Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Life of Swatantryaveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
The Veer Savarkar Memorial at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park has played a revolutionary part in my life. It was in September 1998 that I went there for the first time. The Indian Army had organized an exhibition on arms seized from Kashmiri militants. I got chatting with the Lt Colonel who, perhaps, seeing my enthusiasm gave me an army booklet on the truth behind J and K. Feeling enriched with the truth I decided to email it to some fifty friends across the world. Buoyed by the response I decided to do more research. I was searching for a book by D Mankekar on the Indo-Chinese War of 1962. Unable to find it with any of Mumbai’s bookshops and the publisher, I went to the Veer Savarkar library. Yeah they had it and were nice enough to give me a photocopy of the book. So was born my second email article. After that I have been on a roll. I am unable to fathom why it took me some two and half years to get down to reading about Veer Savarkar whose memorial I owe so much too. S is the short form for Savarkar.
This article is based on the book Veer Savarkar (S) by Dhananjay Keer, courtesy and copyright Popular Prakashan Private Limited. This is what a few papers had to say about the book, Savarkar and his times is a full length study of Shri Savarkar’s revolutionary, literary, political and social activities to the present day. The author has spared no pains to make the biography complete in every respect and to bring out Shri Savarkar’s personality and achievements – The Sunday Tribune, Ambala. It is a masterly work, the best biography I have read for years. Savarkar has one good fortune in his hard and strenuous life to have found a biographer like Mr Keer. That is simply wonderful – The Word, Glasgow. I have taken the chapters as they appear in the book. To reduce length of the article, I have focussed on his thoughts, hardships and contributions. Also various aspects of the Freedom Movement are covered in the essay on Sardar Patel so have not dwelt on those issues in great detail here. The chapters are
1. Childhood and Youth. 2. The Rising Leader. 3. Revolutionary Activities. 4. The Storm Breaks. 5. Epic Escape and Trials. 6. The Indian Bastille. 7. Genius Thrives in Jail. 8. Out of his Grave. 9. Social Revolution. 10. Rationalist and Author. 11. Back to Freedom. 12. Whirlwind Propaganda. 13. War and Militarization. 14. Hindu Manifesto. 15. Attacks Gandhi and Jinnah. 16. Cripps Mission. 17. Mahasabha marches on.
18. The Writing on the Wall. 19. Fight for a United India. 20. From parity to Pakistan. 21. Red Fort Trial. 22. Detention and Internment. 23. Memorial and Martyrs. 24. The Menace of Christians. 25. Old Age. 26. Warning against Aggression. 27. Nation pays Homage. 28. The Eternal Hero.
Childhood and Youth Chapter 1
In politically fallen, socially degraded and financially ruined Bharat, the 1880’s and 1890’s witnessed the darkest period of the history of our country. The first peep of dawn in the form of reforms of 1909 was yet to come. Tilak, Maharishi Ranade, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda were kindling the light of social regeneration and reawakening the Indians to their spiritual heritage. While the British were busy trying to find a way to defuse the wrath of the Indian Revolution, in 1885, was founded the Indian National Congress despite the fears and opposition of Sir Syed Ahmed, who asked the Muslims to keep away from the Congress.
The moderates requested for minimum reforms, the press was muzzled, the Arms Act introduced with a denigrating and emasculating the Indians further. Two important events typified the year 1883. One was the death of the leader of renaissance, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, two – Wasudeo Balwant, the rebel, laid his bones in Aden in longing for the establishment of an Indian Republic. In such an environment surcharged with unfulfilled aspirations was born Vinayak Damodar Savarkar on 28th may, 1883, at 10 pm at Bhagur, a village near Nasik.
S was a Chitpavan Brahmin, a community that had produced Nanasahib of 1857 fame, Wasudeo Balwant and Tilak, all of whom strove to snatch the crown of Independence from the hands of the British. The Savarkars originally hailed from Konkan, a land symbolizing the great feat of reclamation performed by Parashuram. During the declining days of the Peshwa rule, the Savarkars were an important family, which had moved in and seen great events. They were Jahgirdars of a small village, Rahuri, and enjoyed the honor of palanquin for their acknowledged eminence in Sanskrit scholarship.
Inspite of his English education, S’s father, Damodarpant Savarkar loved and remembered the past. S’s mother, Radhabai was a pious, beautiful and bright woman. The couple had four children, three sons and a daughter. The first was Ganesh, the second Vinayak, the third Mainabai and the last Narayan. The couple recited several passages from the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, the Ballads and Bakhars on Pratap, Shivaji and the Peshwas. These recitings contributed to the mental development of S. He was very fond of reading and a bright child, went to school at the age of six.
S was hardly ten when well-known newspapers from Poona accepted his poems, not knowing that the writer was a ten-year-old child. His insatiable thirst for knowledge, excellent memory and the peculiar charm in his voice and gait impressed one and all. Yet he was full of pranks too.
In June 1893, serious Hindu Muslim riots broke out in Azamgarh district in today’s Uttar Pradesh and in August the same year in Mumbai. The news of atrocities perpetuated on Hindus fired his blood and he resolved to take revenge. He led a batch of selected schoolmates in a march upon the local village mosque, shattered its windows. The Muslims responded but S with his friends routed the enemies. The boy leader fell to training and organizing his group.
S moved from the village school to Nasik. During those times the people of Maharashtra stood between famine and death, plague and soldiers, the devil and the deep sea as it were. Harassment caused and outrages on women reached a climax. In such a charged atmosphere, the Chaplekar brothers of Pune shot dead the British Plague Commissioner and another Brit officer on a day which was the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s rule. The brothers were hanged, their end proved to be a harbinger of the coming revolutionary movement in India. Their death made S resolve to strive nobly and sacrifice his nearest and dearest, his life and all, to fulfill the incomplete mission of the martyred Chaplekars. He vowed to drive out the Brits of India.
At Nashik S’s career was not extraordinary. The depth of his knowledge and the fire of his eloquence fascinated his teachers. With the great flow of his words, breadth of knowledge and boldness of his views, he towered above all in the elocution competitions.
With a view to achieve his objective of driving out the Brits, S with friends Mhaskar, Page and Babarao formed a Friend’s Union called Mitra Mela at the beginning of 1900. Chosen youths were secretly initiated into the fold. This was the famous Beehive, of revolutionaries of Western India. The Mitra Mela grew into the world famous Abhinava Bharat Society in 1904 with a network in Central and Western India and subsequent branches in the form of Ghadr Party resounded in England, France, Burma etc. Its aim was the political independence of India, to be won by an armed revolt, if need be.
By diffusing knowledge among the members, dispelling doubts and ignorance, S vitalized the youth, instilled patriotic ideas to bring out the best in them. Now the Mitra Mela dominated all public and political institutions of Nasik, changed religious ceremonies and festivals into political, national functions. Like Lord Ram, who started on his great march to annihilate Ravana from Nasik, so also S started his war of independence from here. Members of the Mitra Mela helped the city in many useful ways like carrying corpses to the cremation ground.
S’s leadership knew no caste distinction. The heart of S’s poems in those days was the liberation of Bharat. The songs of freedom by the Mitra Mela fed and fanned the flames of the passions of the people with revolutionary ideas. It was a group of these singers from Nasik that sang a ballad later on at the historic Raigad Fort in the presence of Tilak. Inspite of all this S did well in his exams. Thus, before entering Pune’s Fergusson College, young S was a first rate debater, a powerful orator, a rising writer and leader of a revolutionary organization. A few months before his matriculation examination he got married to the daughter of Bhaurao Chiplunkar. Bhaurao was rich and influential, helped S complete his University education. After S’s parents death things were tough for S’s family so it really helped.
The Rising Leader Chapter 2
S passed his matric exams in December 1901 and left Nasik for Pune in Jan 1902. What was the state of Pune then? Exactly a year ago, the great social reformer Ranade had passed away. R.P. Paranjpe had just returned from England with great academic success. G.K. Gokhale was about to leave the Fergusson College and enter into a political career. Tilak was becoming a formidable leader. The Congress was India’s sole spokesman, with the Moderates dominating it. They believed in the permanency of British rule in India.
After joining Fergusson college in 1902, blessed with the gift of thought and speech S with soon able to impress one and all resulting in the formation of a Savarkar group. The group started a hand-written weekly named Aryan Weekly, in which S often wrote articles on patriotism, literature, history, and science. One of those brilliant articles was Saptapadi in which he dealt with the seven stages of evolution that have to be gone thought by a subject nation. He had studied Kalidas and Bhavabhuti. Of the English poets, Shakespeare and Milton influenced him much. S often gave scholarly talks on the revolutions in Italy, Netherlands and America.
In 1903, at the opening of the new session of the college, he amidst deafening applause gave a talk on India’s glorious past and bewailed her loss of freedom. His speech infused courage into the craven-hearted and fired them all with the spirit of patriotism. Then his Professor said, “Young men, you need not take S seriously. He is a Devil! S and his group used Swadeshi goods and simultaneously took care of their studies, moral, physical, intellectual development. On important occasions S saw Tilak whose association with the revolutionaries was legendary. Tilak must have gauged S who by then had become the leader of the youth.
A change in political tone was coming on with the growing tension; a new spirit of self-reliance began to gain ground. Tilak played a role in this. At the same time, Lala Lajpat Rai, Surendranath Banerjee and Gokhale encouraged people with their words. The Swadeshi Movement too was gaining ground. Opposition to the partition of Bengal was coming to a head in October 1905, Hindus opposed it while Muslims supported it. Tilak had made the partition of Bengal an All India issue. S resolved to unfurl the banner of boycott of foreign goods and urged his countrymen to stop buying everything that was English. By now S had become a prominent figure in political, social gatherings of Pune.
Thus Poona had the first big bonfire of foreign cloth in India! Credit goes to S. Indu Prakash, a leading paper of the moderates criticized S. The Principal of Ferguson College fined S Rs 10 and expelled from college. There were two firsts to S’s credit. One he was the first Indian leader to make a bonfire of foreign cloth, two he was the first Indian student who was rusticated from a Government-aided institution for political reasons.
This incident was important for another reason. Gandhi criticized the bonfire and so did his Guru Gokhale while Tilak supported it. Thus, there emerged two schools of thought with differing ideologies, later on known as Moderates and Extremists. It is ironical that 17 years later, the same G, as organizer of the Civil Disobedience Movement, made a public bonfire of foreign clothes in Bombay on Nov 17, 1921.
Notwithstanding the turmoil S passed his B.A. exams with congratulations pouring in from all over Maharashtra. S the prolific writer was coming to the front now. During this period he composed his famous ballads on Tanaji and Baji Prabhu. These ballads inspired the youth, but were soon proscribed by the Brits. However, they attained the popularity of folk songs in Maharashtra for over four decades. S’s lyric of patriotism, inspiring songs on heroes, hyms thrilled the people of Maharashtra and he was hailed as a rebel poet. Among the memorable essays was “Why should we celebrate the festivals of historic personalities? He said it was to pay our national gratitude we owed to these historic souls. They should be celebrated as a mark of remembrance and reverence of the immense good these benevolent men have done to the world and because they have sacred sanction of ancient traditions.
In 1902, S had written in the Kal one essay, which he concluded with a prophetic vision. “ Hindus are responsible for the poverty and disorganization of Hindustan. But if they ever desire to attain prosperity, they must remain Hindus”. This bold characteristic of S’s nationalism distinguished him from Tilak and others.
S’s efforts to build up his secret revolutionary society continued unabated. While at college he convened in 1904 a meeting of some two hundred select members of the Mitra Mela. Its name was now changed to Abhinava Bharat. Now the party extended its political and revolutionary activities all over India. It resembled the Young Italy of Mazzini or the revolutionary societies of Russia.
After graduating from Pune, S went to Mumbai to study law. S continued with his political activities in Mumbai. He contributed to Vihari, a local Marathi weekly and made it the mouthpiece of Abhinava Bharat. S was now the acclaimed leader of the revolutionary movement in Maharashtra and was invited to functions all over the state.
He was awarded a scholarship to study law in London by Pandit Shyamji Krishna Varma, then resident of London. He left Mumbai for London on June 9,1906.
Revolutionary Activities Chapter 3
The year 1906 was a landmark in Indian politics. It is the year when S went to London, saw the birth of the Muslim League at Dacca. During those days revolutionaries from the world over took shelter in London. S under the guise of studying law, went to have a look at the den of the British lion, to learn how to organize a revolution and carry on the struggle for freedom by inculcating this spirit in the bright Indian students there.
After reaching London, S stayed at the India House founded by Pandit Shyamki K Varma. In due course S was admitted to the prestigious Cray’s Inn. Panditji was a respected authority of Sanskrit Works, was close to the Arya Samaj founder S Dayanand Saraswati, proceeded to London to study law, came back to serve with Indian states, returned to the U.K. in 1897 and established a Home Rule Society in London in 1905. He used the columns of the Indian Sociologists to propagate home rule in India and started India House to provide boarding and lodging to scholars and other paid guests.
S soon established in 1906 the Free India Society. S began to organize Indian students into patriots like Bhai Parmananda, Lala Hardayal, Virendranath Chattopadhyaya (brother of Sarojini Naidu), V.V.S. Aiyar, Gyanchand Varma (man of great ability and caliber), Madame Cama (lectured on Indian politics at Hyde Park), Senapati Bapat (a selfless and saintly patriot, had a good name in the revolutionary movement, P.T.Acharya (a Tamil journalist and patriot) etc.
What was the condition of Indian students in Britain before the arrival of Savarkar in London. Eight out of ten students prided themselves on being more English then the Brits themselves, were apologetic about India. With S things changed. They held weekly meetings, celebrated anniversaries of Guru Govind Singh, Shivaji and Dussehra. Indian students from all over Britain joined the festivals with the exception of some like Nehru.
It is worth mentioning what Muslim students thought of India House, Shri Ziauddin Ahmed in Germany warned Shri Abdulla Suhrawardy with these words “You know that we have a definite political policy at Aligarh, i.e. the policy of Sir Syed. Do you really believe that the Muslims will be profited if Home Rule is granted to India? What I call the Muslim policy is really the policy of all the Muslims generally – of those of Upper India particularly”. Wrote Asaf Aki to Pandit Varma in 1909 “I am staying with some Muslim friends who do not want me to be associated with nationalists and to save many unpleasant consequences, I do not want to irritate them unnecessarily” Thus the Muslim antagonism to the Freedom Movement goes back to 1905-06.
S spread his revolutionary ideas through pamphlets, booklets and books. He translated the autobiography of Mazzini into Marathi and sent it to his brother Baburao Savarkar for publication at Nasik in 1907. While Lajpat Rai and Surendranath Bannerjee were mild in their speeches on Mazzini, S openly gave his message to the youth to fight for the liberation of the Motherland through the book. An admirer of the Sikhs, he learnt Gurumukhi, read the Adi Granth, Panth-Surya Prakash etc and issued many pamphlets, called Khalsa. Issued in Gurumukhi, these made the Sikh soldiers conscious of their duty.
May Day was celebrated in Britain in honor of the British victory over the Indian revolutionaries in 1857. To counter this propaganda, S decided to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the heroes of 1857. Indians wore metal badges, paid homage etc. In public places ensued scuffles between impudent Britishers and Indian youth. Patriotic feelings got aroused. The much-admired Pandit Varma became notorious overnight while S’s deeds did not escape the notice of the Government of India either. Alarmed by the hostile reaction in the British press, Pandit Varma left for Paris leaving the management of the India House to Savarkar.
Discussions at the Free India Society on political philosophy were inspiring and of a high order. They echoed throughout India in S’s letters from London, which were read throughout Maharashtra. S was magnetic and mesmeric. India House was completely under his spell. Everybody recognized the purity of purpose on him, although they disagreed with political objectives. S austerity was itself a discipline, which was disliked by the easy going variety of people. Said Asaf Ali on those days “I wonder how so young a person, 23 in 1909, commanded the will of almost every one who came into contact with him”. He added that S was the spirit of Shivaji.
Another great task that S devoted his energy to foreign propaganda. He was the first and foremost Indian leader who perceived and foresaw the impact of vital forces in international politics. He wrote articles on Indian affairs and got them translated into French, Russian, German, Italian etc to acquaint the civilized world with Indian affairs and enlist their support for the cause of Indian freedom. Also he strove to make India a living issue in international politics just like what Pakistan have done on Kashmir since 1947. With these objectives in mind, he had deputed Madame Cama to the International Socialists Congress at Germany in 1907, where, inspite of British opposition the Conference moved but not did not pass a resolution on India and unfurled the flag of independence of India which was designed by S. The delegates rose and saluted the flag.
The Indian revolutionaries of Abhinava Bharat were in touch with their counterparts in Russia, Ireland, Egypt and China. S’s aim was to organize a United anti-British front. One of the schemes planned by the front was the blocking of the Suez Canal. Thus every minute of S’s life was used to work on a plan for the liberation of Bharat. Liberation of the Motherland was to be achieved by teaching of Swadeshi and boycott, imparting National education, purchasing and storing of weapons in neighboring states, opening of small bomb factories, adopting guerilla tactics wherever possible, carrying patrioticism and politics into the armed forces. They expected World War I to break out in 4-5 years. Keeping this in mind, Abhinava Bharat was printing, packing explosive literature. Pistols were smuggled into India. Bapat and Das were sent to learn the art of bomb making.
S’s pen was feeding and fanning the wrath of Indian revolutionaries. He wrote a brilliant leaflet O Martyrs on the eve of the celebration of the anniversary of the Heroes of 1857. The pamphlet was distributed in Europe and India. Meanwhile Bapat reached India and circulated the Bomb Manual to important centres of revolutionaries. In April 30, Khudiram Bose threw a bomb in Muzzarpur shaking the whole of Bharat.
Nationalistic feelings were on the rise. The Brits used more repressive measures. Writers like Sri Aurobindo, Bhaskar Vishnu Phadke used their fiery pens. Some were arrested, others sent to Andamans. The approver in the Alipore case disclosed Senapati Bapat’s connection with the Bengal revolutionaries forcing him to go into a voluntary exile.
Wrote Sir Valentine Chirol in the London Times “The emotional Bengali calls along the whole world to witness his deeds. The Chitpavan Brahmin whose bent of mind is far practical works in silence. Even as the Bengali did the shouting it was Pune that provided the brains that directed the Bengali extremists”. Thus the fountainhead of the revolutionary movement in India was Savarkar, the acknowledged leader of India House.
