Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Freedom fighter of India (1883-1966)
(Redirected from Veer Savarkar)

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (May 28, 1883 – February 26, 1966) was an Indian pro-independence activist, politician as well as a poet, writer and playwright. He advocated dismantling the system of caste in Hindu culture, and reconversion of the converted Hindus back to Hindu religion. Savarkar coined the term Hindutva (Hinduness) to create a collective "Hindu" identity as an "imagined nation". His political philosophy had the elements of Utilitarianism, Rationalism and Positivism, Humanism and Universalism, Pragmatism and Realism.

Savarkar on a 1970 stamp of India

QuotesEdit

  • One of the most important components of such injunctions of the past that we have blindly carried on and which deserves to be thrown in the dustbins of history is the rigid caste system. This system has vivisected our Hindu society into so many micro-fragments, forever at war with one another. From temples, streets, houses, jobs, village councils, to institutions of law and legislature, it has only injected a spectre of eternal conflict between two Hindus; weakened our unity and resolve to stand united against any external threats. It is one of the biggest impediments in the conception of a Hindu Rashtra.
    • V. D. Savarkar, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • The practice of untouchability is a sin, a blot on humanity, and nothing can justify it. Consider only that untouchable which is injurious to one’s health, not fellow human beings. Unshackling this one foolish fetter would bring crores of our Hindu brethren into the mainstream. They would serve the country in various capacities and defend her honour.
    • V. D. Savarkar, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • The folly of disallowing reconversions to Hinduism is a self-destructive one. How easily Hindus converting to Islam or Christianity merge in their new milieu. Yet the same facility is not available to a non-Hindu who might earnestly wish to return to his or her fold or adopt Hinduism as a matter of faith. This shackle seriously depletes our numbers and makes the Hindu community a ready preying ground for the conversion factories that are always looking at swelling their numbers, many times by stealth or inducements. I have nothing against those who convert to another faith by sheer conviction. But such examples are rare. Why should we not allow the enhancement of our numbers due to some antiquated idea that does not even have any scriptural sanction that we cannot convert to Hinduism?
    • V. D. Savarkar, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • While it is nice to describe a beautiful rose in full bloom, it would be incomplete without a description of everything—right from its roots, the stem, the manure and nutrients that have sustained it, the fresh and dried leaves as also the thorns, in order to conceptualize the beauty of that rose in all its dimensions. Likewise, for a human being’s biography, he needs to be presented ‘as is’ and not ‘as should be’—from head to toe, nothing more, nothing less, as transparent and true to reality as one can be. Everything that can be said or unsaid, that is embarrassing or praiseworthy has to be documented without inhibitions and fears. ... Still, I hold a promise that I have revealed all that needs to be revealed, with the least of colours and bias from my side.
    • V. D. Savarkar, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • ‘By annihilating the wicked I lightened the great weight on the globe. I delivered the country by establishing Swarajya and by saving religion. I betook myself to shake off the great exhaustion which had come upon me. I was asleep, why then, did you my darlings awaken me?’
    • English translation. From the poem ‘Shivaji’s Utterances’ (and signed ‘mark of the Bhawani Sword’) which appeared in the editorial columns of the Kesari . V. D. Savarkar, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • Till now we Maharashtrians kept saying that Shivaji Utsav is only a historical commemoration and it has no political colour. But the festival that we have organized here in Nashik is both historical and political. Only those people, who have the capability to struggle for the freedom of their country just like Shivaji Maharaj, have the real right to organize and celebrate a festival commemorating his memory. Our main objective must therefore be to strive towards breaking the shackles of colonial rule. If our only aims are finding solace in foreign rule, earning fat salaries, be peaceful negotiators with the government on inconsequential issues such as lowering taxes, diluting some laws here and there, and secure ourselves enough to eat, lead comfortable lives, earn pensions and privileges—then this Utsav is not for you or for Shivaji, but that of the last Peshwa Baji Rao who capitulated to British might! Here we are invoking the god of revolution, Shivaji Maharaj, so that he may inspire and instil that energy in all of us. Depending on circumstances our means might change, but the end is non-negotiable and that end is total and complete freedom for our motherland.
