Vinayak Damodar Savarkar | Wikipedia audio article

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (pronunciation ), (28
May 1883 – 26 February 1966) was an Indian freedom fighter, barrister and writer, known
for his radical ideas to free India from British rule. Savarkar coined the term Hindutva (Hinduness)
to create a collective “Hindu” identity as an essence of Bharat (India. Savarkar was
also a pragmatic practioner of Hindu Philosophy. He insisted for validating religious myths/blind
Faith against the test of modern science. In that sense he also was a rationalist.
Savarkar’s revolutionary activities began while studying in India and England, where
he was associated with the India House and founded student societies including Abhinav
Bharat Society and the Free India Society, as well as publications espousing the cause
of complete Indian independence by revolutionary means. Savarkar published The Indian War of
Independence about the Indian rebellion of 1857 that was banned by British authorities.
He was arrested in 1910 for his connections with the revolutionary group India House.
Following a failed attempt to escape while being transported from Marseilles, Savarkar
was sentenced to two life terms of imprisonment totaling fifty years and was moved to the
Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but released in 1921 after several mercy petitions
to the Britishers. While in prison, Savarkar wrote the work describing
Hindutva, espousing what it means to be a Hindu, and Hindu pride, in which he defined
as all the people descended of Hindu culture as being part of Hindutva, including Buddhists,
Jains and Sikhs. In 1921, under restrictions after signing a plea for clemency, he was
released on the condition that he renounce revolutionary activities. Travelling widely,
Savarkar became a forceful orator and writer, advocating Hindu political and social unity.
Serving as the president of the Hindu Mahasabha, Savarkar endorsed the idea of India as a Hindu
Rashtra and opposed the Quit India struggle in 1942, calling it a “Quit India but keep
your army” movement. He became a fierce critic of the Indian National Congress and its acceptance
of India’s partition. He was accused of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but acquitted
by the court. His role in the assassination was later established by Kapur Commission
in 1969. The airport at Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar’s
capital, has been named Veer Savarkar International Airport. The commemorative blue plaque on
India House fixed by the Historic Building and Monuments Commission for England reads
“Vinayak Damodar Savarkar 1883-1966 Indian patriot and philosopher lived here”.==Early life==
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was born in the Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin Hindu family of Damodar
and Radhabai Savarkar in the village of Bhagur, near the city of Nashik, Maharashtra. He had
three other siblings namely Ganesh, Narayan, and a sister named Maina. He earned the nickname
“Veer” (Sanskrit:braveheart)when at the age of 12, he led fellow students against a rampaging
horde of Muslims that attacked his village. Highly outnumbered, he inspired the boys to
fight-on until the last Muslim was driven off. Later, he is known to have stated: “Do
not fear them. The Almighty is your strength, so fight, even when facing an enemy stronger
than yourself”After the death of his parents, the eldest sibling Ganesh, known as Babarao,
took responsibility for the family. Babarao played a supportive and influential role in
Vinayak’s teenage life. During this period, Vinayak organised a youth group called Mitra
Mela (Band of Friends) and encouraged revolutionary and nationalist views of passion using this
group. In 1901, Vinayak Savarkar married Yamunabai, daughter of Ramchandra Triambak Chiplunkar,
who supported his university education. Subsequently, in 1902, he enrolled in Fergusson College,
in Pune . As a young man, he was inspired by the new generation of radical political
leaders namely Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai along with
the political struggle against the partition of Bengal and the rising Swadeshi campaign.
After completing his degree, nationalist activist Shyamji Krishna Varma helped Vinayak to go
to England to study law, on a scholarship. It was during this period that the Garam Dal,
literally “Army of the angry,” was formed under the leadership of Tilak as a result
of a split between the moderate, “constitutionalist” wing on the one part, and of Tilak’s extremist
or radical wing in the Indian National Congress. The members of the Garam Dal did not acknowledge
the agenda of the majority moderate Indian National Congress leadership which advocated
dialogue with the British rulers and incremental steps towards Independence by gaining the
confidence of the British. Tilak was soon imprisoned for his support of revolutionary
activities.==Activities at India House==After joining Gray’s Inn law college in London
Vinayak took accommodation at India House. Organized by expatriate social and political
activist Pandit Shyamji, India House was a thriving centre for student political activities.