These revolutionary activities brought India House under focus, particularly Veer Savarkar. Most journalists were surprised to see that S whom they criticized to be a mere youth of 25. Detectives of the Scotland Yard started keeping watch on the activities of the residents of India House. But the smartie S, won the sympathies of the Irish serving men in Scotland Yard who actually helped the Indians in smuggling political literature. Besides Abhinava Bharat too had agents in Scotland Yard. Perhaps the Indian govt can learn something from S’s tactics.
But the remarkable gift of S was his balanced mind and the power of discrimination. He was a revolutionary realist and never dreamt of giving or taking life emotionally, wasting energy and life thoughtlessly. To him the timing of an act was important. The gift of his marvelous presence of mind were seen when he checked Senapati Bapat who wanted to bomb the House of Commons. S did not want the Brits to know about their mastery of the art of bomb making before it reached India. Meanwhile the smuggling of arms and ammunition into India went on. S sent them through Mirza Abbas and Sikander Khan. These pistols fell into the hands of different revolutionary groups.
The Storm Breaks Chapter 4
The bursting point of British repression was reached. The zero hour had struck. The choice of the Abhinava Bharata fell on Madanlal Dhingra. Talking of him, one day someone taunted him by saying that the Japanese were the bravest people in Asia. Dhingra had retorted that his Hindu nation was no less. Perhaps his time had come said S. Dhingra then joined a club, which highly placed Englishmen attended? There he learnt to shoot and gained closer knowledge of men like Lord Curzon and Morley. The former responsible for the Partition of Bengal, was Dhingra’s target but Curzon escaped.
Determined to avenge the atrocities committed by the Brits in India, Dhingra decided to kill an equally important man in Sir William Curzon Wyllie. So on 30/6/1909, S gave Dhingra a nickleplated revolver and said “Don’t show me your face if you fail this time”. Dhingra did not let S down, he shot Wyllie considered to be the eye and brain of the Indian Office. Dhingra was arrested and put in Brixton jail.
The incident shook London to its narrow! India was everywhere. Dhingra was disowned by his brother and father was ashamed of him. Assembled at Caxton Hall, a group comprising of Aga Khan, Surendranath Baneerjee, Khaparde and B.C. Pal and others declared “The meeting unanimously condemns Madanlal Dhingra”. Just then a voice said “No, not unanimously”. The chairman said “Who says no?. “I say no, it is me, My name is Savarkar”. Fearing that the revolutionaries would bomb the meeting, a Eurasian struck a blow on S’s forehead making his face smear with blood. S Baneerjee left the hall protesting against the cowardly act on S. Sympathy with S, the police could not touch him. The revolutionaries in London got angry with B.C. Pal for calling Dhingra a cowardly assassin. That very night S dictated a letter to the London Times where he silenced all criticism against him by saying that Dhingra’s matter being subjudice, the meeting had no right to usurp the powers of the court and condemn Dhingra in advance. Moreover, S had a right to record his vote.
Thus this meeting S tested the stuff of the leader of revolution and his knowledge of law. In India Dhingra’s brave act was criticized by the types of N.C. Kelkar and Gokhale. Hyndman, Father of British Socialism wrote that though he condemned the means adopted by Dhingra, unfortunately, the accusations leveled by Dhingra against the British govt were true. Newspapers now directly attacked S as the fountainhead of the tragedy. In India his relations and colleagues were persecuted. Students proceeding to London had to produce certificates from their local Governments.
Though S passed the final examination of the Gray’s Inn, the Benchers of his Inn refused to call S and Harnam Singh to the Bar. A Committee was appointed to decide the issue. It said that S would be called to the Bar provided he gave them a written undertaking that he would not participate in politics. S rejected it; he was there to liberate Bharat, period.
S was now on the verge of physical collapse. For the past four years he had worked with phenomenal energy. After the Wyellie incident, Indian House was closed down. He started staying with B.C. Pal but angry crowds stormed Pal’s residence. S thought it wise to leave. Homeless, friendless, starved, stranded, shadowed by detectives, he wandered from lodge to lodge for shelter. At last a German lady gave him refuge for some days.
Tired, S went to Brighton, a seaside town for a change. In the company of Niranjan Pal S said, “Take me O Ocean! Take me to my native shores. Thou promised me to take me home. But thee coward, afraid of thy mighty master, Britain, thou hast betrayed me. But mind my mother is not altogether helpless. She will complain to sage Agasti and in a draught he will swallow thee as he did in the past”. Several literary men of Maharashtra have held this poem to be an unparalled poem on patriotism.
Even at Brighton, S lay not quiet. He had to publish Dhingra’s statement that was suppressed by the police. He used comrade Varma to post it from Paris to different American and Irish papers and got friend David Garett to publish it in the Daily News. Excerpts “As a Hindu, I feel that a wrong done to my country is an insult to God”. The police were baffled, how did S get a third copy, the others being with the cops, Dhingra.
Dhingra was hanged but his deeds, fearlessness, dignity thrilled the world. However, Nehru was warned by his father against going there and kept silent over this thrilling episode even in his autobiography.
The hot discussions in India House and S’s fiery speeches were too hot for visiting Indian leaders. Gandhi had discussions with S since 1906, met him in London in October 1909 but it was an ideological conflict between the promising Gautam and the spirited Shivaji. Gandhi arrogated the religion of God to himself and imputed irreligion of the devil to all those who opposed him. Said S” We feel no special love for secret organizations or surprise and secret warfare. We hold that whenever open preaching and practicing of truth is banned by enthrone violence, then alone secret societies and warfare are justified to combat violence by force”.
The discussions Gandhi had with S, had left a touch of bitterness. During his return journey at the end of 1908, G attacked the Indian revolutionaries in London and indirectly S. The ideological conflict between the two started in the first decade of the 20th century.
Minto was trying to crush the forces of seditious agitation with new measures. But the revolutionary movement was spreading fast, Gwalior, Satara and a few small factories of bombs were unearthed in Maharashtra. S’s brother Babarao was sentenced to transportation for life in June 1909. S wrote to his wife and sis in law a beautiful letter that has since then been a charm for Maharashtrian womanhood.
In S one finds a doer and a dreamer. He had the power of the pen and pistol, an unusual combination. It is no wonder that his writings and ballads inspired soldiers and patriots to fight the battle of freedom-from Rajaji, Roy, Bhagat Singh, Kher, I.N.A.
S got admission into the Library of the India, read heaps of original letters, manuscripts and referred to books in the British Museum too. He read Rajanikant’s Sepoys Mutiny in Bengali. After an 18-month study, he completed in April 1908 his monumental work in Marathi, The First War of Independence of 1857. S sent the manuscript to his brother Babarao in Nasik where the Brits tried to seize the manuscript but failed. In England the Scotland Yard tried hard to get the manuscript. But S, eluded the police and detectives to get the book published in Holland in 1909. The book reached India, America, China, Japan wrapped in specially printed covers bearing names like Pickwick Papers. It inspired the second and third wars of independence in 1914 and 1943 (Subhash C Bose).
Wrote K.F. Nariman “The idea of the I.N.A. and particularly the Rani of Jhansi segment seems to have originated from S’s proscribed publication on the 1857 Mutiny”. Reviewing the great work, P.K. Atre, a typical Maharashtrian author and journalist, opined that Maharashtra did not produce a greater genius than S ever since the great Dnyaneshwar.
After Dhingra’s martyrdom threats to S grew louder. In India his supporter were persecuted. Owing to stress and strain, S’s health broke down. He was removed to a sanitarium in Wales. Since his life was feared to be in danger, he left London for Paris at the beginning of January 1910. S now carried on his propaganda from Paris. But he was moved by the tragic news of the persecution of his followers.
It was found in the Jackson murder trial that S was the spirit behind India House and the leader of the Abhinava Society which had sent pistols, one of which was used to kill Jackson. (the British Collector of Nasik). George Clarke the new Governor of Mumbai decided, that to maintain order, prosecution of S was necessary. He built up a case, a warrant was granted by Bow Street Court, London in February 1910. The charges against S were waging war against His Majesty, distributing arms amongst others. To avoid the persecution and demoralization of his followers, S decided to return to London in 1910, just like Shivaji went to Agra.
In 1910, S was arrested in England for the speeches he made in India in 1906! What a marvel this British process of law. The most developed nation in the world, then! Gallows now stared S in the face. He wrote his will and sent it to his sister-in-law. The Savarkar family was undergoing trying times. Babarao was sentenced to transportation for life, the younger brother was arrested in the Nasik conspiracy case and S was in jail. Further his little son had passed away in 1909.
On 23/4/1910, the Magistrate gave decision that S should be sent to India for trial where the Indian govt had set up a special tribunal for his trial. Meanwhile sometime in May 1910, Irish and Indian revolutionaries attempted at rescuing S but the plan leaked out, failed. Now, S was on the eve of being extradited to India.
Epic Escape and Trials Chapter 5
On 01/07/1910, the steamer S S Morea carrying S to India had some engine trouble and required report in the port of Marseilles in France. The British govt requested their French counterparts to keep an eye on the ship since S was travelling on it. S was inwardly thinking of the idea of escape. Had his message to the comrades on the Continent reached them through Aiyar? Would they come to his rescue? Mother India seemed to whisper to her son, Flee! Flee! This time is not gone!. Since he was tied to a post how would he run away? He asked Parkar, a Scotland Yard Inspector, if he could use the cloak. After getting in he jumped up, squeezed himself out of the porthole at the top of the water closet and jumped into the Sea. He swam ashore amidst firing bullets.
The pursuers were in hot chase. S ran away from the harbor but with no money! Eventually they caught up with him and dragged him to the steamer. It was a breach of International Law since the British guards had arrested him on foreign land. It was destiny that S’s colleagues, Madame Cama and Aiyar who had planned his rescue, should be late by a few hours.
The news of S’s thrilling escape crossed the oceans. Hindu manhood glowed in resplendent glory and opened the eyes of foreigners who doubted the virility and valor of India. The entire European press praised S. Now he was huddled into a tiny cabin, only four feet was allowed to him to stand, move and walk! Sunlight became a luxury for him. Handcuffed and closely tied on each side, stiffiled by excessive heat S felt like giving up his life. But he overcame the feelings and survived.
S reached Mumbai on July 22,1910 and was sent to Nasik jail. Amidst protest by honest Englishmen that the purpose of shifting S to India was to deny him a fair trial, the Secretary of State granted permission to open the trial and added that would restore S to France after judgement if the international situation demanded it. Three trials were to be heard by the Tribunal. Amidst tight security when S entered the Court there were claps not from empty galleries but from fellow prisoners. S’s thrilling escape from Marseilles had riveted world attention of the Nasik Conspiracy Trial. After the prosecution spoke S said that he did not recognize the jurisdiction of the Indian govt to try him as he was entitled to the Right of Asylum and thus to the protection of French Law. He would not take part in the trial. Majority of the accused complained to the Court that they had given their statements before the Magistrate under torture or duress.
The second charge was withdrawn before the case started. All through the trial he provided moral support to the broken hearted. After 68 days of trial on 23/12/1910 the judge pronounced judgement “Transportation for life and forfeiture of all property”. The Special Tribunal had passed judgement on a man whose case was sub judice in the International Court at Hague. So much for the great English tradition.
The judgement in S’s trial deals exclusively with various political and secret activities of the Abhinava Bharat, its inflaming pamphlets, books, plans and aims. It says there is evidence in the shape of certain documents found in the possession of the accused Kashikar, which indicates that the association aimed at creating an organization founded upon the model of Revolutionaries Societies of Russia. The suggested methods of preparation of war are the purchase and storage of weapons in neighboring countries to be used at the right time. This was a true assessment of Abhinava Bharata. The Society had storehouses of bombs at Bassein, bomb factories in Mumbai & in Maharashtra.
Not content with this the Indian govt charged S with the murder of the Collector of Nasik, Mr Jackson referred to above. Despite lacking evidence, on 30/01/1911, S was sentenced to another transportation for life. Two transportation’s for one man!
The Indian govt prosecuted S hastily. As a matter of fact, the proceedings should have been stayed since the Brit govt Foreign Secretary had signed an agreement with the French Ambassador to refer the S case to the International Court at Hague. A number of well known Frenchmen supported S’s return to France. Embassies all over the world were stirred. As the English tried to hush up the matter, S through his friends in Yeravada jail, smuggled out a statement of the authentic account of his escape and re-arrest at Marseilles and gave the issue a new lease of life. Circulated throughout the world, it added to the British discomfort. The S trial now opened at Hague on 6/2/1911. They gave a judgement in favor of the British govt, annulled S’s right of asylum. It was possible because the French PM, M Briand voluntarily betrayed the sovergeiniy of France. Most of the world press condemned the judgement. Such was the anger of the people that Briand had to reign three days later rather than face questions in the Chamber of Deputies.
Thus S’s was the greatest historical trial the world had ever seen. It brought India onto the front pages of the world press. It struck a blow to the prestige of the British Empire. Double transportation meant imprisonment for fifty years, he would be released in 1960. To cope with the epic of two transportations, he decided to pay the debt of the Motherland and render service to humanity by writing in the canvas of his mind. So S started in the right earnest to compose poems.
The first poem was on Guru Govind Singh. He composed another poem on the crucified Christ. An officer-taunted S that he would set free in 1960 to which S said “But is the British Rule itself going to last for fifty years more?
The days of S’s final departure for the Andamans soon dawned. On June 27, 1911 S was lodged in the steamer S S Maharajah. As he reached Andamans, on his way to the jail, the great patriot was engrossed in assessing the importance of Andamans. Given proper opportunities of development, he murmured to himself, that these islands could be the outposts of Free Hindustan replacing Singapore, which was so by accident. If a strong naval base were built there, he thought, no enemy could strike at the eastern coast of India. How prophetic!
The Indian Bastille Chapter 6
With a blanket on his head and a platter in one hand, S stood in chains before the ferocious lofty gates decorated with all kinds of chains, handcuffs, fetters, guns and bayonets. The gate creaked! Mr Barrie was coming. A voice roared, Leave him, he is not a tiger! Barrie tried to convince S on the futility of being a revolutionary, having been an Irish one himself. Barrie as the jailer of Andamans, had gained a marvelous notoriety among the criminals and political prisoners of India.
S fearlessly entered the ferocious jaws of Deathland. The most wicked and vicious Pathans drilled in the methods of torturous jail administration were posted to guard his cell. It had been the policy of the Brits to use the Muslim mind against Hindu forces and fighters. At every possible instance, they gave vent to their anti-Hindu bent of mind.
It is characteristic of a great life that it is ever full of duties and sacrifices. S’s arrival deeply stirred the whole of the Andamans. Ocean-going ships would sojourn to give leisure to their men of authority or fame to have a talk with the great Veer Savarkar. Barrie tried to incite S by condemning rebels like Nana and Tatya Tope as being self-centered. S told him that he was a prisoner and could not freely express his views. To which Barrie said go ahead.
For Nana wanted to be king and Tatya wanted to attain glory. But is not true that Victor Emmanuel wanted to be king, Washington had an eye to the Presidentship. The fact is that they all fought for national independence. As for the massacres at Cawanpore, what about the atrocities and burning of villages by British troops while approaching Cawanpore. Barrrie was silenced. It was difficult for anyone to argue with a man as knowledgeable as S. He would throw an argument back at you by quoting an example from your part of the world.
The coming of S brought about better days for political prisoners in particular and convicts in general. Barrie hated revolutionaries and treated them severely. He violently abused prisoners and wickedly harassed them. Their condition was miserable. The revolutionaries were yoked to the oil-mill. And its working demanded such hard labor that it squeezed life out of even hardened, seasoned convicts. The oil-mill was regarded as the route to suicide. Educated persons were used as beasts of burden while illiterate persons were given clerical work. Pathans, warders gulped down the share of prisoners food and milk. What more, the doctor followed the diagnose of the jailer!
S wrote from the Cellur Jail. Early in the morning and late in the evening, I try a bit of Pranayan and then pass into sweet sound sleep. Solitary monotony for twelve years in a cell! This is a clue to the introversion that clung to S in his later life and made him disinclined to mix freely with people. He was isolated from his colleagues and the current of national life.
For the first fortnight, S was given the work of chopping the barks of coconuts with a heavy wooden mallet. His hands bled, dwelled. Barrie tried his best to overpower, overawe S but his personality, frame, courage were too much for Barrie to handle. Barrie wanted to prove that S was a criminal and not a political prisoner. The others were treated badly. S cheered them up and breathed life into them. Indeed 32 years later, Subhash Chandra Bose hoisted the flag of the Indian National Army over Port Blair and renamed the Andamans as Shaheed Island.
As S lived with the cruelties of working on the oil-mill he was informed that his B.A. degree had been withdrawn by the Mumbai University. Disgusted to dying a slow, painful death, his mind drove him to the thought of suicide. However, the brave S came back to life again, Therefore if you want to die, do not die a cowardly death by suicide, but die valiantly”.
There were rumors afloat that all political prisoners were to be released in memory of the Delhi Durbar held in December 1911. Except S and a Bengali political prisoner all were given remission of a month per year. He was happy to know that the partition of Bengal had been annulled. The capital was to be transferred to Delhi as foretold by S, but he said from the standpoint of history, culture, politics and geography Ujjain should be the proper place for capital of Bharat.
In December 1912, a terrific bomb greeted Lord Hardinge at Chandni Chowk. The man responsible Rash Behari Bose had fled to Japan. The Brits tried to have him extradited but failed. S’s younger brother Narayanrao arrested in connection with the Bomb case and brought to Nasik. Besides Surendranath Banerjee of Bengal another patriot on whose mind S had left an indelible impression was Lala Lajpat Rai of Punjab. Another tribute came from the great Russian literary figure, Maxim Gorky.
S resolved to resort to agitation within the four corners of law in Andamans to secure the privileges of political prisoners for his comrades and to compel the jail authorities to give physical and cultural amenities to political prisoners. To get there S realized that education of these prisoners was the first step. So he decided to drill them in those fundamentals which gave them a solid base of knowledge of Political science, economics and Constitutional law. This movement needed books, but prisoners got books only on Sundays, that too, they could not be exchanged.