    • From a speech by V. D. Savarkar, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • (Oh Shivaji! This land of the Aryans
    has been repeatedly attacked by the Mlechchha s (non-Indians).
    Please wake up!
    This land is calling for your help.
    Are you unable to hear that pleading tone of this motherland?
    Is it not piercing your heart?)
    • English translation. From a poem by V. D. Savarkar, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • (Victory to you, Oh! Ever Auspicious, munificent and holy Mother!
    Oh! Glorious Goddess of Freedom! I seek your blessings for success.
    You are the embodiment of our national spirit, morality and accomplishments
    You are the Queen of Righteousness, Oh! Goddess of Freedom!
    In these dark skies of enslavement, you are the bright beacon and star of hope.
    The flowery cheeks of people and the fields of blossoms,
    You are that blush of confidence, Oh! Goddess of Freedom!
    You are the radiance of the Sun, the solemnity of the oceans!
    Oh! Goddess of Freedom! But for you, the sun of freedom is eclipsed.
    Oh! Goddess of Freedom! You are the face of eternal happiness and liberation,
    This is why sages hail you as the supreme consciousness, in our scriptures.
    Oh! Goddess of Freedom! All that is ideal and lofty, magnificent and sweet!
    Is associated only with you.
    Stained with the blood of the evildoers whom you destroy, nurturing the righteous!
    Life is to die for you! Death is to live without you!
    The entire creation surrenders unto you, Oh! Goddess of Freedom!)
    • English translation. From the 1903 poem ‘Hymn to Liberty’, still popular across India as the iconic song ‘Jayostute’, also in a song by Lata Mangeshkar, set to tune by her brother, Hridaynath Mangeshkar, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • Vande Mataram (Salutations to the Mother!)
    In the name of God,
    In the name of Bharat Mata,
    In the name of all the martyrs that have shed their blood for Bharat Mata,
    By the love innate in all men and women, that I bear to the land of my birth,
    Wherein lie the sacred ashes of my forefathers, and which is the cradle of my children.
    By the tears of the countless mothers for their children whom the foreigner has enslaved,
    imprisoned, tortured and killed,
    Convinced that without Absolute Political Independence or Swarajya my country can never rise to the exalted position among the nations of the earth which is Her due, And convinced also that that Swarajya can never be attained except by the waging of a bloody and relentless war against the Foreigner, solemnly and sincerely swear that I shall from this moment do everything in my power to fight for Independence and place the Lotus Crown of Swaraj on the head of my Mother; And with this object, I join the Abhinav Bharat, the Revolutionary Society of all Hindustan, and swear that I shall ever be true and faithful to this, my solemn Oath, and that I shall obey the orders of this organization (body); If I betray the whole or any part of this solemn Oath, or if I betray this organization (body) or any other working with a similar object, May I be doomed to the fate of a perjurer!
    • From an oath used by members of the Mitra Mela, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • Oh Ocean, take me back to my Motherland!
    My soul in so much torment be!
    Lapping worshipfully at my mother’s feet
    So always I saw you
    Let us visit other Lands to see
    The abounding nature, said you.
    Seeing my Mother’s heart full of qualms
    A sacred oath you did give to her,
    Knowing the way home, upon your back
    My speedy return you promised her.
    Fell for your promise did I!
    That worldly-wise n’ able be I
    Her deliverance better serve do I
    Upon returning, so saying I left her.
    Oh Ocean, my soul in so much torment be!
    Like a parrot in a cage, like a deer in a trap—
    Oh so duped am I
    Parting from my mother for ever—
    Besieged by darkness am I!
    Flowers of virtue gather did I
    That blessed by their fragrance she be.
    Bereft from service for her deliverance
    My learning a futile burden it be,
    The love of her mango trees, oh!
    The beauty of her blossoming vines, oh! Her tender budding rose, oh!
    Oh forever lost is her garden to me,
    Oh Ocean, my soul in so much torment be!
    Stars abound in the heavens above, but
    Only the star of Bharat-land love I
    Here are found plush palaces, but
    Only my mother’s humble hut love I
    What care I for a kingdom without Her?
    Ever exile in her forests choose I.
    Deception is futile now, say I
    Let you not be spared, vow I
    Suffer the same pangs, cry I
    Of parting with the dearest of your rivers!