Savarkar soon founded the Free India Society to help organize fellow Indian students with
the goal of fighting for complete independence through a revolution, declaring, We must stop
complaining about this British officer or that officer, this law or that law. There
would be no end to that. Our movement must not be limited to being against any particular
law, but it must be for acquiring the authority to make laws itself. In other words, we want
absolute independence. Savarkar envisioned a guerrilla war for independence
along the lines of the famous war for Indian independence of 1857. Studying the history
of the revolt, from English as well as Indian sources, Savarkar wrote the book, The History
of the War of Indian Independence. He analysed the circumstances of 1857 uprising and assailed
British rule in India as unjust and oppressive. It was via this book that Savarkar became
one of the first writers to allude the uprising as India’s “First War for Independence.”The
book was banned throughout the British Empire. Madame Bhikaji Cama, an expatriate Indian
revolutionary obtained its publication in the Netherlands, France and Germany. Widely
smuggled and circulated, the book attained great popularity and influenced rising young
Indians. Savarkar was studying revolutionary methods and he came into contact with a veteran
of the Russian Revolution of 1905 who imparted him the knowledge of bomb-making. Savarkar
had printed and circulated a manual amongst his friends on bomb-making and other methods
of guerrilla warfare. In 1909, Madan Lal Dhingra, a keen follower
and friend of Savarkar, assassinated Sir William Hutt Curzon Wyllie in a public meeting. Dhingra’s
action provoked controversy across Britain and India, evoking enthusiastic admiration
as well as condemnation. Savarkar published an article in which he all but endorsed the
murder and worked to organize support, both political and for Dhingra’s legal defence.
At a meeting of Indians called for a condemnation of Dhingra’s deed, Savarkar protested the
intention to condemn and was drawn into a hot debate and angry scuffle with other participants.
A secretive and restricted trial and a sentence awarding the death penalty to Dhingra provoked
an outcry and protest across the Indian student and political community. Strongly protesting
the verdict, Savarkar struggled with British authorities in laying claim to Dhingra’s remains
following his execution. Savarkar hailed Dhingra as a hero and martyr, and began encouraging
revolution with greater intensity.==Arrest in London and Marseille==
In India, Ganesh Savarkar had organised an armed revolt against the Morley-Minto reforms
of 1909. The British police implicated Savarkar in the investigation for allegedly plotting
the crime. Hoping to evade arrest, Savarkar moved to Madame Cama’s home in Paris. He was
nevertheless arrested by police on 13 March 1910. In the final days of freedom, Savarkar
wrote letters to a close friend planning his escape. Knowing that he would most likely
be shipped to India, Savarkar asked his friend to keep track of which ship and route he would
be taken through. When the ship SS Morea reached the port of Marseille on 8 July 1910, Savarkar
escaped from his cell in the hope that his friend would be there to receive him in a
car. But his friend was late in arriving, and the alarm having been raised, Savarkar
was re-arrested.===
Case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration===
Savarkar’s arrest at Marseilles caused the French government to protest to the British,
arguing that the British could not recover Savarkar unless they took appropriate legal
proceedings for his rendition. The dispute came before the Permanent Court of International
Arbitration in 1910, and it gave its decision in 1911. The case excited much controversy
as was reported by the New York Times, and it considered it involved an interesting international
question of the right of asylum. The Court held, firstly, that since there
was a pattern of collaboration between the two countries regarding the possibility of
Savarkar’s escape in Marseilles and there was neither force nor fraud in inducing the
French authorities to return Savarkar to them, the British authorities did not have to hand
him back to the French in order for the latter to hold rendition proceedings. On the other
hand, the tribunal also observed that there had been an “irregularity” in Savarkar’s arrest
and delivery over to the Indian Army Military Police guard.===Trial and Sentence===
Arriving in Bombay, Savarkar was taken to the Yervada Central Jail in Pune. The trial
before the special tribunal was started on 10 September 1910 . One of the charges on
Savarkar was he abetted murder. Following a trial, Savarkar, aged 28, was convicted
and sentenced to 50-years imprisonment and transported on 4 July 1911 to the infamous
Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He was not considered by the British government
as a political prisoner.==Prisoner in Cellular Jail in Andaman==His fellow captives included many political
prisoners, who were forced to perform hard labour for many years. Reunited with his brother
Ganesh, the Savarkars nevertheless struggled in the harsh environment: Forced to arise
at 5 am, tasks including cutting trees and chopping wood, and working at the oil mill
under regimental strictness, with talking amidst prisoners strictly prohibited during
mealtime. Prisoners were subject to frequent mistreatment and torture. Contact with the
outside world and home was restricted to the writing and mailing of one letter a year.
In these years, Savarkar withdrew within himself and performed his routine tasks mechanically.
Obtaining permission to start a rudimentary jail library, Savarkar would also teach some
fellow convicts to read and write.===Mercy Petitions===
Savarkar applied to the Bombay Government for certain concessions in connection with
his sentences. However, by Government letter No. 2022, dated 4 April 1911, his Application
was rejected and he was informed that the question of remitting the second sentence
of transportation for life would be considered in due course on the expiry of the first sentence
of transportation for life.Merely a month after arriving in the Cellular Jail, Andaman
and Nicobar Islands, Savarkar submitted his first mercy petition on 30 August 1911. This
petition was rejected on 3 September 1911 Savarkar submitted his next mercy petition
on November 14, 1913, and presented it personally to the Home Member of the Governor General’s
council, Sir Reginald Craddock. In his letter, asking for forgiveness, he described himself
as a “prodigal son” longing to return to the “parental doors of the government”. He wrote
that his release from the jail will recast the faith of many Indians in the British rule.