There was resistance from the prisoners, why must be learn? S impressed upon them that to run a govt efficiently they must have the Gokhales, Dutts being masters in constitutional law, economics etc. In their present state they could do no better than equip themselves with knowledge for future work. It was S’s belief that knowledge without action was lame and action without knowledge was blind. S got the Suptd’s approval to store books. The idea of a library appealed to European officers. Some prisoners were entrusted with the work of maintaining the library. The impact was visible. Many completed some course and were appointed Munshi – clerks. Criminals became sober.
With the growth of the literary movement the library began to grow. But the books that appealed to S most were Yogavashistha and the Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempts. S taught the criminals and his colleagues with the endurance, insistence and patience of a teacher. But none of his moves aroused so vigorous an opposition, as did his efforts for investing Hindu with the importance of the Lingua Franca of India. South Indians and Bengalis opposed it but what S said was, know both, your state and national language. The British officers knew Urdu and thus opposed the introduction of Hindi and Nagari. In this cause the Arya Samajis helped S. Swami Dayanand Saraswati was the foremost leader to champion the use of Hindi with Nagari script. After a long struggle S persuaded the prisoners to write their letters in Hindi, some Punjabis composed their poems in Hindi. S held that if the importance & future of Andamans was to be increased, the safety and predominance of Hindi and Indian culture should be made compulsory in Andamans.
To alleviate the tortures and to blunt the edges of the cruel administration, S began to think, realized that their condition must be known in India. At last Hotilal Varma dared and did it. His secret letter to S Banerjee giving details of jail life reached the Bengal leader through secret channels, was then published in his Bengali under the signature of Hotilalji with the number of his cell and chawl. It was through S’s efforts that Andamans wireless system was introduced in Nagari.
Among the heroic sufferers was Indu Bhushan Roy, Ullaskar Dutt of Alipore case (tortured with electric shocks), Nani Gopla a Bengali revolutionary. Meanwhile these stories appeared in the Indian Press alarming the Brit officers. Protests in the press, questions in the Imperial Council, growing volume of public opinion forced the Govt of India to send a Home Member, Sir R Craddock, to visit Andamans in 1913. Things hardly changed. Some political prisoners went on a sympathetic fast since Nani Gopal had not taken food for 45 days. So the third strike began. S joined the strike and went on fast too. Nani and S were allowed to meet, then Nani broke his fast.
Years rolled by and at last came the news that the Govt of India had decided to bring back the termed convicts to Indian jails, only for those convicts whose conduct was satisfactory. Thus pressure from within and outside slackened the rules of Deathland!
Genius Thrives in Jail Chapter 7
S was frustrated with his life but a truly ascetic and action man as he was, decided to make the most of his life as it existed. Ever since his childhood S wanted to compose an epic on Panipat, a dream he almost achieved. Many others wrote immortal works in prison like Tilak, Nehru. The difference was that they were supplied with reading and writing facilities but S had none. S was the only eminent political prisoner of world fame who composed some 10,000 odd lines of poetry of great imagination, thought and wrote them on the prison walls with thorns and pebbles, learnt them by heart, and astounded the world, giving a convincing proof of how the Vedas were handed down since the dawn of civilization! One of the jail mates Ram Hari from Prayag was in S’s cell where he learnt by heart S’s Marathi poems which he had written on the wall of his cell.
His ballads and poems are full of our glorious past, patriotism, have inspired thousands of people. No Bhartiya except Valmikhi, Vyas, Chand and Bhushan have sung of the glories of the Hindus, their culture so immensely and epically as S has done. G.T.Madkholkar, an eminent Marathi critic describes S as a poet who rivals Kalidas in the use of similis. S combines the luster of the spear of Maratha warriors and the sweetness of the Maratha saint-poets like non-other during his times. S’s magnum opus in poetry, Kamala rivals in delineation and delicacy with Kalidasa’s Shakuntla. S’s creative imagination is powerful, to his lofty imagination the whole universe is the image of the Lord Shiva. The limitless sky is its hair and in it are the Moon and Milky Way.
Hence it is clear that S’s outlook on life was that of an ascetic moving in great events. Love of action and not renunciation of action was the predominant and positive note of his life and literature. His views on Vedanta philosophy are to be remembered. To him life on this earth was like a three petaled flower. One is colored with pleasure, the second with the color of pain, the third mixed or colorless. Pain and pleasure were part of life. S was not a bloodthirsty man but was guided by the noble precept laid down by Lord Krishna. “Do to others as thou wouldst be done by”.
Death had no horrors for S. He said that he had paid the debt he owed to his Motherland by facing the furious fire, getting himself consumed bone by bone and flesh by flesh, he had paid the debt of God by fighting under His Banner and that he had adopted the Abhinava Bharat to continue the line of his family. If he died in despair he would not feel sad since there was no end to a man’s desires. S was confident that his good Karmas would take care of his next birth. There is one more remarkable point about S, the poet. He introduced blank verse metre called Vinayak into Marathi poetry. The romanticism in S’s poetry was properly bridled by a sense of realism, a love of sacrifice and a goal of universalism. Doyens of Marathi literature, Kelkar, P K Atre paid tributes to his genius.
In Andamans S had ample time to philosophize his political theories and theorize his political philosophy. His thoughts, reading and experience evolved into a definite ideology. The decrease in Hindu population and the consequent danger to Hinduism by rival, proselytizing faiths absorbed his mind. The danger S scented was clear, straight and real unlike the hypocrisy that goes on today. When ever he heard about the conversion of a Hindu his mind turned restless. Almost all-Indian jails had a majority of Hindu prisoners. The authorities would invariably appoint Muslims to the post of petty officers, havaldars esp the Pathans. They turned this into an opportunity to harass Hindus and force Hindu convicts to Islam. Prisoners were so demoralized by the conditions in the jail that some of them succumbed to the invite to convert for small favors.
S decided to put a stop to the conversion activities of the Muslims. S tried to instill some pride in the minds of the Hindu there. One day he heard about a prisoner about to convert. He spoke to the Suptd about it who asked why is he cribbing, why do not Hindus convert. To this S replied that Hinduism does not believe in conversions and was based on noble principles. The Hindus never look on religion as a means to wordily religion and social solidarity. The Suptd understood, the prisoner was not converted but he was not allowed by the other prisoners to sit in their file for meals. Ultimately S prevailed upon them to discard their suicidal attitude. It was great news that all over Andamans that S had stopped the conversion of Hindus. He reconverted some Muslims to their original faith. Muslims complained but Hindus realized they that could make reconversions too happen. Hindus there realized that no man lost his faith because he had food, shelter outside his faith.
Despite threats of murder from Barrie, S succeeded in infusing an organic feeling among the Hindu prisoners and even catching the imagination of Hindus in the colony. Just then the census hour struck. S persuaded the Arya Samajis and the Sikhs to record their religion as Hindu or Arya-Sikh Hindu. Definition of a Hindu by Savarkar : “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 Holyland, that is the cradle land of his religion”.
S supported Reconversion, did not hate Muslims but abhorred the aggressive unjust and wild designs of the Muslims and Missionaries. Except for these points, S fought for all prisoners, be it Hindus or Muslims.
As forecast by S in London days, World War I broke out in August 1914. He was happy to hear that Indian troops were allowed to go to Europe to fight against the best military in the world. He was happier to see them acquaint themselves with such splendor. Seeing an opportunity for India’s progress Tilak strategically supported the militarization policy of the Indian govt. But strangely enough, Gandhi, the apostle of non-violence panted for recruiting unconditionally soldiers for the British govt. He had helped the British govt during the Boer War and received an award for his loyal services to the Empire.
The Indian revolutionaries in Europe and America decided to throw their weight into the direction of a revolt. Leaders like Lala Hardayal, V Chattopadhyaya of Abhinava Bharat were discussing plans and negotiations with Germany. With the full support of the German War Cabinet they set up in Germany the Indian Independence League called the Berlin Committee. They made global plans to smuggle lakhs of rifles and ammunition through Muslims countries and Tibet for the Ghadr Party in Punjab, Bengal and attack the eastern frontiers of India. One of the plans was to raid Port Blair and pick up S. The leaders recruited Indians abroad to fight for the independence of their motherland.
Hardayal Singh was arrested in America at the instance of the Brits, but he was released on bail and fled to Europe. As planned the German war machine began to operate. The German submarine Emden, moved into the Bay of Bengal raiding British cargo ships. Now S was strictly watched. Unfortunately on 14/11/1914, the Emden was destroyed. Thus, attempts by the French and Germans to rescue S failed.
But the revolutionaries succeeded in other plans. About 8,000 Sikh revolutionaries arrived in India from America, Canada and Far East in 1915 and situation in Punjab became tense and menacing. The 1857 War of Independence had been suppressed with the help of the Sikhs. These men wanted to wash out the stigma from history by fighting for India’s independence. They buzzed to undermine the loyalty of the Indian troops. Vishnu Ganesh Pingle was arrested with ten loaded bombs inside the line of the 12th Cavalry at Meerut and was hanged. In Bengal too leaders like M.N Roy tried hard to achieve their goal. Money received from Germany was used by revolutionaries of Bengal to have a training camp but the camp was discovered, the plot collapsed. Another plan of the Ghadr Party was to enter Burma through Thailand and then proceed to India.
Armed with extensive powers and the help of 6,000 troops from Nepal, the Brit govt suppressed the uprising. Some 5,000 men were put on trial for treason in Punjab alone. Rivers of blood flowed. Yet the leaders and historians of Gandhian persuasion keep saying that they won Independence without shedding blood. 500 men were sent to Andamans.
During the War S made efforts for his release. He made petitions and appeals to the Indian Govt that he should released with or without conditions. His wife too petitioned the Indian govt. Suprisingly none from the Indian National Congress said a word about the release of political prisoners. He wrote to the Viceroy that while they were considering the question of Reforms in India they should release all political prisoners.
The Indian govt wanted to know the views of the revolutionaries on the proposed reforms. S sent a petition to the Indian govt depicting his ideal of Human Govt. Viewed from the angle of truth, sympathy, justice, impartiality the letter revealed why Guy Aldred of Britain claimed for S a place in the line of prophets and humanists of the world. Whenever S turned introvert the philosopher in him dominated the politician and he breathed such great thoughts.
Out of Grave Chapter 8
After World War I in 1918, there was a systematic demand for release of all political prisoners. In December 1919, all provincial govts opened their prisons. Many political and ordinary prisoners were set free from provincial and the Cellular Jail too. But the Govt of India held S’s release incompatible with public safety. S had passed through a critical illness in 1919. He was in the jail hospital on deathbed. But he had improved. Another woman S admired was Madame Cama.
S bore all the pain silently. But it was too much to handle. He often fell into dead faints, body burnt with constant fever. Now death began to hover over his head. Yet with a peaceful mind and composed feelings S invoked death. The jail life of any other Indian leader pales into insignificance compared to S’s horrible life at Andamans. Yet he faced jail life with great fortitude. The permanent effect of this jail life was seen later in S’s health, lonely disposition and his aloofness from society.
Years passed by. The death of Tilak in 1920 shocked all, the prisoners observed a day’s fast in the memory of the Father of Indian Unrest. Tilak’s disappearance saw the sudden appearance of Gandhi. Writing on the Movement, Shri J C Ker, a member of the ICS observed “The death of Tilak in 1920 removed Gandhi’s strongest rival for the Hindu leadership and early in 1921 the campaign of Gandhi & Ali Brothers was in full swing”. S attacked the queer definition of non-violence and truth and said that Khilafat would be an affat – calamity. And so it was the first time that religion and politics were mixed in India, in the opinion of many, was the first step towards the creation of Pakistan.
In March 1921, K V Rangaswamy, member of the Council of State moved a resolution to extend amnesty to S. He offered to stand security to assure the govt of his good intentions and honest motives. S soon left for India. The Savarkars were taken to Alipore Jail. Then S was taken to the Ratnagiri jail via Mumbai. In August 1921, the Khilafat movement ended in the Moplah rebellion in which thousands of Hindus were raped, butchered, converted. Yet Gandhi regarded these butchers as god fearing Muslims. Now the khilafat pathans rioted in the Ratnagiri jail and the Hindu prisoners were saved as they had been forewarned by S.
It was here that S wrote his immortal Hinduvta, was published under the pen name Mahratta. The whole movement for Hindu nation and Hindu polity is based on this book which defines the principles of Hindu nationalism. The book was both a result of S’s deep reflection and an intense reaction to Gandhism, which had surrendered to the anti-national demands of the Muslim reactionaries and had helped, feed Muslim fanaticism.
Said noted Arya Samaji leader and leading light of the Shuddhi Movement, Swami Shraddhananda “It must have been one of those Vedic dawns indeed which inspired our seers with new truths, that revealed to the author of Hinduvta this Mantra, this definition of Hinduvta”.
In 1923 at the 3rd Ratnagiri District Political Conference, S unconditional release was demanded. Things began to change. The government agreed to release S conditionally. S accepted the conditions and signed the terms on 27/12/1923. Thus S was released on 06/01/1924, the terms read – 1) that S shall reside in Ratnagiri district and shall not go beyond its limits without govt permission. 2) he will not engage privately or publicly in any political activities without the consent of the govt for a period of five years.
The political situation in India was getting complicated since 1915. The Liberals had seceded away from the Congress while the Left Wing was growing powerful. On the eve of the Lucknow session the shrewd elements in the Muslim League adopted the Congress idea of self-government. To win over the Muslims, the Congress made a pact with the league agreeing to communal read separate electorates for Muslims. After Tilak’s death things got complicated. The pact reduced the political problem to a simple equation. If the Muslim League represented the Muslims, whom did the Congress represent. The Montagu-Chemlsford Reforms were declared in Aug 1917. The Congress was disappointed, the Brits yielded to Muslim demands fearing a Muslim rising. The Rowlatt Act passed n 1919 gave the govt the power to arrest and imprison any individual without trial. Martial law reigned in Punjab followed by the Jallianwalla Baug massacre and Gandhi’s failed non-cooperation and Khilafat movement. After its failure Sarojini Naidu declared that Gandhi should not needlessly interfere in politics. He is saint and he should be satisfied with the homage people paid to him.
Social Revolution Chapter 9
In January 1924, through Babarao Savarkar’s influence and attempts, the Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha was established with the blessings of S. The main purpose of the Sabha was to organize, consolidate and unite the Hindus into one organic whole and enable them to oppose effectively any unjust aggression, thus while protecting their own cultural, religious and economic rights, the Hindus were to strive for the general welfare of mankind, universal compassion being the basic urge of Hinduism.
The first event that took place in the history of the party was the visit to Ratnagiri of Shankaracharya in May 24, during the Shivaji festival. But plague broke out around this time forcing S to shift to Nasik, a city with which he had old associations. He received a warm welcome and was presented a purse by the people there. Here he worked for the uplift of Hindu society, saved Mahar Hindus from the snare of Afghani Muslims, had tea in the house of an untouchable. The rousing reception accorded to S made the govt suspicious so they shifted him back to Ratnagiri.
On his way to Ratnagiri, he stopped over at Mumbai where he met Shaukat Ali. While admiring S’s sacrifice Shaukat Ali said he disliked S Hindu ideology and wished it be stopped. To this S asked the Muslim leader to stop his Khilafat Movement first. Shaukat Ali said that Khilafat was the breath of his nostrils. S told him that as long as there were separate organizations for Muslims and they converted Hindus, the Hindu Sanghatan movement would go on unabated. Then Shaukat Ali asked S to mend his ways or be left to his fate. Then Shaukat told S that Muslims would leave India. O quite freely said S. Unable to accept a loss Shaukat Ali said that he was a giant and S a dwarf. S said “I am not disinclined to accept your challenge. You know Shivaji was also a dwarf before the giant Afzulkhan. Everybody knows what happened at the meeting”. S’s stay at Ratnagiri attracted several known personalities. One of them was the founder of the RSS, Dr K B Hedgewar.
Gradually S began to initiate the people into his new ideology through the Hindu Sabha. Afire with this strength Hindus of Ratnagiri began to worship strength, consolidation and unity. This upset the Gandhian pro-Muslim followers. For the defence of their national and natural rights, they would use the lathi and if necessary, fire power too. In 1927 the question of playing music against a mosque came up. Music is played before mosque in Muslim countries without any objection. Islam does not insist on the slaughter of the cow yet it is done to humiliate the Hindus. Anyway amidst great tension and excitement, the Hindus took out their procession through the mosque. The authorities refused to support the Muslims. Soon thereafter the Muslims carried placards declaring their opposition to Swaraj. On the occasion of Dasarha, S distributed gold leaves to Muslims, Christians but these feelings were never reciprocated.
Congress leaders never understood the difference between settlement and appeasement. Said Dr Ambedkar “Appeasement means to buy off the aggressor by conniving at or collaborating with him in the rape, murder and arson of innocent Hindus who happen for the moment to be the victims of pleasure. Settlement lays down the limit which no party to it can transgress”. Gandhi’s support to the Khilafat Movement and its impact on Hindu-Muslim relations, India is referred to in detail in the essay on The Khilafat Movement found under the History Section of the site.
Gandhi visited Ratnagiri that time and met S amongst others. Although they disagreed on a number of issues they continued to respect each other. Like they disagreed on the issue of Shuddhi or reconversion of Muslims to Hindus. While taking leave of S Gandhi said, “ It is clear that we disagree on some problems. But I hope you have no objection to my making experiments. S replied “You know the story of the boys and frogs. You will be making an experiment at the cost of the nation”. This is was the last meeting between the two. Gandhi was now doubly sure that the faith and fire in S was unaffected by the tortures and tribulations of jail life in Andamans.
S’s first and foremost battle on the homefront was with the Hindu orthodoxy over the question of mixed caste schools. After a great deal of action including writing to the District Magistrate about it, the Magistrate said that it was due to S’ efforts that untouchable boys have been allowed to sit mixed and without distinction of caste.
The Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha converted from the middle of 1926 several persons with prescribed religious ceremonials. Later, some 200 hundred persons were saved from the clutches of non-Hindu missions. Muslims and Christians protested but none could match S’s arguments. Did not Yakub Hassan, while presenting an address to G at Madras, openly enjoin upon the Muslims to convert all the Untouchables in India to Islam?