    Oh Ocean, my soul in so much torment be!
    Oh Ye of Foaming Surf, pitilessly you mock!
    Why go back on your word, oh!
    Why deceive my helpless mother,
    Oh why condemn me to exile so!
    Was it in fear of England
    Who flaunts her mastery over you so?
    Fearsome though England may be,
    O My Mother is not feeble so
    Tell all about Sage Agastya she will, lo
    Who in one gulp your waters drank!
    Oh Ocean, my soul in so much torment be!
    • English translation. From a a poem Ne majasi ne parat matrubhoomila, sagara, prana, talamalalaa, it was set to music and sung by Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Meena Mangeshkar and Hridyanath Mangeshkar.. , quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • Come, Death! If really thou hast started already to come—welcome!
    These flowers may tremble to fade away,
    These juicy grapes to wither,
    But why should I fear Thee?
    I have but these wines of tears that fill my cup to offer Thee
    And which I thought over-drinking cannot exhaust;
    Come if that be acceptable to Thee!
    • English translation. From a a poem, ‘On the Death-Bed’ (Maranonmukh Shayyevar )., quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • “He who gives up verbosity and acts as per the principle of ‘irrespective of whether others do it or not, as far as I am concerned, I will practice reform on a daily basis’ alone is a true reformer.”
    • (‘Hindutvache panchapran’ or The Spirit of Hindutva; Samagra Savarkar Vangmaya, edited by SR Date, Vol. 3, p.75). Quoted from [1]
  • Every person is a Hindu who regards and owns this Bharat Bhumi, this land from the Indus to the seas, as his Fatherland as well as Holyland, i.e. the land of the origin of his religion (…) Consequently the so-called aboriginal or hill tribes also are Hindus: because India is their Fatherland as well as their Holyland of whatever form of religion or worship they follow.
    • V.D. Savarkar: Hindu Rashtra Darshan. p. 77.
  • The epitaph of an RSS man will be: he was born, went to shakha, and died.
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 256
  • The name " Hindustan " must continue to be the appellation of our country. Such other names as India, Hind, etc., being derived from the same original word Sindhu may be used but only to signify the same sense—die land of the Hindus, a country which is the abode of the Hindu Nation. Aryavarta, Bharat-Bhumi and such other names are of course the ancient and the most cherished epithets of our Mother Land and will continue to appeal to the cultured elite. In this insistence that the Mother Land of the Hindus must be called but " Hindustan ", no encroachment or humiliation is implied in connection with any of our non-Hindu countrymen. Our Parsee and Christian countrymen are already too akin to us culturally and are too patriotic and the Anglo-indians too sensible to refuse to fall in line with us Hindus on so legitimate a ground.
    • V.D. Savarkar quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • "The Sanskrit shall be our " Deva Bhasha)" our sacred language and the "Sanskrit Nishtha" Hindi, the Hindi which is derived from Sanskrit and draws its nourishment from the latter, is our ' 'mr' ' (Rashtra Bhasha) 12 [f.12] our current national language—-besides being the richest and the most cultured of the ancient languages of the world, to us Hindus the Sanskrit is the holiest tongue of tongues. Our scriptures, history, philosophy and culture have their roots so deeply imbedded in the Sanskrit literature that it forms veritably the brain of our Race. Mother of the majority of our mother tongues, she has suckled the rest of them at her breast. All Hindu languages current today whether derived from Sanskrit or grafted on to it can only grow and flourish on the sap of life they imbibe from Sanskrit. The Sanskrit language therefore must ever be an indispensable constituent of the classical course for Hindu youths.
    • V.D. Savarkar quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • Religion is a mighty motive force. So is rapine. But where religion in goaded on by rapine and rapine serves as a handmaid to religion, the propelling force that is generated by these together is only equalled by the profundity of human misery and devastation they leave behind them in their march. Heaven and Hell making a common case - such were the forces, overwhelmingly furious, that took India by surprise the day that Mahmud Ghaznavi crossed the Indus and invaded her.
    • 1923. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1992). Negationism in India: Concealing the record of Islam.