Also he said “Moreover, my conversion to the constitutional line would bring back all those
misled young men in India and abroad who were once looking up to me as their guide. I am
ready to serve the government in any capacity they like, for as my conversion is conscientious
so I hope my future conduct would be. By keeping me in jail, nothing can be got in comparison
to what would be otherwise.”In 1917, Savarkar submitted another mercy petition, this time
for a general amnesty of all political prisoners. Savarkar was informed on February 1, 1918
that the mercy petition was placed before the British Indian Government.
In December 1919, there was a Royal proclamation by King Emperor George V. The summary of this
proclamation is as follows Paragraph 1: Reference to Acts of 1773, 1784,
1833, 1858, 1861 and 1909—The Act of 1919 entrusts the elected representatives of the
people with a definite share in Government and points the way to full responsible Government
hereafter. Paragraph 2: Mention of what Queen Victoria,
King Edward VII and he himself declared between 1858 and 1910.
Paragraph 3: Britain’s desire to make it possible for India to take the control of her domestic
affairs on her own shoulders. Paragraph 4: Recognition of the political
awakening and political aspirations of the people of the country.
Paragraph 5: Hope that the new legislatures shall succeed.
Paragraph 6: An appeal to forgive and forget for removing all bitterness and creating an
atmosphere of goodwill for the success of the reforms. Declaration of Royal clemency
to political offenders. Paragraph 7: Reference to Chamber of Princes.
Paragraph 8: Intention of sending Prince of Wales to visit India to further cordiality
of relations between the King and his subjects.In the view of Royal proclamation, Savarkar submitted
his fourth mercy petition to the British Government on 30 March 1920
. In which he stated that “So far from believing
in the militant school of the Bukanin type, I do not contribute even to the peaceful and
philosophical anarchism of a Kuropatkin [sic.] or a Tolstoy. And as to my revolutionary tendencies
in the past:- it is not only now for the object of sharing the clemency but years before this
have I informed of and written to the Government in my petitions (1918, 1914) about my firm
intention to abide by the constitution and stand by it as soon as a beginning was made
to frame it by Mr. Montagu. Since that the Reforms and then the Proclamation have only
confirmed me in my views and recently I have publicly avowed my faith in and readiness
to stand by the side of orderly and constitutional development.”This petition was rejected on
12 July 1920 by the British government. After considering the petition, the British government
contemplated releasing Ganesh Savarkar but not Vinayak Savarkar. The rationale for doing
so was stated as follows It may be observed that if Ganesh is released
and Vinayak retained in custody, the latter will become in some measure a hostage for
the former, who will see that his own misconduct does not jeopardize his brother’s chances
of release at some future date. In 1920, the Indian National Congress and
leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Vithalbhai Patel and Bal Gangadhar Tilak demanded his
unconditional release. Savarkar signed a statement endorsing his trial, verdict and British law,
and renouncing violence, a bargain for freedom. Jaywant Joglekar, who authored a book euologising
Savarkar as ‘Father of Hindu Nationalism’, considers Savarkar’s appeal for clemency a
tactical ploy, like Shivaji’s letter to Aurangzeb, during his arrest at Agra etc.However, such
claims are disputed by others. The Indian historian Bipan Chandra claimed that post
Savarkar’s release from jail, he was not an anti-imperialist any longer, and that he accepted
the humiliating conditions of his release set forth by the British government, including
his non-participation in politicsA portrait of Savarkar was unveiled in the Indian Parliament
in 2003.==Restricted Freedom in Ratnagiri==
On 2 May 1921, the Savarkar brothers were moved to a jail in Ratnagiri, and later to
the Yerwada Central Jail. He was finally released on 6 January 1924 under stringent restrictions
– he was not to leave Ratnagiri District and was to refrain from political activities
for the next five years. As a political internee in Ratnagiri he demanded an amount of Rs 100
per month. The British Government agreed on a stipend of Rs 60 per month in lieu of his
compulsory unemployment. However, police restrictions on his activities would not be dropped until
provincial autonomy was granted in 1937.==Leader of the Hindu Mahasabha==
In the wake of the rising popularity of the Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah,
Savarkar and his party began gaining attraction in the national political environment. Savarkar
moved to Bombay and was elected president of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, and would
serve until 1943. The Congress swept the polls in 1937 but conflicts between the Congress
and Jinnah would exacerbate Hindu-Muslim political divisions. Jinnah derided Congress rule as
a “Hindu Raj”, and hailed 22 December 1939 as a “Day of Deliverance” for Muslims when