The question of temple entry for the Untouchables cropped up in 1925. Orthodoxy made noise but they began to collapse under the weight of S’s ruthless arguments. To pull down the steel walls of orthodoxy, S started Pan Hindu Ganesh festivals in 1925. The untouchables were brought into the hall of the Vithoba temple in Ratnagiri district. Just then Dr Ambedkar started the movement for liberation of Untouchables i.e. 1924. S supported Dr’s movement completely. A Pan-Hindu band was trained. Women of Ratnagiri performed to the shock of others their Hali-Kumkum ceremony on a Pan-Hindu basis. In 1931, a magnificent Pan-Hindu temple called as Patit Pavan temple was made where all Hindus could assemble for prayers. Prohibition of one caste from dining with another was the keystone upon which the caste system rested. Not easy he organized the first dinner known as Sahabhojan. To all those who opposed he threw at their faces extracts from scriptures that sang that Lord Krishna dined with Vidura, a son born of a maiden servant.
During the year 1931, Senapati Bapat visited Ratnagiri and paid his respects to S. Another visit was that of Thakur Chandansingh, the President of the All India Gurkha League along with Hemchandra Samsher Jung, a representative of the Royal Family of Nepal. It was the first contact with Nepal. It is significant that it was the Maharashtrian leadership that viewed the importance of Nepal on the political and physical map of India. It is something that we Indians should have learnt from S.
The Thakur Gurkha leader was now deeply impressed by S. He said “I have now come to realize what Napolean must have been”. S aimed at molding the different castes of the Hindus into a classless Hindu society in which all Hindus would be equal. Another tribute was paid by Dr Ambedkar’s Janata to the effect that S’s service to the cause of the Untouchables was as decisive and great as that of Gautama Buddha himself.
Thus S had the vitality of Buddha, who fearlessly initiated the Untouchables into his fold, the virility of Shivaji, who purposefully hammered its corners that lay in his way, the vigor of Swami Dayananda, who strove to bury it, are all crystallized in the revolutionary philosophy of S whose approach to the problem was political and equitably social.
It was the Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha that remembered and sent its grateful message to Nepal which was then the only independent Hindu kingdom in the world, and it appealed to her to make her stronger for sake of Hindudom. It was this Sabha that declared Nagari script and Sanskritized Hindi to be the national script and lingua franca of Hindustan.
The Sabha did lots of work in the cause of Swadeshi too. The most vociferous and effective movement was launched for the purification of Marathi language. Dictionaries of pure Marathi words to substitute Urdu and Persian words were compiled and published. The movement for purification of the language scored its triumph when Hindi with Devanagari script was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India as the lingua franca of India.
Rationalists and Author Chapter 10
Modern science is the outcome of scientific research and progress. Science and Democracy are two great forces of the modern world. Possessions and resources are brought within the reach of man by science, which controls the laws and forces of nature and bends them to the services of man. While bringing about this change it emancipates the mind of man from superstition and ignorance. S holds that the greater the domination of superstition the lesser is the tendency of people towards science. S showed the fallacy and hollowness of timeworn and scripture bore arguments.
In S’s view what ever contributes to human good is good, what is derogatory to the progress of humanity is bad. S asks: Why does God make the wicked so powerful as to be in the position to harass the good? If God is omniscient and most kind, does he not know the innocence and purity of that good man beforehand? S asked Hindus to follow the cause and effect theory that is never disturbed by the thought of Divine pleasure or displeasure. He said that astrology cannot save what science has doomed and where safety is assured by science, astrology cannot endanger it? S tells the people to realize that sacrifice will not bring rains nor can it avert a famine. He suggests that corpses be burnt in the electric crematorium and be taken thereby car.
Such a lover of science was bound to condemn the anti-machine attitude and anti-intellectual trends of Gandhism and its charkha fads. To S science by itself was not responsible for the evils of Capitalism or the destructive orgy of modern war technique. It is faulty distribution, lust for domination and greed for exploitation that are. He observes that welfare of mankind; not warfare should be the ultimate goal of science. He asks Hindus to test the knowledge in their ancient books on the touchstone of science and to do what is good for the nation.
To S no animal is sacred. Even the cow is meant for man. Not cow-worship but cow-protection since it is our national asset. He denounces Hindu kings of the past who, for saving some cows, lost their kingdom, human rights etc. The prosperity of a nation does not depend upon its capacity for penance, yoga, and love of justice or sense of virtue. Discipline, dry gunpowder, range of guns, swords and an unflinching will is what protects the nation. But this worship of strength, power and discipline should not be used for aggressive and greedy aims.
These rational views impressed many persons and leaders with socialist, communist leanings. As a man of letters S has few equals in Maharashtra. He was a volcanic writer, dramatist, a renaissance scholar, historian in action, dramatist, novelists and an epic poet. His literature filled the reader with courage and hope. In the domain of propaganda by literature no Indian writer excelled S. Madholkar wrote “S’s idealism in both respects – complete independence of India and resurrection of the Hindus is to be called uncommon for the simple reason that nobody has so comprehensively preached for the resurrection of the Hindu race. S wrote like a rationalists and warrior prophet. S was master of thought & word, he overwhelmed readers with a battery of arguments, exposed treachery, superstition and hypocrisy.
During his stay at Ratnagiri, he wrote his famous book Hindu Pad-Padashahi, a history of the rise and fall of the Maratha empire. Both Nehru and S wrote history. Nehru wrote for the fame and glory of Gandhi, Indian Freedom. S wrote for promoting the cause of the nation. S wrote with astounding originality while N wrote with a philosophical bent of mind. Nehry lavished praise on his heroes while S inspired the nation and hammered out false gods. Nehru’s Discovery of India does not mention Chitor. Can of you think of Indian history without Chitor. Another great book by S was My Transportation for Life on his days in Andamans. It is supposed to be amongst the five best Marathi books, others being Tilak’s Gita Rahasya, Dyneshwari, Tukaram’s Gatha and Apte’s novel.
As a dramatist S did not care much for the plot. The first play Usshap, was staged in April 1927, paves the way and struggles for the well being of the depressed classes and strives to bury Untouchability. His second play Sanyasta Khadga, the Forsaken Sword, written against the background of the life of Buddha, is a devastating commentary on the doctrine of non-violence and preaches that relative non-violence is a virtue. Uttarakriya, the third play deals with post Panipat period of Maratha history was produced in 1934. S wrote two novels Moplah Rebellion and Transportation.
On the role of women he believes that there is a fundamental and natural difference between man and woman. He feels that women’s education is essential, not in a degree sense but in a manner that is congenial to the temperament of women. Women’s education should enable her to enrich the nation with a generation stronger, more beautiful and patriotic than the past.
Back to Freedom Chapter 11
Although his heroic struggle in the direction of social and mental revolution continued through the period of his internment at Ratnagiri, S was doing his utmost to break his shackles. Whenever there was fire in any part of India, S’s house was shadowed. One morning the police surrounded S’s house to search for his proscribed book The Indian War of Independence of 1857. They searched his house but found nothing. Yet they did not come to his house without reason. Sardar Bhagat Singh had printed 2,000 copies of the famous book to raise funds for his revolutionary society and as a mark of respect sent S the first two copies to him. For a man who had dodged Scotland Yard for four years, what was the Indian police?
Gandhi had just begun to come out of virtual retirement. The Madras Resolution of the Congress passed a resolution in December 1927 demanding absolute independence. Gandhi dubbed it as childish; S supported it but wanted complete independence to include Goa and Pondicherry too. His biting articles in the Mahratta and his weekly Sharaddhananda in which he criticized Motilal Nehru and Gandhi for their pro-Muslim policy did more harm than good to the cause which S championed. Both the weeklies were would up.
There was a failed move to elect him as the President of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1927. The govt prevented him from presiding over the Depressed Classes Congress in Nov 1927. Bhai Parmanand Jain, a prominent Sabha leader wanted S to represent the Hindus at the Round Table Conference but alas!
The govt went on extending the period of S’s internment from time to time-1929 to 1937 as they considered him a danger to the peace of India. Leaders in the Council and people from outside were doing their utmost for the release of S, but the Govt was not yielding to the pressure. In the meantime a Committee called Savarkar Restrictions Removal Committee was set up under the chairmanship of Dr M.B.Velkar in July 1935. Lakhs of signatures were collected and the petition was submitted to the govt. But India of those days was dominated by Gandhi who literally threw into the waste paper basket the appeal for S’s release. Nehru was reported to have torn the memorandum to pieces. This was before S had joined the Hindu Mahasabha as a political party, opposed to the Congress.
Meanwhile provincial elections were held, the Congress was victorious. The Brits were keen that the Congress accepts office. Due to a deadlock Bahadur D Cooper agreed with the help of Jamanadas Mehta to form an interim govt on one condition, that S would be released precedent to accepting the office. The Governor agreed subject to S’s good behavior. S was released unconditionally on 10/05/1937. The tiger was free.
Several functions were held at Ratnagiri in honor of S’s release. A purse was presented to him too. Shri Mehta by securing the release of S had done yeoman’s service to the nation.
Whirlwind Propaganda Chapter 12
Rajagopalchari, Bose, Bhai Pramananda, Kelkar, Nehru welcomed S back but Gandhi was silent. S’s appearance did not excite the Gandhians. Some hoped that he would join the Congress but they his conquering personality, matchless oratory and his militant political ideology. After paying respects to the Gadi of Shivaji at Kolhapur he burst into the Indian political scene. At Pandharpur he paid respects to the great saints of Maharashtra. It was Miraj that he attacked the Congress for their Muslim appeasement policy. S reached Pune, the city came alive. With S came up the historic Hindu flag. Next he reached Mumbai where the three Savarkar brothers met for the first time since 1908. S now made Mumbai his permanent residence.
The first appeal S made to the youth was to start rifle classes. During his visit to Pune he joined the Hindu Mahasabha. S expressed the fear that the Congress would one-day throttle the Bande Mataram. And within years the Congress did just that to appease the Muslims. His political mission was three fold. 1) Absolute political independence of Bharat. 2) Its achievement by any means. 3) Regeneration of Hindus.
At Sholapur and Nasik S received a hero’s welcome. In the last week of October, 1937 S unfurled the flag of Abhinava Bharat, first unfurled by Madame Cama in Germany. At the Berar Hindu Conference he said that the Hindus had sacrificed the maximum for the liberation of Bharat, in Bengal the sacrificial fire was kept alive by the Hindus alone, the buried bones in Andamans was Hindu alone. At the request of Dr Hegdewar, he visited the R.S.S branch at Wardha. Next he visited Nagpur.
Here he said that Hindus must be prepared to flout the Pakistan scheme. Referring to the political happenings in Kashmir, he foretold that the existence of Kashmiri Hindus would soon be in danger, if the anti-Hindu forces were not checked. He denounced Gandhi’s ill-advice to the Maharaja of Kashmir to abdicate in favor of Muslims and go to Kashi, because the Muslims were in majority were in Kashmir. I wonder why Gandhi never asked the Nizam of Hyderabad to step down? He was elected as the President of the Hindu Mahasabha in December 1937. The slogan, no freedom without Hindu Muslim unity was the breath of life of the pseudo-secularists and this slogan was held right by the Brits as a loaded gun against the national demand for freedom. A soldier was cursed as a sinner, and a spinner in the Congress was nursed as a savior. The principle of one vote for three Hindus and three votes for one Muslim in the form of the communal award was accepted as democratic and national. The cause of Muslim religion had become a national call and that of Hindu religion was a reactionary. S marched from state to state exposing the territorial nationalism of the Congress and expounding his own stand on political nationalism and historical realism.
S was seen as the savior of Hindus all over. The people of Delhi gave him an enviable welcome in Feb 1938. Flowers were showered upon him, sweets distributed, public squares in Delhi decorated. S asked the volunteers to change the Urdu slogan Zindabad to Amar rahe! At Bhopal, Lucknow he got warm welcomes. At Cawanpore he delivered an inspiring speech on 1857. He paid a visit to the Sanskrit Pathashala and Gurukul at Faizabad. At the Agra fort S showed how and where Shivaji encountered the trembling Aurangzeb. Then he spoke of the importance of military education and urged the youth to join the army. At the Marathi Literary Conference in Mumbai he said excerpts “ If literature is a part of national life, its primary aim ought to be the security of national life. Did you forget the fate of Nalanda and Takshashila, the seats of learning and other great libraries were turned into smoldering ruins. It was the sword of Shivaji that made Maharashtra safer for poets and philosophers. My heart brakes with anguish when I see the vapid emasculated young faces engrossed in love prattles. So my message to you, literary men, is that you should abandon your pens in favor of guns, for literature can never flourish in a slave country”. This speech echoed for several months throughout Maharashtra, which was being stripped off Gandhism. For the Gandhians it was a bitter pill to swallow.
Then the Land of the Vedas and Five Rivers gave a splendid reception to S. In May 1938 he visited Lahore. Amidst deafening applause he garlanded the statue of Lala Lajpat Rai. He also visited the Shahid Ganj of the Sardars. He said that Jinnah and he were different since Jinnah kept on asking for more concessions while S stood for equality. Thereafter S was accorded an imposing reception by a waiting public on the outskirts of Amritsar. Thousands of Punjabi Sardars welcomed S at the famous Golden Temple. Master Tara Singh cancelled his tour and came to receive S. There he asked people to follow Guru Govind Singh. On his way back at Ajmer, he appreciated the services of Gandhi and the Congress for creating a spirit of awakening in the country but criticized it for its policy of appeasement. At Gwalior a big procession was taken out to the memorial of Rani Laxmi.
On his return to Mumbai, S came to reside at his own small house called Savarkar Sadan in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park. It was built from money given by his admirers.
Next he visited Sindh. Long before his internment, S had sounded a grave warning to the Sind Hindus against the separation of Sind from the Bombay Province. The reception he received here was imposing. In Karachi his procession took five hours to reach its destination. The Sikhs gave him a kripan. S urged the students of the Arya Samaj College to take to military training. The Sind Hindu Conference which was then held under the lead of S, sounded a timely warning to the Sind Hindus and asked them to boycott the Congress to save themselves. They ignored his words!
S attended the Aryan Conference at Sholapur in December 1938, at the pressing request of the Arya Samaj leaders for his guidance and lead in connection with the Hyderabad struggle. In the same week came off the annual session of the Hindu Mahasahba where Buddhist representatives from Japan were present. Then he visited Bengal in Feb 1939 where he was welcomed by all. He sounded a timely warning to the Congress to be on their guard and dissuade themselves from placating the unholy demands of the Muslim League. Dr Shyama Prasad Mukhejee was the discovery of S’s tour and an asset to the Mahasabha. He visited Bihar and Bidar where he gave tremendous support to the Hyderabad struggle. During this struggle there was complete co-operation between the Hindu Mahasabha and the Arya Samaj inspite of the wily hindrances caused by topmost leaders of the Congress. On April 5, S successfully foiled in a fighting speech the plans of Gandhi at the Sholapur Aryan Conference, which was on the verge of withdrawing the Civil Resistance Movement in pursuance of Gandhi’s draft resolution. Gandhi was so sure of the withdrawal of the movement of the Arya Samaj but S had other plans. After a prolonged struggle with the Nizam brought to his knees, the Nizam declared in 19/06-1939 reforms wherein he offerred to the Hindus atleast 50 % of the seats in elected legislatures wherein Hindus had zero representation earlier. S who smelt the coming sweep of World War II withdrew the movement after this partial success, the Arya Samajis followed suit. This successful struggle for the rights of the Hindus and Punjabi Sardars was a new feather in S’s cap. It proved that S could independently and inspite of Gandhi’s opposition lead and guide a struggle. Another characteristic noticed of S was that he knew when to stop a movement. The spirit of Shivaji and Tilak was still alive. Because of the growing popularity of the Hindu Mahasabha, the Congress decided to boycott it. In September 1939, S visited Karnataka. From there he went to Meerut where his procession was attacked by the Muslims. After his return to Mumbai a statement was issued by Sir Cowasji Jehangir, Chimanlal Setalvad, V N Chandravarkar, N C Kelkar, Jamnadas Mehta and Dr Ambedkar. It read –
“The Congress and the Congress govts believe in annihaliting all parties and making the Congress party the only party in the land, as is the case with fascists and nazi regimes- a result which would be a death-blow to democracy”. This timely warning against the developing fascism had its effect. The Congress attacked S, saying that S had no choice but to join the Liberals. Surrendering national interests at Jinnah’s feet was patriotic aah!
War and Militarization Chapter 13
S’s insight perceived the growing danger from the designs of the awakened Muslim mind. According to him there was a fundamental difference in the outlook to life between Hindus and Muslims. Thus what S did was to strive to bring into operation the Federal part of the 1935 Act and frustrate Muslim designs. The Congress unsure, of whether it would dominate the Federation and afraid of the opposition by Bose, it did not accept the Federation. Jinnah feared that a federation would wield India into a unified state under which the separatist designs of the Muslims would be crushed.
About this time the World War II broke out. The Congress gave up power in seven states, went into wilderness demanding the war and peace aims of the Brit govt and launched an Individual Civil Disobedience Movement. (for details refer to the essay on Sardar Patel in the section Great Men of India). Jinnah was very happy with the developments. When the Congress Ministries resigned the Muslim League members hardly had any representatives in the five Muslim majority provinces. But thks to the Congress, soon he established Ministries in these five provinces. Jinnah said “A parliamentary system, based on the majority principle must inevitably mean the rule of the major nation. Western Democracy was totally unsuited for India and its imposition would be resisted by all Muslims”. Britain declared war on Germany on 1/9/1939. Gandhi broke down before the Viceroy as he pictured before himself the possible destruction of the House of Parliament. Nehru said that India had no desire to take advantage of Britain’s difficulties. Dr Ambedkar said that India had no voice in her foreign policy, appealed to the govt to take steps to prepare Indians for defending their country. The Muslim League offered conditional support and urged the Brits to satisfy Arab national demands. S declared that Britain’s claim that she entered war to safeguard the vital principles of human freedom was a stunt as long as India was help in political bondage. 27 years after being exiled by the British, they thought it fit to interview S and know his views and policy about World War II. He said that he was prepared to cooperate with the policy of militarization and suggested that the Govt keeps the Gurkha and Sikh battalions on the North West Frontiers. But S feared an attack on the eastern side. Viceroy Lord Linlithgow was impressed with S’s lucid discourse on the current problems, was surprised to find S’s mind alert, clear in thinking inspite of great sufferings. S believed that national interest was paramount period. S wanted Bharat to maintain a policy of neutrality towards all the nations of the world in respect of their internal affairs or mutual relations with each other. S appealed to the govt to make an unambiguous declaration of granting Bharat the status of a self-governing Dominion as an immediate step leading to the final goal of complete independence and to introduce immediately responsible govt at the Centre based on the principle of one man one vote. He urged the Viceroy to introduce compulsory military training in schools, not to use Indian forces outside India proper amongst other things. S called upon capital and labor to maximize supplies to the West and take this opportunity to promote Swadeshi. S’s object was to make Hindus re-animated and re-born into a martial race – militarization of the Hindus.