  • “The Hindu Sanghanists Party aims to base the future constitution of Hindustan on the broad principle that all citizens should have equal rights and obligations irrespective of caste or creed, race or religion, provided they avow and owe an exclusive and devoted allegiance to the Hindustani State. The fundamental rights of liberty of speech, liberty of conscience, of worship, of association, etc., will be enjoyed by all citizens alike. Whatever restrictions will be imposed on them in the interest of the public peace and order of National emergency will not be based on any religious or racial considerations alone but on common National grounds.”... “No attitude can be more National even in the territorial sense than this and it is this attitude in general which is expressed in substance by the curt formula ‘one man one vote’. This will make it clear that the conception of a Hindu Nation is in no way inconsistent with the development of a common Indian Nation, a united Hindustani State in which all sects and sections, races and religions, castes and creeds, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Anglo-Indians, etc., could be harmoniously welded together into a political State on terms of perfect equality.”...“But as practical politics require it, and as the Hindu Sanghanists want to relieve our non-Hindu countrymen of even a ghost of suspicion, we are prepared to emphasise that the legitimate rights of minorities with regard to their religion, culture and language will be expressly guaranteed: on one condition only that the equal rights of the majority also must not in any case be encroached upon or abrogated. Every minority may have separate schools to train up their children in their own tongue, their own religious or cultural institutions and can receive Government help also for these, but always in proportion to the taxes they pay into the common Exchequer. The same principle must, of course, hold good in case of the majority too.”
  • After winning the final battle, when the Muslims rushed violently, like a stormy wind, through Sindh, they went on beheading these Buddhists even more ruthlessly than they did the Vedic Hindus. For, the Vedic Hindus were fighting in groups or individually at every place and so they struck at least a little awe and terror in the minds of the Muslims. But as there was no armed opposition in Buddhist Vihars and Buddhist localities, the Muslims cut them down as easily as they would cut vegetable.
    • V.D. Savarkar: Six glorious Epochs, p.136. (-: Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History. Veer Savarkar Prakashan, Bombay 1985 (1963).)
  • These our well-meaning but unthinking friends take their dreams for realities. That is why they are impatient of communal tangles and attribute them to communal organizations. But the solid fact is that the so-called communal questions are but a legacy handed down to us by centuries of a cultural, religious and national antagonism between the Hindus and the Moslems. When time is ripe you can solve them; but you cannot suppress them by merely refusing recognition of them. It is safer to diagnose and treat deep-seated disease than to ignore it. Let us bravely face unpleasant facts as they are. India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and homogeneous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main; the Hindus and the Moslems, in India. And as it has happened in many countries under similar situation in the world the utmost that we can do under the circumstances is to form an Indian State in which none is allowed any special weightage of representation and none is paid an extra-price to buy his loyalty to the State. Mercenaries are paid and bought off, not sons of the Motherland to fight in her defence.
    • V.D. Savarkar: Hindu Rashtra Darshan, quoted in part in Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.332
  • The day Hindus get united, the Congress leaders will wear janeu over the coat.
    • V.D. Savarkar: Samagra Savarkar vol. VIII p 485

HindutvaEdit

  • After all there is throughout this world so far as man is concerned but a single race - the human race, kept alive by one common blood, the human blood. All other talk is at best provisional, a makeshift and only relatively true. (...) Even as it is, not even the aborigines of the Andamans are without some sprinkling of the so-called Aryan blood in their veins and vice-versa. Truly speaking all that one can claim is that one has the blood of all mankind in one’s veins. The fundamental unity of man from pole to pole is true, all else only relatively so.
    • Hindutva, p. 90.
  • We yield to none in our love, admiration and respect for the Buddha-the Dharma-the Sangha. They are all ours. Their glories are ours and ours their failures.
    • Hindutva, p. 12.
  • We are all Hindus and own a common blood. Some of us are Jains and some Jangamas; but Jains or Jangamas—we are all Hindus and own a common blood. Some of us are monists, some, pantheists; some theists and some atheists. But monotheists or atheists—we are all Hindus and own a common blood. We are not only a nation, but a Jati , a born brotherhood. Nothing else counts, it is after all a question of heart. We feel that the same ancient blood that coursed through the veins of Ram and Krishna, Buddha and Mahavir, Nanak and Chaitanya, Basava and Madhava, of Rohidas and Tiruvelluvar courses throughout Hindudom from vein to vein, pulsates from heart to heart. We feel we are a JATI, a race bound together by the dearest ties of blood and therefore it must be so.