the Congress resigned en masse in protest when the British India Governor-General declared
India’s inclusion into World War II for the United Kingdom and its allies against Germany
and its allies. Savarkar’s message of Hindu unity and empowerment gained increasing popularity
amidst the worsening communal climate. Savarkar as president of the Hindu Mahasabha,
during the Second World War, advanced the slogan “Hinduize all Politics and Militarize
Hindudom”, he decided to support the British war effort in India seeking military training
for the Hindus. When the Congress launched the Quit India movement in 1942, Savarkar
criticised it and asked Hindus to stay active in the war effort and not disobey the government,
he urged the Hindus to enlist in the armed forces to learn the “arts of war”. Hindu Mahasabha
activists protested Gandhi’s initiative to hold talks with Jinnah in 1944, which Savarkar
denounced as “appeasement.” He assailed the British proposals for transfer of power, attacking
both the Congress and the British for making concessions to Muslim separatists. Soon after
Independence, Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee resigned as Vice-President of the Hindu Mahasabha dissociating
himself from its Akhand Hindustan plank, which implied undoing partition.===Opposition to Quit India Movement===
Under Savarkar, the Hindu Mahasabha openly opposed the call for the Quit India Movement
and boycotted it officially. Savarkar even went to the extent of writing a letter titled
“Stick to your Posts”, in which he instructed Hindu Sabhaites who happened to be “members
of municipalities, local bodies, legislatures or those serving in the army…to
stick to their posts” across the country, and not to join the Quit India Movement at
any cost.===Alliance with Muslim League and others
===The Indian National Congress won a massive
victory in the Indian provincial elections, 1937, decimating the Muslim League and the
Hindu Mahasabha. However, in 1939, the Congress ministries resigned in protest against Viceroy
Lord Linlithgow’s action of declaring India to be a belligerent in the Second World War
without consulting the Indian people. This led to the Hindu Mahasabha, under Savarkar’s
presidency, joining hands with the Muslim League and other parties to form governments,
in certain provinces. Such coalition governments were formed in Sindh, NWFP, and Bengal. In Sindh, Hindu Mahasabha members joined Ghulam
Hussain Hidayatullah’s Muslim League government. In Savarkar’s own words,”Witness the fact
that only recently in Sind, the Sind-Hindu-Sabha on invitation had taken the responsibility
of joining hands with the League itself in running coalition government In March 1943,
Sindh Government became the first Provincial Assembly of the sub-continent to pass an official
resolution in favour of the creation of Pakistan. In spite of the Hindu Mahasabha’s avowed public
opposition to any political division of India, the Mahasabha Ministers of the Sindh government
did not resign, rather they simply “contented themselves with a protest”In the North West
Frontier Province, Hindu Mahasabha members joined hands with Sardar Aurangzeb Khan of
the Muslim League to form a government in 1943. The Mahasabha member of the cabinet
was Finance Minister Mehar Chand Khanna.In Bengal, Hindu Mahasabha joined the Krishak
Praja Party led Progressive Coalition ministry of Fazlul Haq in December, 1941. Savarkar
appreciated the successful functioning of the coalition government.===Civil resistance movement===
Hindu Mahasabha under the leadership of Savarkar started a civil resistance movement in March
1939. The objective of the Satyagraha was to secure religious and cultural liberty for
the Hindus who at that time constituted 86% of total population of Hyderabad State. Many
notable people like Senapati Bapat, V. G. Deshpande, Prabhakar Balwant Dani, Madhavrao
Mule, took part in it. The Arya Samaj also sent around 10000 civil resisters. At last,
on July 19, 1939, the Nizam government announced some political reforms. In the new dispensation,
50% seats were left for non-Muslims. Although Hindus were the majority in the state and
Muslims were in minority, Hindu Mahasabha accepted this proposal. They withdrew the
movement despite the fact that these reforms for partial reforms. Indian National Congress
did not support this movement and called it ‘communal’ and ‘anti-national’.===Views on Mahatma Gandhi===
Savarkar was an outspoken critic of Mahatma Gandhi. He criticized Gandhi for being a hypocrite
as he supported use of violence by the British against Germany during World War II. He also
criticized his appeasement of Muslims at the time of Khilafat Movement.
In articles from the 1920s to the 1940s Savarkar considered Gandhi as a naive leader who “happens
to babble…[about] compassion, forgiveness”, yet “notwithstanding his sublime and broad
heart, the Mahatma has a very narrow and immature head”.===Opposition to the partition of India===
Dr Ambedkar’s opinion about Savarkar’s position is as follows:
“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. In the
struggle for political power between, the two nations the rule of the game which Mr.