The Calcutta session of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1939 proved to be a landmark. Over 2 lakh people participated. Armed Sikh horsemen led the procession. Rose water and scents were sprinkled on S. In his presidential address S reiterated the basic tenets of Hindu nationalism, reviewed the problem of the minorities and propounded his doctrine of national coordination of class interests. S’s dynamic personality, clear-cut thinking and his fearlessness made a lasting impression on the thinking minds of Bharat. The Tribune, Amrita Bazaar Patrika, Hindustan Standard praised S totally. Also the Maharaja of Nepal honored S and was given a garden party at the session.
He left for West Khandesh in March 1940 to meet the Bhils. Next he went to Salem to attend the Salem Hindu Conference where he spoke of the importance of military training. At Madras he was given a warm welcome by the Arya Samajis, Marwaris, Sindhis, Gujaratis, he spoke on the politics of Shivaji, the need to oppose the scheme of partition sponsored by the Muslim League. At Travancore and Madurai unprecedented crowds greeted him. In August 1940 he attended the death anniversary of Tilak where he averred that absolute non-violence is absolutely sinful.
During all these tours he stressed the need for Hindu militarization. Talking in Calcutta he said “ Since the Mutiny of 1857, it has been the policy of the Brits to keep the army out of politics. Our policy should be to carry politics into the Indian army by all possible means, then the battle of freedom would we won”. Till the time of S’s campaign for Hindu militarization, military career was the monopoly career of the Muslims, who formed 3/4th of the Indian Army. He knew the danger of a Muslim army in case on internal anarchy or external pressures hence the call to Hindus. Gradually the % of Hindus in the army went up to the alarm of the Muslims.
Writing in January 1943, Sir Alfred Watson, former editor of the Statesman, Calcutta “ S claims domination on the democratic basis of counting heads. For that he is prepared to fight and demands that the army employ a majority of Hindus so that he may have an instrument of force when the British rule is finally abandoned. If it ever comes to a tussle between Nehru and S, there is little doubt who will win”. Subhash Chandra Bose, a devotee of Shivaji, had discussed the political, international situation during World War II with S in June 1940, six months before his dramatic disappearance from India. S inspired Bose with the idea of an armed revolution from outside to intensify the struggle for freedom.
Hindu Manifesto Chapter 14
The ideal and ideology, which S laid down, is called Hindu nationalism or Savarkarism. Although a natural development, an outgrowth and manifestation of several nationalists, the ideology was finally formulated and codified into an integral doctrine of social and political outlook on life by S. Vivekananda was a great philosopher, changed the way the world perceived India, gave Hindus pride in their religion but his ideal for India was an Islamic Body with a Vedantic heart. Aware of the separatists tendencies of the Muslims, Lala Lajpat Rai held that Hindus were a nation by themselves, because they had a civilization of their own. Hardaya wrote 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”. Looking at current events, how true was his forecasts. The only seer, who was conscious of this ideology in a certain way, was Swami Dayanand Saraswati but he was more of a social reformer than a politician. But S was a social reformer, politician, writer, and historian all in one.
What is Hinduvta?
Who is a Hindu? “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 Holyland, that is the cradle land of his religion”. Thus it includes those followers of Vedism; Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism and all the hill tribes are Hindus. Around this life-center moves Hinduvta where Hinduism in only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hinduvta. It is not a theocratic state but embraces all thoughts and activity of the whole being of the Hindu race. The principal elements instrumental in the formation of a nation are a common past, common tradition and a will to live together.
A nation is a group of mankind who is bound together by some or all of these common ties such as common religion, culture, history, tradition, literature and consciousness of rights and wrongs, occupying a territory of geographical unity, and aspiring to form a political unit. When a nation realizes this ambition, it becomes a State. The principal elements in the formation of nation are a common past, tradition and a will to live together.
Various people have defined a nation more or less on the above lines. G.P.Gooch, an eminent historian in his nationalism observes, “But the strongest of all is the identity of political antecendents, the possession of national history and consequent community of recollections, collective pride and humiliation, pleasure and regret, connected with same incidents in the past”
S observes “ The ancient and modern history of Hindus is common in friends & enemies. They have faced common dangers and won victories in common. One in national despair and one in national hope, the Hindus by an admirable process through assimilation, elimination and consolidation are welded together during the aeons of a common life and habitat”. Above all they have a common motherland and fatherland. The Hindus stated S is different from other people in the world. Their festivals and cultural forms are common. The Vedic Rishis are their common pride, their Grammarians Panini and Patanjali, their poets Bhavabhuti and Kalidas, their heroes Ram, Krishna, Rana Pratap, Guru Govind Singh are a source of common inspiration. Like their ancient language Sanskrit, their scripts too are fashioned on the same basis and the Nagari script has been the common vehicle of the sacred writings since centuries in the past.
India has been and is dear to us, because it has been and is the home of our Hindu race, the land that has been the cradle of our heroes and Gods. Whoever came to India, the Arabs, Jews, Russians, Germans, Greeks they formed a nation together with the Hindus because these new comers also lived in India. Prior to the Muslim invasion there was only one religion in India i.e. Sanathan Dharam. S found nothing objectionable in the ideal of Hindu nationalism. The idea of territorial nationality alone was envisaged by the Congressites, who preferred to be totally ignorant of Muslim history, psychology and political trend of mind.
S observed that “Muslims in general and Indian Muslims in particular have not grown out of the historical stage, of intense religiosity and the theological concepts of state. The Khilafat Movement started by Gandhi united Indian Muslims like never before, made them realize that their future was linked to events outside Bharat rather than within it. Muslim mind divides the human world into two groups – the Muslim land and the enemy land. Muslims cannot live in peace where they are the dominant majority; elsewhere they are perpetually at loggerheads with the Christians and Hindus. Their Holy Land is Saudia, their godmen different. Compare this with other country. After Khilafat the Muslims migrated to Muslim lands like Poland, Greece, China. Yet the country of the Poles continues to be Poland, of the Grecians Greece. Go to section of Wars and Foreign affairs section of the site and read an article, Why Pakistan will never allow Bharat to live in Peace? It gives you an insight into the Muslim mind.
Gokhale had realized that the 70 million Muslims were more or less hostile to national aspirations and warned Sarojini Naidu that Hindu-Muslim unity would never come in his lifetime. Pherozshah Mehta, Annie Besant, Lala Lajpat Rai made similar statements. Said Dr Ambedkar as late as 1941, “Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his Motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin”. So to a Hindu Bharat was always his motherland. Said S “A Hindu patriot worth the name cannot but be an Indian patriot as well. We Hindus must have a country of our own in the solar system and must continue to flourish there as Hindus-descendants of a mighty people”.
S believed in the resurrection of Hindus, there was a virility and staying power inherent in the Hindu race as could find few parallels in the annals of the world.
Nationalism said S when it is aggressive is as immoral in human relations as is communalism when it tries to suppress the equitable rights of other communities and tries to usurp all to itself. But when communalism is defensive, it is as justifiable and human as an equitable nationalism itself. S was all for Hindu-Muslim unity. He held that it was suicidal to borrow hostilities and combats of the past to fight them out in the present, because Shivaji and Aurangzeb had done it. But he justified the struggle of the Rajputs, Sikhs and Marathas to overthrow the Mughal rule as long as the Muslims lived in India in their capacity as alien rulers.
S said that Muslims cherished secret designs to disintegrate the Indian state and to create a state within a state and brand non-Muslim sections with the stamp of humiliation and Muslim domination. How true was Veer Savarkar. Rafiq Zakaria’s book echoes similar sentiments if not directly, subtly. The Pakistan General Musharraf said that in a recent interview to M J Akbar too. It is the same reason why Pakistanis in London or Pakistan took to riots when it appeared that the Indian cricket team was going to win. S was not against minorities who had no evil designs on Bharat.
On the theory of Relative non-violence S believed that every nation, community must be armed to protect itself against invaders, people out to destroy its culture. He was completely against the doctrine of non-violence as propagated by the Gandhians. It had resulted in the weakening of the Hindu mind and their massacre e.g. Moplah, Noakali.
Revolution: Why and How
“A revolution is evolution in leaps. Revolutions are not regulated by fixed laws. They have their own way of marching. It has only watchword – Dashon! All sorts of new and unthought of circumstances might arise during its progress but one must stop, one must overcome them and press forward. There is no other life-killing poison to a revolution than indecision. If a delay is made after starting, the enemy gets time to guard himself, those who rise prematurely loose confidence. Therefore, to give the enemy time between the first rising and spreading of a revolution is always harmful to the revolution.
That revolution which destroys injustice is unholy. But when a revolution roots out one kind of injustice and oppression and plants, at the same moment, the seeds of another kind, it becomes unholy and the seeds of destruction accompanying that sin put an end to its life. The rule should be revolution outside and constitution within, chaos outside and cosmos within, sword outside and law within”.
In short under the set of circumstances prevailing in India and in the context of the present world set-up, the following ideal is to be realized in the immediate future.
(a) In Savarkar’s India all citizens would have equal rights and obligations irrespective of caste, creed, race or religion provided they avow and owe an exclusive and devoted allegiance to the State. (b) All minorities would be given effective safeguards to protect their language, religion, culture, etc. but none of them would be allowed to create a State within a State or to encroach upon the legitimate rights of the majority. (c) The fundamental rights of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, of worship, of association, etc. would be enjoyed by all citizens a like; whatever restrictions would be imposed on them in the interest of the public peace and order or national emergency would not be based on any religious or racial considerations alone but common national grounds. (d) One man one vote would be the general rule irrespective of caste, creed, race, or religion. (e) There would be joint electorates. (f) Services would go by merit alone. (g) Primary Education will be free and compulsory. (h) Every minority would have separate schools to train their children in their own tongue; their religious and cultural institutions would receive Government help also for these, but always in proportion to the taxes they pay into the common exchequer. (i) The residuary powers would be vested in the Central Government. (j) Nagari would be the national script, Hindi, the lingua franca and Sanskrit, the Devabhasha of India. TWO
(1) People would first of all welcome the machine age. The handicrafts would, of course, have their place and encouragement. But national production would be on the biggest possible machine scale. (2) As the peasantry and the working classes form literally the chief source of national wealth, health, and strength, every effort would be made to reinvigorate them and the village, which is their cradle. Peasants and laborers would be enabled to have their share in the distribution of wealth to such an extent as would enable them not only to live with a bare margin of existence, but with the average scale of a comfortable life free from wants. Nevertheless, it would be remembered that they being a part and parcel of the nation as a whole, would share common obligations and responsibilities and therefore would only receive their share in such a way as would be consistent with the general development and security of national industry, manufacture and wealth in general. (3) As the national capital is under the present circumstances mainly individual and indispensable for the development of national industries and manufactures, it would also receive due encouragement and recompense. (4) The interests of both the capital and labor would be subordinated to the requirements of the nation as a whole.
(5) If an industry is flourishing, the profits would be shared in a large portion by the laborers. But on the contrary, if it is a losing concern, not only the capitalist, but to a certain extent even the laborers would have to remain satisfied with diminishing returns so that the National Industry as such would not altogether be undermined by the over-bearing attitude of the selfish class interests of either the capitalists or the workers. (6) Every step would be taken by the State to protect national industries against foreign competition. (7) The key industries or manufactures and such other items would be altogether nationalized if the National Government could afford to do so and could conduct them more efficiently than private enterprise. (8) The same principle would apply to agriculture. Government would take over the land and introduce State cultivation if it could serve to train up the peasant class as a whole with the use of big machines and would cultivate on a large and scientific scale. (9) All strikes and lockouts which are obviously meant or inevitably tend to undermine and cripple national industries or production in general or are calculated to weaken the economic strength of the nation as a whole would be referred to State arbitration and settled or in serious cases quelled. (10) Private property would be in general held inviolate. In no case there would be on the part of the State any expropriation of such property without reasonable recompense.
Thus Savarkar’s India would be a democratic State in which the countrymen belonging to different religions, sets or races would be treated with perfect equality and none would be allowed to dominate others or would be deprived of his just and equal rights of free citizenship, so long as every one discharges the common obligation which one owes to the State as a whole.
Hindustan, the Motherland and Holyland of the Hindus, from the Indus to the Seas, would be an organic undivided State. The appellations of this Bharat Bhoomi would remain as Bharat or Hindustan. In Savarkar’s India none would dare convert Hindus by fraud or force. Everywhere the Indians would be respected as citizens of a great nation. In that India relative non-violence would be regarded as a virtue.
The Hindus would be a casteless society a consolidated, modernized and up-to-date nation Their marriage customs would be secularized and voluntary inter-caste marriages would be freely performed. Hindu corpses would be burnt in electric crematorium. In Savarkar’s India science would lead all material progress and things and would annihilate superstitions. There would be a total liquidation of landlordism. All the land would belong to the State by and by. All key industries would be nationalized. Agriculture would be mechanized. India would be self-sufficient in respect of food, clothes, shelter, and defence.
Savarkar’s India would have unbounded faith in a World Commonwealth as his political philosophy conceives that the Earth is the Common Motherland and humanism the patriotism of man, but his India would not go under during the process which leads to the welding of humanity into a World Common wealth. In international politics Savarkar’s India would help to build world peace and prosperity.
Savarkar’s philosophy finds full expression in the Flag he has designed for the Hindus. It bears the symbol of Kundalini with the Omkar and Kripan. Hindus have perfected the science of yoga. According to Savarkar’s it is highest blessing on human life; it is the contribution of the Hindus to mankind. This yoga means full development of man’s internal powers. The symbol of that power is Kundalini. To attain the wonderfully supersensuous joy through the awakened Kundalini is, Savarkar opines the highest ideal of men, be he a Hindu or a non-Hindu. In short, the Kundalini * represents all the ultimate aspirations, feelings and powers of mankind. The Kundalini represents yoga, the highest spiritual attainment while the Kripan represents Bhoga , Abhyudaya, the worldly advancement. The red-orchard colour of the Flag indicates renunciation-Tyaga. And there is no renunciation without Yoga and Kshema-protection. Therefore the Kripan is for the Yoga Kshema.
The Omkar is the sacred symbol of the great One with Whom the liberated souls become one in the highest state of Nihshreyas-spiritual bliss. It seems Savarkar was, with the exception of Aurobindo Ghose, the only first rate Indian leader who had experienced this super-sensuous joy. He had practiced this Yoga while in the Cellular Jail of the Andamans. So Savarkar was the only political philosopher who chose Kundalini on the Flag. The Swastik was added to the Flag later on by the Hindu Mahasabha when it accepted the Flag. Originally it was not there.
Attacks Gandhi and Jinnah Chapter 15
S’s main appeal to the Hindus was that they should elect only those Hindus who could boldly acts as advocates of a Hindu nation. The Congress had one policy i.e. of trampling Hindu sentiment to please the Muslims. The more the Congress bent the more fanatic the Muslims became. Congress leaders, mostly, did not have understanding of the Muslim mind, was held to be one of the reasons for Partition. Unfortunately leaders of post independent India have failed to learn from the mistakes made earlier.
Two guiding principles inspired S through out his career; they were the Independence and Indivisibility of India. He sensed India’s independence but was scared of the Congress’s servile, deceptive attitude. A foretold by S, the Muslim League came out with a demand for dividing Bharat. Said its Lahore Resolution of 1940 “The areas in which Muslims are numerically are majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute Independent states in which they shall be autonomous and sovereign”. When S criticized the Congress they discredited him for having suspected the patriotism of their holy fathers, I would say when you have no argument to defend yourself you use these words.
S never tolerated any unjust or unpatriotic political demands made by Indian minorities. He wanted patriots not minorities who demanded their pound of flesh for agreeing to something. When Rajaji offered the League Pakistan if they agreed to join the National Govt, S said it was a typical Congress conception of national unity that such as assurance should be given to the League before even the Brits had done so. What infuriated S was an article by Gandhi in the Harijan in October 1940 which stated that in case the Brits were overthrown as a result of the war and internal anarchy set in, “the strongest power in the land will hold sway over India and this may be Hyderabad for aught I know. All other chiefs will succumb to the strongest power of the Nizam who will be the emperor of India”. Why was Gandhi so madly infatuated with the Muslims, baffles me. S replied that Gandhi knew as little of history as of Hebru and stated that if the rule of an Aurangzeb was domestic rule, the Hindus detested it as veritable hell. Gandhi’s disciple, Patel, by attacking Hyderabad 8 years later, vindicated S’s stand.
Whirlwind propaganda made S’s health deteriorate. Yet he attended the annual session of the Mahasabha in 1940 where he was elected President. In March 1941, Liberal circles held a non-party conference in Mumbai. Its convener was Tej Bahadur Sapru. The conference was about to break up since some of the leaders were nervous about its representation. At this crucial moment Sapru requested S to address the meet. He asserted his belief in India’s right to complete independence, but although some of them present there did not agree with him fully, they should travel together so long as they had a common journey. Sapru openly thanked S for saving the conference. Liberal leaders present were impressed with S’s intellectual and persuasive powers, rationalistic and realistic approach to the political problem. Jinnah as usual said the conference was engineered by the agents of the Congress and Mahasabha.
The Congress adopted a strange policy towards the Census. S believed that for the next 10 yrs, the census would determine all constitutional progress and matters wrt public services, representations in legislatures. The numerical strength between Hindus and Muslims as recorded in the census was going to affect the political discussions in India as had the census of 1931 affected the act of 1935. S appealed to all Hindus, Arya samajists, lingayats, sardars, jains to show their religion as Vedic, Hindu. The Congress boycotted it since to them it was a communal question. S said that if it were indeed communal why had, the Congress had agreed to communal electorates, they gave recognition to the numerical strengths while deciding the political questions of India. As a result Bengal was incorrectly declared a Muslim majority province. It was the same Congress who had boycotted the Census of 1931 but took the figures of the Muslim population as correct while determining the question of communal weightages in 1931. Later the negotiations between Jinnah and the Brit Cabinet Mission for determining the issue of Pakistan was taken on the basis of these census figures. Where had the Congressmen left their intellect.
