Sunday 26 February 2017

Veer Savarkar -2

Savarkar had been sent to the Cellular Jail in the Andamans in 1910 to serve a sentence of 50 years of hard labour. Although he was shifted to India in 1921, he was kept in various jails until 1924. Even after release, he was kept under one restriction or the other until 1937.

A keen and perceptive student of history, he had concluded that the absence of geographical-cultural nationalism in the Indian subcontinent had led to the slavery of India for centuries.

So, along with militarisation, he made the concept of Hindutva a cornerstone of his political philosophy. He propagated that every Indian must regard the subcontinent as the ultimate repository of all his loyalties, without reservation.

Therefore, he called for faith and commitment of all Indians to undivided India. The Congress felt that this buttressed the two-nation theory and opposed Hindutva.

Veer Savarkar was a patriot to the core since the tender age of 12. He believed that a violent struggle was the only means to secure freedom from the British yoke.

Savarkar had looked upon the freedom struggle as an unending war, and to him everything was fair for so long as he could get at the Imperial power. He was not bound to tell the truth to his enemy. He was not a satyagrahi, he was a warrior, and had no compunction in practicing deceit with the British rulers -- incidentally, 'truth' is not a principal of war, but surprise is.

Savarkar was not an orthodox man and did not believe in Chaturvarnya (the four-fold Hindu caste system). He regarded untouchability as part of the seven shackles that kept Hindus and India weak. He advocated inter-caste marriages and was one with Babasaheb Ambedkar on abolishing castes.

Where he differed with Ambedkar was on issue of religious conversion to fight caste.

On April 14, 1942, on the occasion of Ambedkar's 50th birthday, the following message was sent to him by Veer Savarkar: 'With his personality, learning, skill in organisation and capability of giving leadership, Ambedkar would have become a great mainstay of the country today. The success he achieved in eradicating untouchability and infusing self-confidence and spirit among untouchables was valuable service to India. His work is of eternal nature, humanitarian and that of imbued with pride in one's own country.'

Savarkar fought for Dalit entry into temples and built a temple in Ratnagiri where he appointed a Dalit priest. He was of the firm belief that unless Hindu society got over caste discrimination, the country could never progress.

His speech at a Ganesh festival in a Dalit locality is worth reproducing: 'I wish I would see untouchability removed in my lifetime. After my death may those giving shoulder to my coffin comprise businessmen, Dhed and Dome (the so-called low-castes), apart from Brahmins. Only on being consigned to flames by them will my soul rest in peace.'

He was on the same page as Dr Ambedkar when it came to eliminating caste prejudice and disadvantage.

Savarkar wanted modernity, technology, machines and industry. He was a worshipper of power.

He embraced modernity and wanted all old traditions tested against logic and usefulness. In this sense he was closer to and an admirer of Jawaharlal Nehru's policy of industrialisation and inculcation of scientific temper.

The differences that he had with Gandhi were just too many and Savarkar took up issues with him. He was a fiery orator, and his political meetings after 1937 attracted huge crowds. He highlighted his differences with Gandhi in scathing terms and left no one in any doubt.

This approach brought Savarkar into further conflict with the Congress. And the party decided to diminish him. No wonder that he was later implicated in the conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi.

Dr Ambedkar, then the law minister in Nehru's Cabinet, had revealed to Savarkar's lawyer that Savarkar was implicated in the trial on the flimsiest of grounds by Nehru despite the opposition by the entire Cabinet.

Apart from being a fearless man of action, Savarkar also happened to be a philosopher, an outstanding man of letters, and a poet extraordinary. His inspiring hymn to the Goddess of Freedom written, in Sanskrit and Marathi, is popular to this day. It is not only sung on public occasions, it is set to music and played by military bands.

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