Savarkar prescribes is to be one man one vote, be the man Hindu or Muslim. In his scheme
a Muslim is to have no advantage which a Hindu does not have. Minority is to be no justification
for privilege and majority is to be no ground for penalty. The State will guarantee the
Muslims any defined measure of political power in the form of Muslim religion and Muslim
culture. But the State will not guarantee secured seats in the Legislature or in the
Administration and, if such guarantee is insisted upon by the Muslims,/16/ such guaranteed quota
is not to exceed their proportion to the general population. Thus by confiscating its weightages,
Mr. Savarkar would even strip the Muslim nation of all the political privileges it has secured
so far.”” On 1943 Savarkar himself expressed his strong
support for Jinnah’s demand for separate nation for Muslims before partition which ended all
confusion regarding his view on this matter. On August 15 1943 in Nagpur, he unequivocally
said : “I have no quarrel with Mr Jinnah’s two-nation
theory. We, Hindus, are a nation by ourselves and it is a historical fact that Hindus and
Muslims are two nations.”===Support for Jewish state in Palestine
===Savarkar in a statement issued on 19 December
1947, expressed joy at the recognition of the claim of Jewish people to establish an
independent Jewish state, and likened the event to the glorious day on which Moses led
them out of Egyptian bondage. He considered that justice demanded restoration of entire
Palestine to the Jews, their historical holy land and Fatherland. He regretted India’s
vote at the United Nations against the creation of the Jewish state terming the vote a policy
of appeasement of Muslims.==Arrest and acquittal in Mahatma’s assassination
==Following the assassination of Gandhi on 30
January 1948, police arrested the assassin Nathuram Godse and his alleged accomplices
and conspirators. He was a member of the Hindu Mahasabha and of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak
Sangh. Godse was the editor of Agrani – Hindu Rashtra, a Marathi daily from Pune which was
run by the company “The Hindu Rashtra Prakashan Ltd” (The Hindu Nation Publications). This
company had contributions from such eminent persons as Gulabchand Hirachand, Bhalji Pendharkar
and Jugalkishore Birla. Savarkar had invested ₹15000 in the company. Savarkar, a former
president of the Hindu Mahasabha, was arrested on 5 February 1948, from his house in Shivaji
Park, and kept under detention in the Arthur Road Prison, Mumbai. He was charged with murder,
conspiracy to murder and abatement to murder. A day before his arrest, Savarkar in a public
written statement, as reported in The Times of India”, Mumbai dated 7 February 1948, termed
Gandhi’s assassination a fratricidal crime, endangering India’s existence as a nascent
nation. The mass of papers seized from his house had revealed nothing that could remotely
be connected with Gandhi’s murder. Due to lack of evidence, Savarkar was arrested under
the Preventive Detention Act.===Approver’s testimony===
Godse claimed full responsibility for planning and carrying out the assassination. However,
according to the Approver Badge, on 17 January 1948, Nathuram Godse went to have a last darshan
(audience/interview) with Savarkar in Bombay before the assassination. While Badge and
Shankar waited outside, Nathuram and Apte went in. On coming out Apte told Badge that
Savarkar blessed them “Yashasvi houn ya” (“यशस्वी होऊन या”, be successful and return).
Apte also said that Savarkar predicted that Gandhi’s 100 years were over and there was
no doubt that the task would be successfully finished. However Badge’s testimony was not
accepted as the approver’s evidence lacked independent corroboration and hence Savarkar
was acquitted. In the last week of August 1974, Mr. Manohar
Malgonkar saw Digamber Badge several times and in particular, questioned him about the
veracity of his testimony against Savarkar. Badge insisted to Mr. Manohar Malgonkar that
” even though he had blurted out the full story of the plot as far as he knew, without
much persuasion, he had put up a valiant struggle against being made to testify against Savarkar”.
In the end, Badge gave in. He agreed to say on oath that he saw Nathuram Godse and Apte
with Savarker and that Savarkar, within Badge’s hearing, had blessed their venture…===Kapur commission===On 12 November 1964, at a religious programme
organised in Pune to celebrate the release of Gopal Godse, Madanlal Pahwa and Vishnu
Karkare from jail after the expiry of their sentences, Dr. G. V. Ketkar, grandson of Bal
Gangadhar Tilak, former editor of Kesari and then editor of “Tarun Bharat”, who presided
over the function, gave information of a conspiracy to kill Gandhi, about which he professed knowledge
six months before the act. Ketkar was arrested. A public furor ensued both outside and inside
the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and both houses of the Indian parliament. Under pressure
of 29 members of parliament and public opinion the then Union home minister Gulzarilal Nanda
appointed Gopal Swarup Pathak, M. P. and a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India
as a Commission of Inquiry to re-investigate the conspiracy to murder Gandhi. The central
government intended on conducting a thorough inquiry with the help of old records in consultation
with the government of Maharashtra. Pathak was given three months to conduct his inquiry,
subsequently Jevanlal Kapur a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India was appointed
chairman of the Commission.The Kapur Commission was provided with evidence not produced in
the court; especially the testimony of two of Savarkar’s close aides – Appa Ramachandra
Kasar, his bodyguard, and Gajanan Vishnu Damle, his secretary. The testimony of Mr. Kasar
and Mr. Damle was already recorded by Bombay police on 4th March 1948, but apparently,
these testimonies were not presented before the court during the trial. In these testimonies,
it is said that Godse and Apte visited Savarkar on or about 23 or 24 January, which was when
they returned from Delhi after the bomb incident. Damle deposed that Godse and Apte saw Savarkar
in the middle of January and sat with him (Savarkar) in his garden. The C. I. D. Bombay
was keeping vigil on Savarkar from 21 to 30 January 1948 . The crime report from C. I.