Jinnah denounced the Mahasabha and warned the Brits that if they failed to create Pakistan, others would come and do it. S retorted that if the state of Croats was an ideal of his Pakistan, he asked Jinnah to read history and know the fate of Croats, Serbs and Slavs who had been victims of larger states. He said that the Hindu-Buddhist alliance from Jammu to Japan would be resisting a Pan-Islamic alliance. He ended by saying, “History avers to the ever-abiding truth that in India, Pakistanis may come and go but Hindustan goes on forever. If the Muslim insisted on partition, he said the Hindus are determined to continue the good fight for the freedom and integrity of Hindustan”.
It was the belief of S that no nation in World War II was actuated by moral considerations. To underline this truth he sent a cable to American President D. Roosevelt on 20/8/1941 urging him to declare whether the Atlantic Charter announced by him and Churchill covered the case of India or not and whether Amercial guaranteed the full political freedom of India within a year of the war. The cable was broadcast through out the world esp in Germany, Britain, Amercia etc and fully exploited by Hitler to expose the Allies profession of love and democracy. The point S drove home that India need not base her hopes on the professed war aims of the Allies.
S toured Assam in 1941 where received a grand ovation. He was told that Nehru’s attention was drawn into the Muslim influx into Assam he said that natures hates vacuum to which S commented that Nehru did not know that nature abhors poisonous gas. He kept on with his social movement but not without the same revolutionary fervor. He encouraged the R.S.S. patronized them. Future events confirmed his doubts.
Cripps Mission Chapter 16
Since this matter has been dealt with in the essay on Sardar Patel (section-great men of India) I will be as brief as possible. The popularity of the Sabha was on the rise. S was now much sought after by the media for his views.
With the fall of Singapore to the Japanese, it seemed that the Japs would smash the allied forces in the East. A this critical moment S issued a statement excerpts “Nothing can rouse the Indian people with a war like spirit, but a bold and unambiguous declaration that India is guaranteed forth with a co-partnership in an Indo-British Commonwealth with other self-governing constituents like Britain. If Japan is allowed to reach the borders of India such her immediate aim is to free India, such a Proclamation on their part cannot but catch the imagination of the Indian people by storm and usher in incalculable political complications”. Meanwhile in March 1942 Rajaji declared the Muslim demand for Pakistani states as just and fair share in real power. S condemned Rajaji.
Apprehensive after the fall of Singapore and with a view to impressing the American people with the genuine sincerity of British aims about India, Churchill announced on 11/3/1942 the Cripps Mission. The scheme put forward by Stafford Cripps envisaged the creation of a new Indian Union, which would constitute a Dominion, associated with the United Kingdom immediately after the cessation of hostilities. Secondly the scheme granted the right to any province that was not prepared to accept the new Constitution framed by the constitution making body, to retain its status, provision being made for its subsequent accession, if it so desired. Cripps had an interview with S – read below.
To support his arguments Cripps said that the right of self-determination was not new in politics, as given to every unit in Canada before the formation of her federation. S then turned those arguments against Cripps by telling him the Canadian states were separate entities before they were called together to say whether they liked to form themselves into an organic state. But India was already one welded Central unit. To this Cripps replied that India was never a Unitarian nation. S said “To the Hindus, it is an article of faith that India, their motherland and holyland, is a cultural and national unit undivided and indivisible. Also the British gvt calls it as one administrative unit with one army, navy and airforce”. Cripps had to keep silent. The Mahasabha was the first political organization that rejected the Cabinet proposal entirely. The Congress was willing to accept the scheme but was unhappy that the Defence portfolio would remain with the Brits during the war, eventually rejected the scheme. S’s stock rose further.
Mesmerized by the false notions of its president Maulana Azad, the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution in April 1942 “That the Congress could not think in terms of compelling the people of any territorial unit to join the Indian Union against their declared and established will”. If it were not acceptance of Pakistan by the Congress! However, Babu Jagat Narayan moved his Akhand Bharat Resolution in May 1942 and got it passed at the AICC session. It was clear that the Congress wanted to divide India.
Mahasabha Marches on Chapter 17
The Akhand Hindustan Movement was gradually gaining ground. The Hindu Mahasabha was defeating the Congress in municipal, local and district local board elections. It upset the Congress applecart in Bengal, Assam, Maharashtra. The Sabha observed 10/5/1942 as anti-Pakistan day. While Muslim League leaders were allowed to propagate the cause of Pakistan, the Sabhaites were arrested at many places. It continues to happen even in India in 2001. AbuAzmi, a Samajwadi party, Muslim leader exhorted Muslims to kill atleast one Hindu for every Muslim in the next riots, his statement was reported by a Marathi paper. Its editor was arrested for spreading communal disharmony while the guy who made the speech went scot-free. Only in India is the majority community treated like this. History will record that S was the only great leader to raise his voice against the division of India. Gandhi said, “Let the Hindus say to the Muslims, have as big a share of the spoils as you want, we will be content to serve you”. What does one tell a Saint! He later said “Vivisect me before you vivisect India” but the Muslims never listened to him! Lastly he said, “I would be ruled by them, for it would still be Indian Rule”. In 1942 Nehru said “There is now a demand on the part of some Muslims for partition of India, and it must be remembered that this demand is only four years old”. Nehru knew History!
In May 1942, John Paton Davis, second secretary of the U.S. Embassy came to interview S. Then an American Negro leader came and told him how of the disabilities the Negroes were undergoing in the U.S. Then came journalist Lois Fischer. He asked S, why don’t you concede Pakistan? To which S asked why don’t you grant Negrostan? Lois said that would be anti-national. So is the case with Pakistan shot back S. Lois tried to corner S but the fiery S armed with irrefutable arguments hot back. What Louis did not know that he was crossing swords with one of the greatest intellectual giants of Maharashtra? A group of Chinese Muslims visited Nellore and promised help to their Indian counterparts. S warned that if China did not check their activities, separatist’s tendencies would rise there too. How correct was S.
On special request of the Arya Samaj, Hindu Sikh Nava Javan Sabha etc he visited Jammu & K in July 1942. He was given a warm welcome, presided over the Hindu-Sikh conference in Jammu. Stopping at Rawalpindi he told the Press that Rajaji was making two fundamental errors, Pakistan would usher ever lasting Hindu-Muslim unity and the outcome of a united demand for freedom would lead to the withdrawal of British power. How true was S! Even after 50 years Pakistan continues to harass us, Hindu Muslim unity is a mirage. The Brits left India because of the debacle of World War II and Bose’s uprising rather than a united demand.
Unable to take the physical strain any longer S resigned from the Presidentship of the Hindu Mahasabha in July 1942. The Sabha was paid compliments by many but the best was reserved for Jinnah, he said “The Hindu Mahasbha is an absolutely incorrigible and hopeless body, and I can have nothing to do with it”. Unlike the Congress, which had many stalwarts, S was its tallest leader with little back up.
Having failed with the Individual Disobedience Movement Gandhi was all set for the Quit India Movement. S promised to cooperate with the Congress provided it stood by the integrity of India. Gandhi declined the offer. Appeasement was the corner stone of his policy, he wrote to Jinnah excerpts, “Congress will have no objection to the Brits transferring all the power to the Muslim League on behalf on behalf of the whole of India. The Congress may even join such Government”.
S believed that in terms of in respect of tactical questions, the timing, the ways, means and methods of revolution, effectiveness depends on some sane calculations but in the Congress there was no planning at all. S wanted a pre-planned revolution, which would attempt to gain military support because no revolution can succeed without their support.
Gandhi was set to launch his Struggle but he was arrested the same night. Yet the marked feature of the struggle that it was predominantly Hindu with the Muslims standing aloof? After the August revolution, S views were heard with more concern and interests. The reputation of the Hindu Mahasabha was at its highest ever.
Writing on the Wall Chapter 18
The Congress tried to take over the Sabha because S decided not to resign from its presidentship in 1942. S said then that he was against self-determination but not provincial re distribution. He said that P would be militarily dangerous and hence it would be suicidal to hand over the frontiers to a hostile group. The Pakistani Muslim would pounce upon neighboring Hindu territory with fire fanaticism. How true was he! He also said that banishing untouchability was to win a major war for the nation.
After the failure of the Quit India Movement, Gandhi was arrested. To secure his release G went on a 21 day fasts. While the Mahasabha prayed for his well being they warned that the fast not be exploited for bringing about constitutional changes to end the deadlock. S correctly senses that if done so it would threaten the integrity of India. It was a historic reading of G’s mind. A year later India was stunned when Rajaji came out his formula and declared that Gandhi had fathered it during his fast. Oh bhagwan what must I do to be blessed with S’s power to read into events, actions. Resignations in the Executive Council did cheer Gandhi a bit but the League!
It was pushing the Pakistan proposal ahead. Its Sind League ministry passed the Pakistan resolution inside the resolution. The writing was on the wall. The Liberals sought S’s help to speak to the Viceroy on Gandhi’s release. However, S could not attend their conference the next day due to a toothache and a previous meeting with William Phillips, President Roosevelt’s personal envoy. The interview was on a wide range of topics from the situation in India to future relations between India and the U.S. Meanwhile the Liberals issued a statement that S had signed an appeal for Gandhi’s release, which S contradicted.
On May 28, 1943 S’s 60th birthday was celebrated with lots of love and enthusiasm. At Pune he was presented with a purse of Rs 1,25,000/. At Mumbai, Amaravati, Nagpur, Ahmedabad S was felicitated too. Except Tilak no leader was similarly honored in Maharashtra and the services of no Indian leader except Gandhi upto that day were publicly appreciated on such a large scale.
About this time Jinnah desired to capture power in the Muslim majority provinces. So he sought the cooperation of the Hindu ministers. While the Congress wanted these ministers to reign the Hindu Mahasabha said do not. So Dr Wadhwani refused to reign from the Sind Cabinet but form Coalitions without committing themselves to anything detrimental to the integrity of India. Jinnah now expressed a desire to meet S. Meanwhile Jinnah had seen the Viceroy and secured his approval for the formation of Coalition govts. He had given up his demand for 50 % representation in Ministries but agreed to form them on population basis as suggested by S. Jinnah kept on delaying meeting S.
S resigned from the Sabha in July 1943 but his resignation was not accepted. In June 1943, the Sind govt had banned Chapter XIV of Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s magna opus Satyarth Prakash. While the Congress kept quiet, S appealed to the Viceroy. Then came the famine of Bengal. The Muslims tried to utilize the time to convert starving women and children. S attacked these nefarious designs of the Muslims. S urged Hindu leaders and organizations to come forward and help. Said the official Vatican Organ around that time “The Christian light shines already in the subcontinent of India. We hope it will blaze someday in great splendor”. S criticized the Vatican.
He attended the celebrations second millenium celebrations of Vikramaditya the great. Come December he was elected the president of the Hindu Mahasabha for the 7th time.
In March 1944, Congressmen fresh out of jail begun to realize the frustration of their boycott of the Central Assembly. They joined the assembly and outvoted the Finance Bill in collaboration with the Muslim League. The League used this to browbeat the Viceroy. Sensing the League game plan, the Sabha MLA’s did not support this unholy alliance. The Congress criticized the Sabha but its stand was vindicated with a vengeance by the disclosure of the Bhulabhai-Liaqat Ali Khan pact which was mooted by this alliance. In June 1944 S again had an interview with the personal representative of the American President Roosevelt on the future of Indo U.S. relations. By now Bose’s I.N.A. had made some progress. Its leaders were grateful to S, their inspirer.
Fight for a United India Chapter 19
Rajaji had by now released to the press his correspondence with Jinnah on the offer that was fathered by Gandhi during his jail stay. Rajaji said, “I stand for Pakistan because I do not want that State where Hindus and Muslims are not honored. Let the Muslims have Pakistan. If we agree our country will be saved. Gandhi approved of my proposals and authorized me to approach you (Jinnah) on that basis”. Jinnah said, “Gandhi is offering a shadow, a husk, a maimed, mutilated and moth-eaten Pakistan and thus trying to pass off as having met the Muslim demand”. All this happened in April 1943. Was not S’s reading of Gandhi’s mind correct?
Rajaji’s new offer had these terms. That the league should endorse the Indian demand for independence and co-operate with the Congress in the formation of a provincial Interim govt and conceded that if the Muslim majority provinces of the West and East decided a plebiscite in favor an independent state the decision should be given effect to, a mutual agreement should be entered into for safeguarding defense, commerce and communication. In the meantime Gandhi asked Jinnah for an interview – 1944.
S disagreed with these proposals, his views were much sought after by the American papers. Meetings supporting Rajaji’s proposals were disrupted. Gandhi was greeted with black flags enroute from Wardha to Mumbai. S warned the people against the impeding danger. Gandhi
Jinnah talks lasted for about three weeks in September 1944, the underlying theme was that the British govt should be ousted first and then the right of self-determination be given to the Muslims. Jinnah wanted the opposite. Gandhi said, “The League will, however, be free to remain out of any direct action to which the Congress may resort and in which the League may not be willing to participate”. Thus the Muslim participation in the freedom struggle was not guaranteed but the partition of India was.
Gandhi paid 19 visits to Jinnah’s house without success. S’s mind was torn with anxiety, his anguish was imaginable. S organized, as a mark of protest, the Akhand Hindustan Leaders Conference in October 1944. It was attended by Master Tara Singh, Sri Shankaracharya of Puri amongst others. It was the greatest demonstration of the nationalist opposition to the scheme of Pakistan during that period. Owing to a hectic lifestyle, hardships at Andamans was no longer able to withstand the strain of an active political life. Then in May 1945, S’s elder brother, counsel, compatriot and heroic brother Babarao Savarkar passed away. Condolences poured in from across the world.
In early 1945, Bhulabhai Desai with the approval of Gandhi came out with a formula that was worse than Rajaji’s. The Congress agreed to a 50-50 Hindu Muslim representation Muslims. The parity of the Congress and League was now a reality. The Brits welcomed the proposal while S opposed it. Lord Wavell returned from London with a Wavell Plan. The Plan was to form a new Executive Council with him with equal representation of caste-Hindus and Muslims. There was no reference to the Indian states, not to speak of Indian independence. The Plan, however, presupposed full cooperation against Japan by the leaders. Quit India prisoners were released. The Congress leaders were now ready the Japanese and even Bose’s I.N.A. A conference was held at Simla where the Mahasabha was not invited but all other parties were invited. It failed but it increased the stature of Jinnah and the League, political parity got transformed into communal parity.
Countrywide protests by the Mahasabha and others kept growing daily. The Mahasabha intended to launch direct action but unfortunately Dr S.P. Mookerjee was not backed in doing so. Had the Mahasabha done this it would risen in the eyes of the public. It must be admitted that S failed in his promise to resort to direct action at the opportune time. It was here that the ruddership of the Mahasabha broke down and it was swept along with the new captain into the trough of the popular estimation in the election held thereafter.
During this period the Labor won a landslide victory in the Brit elections, around then the Japanese sunk under the atomic bomb attack. The govt announced General Elections in Sept 1945 to test the strength of political parties, to hammer out a constitution. The Congress plunged into the elections head-on; the League said Pakistan or Perish. The Mahasabha campaign was low key due to lack of funds, more importantly it missed the dynamic leadership of S, for he unwell and made no move. There was no organizer to build up and consolidate the party. Nor did he show any anxiety about it. Also the Congress changed its strategy. Patel inspired confidence in the Hindu electorates by his anti-Pakistan outbursts and anti-League speeches. Congress was gaining and the Mahasabha loosing.
The most unfortunate aspect of this election for the Mahasabha was that its President Dr Mookherjee lost his grit and confidence in the nick of time. There was a sudden break down in his health. Patel and Nehru who had never inquired about S’s health, now, rushed to the side of Dr Mookherjee and inquired about his health. He withdrew his candidature and gave up the struggle even before he joined it. When the trials of Bose’s I.N.A. men came up, the Congress which had earlier condemned the I.N.A. as rice soldiers took their side and stole a march over the Hindu Mahasabha to their advantage.
So during the 1945 elections the Congress changed its positioning with the Indian public, echoing the Hindu Mahasabha’s views as its own, it did not want competition for the Hindu vote. The interest by the Congress in the IN.A. trials too was guided by the forthcoming elections. The Hindu Mahasabha was now wiped out from the political landscape of India; the Congress met its waterloo in the fields held by Muslim candidates. The victory of the Pakistani forces was complete.
During this election the Hindu Mahasabha was the only Hindu organization that stood by its pledges to the Hindu nation. What were the R.S.S. and the Arya Samajis doing? Meanwhile S’s health deteriorated further, he was moved to Walchandnagar on 1/1/1946. He had a heart attack on 20/01/1946.
From Parity to Pakistan Chapter 20
The year 1946 opened with the general elections to the Provincial Legislatures all over India. Congressmen used the same old tactics and reiterated the pledge to a united India. On 14/1/1946, Patel said at Ahmedabad, “Granting Pakistan is not the hands of the British govt. if Partition is to be achieved Hindus and Muslims would have to fight. There will be a civil war”. Such fiery speeches of the Congress were similar to those of the Hindu Mahasabha. It overran the Hindu Mahasabha in the elections. Ironically the party Congress which had sowed the seeds of Pakistan starting with the Khilafat Movement and its many one-sided humiliating overtures to Jinnah now talked of a United India. (there are other factors responsible for Partition too, inherent in the nature of Islam and the Aligarh Movement but they are beyond the scope of this article). Public Memory in India is short then and even fifty-five years later we live in an idealistic world.
Meanwhile anti-Brit feelings reached a climax. Even the army was feeling the pangs of freedom. On 15/3/1946, PM Attlee, declared India’s right to full independence within or without the British Commonwealth and said, “We cannot allow a minority to place their veto on the advance of the majority”. The British Cabinet mission reached Delhi on March 24. Nehru thundered on April 5, “The Congress is not going to agree to the Muslim demand for Pakistan under any circumstances, even if the Brits agree to it”. Well the emotional Nehru had to eat his words sooner than later. See how the Congress in the early to mid forties kept on wooing the League with various offers strengthening its demand for partition and now in 1946 talked against Partition. The Muslims like Suhwardy and Firoz Noon warned the country with dire consequences if their demands were not met. It charaterises Muslim attitude even today, they take to violence easily.