  • Our Gods spoke in Sanskrit; our sages thought in Sanskrit, our poets wrote in Sanskrit. All that is best in us—the best thoughts, the best ideas, the best lines—seeks instinctively to clothe itself in Sanskrit. To millions it is still the language of their Gods; to others it is the language of their ancestors; to all it is the language par excellence; a common inheritance, a common treasure that enriches all the family of our sister languages. 46
  • One who considers this vast stretch of land called Bharat
    From the Sindhu to the Sindhu (Indus to the Seas)
    as his fatherland (or land of one’s ancestors) and holy land
    is the one who will be termed and remembered as a Hindu.
  • Our patriotic and noble-minded sister (Sister Nivedita) had adopted our land from Sindu to the seas as her Fatherland. She truly loved it as such, and had our nation been free, we would have been the first to bestow the right of citizenship on such loving souls. So the first essential may, to some extent, be said to hold good in her case. The second essential of common blood of Hindu parentage must, nevertheless and necessarily, be absent in such cases as these. The sacrament of marriage with a Hindu, which really fuses and is universally admitted to do so, two beings into one, may be said to remove this disqualification. But although this second essential failed, either way to hold good in her case, the third important qualification of Hindutva did entitle her to be recognized as a Hindu. For, she had adopted our culture and come to adore our land as her Holyland [sic]. She felt, she was a Hindu and that is, apart from all technicalities, the real and the most important test. But we must not forget that we have to determine the essentials of Hindutva in the sense in which the word is actually used by an overwhelming majority of people. And therefore we must say that any convert of non-Hindu parentage to Hindutva can be a Hindu, if bona fide, he or she adopts our land as his or her country and marries a Hindu, thus coming to love our land as a real Fatherland, and adopts our culture and thus adores our land as the Punyabhu . The children of such a union as that would, other things being equal, be most emphatically Hindus.
  • “At last the great mission which the Sindhus had undertaken of founding a nation and a country, found and reached its geographical limit when the valorous Prince of Ayodhya made a triumphant entry in Ceylon and actually brought the whole land from the Himalayas to the Seas under one sovereign sway. The day when the Horse of Victory returned unchallenged and unchallengeable, the great white Umbrella of Sovereignty was unfurled over that Imperial throne of Ramchandra, the brave, Ramchandra the good, and a loving allegiance to him was sworn, not only by the Princes of Aryan blood, but Hanuman, Sugriva, Bibhishana from the south – that day was the real birth-day of our Hindu people. It was truly our national day: for Aryans and Anaryans knitting themselves into a people were born as a nation.”

About V.D. SavarkarEdit

  • "Strange as it may appear, Mr. Savarkar and Mr. Jinnah, instead of being opposed to each other on the one nation versus two nations issue, are in complete agreement about it. Both agree, not only agree but insist, that there are two nations in India—one the Muslim nation and the other the Hindu nation. They differ only as regards the terms and conditions on which the two nations should live. Mr. Jinnah says India should be cut up into two, Pakistan and Hindustan, the Muslim nation to occupy Pakistan and the Hindu nation to occupy Hindustan. Mr. Savarkar on the other hand insists that, although there are two nations in India, India shall not be divided into two parts, one for Muslims and the other for the Hindus; that the two nations shall dwell in one country and shall live under the mantle of one single constitution; that the constitution shall be such that the Hindu nation will be enabled to occupy a predominant position that is due to it and the Muslim nation made to live in the position of subordinate co-operation with the Hindu nation."
  • Our main plank is Veer Savarkar’s message which he preached at the Calcutta session: ‘Equal rights for all citizens and protection of the culture and religion of every minority’.