D. does not mention Godse or Apte met Savarkar during this time. Moreover, if testimonies
of Mr. Kasar and Mr. Damle were so damning then it is not clear why Bombay Police did
not produce them before the court during the trial. This suggest that testimonies might
have been obtained under the police pressure. Justice Kapur concluded: “All these facts
taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar
and his group.”The arrest of V. D. Savarkar was mainly based on approver Digambar Badge’s
testimony. The commission did not re-interview Digambar Badge. At the time of inquiry of
the commission, Badge was alive and working in Bombay.==Later life and death==
After Gandhi’s assassination Savarkar’s home in Dadar, Mumbai was stoned by angry mobs.
After he was acquitted of the allegations related to Gandhi’s assassination and released
from jail, Savarkar was arrested by the government, for making “militant Hindu nationalist speeches”,
he was released after agreeing to give up political activities. He continued addressing
social and cultural elements of Hindutva. He resumed political activism after the ban
on it was lifted, it was however limited until his death in 1966 because of ill health. His
followers bestowed upon him honours and financial awards when he was alive. Two thousand RSS
workers gave his funeral procession a guard of honour. According to McKean, there was
public antipathy between Savarkar and the Congress for most of his political career,
yet after independence Congress ministers, Vallabhbhai Patel and C. D. Deshmukh unsuccessfully
sought partnership with the Hindu Mahasabha and Savarkar. It was forbidden for Congress
party members to participate in public functions honouring Savarkar. Nehru refused to share
the stage during the centenary celebrations of the India’s First War of Independence held
in Delhi. After the independence of India, Jawaharlal Nehru had put forward a proposal
to demolish the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and build a hospital in its place. After the
death of Nehru, the Congress government, under Prime Minister Shastri, started to pay him
a monthly pension.===Death===
On 8 November 1963, Savarkar’s wife, Yamuna, died. On 1 February 1966, Savarkar renounced
medicines, food and water which he termed as atmaarpan (fast until death). Before his
death he had written an article titled “Atmahatya Nahi Atmaarpan” in which he argued that when
one’s life mission is over and ability to serve the society is left no more, it is better
to end the life at will rather than waiting for death. His condition was described to
have become as “extremely serious” before his death on 26 February 1966 at his residence
in Bombay (now Mumbai), and that he faced difficulty in breathing; efforts to revive
him failed and was declared dead at 11:10 a.m. (IST) that day. Prior to his death, Savarkar
had asked his relatives to perform only his funeral and do away with the rituals of the
10th and 13th day of the Hindu faith. Accordingly, his last rites were performed at an electric
crematorium in Mumbai’s Sonapur locality by his son Vishwas the following day.He was mourned
by large crowds that attended his cremation. He left behind a son Vishwas and a daughter
Prabha Chiplunkar. His first son, Prabhakar, had died in infancy. His home, possessions
and other personal relics have been preserved for public display.There was no official mourning
by the then Congress party government of Maharashtra or at the centre.The indifference to Savarkar
continued long after his death==
Political Views=====
Hindu nationalism===During his incarceration, Savarkar’s views
began turning increasingly towards Hindu cultural and political nationalism, and the next phase
of his life remained dedicated to this cause. In the brief period he spent at the Ratnagiri
jail, Savarkar wrote his ideological treatise – Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?. Smuggled out
of the prison, it was published by Savarkar’s supporters under his alias “Maharatta.” In
this work, Savarkar promotes a radical new vision of Hindu social and political consciousness.
Savarkar began describing a “Hindu” as a patriotic inhabitant of Bharatavarsha, venturing beyond
a religious identity. While emphasising the need for patriotic and social unity of all
Hindu communities, he described Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism as one and the
same. He outlined his vision of a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu Nation) as “Akhand Bharat” (United
India), purportedly stretching across the entire Indian subcontinent. He defined Hindus
as being neither Aryan nor Dravidian but as “People who live as children of a common motherland,
adoring a common holyland.”Scholars, historians and Indian politicians have been divided in
their interpretation of Savarkar’s ideas. A self-described atheist, Savarkar regards
being Hindu as a cultural and political identity. He often stressed social and community unity
between Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, to the exclusion of Muslims and Christians.
