Every Republic and Independence Day I would eagerly wait for my school group to sing “Jayostute”, a song that made hairs stand on end and evoked feelings that are hard to put in words. As a primary school student it was the music that attracted me but by the time I came to high school the lyrics caught my attention. The meaning and the feeling of patriotism it evokes is unparalleled. As is my habit, I wanted to find out more about the author and thus began my association with Vinayak Damodar Savarkar or Veer Savarkar. He is one of those patriots whom Indian historians (because most of them are leftists) and academicians have treated utmost unfairly. In my opinion, a thousand Gandhis and Nehrus would make ONE SAVARKAR.
My love and admiration for Savarkar grew with time and the more I read about him the more I was convinced that Savarkar was a patriot par excellence. In this age of internet, a lot of information is available that would set ‘right’ (pun very much intended) the wrong narrative set by leftist historians till date. It is not easy to slot Savarkar. He is an enigma and each of us can interpret his actions, words and deeds as per our understanding.
Childhood and youth
He was born in a Chitpavan Brahmin family and was the third child of Radhabai and Damodarpant Savarkar. He grew up listening to recitals of Ramayana, Mahabharata and ballads & Bakhars on Maharana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Peshwas. These recitals had a deep impact on him and helped shape his thought process. He was a bright student and showed leadership qualities from a very young age. He was adept at writing poetries that were published in leading newspapers of the time, when he was just 10 years old.
His organisational and leadership skills came to the fore when he formed the Mitra Mela, a precursor to Abhinav Bharat Society (which was founded in 1904), in the year 1900 along with his friends Mhaskar, Page and Babarao. Following the partition of Bengal in 1905, Savarkar, who had by that time become a prominent youth leader in Poona, called for a boycott on foreign goods and began the Swadesi movement. Under this movement the first bonfire of foreign cloths was organised by Savarkar. He was not only expelled from Fergusson College for this act of his but well-known moderate leaders of the day such as Gandhi and Gokhale criticized him & opposed his move. However, he did find support in Tilak. Irony is Gandhi who criticized Savarkar himself organised a bonfire of foreign cloths on November 17, 1921.
Kala Pani Days
If a freedom fighter was sent to Cellular jail in Andamans (what is popularly known as Kala Pani) you can be sure he was a patriot of the highest order and someone whom the British loved to hate. There wasn’t a worse form of torture than the one meted out at the Cellular jail. It is a miracle (or may the love to see one’s motherland free was a motivation that kept them going) that anyone could survive the torture. If being yoked to the oil mill was not bad enough, Savarkar was put into solitary confinement for 12 years!!! A lesser mortal would have lost his/her sanity.
Unlike Nehru and other political prisoners who were given reading and writing facilities, Savarkar was not given any. This, however, did not deter him from composing masterpieces when he was in prison. Who else but Savarkar could have composed 10,000 lines of poems, written them with thorns and pebbles on prison walls & committed them to memory so that he could present them to the world if ever an opportunity came by!!!
Savarkar’s thoughts on Hindutva and Hindu society would call for an entire article by itself. Lala Hardayal wrote prophetically in 1925 “I declare that the future of the Hindu race rests of four pillars. 1) Hindu Sanghatan. 2) Hindu Raj. 3) Shuddhi of Muslims. 4) Conquest and Shuddhi of Afghanistan and Frontiers. So long as we do not accomplish these, the future of our children will ever in danger”.
Savarkar was influenced by this message and ideology and came up with the concept of Hindutva, an all inclusive philosophy which if it had been employed would have ensured glorious days for Bharat post-independence. Savarkar defines Hindu as “A Hindu is a person who regards his land as Bharat-Varsha from the Indus to the Seas as his fatherland as well as his Holy land that is the cradle land of his religion”.
Savarkar’s Bharat was a modern progressive nation that was proud of its past, culture, traditions and deeply rooted in the Hindu way of life. He envisaged an India where people respected ancient wisdom and combined it with modern scientific thought to take the country on the path of progress. He wanted a casteless Hindu society that provided equal opportunity for all to lead a prosperous life.
I’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg and Savarkar’s thoughts and ideas are something we all should imbibe in our life. His was a life dedicated to the freedom of Bharat, a life that is hardly celebrated (though ideally it should be) and that too only because it doesn’t suit the political ideology of some!!! He is one of those unsung heroes who is yet to get his due in the pages of Indian history.