  • Here, Godse denies once more that Savarkar had played a role in the assassination. Approver Digamber Badge kept on making this very allegation, possibly because he or the investigating police officers expected some reward from Pandit Nehru in exchange for catching such a big fish. HMS leader and Godse’s lawyer L.B. Bhopatkar revealed several years later, in Manohar Malgonkar’s The Men Who Killed Gandhi.., that Dr Ambedkar, the Law Minister in Nehru’s Cabinet at that time, met him secretly to inform him that Nehru was personally interested in involving Savarkar, though there was no evidence to prove Savarkar’s complicity. His mere imprisonment was successful enough in eliminating him from politics. Manohar Malgonkar, in The Men Who Killed Gandhi writes ‘The strain of the trial, and the year spent in prison while it lasted, wrecked Savarkar’s health and finished him as a force in India’s politics.’ At any rate, the prosecutor could not produce the slightest evidence connecting Savarkar with the murder. In August 1974, Badge admitted to an interviewer that his testimony against Savarkar had been false. Ever since, journalists reluctant to give up the polemical advantage of connecting the main Hindutva ideologue with the murder, glibly introduce him as ‘a co-accused in the Mahatma murder trial.’ In Nehruvian ‘secularism’, superficiality of thought is compensated for by thoroughness in dishonesty.
    • Manohar Malgonkar, in The Men Who Killed Gandhi . Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • Most secularists pretend not to know [the] unambiguous position of Savarkar’s (in many cases, they really don’t know, for Hindu-baiting is usually done without reference to primary sources). Likewise, Savarkar’s plea for caste intermarriage to promote the oneness of Hindu society is usually ignored in order to keep up the pretence that he was a reactionary on caste, an “upper-caste racist” (as Gyan Pandey puts it), and what not. There are no limits to secularist dishonesty... [It] is just another case of secularist justice: Hindu are damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
    • Elst, K. Was Veer Savarkar a Nazi? , 1999 [2]
  • All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder (of Gandhiji) by Savarkar and his group.
  • Hindutva was a political argument made in a poetic register. It was an argument with and against an unnamed Gandhi at an opportune moment when he seemed finished with politics. Hindutva was also a political cry from behind prison walls, reminding the larger world outside that even if Gandhi was no longer on the political scene, Savarkar was back. He was still a leader, a politician capable of pulling together a nationalist community. But unlike Gandhi, he was offering a sense of Hindu-ness that could be the basis for a more genuine and, in the end, more effective nationalism than that of the Mahatma. The startling change for its time was Savarkar’s assertion that it was not religion that made Hindus Hindu. If Gandhi had officiated at the marriage of religion and politics, and Khilafat leaders were using the symbols of religion to forge a community, Savarkar argued that name and place were what bound the Hindu community, not religion . . . The fundamental (negative) contribution of Hindutva was to install a new term for nationalist discourse, one that was both modern and secular, if open to a secular understanding of religious identity. In place of religion qua religion, he secularized a plethora of Hindu religious leaders. In so doing, he did not create a sterilely secular nationalism. He did quite the opposite. He enchanted a secular nationalism by placing a mythic community into a magical land .
    • Janaki Bakhle quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)

Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten PastEdit

Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • I was to slowly discover that Savarkar was a bundle of contradictions and a historian’s enigma. He simultaneously means many things to many people. An alleged atheist and a staunch rationalist who strongly opposed orthodox Hindu beliefs and the caste system and dismissed cow worship as mere superstition, Savarkar was also the most vocal political voice for the Hindu community through the entire course of the Indian freedom struggle.... A feted revolutionary who created an intellectual corpus of literature that inspired the revolutionary movement in India for decades, Savarkar was also a passionate and sensitive poet, a prolific writer and playwright, and a fiery orator. ...The social reformer in him strove to dismantle the scourges of untouchability and caste hierarchies, and advocated a unification of Hindu society.
  • Towards the end of 1926, the first English biography of Savarkar titled The Life of Barrister Savarkar was published in Madras under a curious pen name ‘Chitragupta’. In Hindu mythology, Chitragupta is the accountant of Yama, the God of Death, who keeps a meticulous debit and credit account of every soul’s sins and virtues. There have been various allusions about who the author is—from Congress leader C. Rajagopalachari, the revolutionary V.V.S. Aiyar to Savarkar himself writing under a pseudonym. The identity of the author continues to remain a mystery.
  • Right from his childhood, Vinayak found the caste system that plagued Hindu society reprehensible. In his own little way he broke these barriers. Despite being an upper-caste Brahmin, and a landlord at that, all his childhood friends were from poor backgrounds and belonged to the supposed lower castes.
