,000 pages in the Marathi language. His literary works in Marathi include "Kamala", "Mazi Janmathep" (My Life Sentence), and most famously "1857 - The First War of Independence", about what the British referred to as the Sepoy Mutiny. Savarkar popularised the term 'First War of Independence'. Another noted book was "Kale Pani" (similar to Life Sentence, but on the island prison on the Andamans), which reflected the treatment of Indian freedom fighters by the British. In order to counter the then accepted view that India's history was a saga of continuous defeat, he wrote an inspirational historical work, "Saha Soneri Pane" (Six Golden Pages), recounting some of the Golden periods of Indian history. At the same time, religious divisions in India were beginning to fissure. He described what he saw as the atrocities of British and Muslims on Hindu residents in Kerala, in the book, "Mopalyanche Band" (Muslims' Strike) and also "Gandhi Gondhal" (Gandhi's Confusion), a political critique of Gandhi's politics. Savarkar, by now, had become a committed and persuasive critic of the Gandhian vision of India's future.
He is also the author of poems like "Sagara pran talmalala" (O Great Sea, my heart aches for the motherland), and "Jayostute" (written in praise of freedom), one of the most moving, inspiring and patriotic works in Marathi literature. When in the Cellular jail, Savarkar was denied pen and paper. He composed and wrote his poems on the prison walls with thorns and pebbles, memorised thousands lines of his poetry for years till other prisoners returning home brought them to India. Savarkar is credited with several popular neologisms in Marathi and Hindi, like Digdarshak (leader or director, one who points in the right direction), Shatkar (a score of six runs in cricket), Saptahik (Weekly), Sansad (Parliament), "doordhwani" ("telephone"), "tanklekhan" ("typewriting") among others.
He chaired Marathi Sahitya Sammelan in 1938.
Books by Savarkar:
Savarkar had become one of the fiercest critics of Gandhi, and attacked him and the Congress leadership for acquiescing to the partition of India. During the intense communal violence, Hindu Mahasabha activists were allegedly responsible for carrying out attacks on Muslim civilians. Savarkar blamed Gandhi for weakening Hindu society in face of Muslim separatism, and for agreeing to divide the Hindu homeland. The anger of some Hindu refugees from Pakistan provoked fears of assassination attempts on Gandhi's life. Gandhi's fast-unto-death in January 1948, demanding immediate communal peace and allegedly the payment of outstanding shares of the treasury to Pakistan in spite of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 increased the consternation and anger of many Hindu Mahasabha activists, including Savarkar. There is no evidence, however, that Gandhi's fast had anything to do with release of money to Pakistan.
Following the assassination of Gandhi on January 30, 1948, police arrested the assassin Nathuram Godse and rounded up his companions. Police investigation revealed that Godse and his chief conspirator Narayan Apte had been a close political confidantes of Savarkar in the Hindu Mahasabha. Despite having publicly denounced Gandhi's murder, Savarkar was arrested on suspicion of having inspired and planned Gandhi's murder, and but was acquitted for want of evidence.
Godse claimed full responsibility for planning and carrying out the attack, in absence of an independent corroboration of the prosecution witness Digambar Badge's evidence implicating Savarkar directly, the court exonerated him citing insufficient evidence.
Despite his exoneration, Savarkar's role in the plot remains a source of intense controversy, but at the time the public held him answerable for instigating the murder. Public outrage over Gandhi's murder wrecked the fortunes of the Hindu Mahasabha, whose membership and activity dwindled into insignificance. Savarkar's home in Mumbai was stoned by angry mobs, and his political influence and activism sharply curtailed by widespread public anger. His activities remained confined to occasional speeches and publishing his writings.
He considered RSS and its associate organizations as too timid. But RSS had a stronger appeal to the votaries of Hindutva. RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar had the highest respect for Savarkar, and RSS continues to acknowledge Savarkar's efforts for the Hindu unity.
In 1966 Savarkar renounced medicines, food and water (Paryushana) leading to his death on February 26, 1966. He was mourned by large crowds that attended his cremation. He had written an article 'Atma-hatya or Deh-tyaag', arguing that suicide in most cases is taking one's life, but renouncing life after the body was no longer capable of functioning properly was a different matter. He left behind a son Vishwas and a daughter Prabha, who changed her surname to Chiplunkar after marriage. His first son, Prabhakar, had died in infancy. His home, possessions and other personal relics have been preserved for public display.
In 2001, Ved Rahi and Sudhir Phadke made the biopic film Veer Savarkar, which was released after many years in production. Savarkar is portrayed by Shailendra Gaur. ,  The Movie Veer Savarkar was released in 2001 which was produced by Vocalist, Musician and a renowned Savarkar follower Sudhir Phadke. The movie was directed by Ved Rahi and Shailendra Gaur played the role of Veer Savarkar. This movie was made after over a decade of fund raising efforts by Late Sudhir Phadke and his "Savarkar Darshan Prathisthaan", an organization established solely with the purpose of depicting the life of great revolutionary Vinayak Damodar Savarkar aka Veer Savarkar, and to inspire particularly the young generation with his thoughts and work. The finance for the film came entirely from hundreds of Veer Savarkar followers, who paid out of their pockets generously, to help the prduction of a motion picture being made on the life of their hero, the legendary Veer Savarkar. Late Sudhir Phadke, a renowned name in Marathi Music, and an avid follower of Veer Savarkars ideology; spend many years towards latter part of his life, raising funds through his musical concerts, in an effort to bring wishes of Savarkar followers into reality
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (May 28, 1883 – February 27, 1966) was an Indian revolutionary and Hindu political leader, who is credited with developing an Indian nationalist political ideology he termed Hindutva (Hinduness).