S had returned to Pune. Along with Dr Mookherjee submitted a memorandum before the Mission that partition of India would be economically unsound and disastrous, politically unwise and suicidal. Prophetic words if one considers the Money spent on Arms by India and Pakistan and by India on internal security to counter the ISI threat.
The Mission came out with a new proposal known as the State Paper of May 16. It repudiated Jinnah’s claim for the division of India, contemplated a Central Union with powers restricted to external affairs, defence and communication with full autonomy to provinces. It provided for provinces for to form themselves into three groups of which B and C were conceived as a concession to the League. A Constituent Assembly was to be elected for framing the Constitution, an Interim govt was planned and States freed from the crown were to join the Assembly for hammering out a Union of the provinces and states. The electorates were divided into General, Muslims and Sikhs. Look at the mischiefious attitude of the Brits, how they divided India.
The league accepted the paper on May 22 while the Congress too accepted it and declared its willingness to join the Constituent Assembly. Meanwhile Nehru made a faux pass (for details refer to the essay on Sardar Patel in the section Great men of India) by stating that there would be finally be no grouping as the Congress held that the provinces should be free at the initial stage to opt out of the section or the group in which they were placed. Jinnah withdrew acceptance given earlier and resolved to resort to Direct Action. Thereupon the Congress ran to patch up the gulf and said that it accepted the paper fully.
On Aug 24, the Viceroy declared his resolve to form the Interim govt with 5 Congress, league and minorities nominees ie at a time when the League had not even cooperated in the formation of the Interim govt. Direct Action declared by League on Aug 16 even them the League was invited to be part of the govt. The holocaust that followed in Calcutta and Noakali is referred into the essay on Sardar Patel. British imperialism had physically disarmed the Hindus, Gandhism had enfeebled them mentally and the curfew Raj had done the rest. Nehru and Gandhi were passive in denouncing the Muslim role.
Meanwhile the League had joined the Interim govt and made the functioning of the govt virtually impossible. The leaguers refused to join the Constituent Assembly. To resolve the matter Nehru and Jinnah flew to London where the legal acumen of Jinnah carried the day. So it meant that the Constitution could not be valid unless it was approved by the league. Jinnah’s stature rose at rocket like speed.
In February 1947, the Brits announced their desire to transfer power not later than June 1948. With the coming of Mountbatten S wired him to consult the Mahasabha President and Master Tara Singh before any fundamental changes affecting the Hindus were effected. He urged the Bengali Hindus to demand a new Hindu province in West Bengal and expel the Muslim trespassers from Assam at any cost. He also demanded that the contingous Hindu Majority Districts of Sind should be joined to the Bombay Province. S was aware of the Muslim plan to infiltrate Assam and warned CM Bardolia.
Ironically our country has not learnt from the tragedy of partition. Muslim Infiltration in Assam goes on unabated. It is only am a matter of time before Assam becomes a Muslim majority province with most of the North-East being Christian. West Bengal has almost 40 % plus Muslims today with some border districts being dominant Muslim. Some countries never learn, India is one of them we are unable to call a spade a spade.
On 29/5/1047 S urged the Congress not to agree to partition. S suggested that the Congress leaders might have a Plebiscite to decide the issue. But! Nehru said on 29/4/1947. “The Muslim League can have partition if they wish to have it”. On 24/3/1946 Nehru had said that the Congress would never agree to Partition (referred to above). Patel said, “If India should be partitioned, it could be done after mutual discussion amongst ourselves and in a peaceful manner”.
Ironical that even at this stage the Congress did not take on the league. It seems that the Violence of the league had scared the aging Congress leaders to such an extent that they agreed to partition period. Why had the Hindu mind become so weak? Simply put three reasons. We had got softened by Gandhism; forgotten Kshatriya Dharam and the weakening of Dharma led to the weakening of character, confidence. From the advent of the British rule, Hindu society read Indian was under constant attack from the West. A society that was once proud of its progress was made to feel backward notwithstanding the heroic efforts of Swami Vivekananda and Swami Dayanand Saraswati. The Hindu had failed to read the Muslim mind. Leaders like Gandhi, Nehru had either not read history or chose to forget it. Let me share with a current analogy. Pakistan said recently i.e. sometime in 2000-01 that it is willing to carry on the fight for liberation of Kashmir for 100 years. When asked to respond to this statement Punjab’s famous, tough cop K.P.S. Gill said that India must reply back by saying that we will fight back for 200 years. Instead successive Indian govts unwilling to take the fight into the enemy camp, going back to the Peace process again and again, be it Simla – Lahore – Agra. What Pakistan desires is the annihilation or domination of Hindu India. But India! Till the day India learns to fight back continously jawans will continue to be victims of inaction.
Things moved swiftly. The new plan envisaged the creation of one or two Dominions by 15/8/1947, provision of separate Constituent Assemblies, partition of Punjab and Bengal, referendum for Baluchistan and Northwest Frontier province and the Sylhet district of Assam. The Congress agreed to Partition (for details go to the essay on Sardar Patel). Gandhi threatened the AICC either to accept Pakistan or to replace the old tried Congress leaders. To the Congress the prestige of the leaders was more important than the nation. Gandhi’s stand on partition is full of turnarounds (refer to Patel essay).
There were two men who could stop the division of India, Gandhi and S. Due to shattered health, want of direct action, the perfidy and levity of his countrymen who regarded party above country, S failed despite warnings over the last ten years. Gandhi lived up to the prophecy of his Guru Gokhale, who foretold that Gandhi would exercise enormous influence on the common man, but when the history of political parleys would be written disinterestedly, he would go down in history as a total failure.
The Mahasabha declared 03/07/1947 as All India anti-Pakistan Day. There was considerable response throughout India esp in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. The Brits sided with the Muslims and the partition had become a settled fact. Said Nehru afterwards “Had Gandhi told us not to accept Partition, we would have gone down fighting and waiting” – Mosley Leonard, The last Days of the British Raj. I doubt if Nehru meant it because is his autobiography one of the reasons that he gave for accepting Partition was that the Congress leaders were growing old and did not have the energy to keep on fighting the Brits or the league. Turning it around India did not get independence only because of the Congress movement but post World War II; Britain’s financial and political status had detiorated so they realized that it was difficult to hold onto India any longer. (Refer to the essay why has Asceticism led to the Weakening of Bharat for more).
S had lost the battle for a united India but did not give up. Addressing a Hindu convention on 8/8/1947 in Delhi warned the Hindus that if they did not rise to the real danger ahead there would be many Pakistans thereafter. Highly prejudiced against the Congress S supported the Dewan of Travancore in their declaration of independence (suprising though). The R.S.S and the Arya Samajis kept quiet on Partition.
Came 15th August. Now the right wing of the Congress was trying to win the support of S, probably Patel had a hand in this but nothing materialized. What followed freedom was massacre in Punjab, thousands were uprooted. Nehrus appealed to the Hindus and Sikhs not to make mass migration. Nehru criticized with burning hatred everything that had the appearance of Hindu Sanghatan, clearly attacking S. Replying to Nehru S said “What were the thousands of Hindus-Sikhs to do when faced by an imminent danger of being massacred in cold blood prompted by instinct of self-preservation and animated by the spirit of Pan-Hindu consolidation”.
As regards the misrepresentation of Hindu Raj by Nehru and his hatred for everything Hindu S said it was a stunt by the Gandhian ministers to cover their dismal failures in protecting the nation. S proceeded excerpts “The demand for Hindu Raj, they say is communal, stupid, medieval, theocratic state. But they refuse to tell us what they precisely mean by Hindu Raj, before they criticize it. Assume that this demand requires to be condemned, was not the demand for a Muslim state atleast equally condemnable on these very counts? Did not the Muslims claim Pakistan on the ground that Muslims constituted the major community there?”
So much was the Congress’s zeal for a secular state made them ashamed to use the term Hindu? Has it not become part of the Govt and Hindu psyche today as beautifully brought by journalist Pritish Nandy in one of his articles? He said that it secular, ok for President Bush to talk about the Bible, Christianity but when Atalji talks about Ram, the protectors of the Gandhian legacy are up in arms. Probably, for this reason, the Indian govt does not lodge protests with the govts of U.K., Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Fiji and Pakistan when Hindus are ill-treated, killed there.
As time passed people realized that Gandhism was an illusion. Gandhi himself realized too late that what the nation followed was not non-violence but passive resistance. The blood, tears, sorrow proved that Gandhi was a dreamland. Said noted freedom fighter, K M Munshi, follower of Gandhi in the freedom special of his Social Welfare “Last 25 years, we have been brought up on a slogan, naturalness and inevitableness of Hindu-Muslim unity. That this was wishful thinking has been proved in Noakali, Bihar, Rawalpindi. The Muslim_a hard realist knew and exploited the hollowness of the slogans, the Hindu cherishes it still. Hindus love words and ideals”. A furious mob stoned Gandhi’s residence at Calcutta 24 hours before the dawn of freedom. Gandhi had become a bosom friend of Hindu murderer Suhrawardy. (refer to Patel essay for Patel’s criticism of Gandhi’s love for Suhrawardy).
Sensing the change in environment and public mood, pickets had to be posted at Gandhi’s residence to protect the symbol of non-violence. Patel had plainly said at meetings in Calcutta and Lucknow that those Muslims who were disloyal to India would have to go to Pakistan. Such a crisis was capped by Gandhi’s famous fast, which he started on 13/01/1948 for the reinstatement of the Muslims in their houses in Delhi, restoration of desecrated mosques to their former use. The fast was also a means to pressurize Nehru and Patel, more Patel to release Rs 55 crs to Pakistan inspite of the fact that it had invaded Jammu and Kashmir on 22/10/1947.
In the midst of an atmosphere of extreme gloom, Godse shot Gandhi on 30/1/1948 five minutes after the talks Gandhi had with Patel for settling the differences between Nehru and Patel on the question of Muslim loyalty to India.
Red Fort Trial Chapter 21
Chaos prevailed with the death of Gandhi. The reaction was this act was felt by the Hindu Mahasabha and the R.S.S. In his youth Godse was a R.S.S. worker and later was a prominent member of the Mahasabha. He was a well-known journalist in Maharashtra, editor of a Marathi daily Agrani – Leader later changed to Hindu Rashtra. He was a staunch Savarkarite and a trusted aide of S. S had always from London days tried to impress upon his lieutenants that killing any one for his honest differences of opinion is an act of cowardice. Mahasabha and R.S.S. activists were attacked, their houses burnt, tension prevailed, non-Brahmins saw in it an opportunity to get even with the Brahmins, havoc created by incited gangs esp in Kolhapur, Sangli and Miraj.
S’s house was attacked by a mob of 500 but thanks to the presence of two trusted aids Bal Savarkar and Bhaskar Shinde; the mob was hoodwinked till the police arrived. It was characteristic of S to keep quiet, cool and collected in dangerous times. His courage rose with difficulties. The police raided S’s house but could not find a thing. S said the news of the killing was shocking and he appealed to the people to maintain peace. From Feb 1 to 5 there was round up of Mahasabha workers. The R.S.S was outlawed and its leaders arrested. The total number arrested was 25,000 the highest ever in Indian history.
S was arrested on Feb 5 and taken to Arthur Road jail. In this volcano like situation, one man S V Deodhar, a local advocate took up S’s case. Without being charged of a specific offense, S was kept in custody. On 11/3/1948 he was placed under arrest by the Delhi Police for being one of the conspirators to murder Gandhi. Through Deodhar’s efforts S was able to meet his wife and son, execute a power of attorney in favor of his son.
S’s must be a rare case; a case of one of the greatest patriots under the sun wherein the property consfiscated by a foreign govt for his struggle for national freedom was not returned even after his country had become free. In my view, S like Gandhi and others was not a shrewd person. He was not a bania like Gandhi. None could beat his intelligence but I think he was not a manipulator, a person who would say one thing and do another.
Mob violence ebbed in April 1948. The trial was expected to start towards the end of May 1948. However, the nerve of the Mahasabha did not give away. History has witnessed that in a great crisis, Maharashtrian leadership keeps its nerve and mind, be it during the days of Rajaram and post-Panipat period. Through the efforts of the Hindu Sanghatanists in Bengal, Punjab and Madras and other provinces a Defence Fund was set up where farmers, villagers, students contributed to give it a nearly one lakh corpus.
The trial started on May 27, 1948. L B Bhopatkar, the President of the Hindu Mahasabha, then 70 yrs gave up a lucrative practice for months at the Pune bar so that he could defend Veer Savarkar. 12 persons were charge sheeted of which 3 had absconded. S looked pale and run down when produced in Court. It was declared on 14/6/1948 that the Special Court was empowered to tender parson to an accused. Accordingly Badge was pardoned and he turned approver.
After the examination and cross-examination of 149 prosecution witnesses, the statements of the accused were heard. Godse admitted to shooting Gandhi whom he held to be the father of Pakistan. Godse’s 92 page statement was banned by the Central govt. On Nov 20 S read out his 52-page statement in which he said that he had not committed any of the offenses for which he was being prosecuted. He detailed his personal and political life from 1908, his association with Gandhi, extracts from his public statements and outlined the object of the Hindu Mahasabha. He referred to the events of 1947. And S came to the point of vivisection of his motherland tears rolled down his cheeks. The newspapers reported the next morning “Every one in the court seemed to share the emotions that overwhelmed S. The whole court was in pin-drop silence”. S then defined his attitude towards the Central govt. During the 1942 movement various groups indulged in underground violence shouting Gandhi ki Jai. Even the then Brit govt did not put Gandhiji in the dock since the masses respected him and were doing those criminal acts, must therefore have consulted him.
In the end he said that not a word had been found to incriminate him in the 10,000 letters which the prosecution had seized from his house. In a judgement-dated 10/2/1949 the judge Atma Charan stated that S was not found guilty of offense.
But the Congress govt could not digest this! No sooner was the acquittal of S pronounced then he was served with a notice under an order from the Delhi Magistrate prohibiting him from leaving the Red Fort Area. Under another order of a few hours later S was externed, prohibited from entering the Delhi area for 3 months and escorted to his Shivaji park house in Mumbai under police protection. So much for Nehru’s ability to tolerate dissent.
Detention and Internment Chapter 22
No sooner was S released that L B Bhopatkar, S’s counsel and President of the Hindu Mahasabha demanded a government inquiry as to who was responsible for the sanction of S’s prosecution in the Gandhi murder trial. Subsequently S wrote to Bhopatkar expressing regret on his step and said, probably, the legal advice given to the Govt was hasty, misleading. He desired that in public interest they should let the curtain fall on the tragedy now that he was acquitted. In a letter to Morarji Desai, the Home Minister of Mumbai he said that he had already decided to retire from public life, as his health lay shattered. He thanked all his supporters for their support during this difficult period.
He said that the Indian Union was a Hindu state as every nation was called after the name of its national majority. However, the state was not a theocratic state since it was not based on religious texts. If the Muslims of India gave up hating the Hindus and were emotionally, loyally prepared for national integration, a state where no distinctions exist could be created. The tenets of Hinduvta were consistent with democracy and all minorities would be treated as equal citizens with Hindus.
S advocated that defence should have top priority, be it our borders or ammunition factories. S rested in Mumbai, Bangalore to recover. He greatly admired Sardar Patel’s action in the liberation of Hyderabad and in unifying India.
On May 10, 1949, the first part of S’s Marathi autobiography was published. After the Constituent Assembly passed an important article abolishing separate electorates, reservations and weightages, which were based on individual race and religious discrimination, S who had been demanding this for years, congratulated Patel for having made this change. Around this time, the Assembly was discussing the constitution of the country. S wired the President of the Assembly to adopt the country name as Bharat, Hindi as the national language and Nagari as the national script. After a great battle Hindi with Nagari script was declared as the national language.
Just then Master Tara Singh, the great Punjab leader who was interned for a few months was released. S congratulated him and appreciated his role during partition. Singh replied that the relations between Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab was under strain and asked S to study the problem and offer a solution. It goes to show Singh’s faith in S.
After great deliberation the Hindu Mahasabha had its annual session in Calcutta on 21/12/1949. All through the journey S had to make brief speeches at several stations. Thousands gathered in Calcutta to see him. During his inaugural address he said independence was not a political gift from the Brits but was accomplished by the Congress, revolutionaries and the sufferings of thousands of patriots from 1857 to 1947. He urged his party men to continue defending the cause of the Hindus. He exhorted Hindus to join the armed forces. He suggested that there should be a tit for tat policy in our dealings with Pakistan, Shri Vajpayee note.
In March 1950 East Bengal burst into a conflagration. The Noakhali tragedies were repeated. As foretold by S the peace and prosperity of Bharat was endangered by the creation of Pakistan. At this time S was going to attend the East Punjab Hindu Conference at Rohtak. About this time Nehru thought it fir to try his method of negotiations to solve the Bengal problem and invited Liaqat Ali, the Premier of Pakistan for talks to Delhi. Ali as has been followed by Pervez Mushharaf in July 2001 blamed the Hindu Mahasabha for its propaganda and to a Calcutta speech of Patel for the East Bengal tragedies. To create a serene read secular atmosphere for the talks S was arrested in Mumbai on 4/41950 along with many others.
This act was condemned aloud. By this offensive against Mahasahba and RSS leaders, Nehru chose to appease Pakistan and imperil the integrity, independence of India. The idea was to divert people’s attention from the govt’s policy of appeasement and make progressive elements support this appeasement policy. Nehru signed the pact providing for the right of refugees to return to their original places and guaranteeing the recovery of abducted women and the right to transfer all movable property, dispose off immovable property and non-recognition of forced conversions during that period. Nehru reared the pact and Liaqat Ali reaped the fruits. Be it Nehru, Atal, Indira why is that none of them can act tough with this rogue neighbor. Why? Baffles me. S’s son filed a habeas corpus petition in Bombay High Court on 12/7/1950. The Advocate General said that he was authorized to state that if S gave an undertaking that he would not participate in any political activities and would remain in his own house in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park, the govt would agree to his release. The undertaken given would last for one year or upto the next general elections in India or in case Indian being involved in a war, whichever event happened first. S’s supporters gave him a warm welcome on his return home. He resigned from the Hindu Mahasabha but became its BhismPitama. S must have wondered, had life changed before and after independence. The Brits had confined him to Ratnagiri and prevented him from taking part in any political activity. Now he was restricted to Mumbai. Where was Nehru the great democrat? I think Nehru could not tolerate dissent and wanted to crush it. Why is it that Hindus cannot express their voice against oppression? If they do they are called communal. Friends please think, was it always the case. Who is responsible for this mindset. The Brits, Gandhi, Nehru, Congress or the English media. The whole attempt was to weaken S, by the Brits or the Congress. They were scared of facing a man with extraordinary knowledge and oratory skills, a man whose organization was weak, but whose speech could arouse Hindus as few others of his time could have.