Savarkar saw Muslims and Christians as “misfits” in the Indian civilization who could not truly
be a part of the nation. He argued that the holiest sites of Islam and Christianity are
in the Middle East and not India, hence the loyalty of Muslims and Christians to India
is divided.After his release from jail on 6 January 1924. Savarkar helped found the
Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha, aiming to work for the social and cultural preservation of Hindu
heritage and civilisation. Becoming a frequent and forceful orator, Sarvakar agitated for
the use of Hindi as a common national language and against caste discrimination and untouchability.
Another activity he started was to reconvert to Hinduism those who had converted to other
faiths. This included the eight members of a Brahmin family named Dhakras who had converted
to Christianity. Savarkar re-converted the family at a public function and also bore
the marriage expenses of the two daughters in the family.Focusing his energies on writing,
Savarkar authored the Hindu Pad-pada-shahi – a book documenting the Maratha empire
– and My Transportation for Life – an account of his early revolutionary days, arrest,
trial and incarceration. He also wrote and published a collection of poems, plays and
novels. He also wrote a book named Majhi Janmathep (“My Life-term”) about his experience in Andaman
prison.===Fascism and World war II===
In many of Savarkar’s speeches and writings, he praises Nazi ideology. Savarkar criticized
Nehru for opposing Nazism, arguing “Surely Hitler knows better than Pandit Nehru does
what suits Germany best”. In his 1949 book, Hindu Rashtra Darshan, Savarkar wrote “Nazism
proved undeniably the savior of Germany”. Savarkar often compared Germany’s German majority
and Jewish minority as analogous to India’s Hindu majority and Muslim minority, though
Savarkar never mentions the persecution of Jews in Germany. Savarkar never said that
he was a proponent of murder and genocide against minorities, and instead desired peaceful
assimilation. Savarkar condemned both German Jews and the Indian Muslims for their supposed
inability to assimilate. In 1938, he wrote, “if we Hindus in India grow stronger in time,
these Moslem friends of the league type will have to play the part of German Jews.” He
further added that India “must be a Hindu land, reserved for Hindus”.===Jews===
Savarkar supported the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel, which was not only
in the spirit of his nationalism but also what Savarkar saw in the Jewish state as a
barricade against the Muslim Arab world.===Muslims===
Rachel McDermott, Leonard A. Gordon, Ainslie Embree, Frances Pritchett and Dennis Dalton
state that Savarkar promoted an anti-Muslim form of Hindu nationalism. Scholar Vinayak
Chaturvedi states that Savarkar was known for his anti-Muslim writings.
Savarkar saw Muslims in the Indian police and military to be “potential traitors”. He
advocated that India reduce the number of Muslims in the military, police and public
service and ban Muslims from owning or working in munitions factories.
Savarkar criticized Gandhi for being concerned about Indian Muslims. Chaturvedi notes that
there was a “shift” in Savakar’s views: in his earlier writings he argued for “Indian
independence from British rule”, whereas in later writings he focused on “Hindu independence
from Christians and Muslims”. In his 1907 Indian War of Independence, Savarkar includes
Muslims as heroes. This was omitted in his later writings; his 1925 Hindu-pad-paatshahi
included Hindu heroes but not Muslim ones. In his 1963 Six Glorious Epochs, Savarkar
says Muslims and Christians wanted to “destroy” Hinduism.==Religious views==
Although Savarkar is regarded as a Hindu Nationalist, he professed atheism (nirīśvaravāda). It
should however, be noted that atheism within Hinduism is different from its Western counterpart.
Many Hindus do not profess belief in deities or a God, as it is not a single religion,
but a collection of many diverse philosophies and faiths. Savarkar still had spirituality,
and a mystical view of life, and gave great importance to mythology and symbolism.==Publications==
Savarkar’s literary works in Marathi include “Kamala”, “Mazi Janmathep” (My Life Sentence),
and most famously 1857 – The First War of Independence, in which Savarkar popularised
the term “First War of Independence” for what the British referred to as the “Sepoy Mutiny”.
Another book was Kale Pani (Black Water which means “life sentence” on the island prison
on the Andaman islands), which reflected the treatment of Indian Independence activists
by the British. To counter the then British propagated view that India’s history was a
saga of continuous defeat, he wrote an inspirational historical work, Saha Soneri Pane (Six Golden
Pages), recounting some of the “Golden periods” of Indian history. At the same time, religious
divisions in India were beginning to be exacerbated. He described what he saw as the atrocities
of British and Muslims on Hindu residents in Kerala in the book, Mopalyanche Band (Muslims’
Strike) and also Gandhi Gondhal (Gandhi’s Confusion), a political critique of Gandhi’s
politics. Savarkar, by now, had become a committed and persuasive critic of the Gandhian vision
of India’s future. He is also the author of the poems Sagara
pran talmalala (O Great Sea, My Heart Aches for the Motherland), and Jayostute (written
in praise of freedom). When in the Cellular jail, Savarkar was denied pen and paper. He
composed and wrote his poems on the prison walls with thorns and pebbles, memorised thousands
lines of his poetry for years till other prisoners returning home brought them to mainland India.
