Life story of Veer Savarkar

Revolutionary Activities  

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.

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