In May 1951 he wrote two articles in the Kesari advocating a National Calendar as against the Christian calendar that the Brits had imposed upon us. Since there are multiple Hindu calendars he urged the Indians to take a leaf out of the book of the French revolutionaries to evolve a common Bhartiya calendar. The Govt however, adopted the Saka era, which is 78 years behind the Christian era. He next urged the Konkan Uplift Institution to refer to the Arabian Sea as the Sindhu Sagar and the Bay of Bengal as the Ganga Sagar.
Memorial to Martyrs Chapter 23
In July 1951 the restrictions on S were removed. Now S devoted some months to collect funds for the erection of a memorial to the Indian revolutionaries. The Congressmen whose sacrifice appeared pale in comparison hated S because he wanted them to fight like heroes and loved Gandhi because he made them feel like heroes. In the elections of 1952 the Mahasabha was routed, as were many other parties like that of Dr Ambedkar. One of the failings of S was his inability to convert the Sabha into all India organization.
At this point Master Tara Singh declared that he would agree to the decision that S gave on the Hindu Sikh problem. Sikhs had faith in S but not in Nehru who had opposed the division of Palestine but had agreed to India’s division.
At the instance of S a Committee was set up to hold a three day celebration at Pune from 10/5 to 12/5, 1952 to pay homage to all martyrs, heroes in the revolutionary movement from 1857 to 1947. Thousands paid homage, a pillar was raised on the same day in their honor. S urged the youth to join the armed forces, asked the govt to introduce compulsory military education in schools and colleges and meet defence needs. He said that the talk of world peace without military preparations was pompous, Nehru did not hear!
On 26/7/1952 Dr S P Mookerjee, who was president of the newly formed Jan Sangh, sought S’s blessings for the Jan Sangh. On 30/11/1952, S began delivering a series of lectures of the glorious chapters of Hindu history. Changragupta, Pushya Mitra (routed the Greeks), Vikramaditya, Yashodharman (annihilated the Shakas). He ended by saying “The victory of good over evil does not come if the good is not backed by force. Without Sudarshan Chakra the Ashok Chakra will not succeed”. He delivered a series of lectures, speeches to collect money for the Memorial.
The Menace of Christians Chapter 24
S issued a statement asking his admirers not to celebrate his 71st birthday. Around the same time Dr Mookherjee, who was then agitating for the integration of J and K into India was arrested on 11/5/1953 as he entered Jammu without the permission of the J and K govt. He subsequently died in the prison of Sheikh Abdullah, the then PM of J and K. S was very sad on the Dr’s death. Nehru refused to have an inquiry into the causes that led to the death of Dr Mookherjee. It is ironical that Nehru had to arrest the Sheikh on 9/8/1953, whom he had been supporting for years.
On another occasion he said that his generation had brought the science of bombs to India. He exhorted the younger generation to bring the science of the Atom bomb to India. America, Russia and England had it, why not India.
During a visit to Pune on 11/12/1953 he made an important speech titled “Change of religion leads to change of nationality”. He said that he had been warning the Sindhis on the perils of the separation of Sindh from Bombay State but today these Sindhis had to wander around as refugees. But they were mad after Hindu Muslim unity, a mirage. The Brits were driven out but another enemy in the form of Missionaries were making deep inroads. The Nagas of Assam deserted Nehru’s meeting when he objected to their demand for an independent state. Because they showed their claws to Nehru he said that he would not allow foreign missionaries to convert. Who has succeeded, the answer is well known? Proselytization paved the way for national disintegration and disloyalty. Have you wondered why the Hindus have never taken to armed resistance for a separate state? See all the armed struggles be it in J and K, NorthEast are all by Muslim, Christian organization who are generously supported by foreign money. He urged all Hindus to fight the menace of Missionaries.
His views on the Missionaries and their work was supported by the findings of the Niyogi Commission in Madhya Pradesh. Nehru – Gandhi – Congress were blind to the evils of conversion. Aga Khan boasts in his memoirs “As I look back there is one memory, which gives me utmost satisfaction. I was personally responsible for the conversion to Islam of some 30,000 to 40,000 caste Hindus, many of them of upper and professional classes”.
Can you think of any self-respecting country in the world that tolerates such behavior?
Old Age Chapter 25
S had the good fortune of seeing so much in his life, revolutionary in England, then off to Andamans, adulation on his release in the 1937, Gandhi trial case, interned post independence, ill-health as time passed, love and affection of his countrymen. He was always dressed in immaculate white, with a brimless black round cap on his massive head, a black umbrella in his right hand and fresh newspaper in his left. S’s personality was outstanding in any vast multitude. S was a great orator. Orators feed themselves on history. From it they derive inspiration. They draw their own conclusions.
Fortunate are those who had heard him speak on the War of Independence of 1857 or the Marathi Literary Conference in Mumbai. On S the Amrita Bazaar Patrika said that S was a man with a mission. The Sunday Standard, Mumbai said “Few others in the whole of India can thrill and sway his listeners as this simple looking Hindu leader can. It is a pleasure to hear him speak, his eyes flashing, his lips quivering, his weak body trembling with emotion”.
If you want to study the history of the Indian Revolution, the history of the social revolution in Maharahstra and the history of the literary movement launched to purge the Indian languages of foreign influences and words, you must study S. To him, rational outlook must obtain control over the political, social and military life of India, if India is to survive the struggle for existence. He wanted our minds to be liberated from all kinds of shackles, superstitions and imperialism.
S was a freedom fighter who also fought against the caste system, untouchability and a historian, poet, writer. That is why he is called a fusion of the great Maratha leaders of modern times. He had the spirit of Nanashaib who fought the war of 1857, the sweep of Wasudeo Balwant Phadke who first an armed revolt in Maharashtra for an Indian republic, the mental force of Chiplunkar, the reformative zeal of Agarkar, the sacrifice and struggle of Tilak, the service of Gokhale, all these find an echo in Savarkar.
S was a proud Hindu but of the Chitor type. He found his guiding star in Lord Krishna, in Shivaji the font of inspiration, Rana Pratap the font of patriotism, Guru Gobind Singh the sire of martyrdom, Sadashiv Bhau the sword of Hindustan.
S did not hate you because you were a Muslim or Christian. S was the only leader who envisaged a State for the floating race of the Jews ever since 1908. Since his release in 1937 he was a strong supporter of a Jewish state. But S rightly suspected the separatist tendencies and the extra territorial ambition of the Muslims, he was not prepared to give them an inch more than they democratically deserved and for this he was called Communal. However, events of the last 50 years in the Indian Sub-continent have proved how the Muslim appeasement policy has created problems for India.
S loved Hindus and Hinduism. Every time a Hindu suffered he grew restless. S’s conversational gist was nothing less than dictatorial but tinged with rationalism. People thought he was egoistic but the fact that by temperament he was assertive, unyielding and dictatorial due to the feeling of superiority, a belief in the righteousness of his cause and strong convictions. When your forecasts come true you tend to believe more in yourself, could be perceived to be dictatorial as a consequence.
S was a unique combination of a dreamer and a doer, a prophet, a warrior, a realist, a revolutionary, writer, poet, social reformer, voice of reason and science - all in one man. What does one call such a blessed one?
S had great insight proved on several occasions. S predicted as early as 1925 that the separation of Sind from the Bombay Province would be appeasing the Muslim mind, destroy the Hindus there – what happened there is well known. In 1938 he declared that the Congress led by Gandhi would betray the nation and would destroy the unity of India by conceding Pakistan. Gandhi and the Congress did a flip-flop on Pakistan till 1946-47, they agreed to it eventually. In 1940 he warned the Assam Hindus that if they did not check Muslim infiltration into Assam they would meet the same fate as West Bengal. Congressmen laughed at him then. In 1947 Assam nearly went to Pakistan. It’s even true today with Muslims some 30 % plus of the population. In 1938 the warning sounded about the fate of Kashmir went unheard and Pandits had to pay for it then and in the 1990s. Did not the Nizam suffer the fate as predicted by S?
Men’s of prophet never try to please the masses. They aim at guiding them. They look to the interests of the current and future generations. His difficult days in prison had impacted his personality. He was moody, not able to generate the warmth that a party chief must show for his partymen. S was not attached to the fruits of action, his love for country was paramount. S had no friends. His contemporaries were dead and gone by. His new colleagues did not understand and were also in awe of him. His was simple living and high thinking. He had deep and penetrating eyes. He was not very accessible. Appointments had to be fixed in advance because of which a number of people from all walks of life could not meet him. It antagonized a lot of people. On the other hand Tilak’s house was always open.
S could not compromise his conscious for the success of personal gains and cheap popularity. S was majestic in his misery and serene is his sorrows. Yet countless heads bowed before S. Men and women regarded him as an incarnation of God, the Patitpavan. Such a fiery, positive and forceful personality was bound to be frank in his criticism of the past and present. He admired Swami Vivekananda, Swami Dayananda, Dr Ambedkar and spoke of Tilak with reverence. He called Nehru sincere but flamboyant, wished well for Patel.
What impacted S throughout? The rebellious force of Wasudeo Balwant, the spiritual and social renaissance set in by Swami Dayananda, the wave of Hindu Muslim riots and the partition of India thereafter. The revolutionary urge and the Hindu Muslim issue clung to his life throughout. He wanted one India, one language, one law all is one. The idea of bifurcation conceived by the historic Muslim mind and started by Sir Syed Ahmed was instinctively supported by the Muslims, accepted by the Congress leading to the partition of India.
Now did Indian independence come because of the Congress is an often asked question? This is what Mr Fenner Brockway, the political secretary of the Independent Labor Party of England had to say. He said there were three reasons why India had become free. One the Indian people were determined to gain independence. Two was the revolt of the Indian Navy, the armed forces could not be trusted upon to serve the Brits, three Britain did not want to estrange India, which was a market and source of foodstuffs for her.
Although Broadway did not mention directly the I.N.A. of Bose, it was clear that the armed forces revolt had forced their hand. But who had worked for carrying the fire of revolt into the Indian Army since 1908? There was one only man Savarkar who had preached militarization, urged the Hindus to join the armed forces, reduce the % of the Muslims therefore. It was left to Netaji Bose to seize the opportunity and reap the fruits of pioneer efforts of Ras Behari Bose and militarization efforts of Savarkar.
In that sense S had achieved his goal. But there was left a weakened India with a lot more to be achieved. India today i.e. 2001 is plagued with internal and external security problems. We need someone who combines the qualities of Patel and Savarkar to make the world and neighbors respect us, not for the spirit of Gandhian Non-Violence but because of the military / economic strength that we must look to possess.
Warning Against Aggression Chapter 26
Ever since the People’s Govt of China came to power its leaders decided to liberate Tibet. Nehru that India was interested in preserving its cultural and commercial relations with Tibet and told the Chinese that Tibet should maintain autonomy. He, however, did not challenge or deny the suzerainty of China over Tibet. While Nehru was explaining things to Parliament, the Chinese took over Tibet in 1950. Then came the Pansheel Pact in 1954. Patel, S and Ambedkar had warned Nehru of the impending danger as a result of Tibet’s loss of independence.
S had sounded a warning in 1954 and blamed India’s lack of military preparedness for its inability to respond to Chinese moves. He appreciated the Brits in signing treatise with various border countries like Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan to safeguard India. With the signing of the Pakistan-American pact India was completely encircled by enemies. He also warned the nation against the trouble from Portugal in case India fought with Pakistan. He criticized the Nehru Chou-En-lai pact and doubted the bonafides of the Chinese. He said “High principles must have sound armed strength behind them to see that they are brought into practice by those who eloquently talk about them.
The Mahasabha protested against the role of foreign missionaries. S congratulated the freedom fighters responsible for the liberation of Mahe, Dadra and Nagar Haveli. S said that untouchability should be banned and made a national offense. S asked for a ban on cow slaughter for the sake of agriculture and the economy.
On 21/8/1955 he attended a shuddhi function where 40 Christian fishermen were reconverted to Hinduism. He gave an impetus to the shuddhi movement at that time, said that if there were no Christians in Goa the Portuguese would never stayed there so long. He appreciated the work done by the Arya Samaj. The Kashmir problem had erupted because of an increase in Muslim population due to conversions. He urged India to recognize Israel.
S supported the movement for a new state of Maharashtra but refused to merge the Hindu Mahasabha with the Jana Sangh. He felt that Dr Ambedkar’s embracing Buddhism had not changed much since he had embraced an Indian religion and come closer to Hinduism. According to S definition of a Hindu, the holy and fatherland of the neo-Buddhists was India hence they were Hindu.
He addressed a mammoth crown on Delhi Ramlila’s grounds on 12/5/1957. He called upon India to be militarily strong, preach peace but be well armed herself. The Delhi Arya Samaj called him Hinduhridaya Samrat.
Celebrating 100 years of the Freedom Struggle of 1857, the then CM of Maharashtra, Y B Chavan paid high tributes to S for his patriotic fight against British rule.
Nation Pays Homage Chapter 27
Poona decided to set up a Public Hall in the name of S opened by Dr C P Ramaswamy Aiyar on 19/2/1958. In May 1958 a Citizen’s Committee was set up by the Mayor in 1958 to celebrate S’s 75th birthday. At the felicitation speech he warned against the danger of provincialism and hoped that India would emerge a strong nation some day. Shri Bharucha, an old Congress leader said that Govt must take S’s help for solving the problem of Punjab since he was loved by Hindus and Sikhs but he feared that the govt’s hatred for S would prevent them from doing so. He was given a reception at the Poona Nagar Vachanalaya. The Poona, Nagpur Universities conferred a Doctorate on S.
S’s health was deteriorating. When the govt decided to have two states in Gujarat and Maharashtra he urged the leaders of Gujarat to change the name of Ahmedabad to Karnavati, its original name.
In 1960 S’s supporters decided to celebrate December 24, 1960 as Mrityunjay Day, the day on which S would have completed 50 year’s transportation had he been in jail. At Calcutta, Delhi it was celebrated with great enthusiasm. Rajagopalchari paid great tributes to S. At his home cast crowds gathered, then people paid their respects to him one by one. Hundreds of newspapers brought out special supplements, which said that S was the symbol of patriotism and sacrifice.
At a felicitation in Pune in January 1961 he said that military power was the only criterion of a great nation. He would prefer Hitler to democracy that was cowardly and yielding to every aggressor. He said that India must modernize its forces and have the Hydrogen bomb. He said that Naga hostilities would have been wiped out within a week had Nehru ordered the army to receive bullets instead of shooting the rebels. The only thing our Govt was capable of doing was protest notes, strong, stronger. This was his last public speech since he was very weak.
China humiliated India in 1962. Once again S’s proficiency had come true but Nehru! So upset was S with the plight of India and its soldiers that he wept bitterly for an hour or so on 14/12/1962. His birthday in May 1963 was celebrated with more enthusiasm as his forecasts had come true. The halo around Nehru was beginning to vanish. The national thinking was reassessing Gandhism.
R S S Chief Guru Golwalkar paid tributes to S. So did General Cariappa. Speaking at a club in Madras he appreciated S’s sound policy regarding defence. His wife departed in 8/12/1963 at the age of 76. He felt bad on hearing the news.
S thought Aurobindo was a great philosopher and Vivekananda’s Rajyog a masterpiece. Just then elections were held in Goa. While the Hindus there wanted it to be merged with Maharahstra given the cultural affinities, the Catholics wanted it to be a separate state. It proved S’s thesis that change of religion was change of nationality.
Nehru died on 27/5/1964, S did not issue a statement. With Shashtri as PM, the govt began to appreciate S’s realism and warnings. They agreed to give a monthly aid to S from October 1964. The blackout of his name gradually disappeared.
The Eternal Hero Chapter 28
In February 1965 the Mauritian Minister for Local govt Shri S V Dayal met S. Kumar Narendra, editor of Veer Arjun, a Delhi daily sponsored a fund and handed over a cheque of Rs 51,000 to S. In Auguts 1965 S health took a turn for the worse but he felt better by September. When he heard about the Indian decision to retaliate the Pakistan invasion by entering Lahore he was happy.
S always said that the best way to win a war was to carry the war into the enemy’s land. Is the Indian govt listening?
In September 1965 he released a third part of S’s autobiography under the title Shatruchya Shibirat. The book deals with the political conditions of India and the views of his contemporaries when he went to London.
When Shastri went to Tashkent S expressed the fear that he would be forced back to take back Indian troops. He said that Pakistan’s inhuman and barbarous acts such as kidnapping and raping of Indian women would not stop unless we gave them tit for tat. Is Atalji listening! S was unhappy to learn about Shastri’s death.
S now decided to fast unto death starting 2/2/1966. He had water in between. Eventually at 11.10 a.m. on 26/2/1966 he passed away at the age of 83. The doctors were surprised that he never suffered the pangs of dehydration.
Glowing tributes were paid by one and all but ironically no Minister of the State was present to pay homage to S, one of the greatest revolutionaries produced by India. His funeral procession took six hours to reach Chandanwadi with atleast 50,000 people part of the procession.
Said S some 25 years earlier –
“If you wish, O Hindus, to prosper as a great and glorious Hindu nation under the sun, and you well have a claim on it, that State must be established under the Hindu Flag. This dream would be realized during this or the coming generation. If it is not realized, I may be styled as a daydreamer, but if it comes true, I would stand forth as its prophet. I am bequeathing this legacy to you”.
So end my tribute to the forgotten hero Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a man who has been forgotten by his countrymen, a man whose sacrifice and unselfish love for Bharat is unparalleled in recent history, a man who was so multi-faceted that he could give you a complex, a social reformer, poet, historian, orator. So many qualities in one body. Bhagwan , surely, took a lot of pains to make him. What must have been S’s karmas in his previous birth that enabled to lead such an eventful life. Let us also learn from his shortcomings. At work or on a political plane we need to build organizations and have good public relations if we wish to see our vision come true.
Oh Bhagwan please forgive me for any errors on my part.