Savarkar is credited with several neologisms in Marathi and Hindi, including “Hutatma”
(Martyr), “Mahapaur” ( Mayor), Digdarshak (leader or director, one who points in the
right direction), Shatkar (a score of six runs in cricket), Saptahik (weekly), Sansad
(Parliament), “doordhwani” (telephone), “tanklekhan” (typewriting) among others.He chaired Marathi
Sahitya Sammelan in 1938.===Selected bibliography===
Savarkar Samagra: Complete Works of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 10 volumes,ISBN 81-7315-331-0
Essentials of Hindutva Nagpur, 1928. The Indian War of Independence, 1857. New
Delhi: Rajdhani Granthnagar, 1970; 1st ed., 1908.
Hindu Rashtra Darshan: A Collection of Presidential Speeches Delivered from the Hindu Mahasabha
Platform. Bombay: Khare, 1949. Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History. Trans.
and ed. S. T. Godbole. Bombay: Veer Savarkar Prakashan, 1985.
My Transportation for Life. Trans. V. N. Naik. Bombay: Veer Savarkar Prakashan, 1984; 1st
ed., 1949. सहा सोनेरी पाने
– १ ते ४ सहा सोनेरी पाने – ५ व ६ Saha Soneri Paane
(translation: Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History)
Joseph Mazzini (on Giuseppe Mazzini) 1857 che Svatantrya Samar
Hindupadpaatshahi जात्युच्छेदक निबंध
Jatyochhedak Nibandha Moplyanche Banda
Maazi Janmathep (translation: My life imprisonment) Kale Pani
Shatruchya Shibirat Londonchi batamipatre (translation: London
Newsletters) Andamanchya Andheritun
विज्ञाननिष्ठ निबंध Vidnyan Nishtha Nibandha
Hindurashtra Darshan Hindutvache Panchapran
Kamala Mazi Janmathep माझी जन्मठेप
Savarkaranchya Kavita (translation: Poems by Savarkar)
Sanyasta Khadg Sattavanche swatantryasamar सत्तावनचे
स्वातंत्र्यसमर 1857 che swatantryasanar vol. 1 – Jwalamukhi
१८५७ चे स्वातंत्र्य समर – भाग १ – ज्वालामुखी
1857 che swatantryasanar vol. 2 – Sphot १८५७ चे स्वातंत्र्य समर
– भाग २ – स्फोट 1857 che swatantryasanar vol. 3 – Agnikallol’
१८५७ चे स्वातंत्र्य समर – भाग ३ – अग्नीकल्लोळ
1857 che swatantryasanar vol. 4 – Tatpurti shantata १८५७ चे स्वातंत्र्य
समर – भाग ४ – तात्पुरती शांतता
Suicide and Self Sacrifice (translation) Aata mrutyuche swagat karave? आता मृत्युचे
स्वागत करावे? Aatmcharitya – mazya aathavani आत्मचरित्र
– माझ्या आठवणी Aatmacharitya – poorvapithik athang आत्मचरित्र
– पूर्वपिठीक अथांग Aatmahatya ani aatmarpan आत्महत्या
आणि आत्मार्पण Aitihasik nivedane ऐतिहासिक
निवेदने Andamanchya andheritun अंदमानच्या
अंधेरीतून Andhashrddha nirmulan – part 1 अंधश्रद्धा
निर्मुलन कथा १ Andhashrddha nirmulan – part 2 अंधश्रद्धा
निर्मुलन कथा 2 Bhashshuddhi lekh भाषा शुद्धी
लेख==Legacy==In the 1996 Malayalam movie Kaalapani directed
by Priyadarshan, the Hindi actor Annu Kapoor played the role of Savarkar.
The Marathi and Hindi music director and Savarkar follower, Sudhir Phadke, and Ved Rahi made
the biopic film Veer Savarkar, which was released in 2001 after many years in production. Savarkar
is portrayed by Shailendra Gaur. A portrait of Savarkar was unveiled in the
Indian Parliament in 2003. In the recent past, the Shiv Sena party has
demanded that the Indian Government posthumously confer upon him India’s highest civilian award,
the Bharat Ratna. Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena chief, while reiterating this demand for Bharat
Ratna in 2017, has also suggested that a replica of the prison cell where Savarkar was imprisoned
should be built in Mumbai and the youth should be educated about Savarkar’s contribution
towards the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and the Indian freedom struggle

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