  • The streak of rationality and questioning tradition too came early to him. Once a multicoloured book on the shelf at home caught his attention and he decided to read it, despite it being in Sanskrit, of which he understood very little. When Damodarpant discovered that his young son was reading the Aranyaka s he was enraged. There was a superstition that reading the Aranyaka s at home forebodes evil for the reader’s worldly life and they needed to be read in seclusion in the woods. This left a lasting question in Vinayak’s mind. How could someone as intelligent as his father believe in such superstitions?, he wondered. Mocking the belief, he continued reading the book without anyone’s knowledge and proved to himself that this was just a fanciful and concocted tale.
  • Vinayak and his friends were absorbing from the Kesari , Pune Vaibhav and other newspapers the stories of these bloody riots and the polarized tinderbox that Maharashtra had become. Each time they heard of the attack on Hindus, they would be enraged and wondered why Hindus could not organize themselves and retaliate instead of suffering repression... Vinayak acknowledges in his memoirs that these experiences taught him how poorly organized and disunited the Hindu community was and how easy it was to subjugate them. 11 The Hindus were perpetually divided among themselves along several fault lines, especially caste, and this made them doubly vulnerable to attacks. They were full of self-doubt and suspicion about the other, and seldom committed to the ‘cause’.
  • In a moment of intense emotion, he rushed to the idol of the Ashtabhuja Bhawani in his home town in Bhagur and poured his heart out to her. He made a fervent vow in front of his family goddess that he was committing himself and his life to free the motherland through armed struggle. He declared in her presence: ‘Shatrus maarta maarta mare to jhunjen! ’ (I will wage war against the enemy and slay them till my last breath).
  • Savarkar is widely reviled in Indian history as an apostle of hate; through a reading of Hindutva I argue that he might better be understood as a spurned lover . . . Hindutva in its time was also a reminder to a Hindu community that even if Gandhi had left the political milieu, there was no need to worry. A political Hindu and a true nationalist was back and ready to lead India, even from behind prison walls. Hindutva was a pugilistic punch thrown against Gandhi in the competitive political ring for national leadership.
  • Despite being born in an orthodox and religious Chitpawan Brahmin community, Vinayak despised the caste system right from childhood. This has been illustrated in the kinships he developed with children from various castes and strata of society, and how he dined at their homes. At a time when most members of his community forbade sea travel for fear of a loss of caste, Vinayak was among the few Brahmins who travelled to London for his education. He had no qualms about going non-vegetarian as well, unlike most Brahmins of the time. As his political thoughts matured during his long years of incarceration, he penned essays on the abhorrent practice of the caste system and untouchability and how these sapped the nation of all vitality. Advocating a strong case for their total, complete and unconditional eradication at a time when these ideas were not yet a part of the political discourse popularized by either Gandhi or Ambedkar, he was the first to envision a casteless India.
  • Back in mainland India, a new movement was brewing. It is important to understand this issue because it sets the context in which Vinayak penned his magnum opus on Hindutva and his belief in the need for Hindu society to organize itself politically. The concept of Hindutva continues to be a contentious one in Indian politics even today..... Meanwhile, it was in the dark confines of Ratnagiri prison that Vinayak began writing his magnum opus on his political philosophy—his conception of what constituted a ‘Hindu nationalist identity’. These were distilled from his experiences in the Andaman and Ratnagiri jails with respect to the conversions, his own attempts at shuddhi and sangathan and the raging debates in the country surrounding the Khilafat agitation. The word that he popularized and which holds immense political currency in contemporary India was ‘Hindutva’ or ‘Hindu-ness’.
  • Right from his early days in the Andamans, Vinayak encouraged people to speak in Hindi....Till then, government records were maintained in Urdu, and even Hindi was written in the Persian script. Vinayak strongly advocated the implementation of the Devanagari script as it was the one in which the oldest language of the subcontinent, Sanskrit, was written. During his interactions with local merchants in his capacity as the foreman of oil collections, Vinayak passed this zeal on to them too. Through his influence, a girls’ school that was started in the Andamans began a compulsory teaching of Hindi in the Devanagari script.

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