Life Story of VEER SAVARKAR Part 3

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  • Part three covers Savarkar as a social reformer, rationalist & author and end of internment in 1937 with his unconditional release.

Part ONE covered childhood and college, revolutionary activities in London, epic escape & trial, period 1866 to 1911.

 

Part TWO starts with his entry into Cellular Jail, education of fellow prisoners, preventing conversions to Islam, German efforts to rescue him, war against British by 8,000 predominantly Sikh revolutionaries. Lastly, release from jail & return to India.

Content herein is verbatim from book Veer Savarkar’ by well-known biographer Dhananjay Keer. Credits and copyright Popular Prakashan Private Limited. Keer was fortunate to study Savarkar closely and discuss with him his views and work. This has given the book a stamp of authority.

 

In part 3 read how Savarkar worked to remove untouchability, unite Hindus, started a pan Hindu temple and met Dr Hegdewar, Gandhi, Shaukat Ali and The Royal Family of Nepal. As a rationalist & author he wrote about importance of science, authored books and plays. The government went on extending the period of Savarkar’s internment from time to time-1929 to 1937 as they considered him a danger to the peace. Post 1937 provincial elections he was unconditionally released.

Social Revolution                                           

In January 1924 the Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha was established with the blessings of Savarkar. The main purpose of the Sabha was to organize and unite Hindus into one organic whole, enable them to oppose effectively any unjust aggression while protecting their own cultural, religious and economic rights. Hindus would strive for the general welfare of mankind, universal compassion being the basic urge of Hinduism.

The first event was the visit to Ratnagiri in May 1924 by Shankaracharya. But plague broke out around this time forcing Savarkar to shift to Nasik. He worked for the uplift of Hindu society, saved Mahar Hindus from the snare of Afghani Muslims etc.

The rousing reception accorded to Savarkar in Nasik made the government suspicious so they shifted him back to Ratnagiri.

Enroute he stopped at Mumbai & met Shaukat Ali. While admiring Savarkar’s sacrifice Shaukat Ali said he disliked his Hindu ideology and wished it be stopped. To this Savarkar asked Ali to stop his Khilafat Movement first who replied, Khilafat was the breath of his nostrils. Savarkar replied that as long as there were separate organizations for Muslims and they converted Hindus, the Hindu Sanghatan movement would go on unabated.

Gradually the Hindus of Ratnagiri began to worship strength, consolidation and unity. This upset the Gandhian pro-Muslim followers.

In 1927 the question of playing music outside a mosque came up. Music is played before mosque in Muslim countries without any objection. Islam does not insist on the slaughter of the cow yet it is done to humiliate the Hindus. Anyway amidst great tension and excitement, the Hindus took out their procession through the mosque. The authorities refused to support Muslims. Soon thereafter the Muslims carried placards declaring their opposition to Swaraj

Congress leaders never understood the difference between settlement and appeasement. Dr Ambedkar wrote, “Appeasement means to buy off the aggressor by conniving at or collaborating with him in the rape, murder and arson of innocent Hindus who happen for the moment to be the victims of pleasure. Settlement lays down the limit which no party to it can transgress.” Source Thoughts on Pakistan by Dr Ambedkar 1941.

Savarkar’s stay at Ratnagiri attracted several known personalities. One of them was the founder of the RSS, Dr K B Hedgewar. Before starting the RSS Dr Hegdewar had a long discussion with Savarkar over the faith, forum and future of the organization.

After a gap of nearly18 years Gandhi met Savarkar. They disagreed but had mutual respect for each other for e.g. on the issue of Shuddhi or reconversion of Muslims to Hindus. While taking leave Gandhi said, “It is clear that we disagree on some problems. But I hope you have no objection to my making experiments. Savarkar replied “You know the story of the boys and frogs. You will be making an experiment at the cost of the nation.”  

Savarkar’s first and foremost battle on the home front was over the question of mixed caste schools. After a great deal of action the District Magistrate said that it was due to Savarkar’s efforts that untouchable boys have been allowed to sit mixed and without distinction of caste.

From the middle of 1926 the Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha re-converted several persons with prescribed religious ceremonials. Later, some 200 hundred persons were saved from the clutches of non-Hindu missions. 

The question of temple entry for the Untouchables  cropped up in 1925. To counter the orthodox Savakar started Pan Hindu Ganesh festival in 1925. The untouchables were brought into the hall of the Vithoba temple in Ratnagiri district. He also supported Ambedkar’s movement for liberation of Untouchables, started in 1924. 

A Pan-Hindu band was trained. Women of Ratnagiri performed, to the shock of others, their Hali-Kumkum ceremony. In 1931, a magnificent Pan-Hindu temple called Patit Pavan was made where all Hindus could assemble for prayers. 

Prohibition of one caste from dining with another was the keystone upon which the caste system rested. Not easy he organized the first dinner known as Sahabhojan.

In 1931 Senapati Bapat visited Ratnagiri and paid his respects to Savarkar. Another visit was that of Thakur Chandansingh, the President of the All India Gurkha League along with Hemchandra Samsher Jung, a representative of the Royal Family of Nepal. It is significant that it was the Maharashtrian leadership that understood the importance of Nepal to India 

The Thakur Gurkha leader was impressed and said “I have now come to realize what Napolean must have been”. Another tribute was paid by a writer in Ambedkar’s Janata (April 1933 issue) to the effect that Savarkar’s service to the cause of the Untouchables was as decisive & great as that of Gautama Buddha himself. Pg 195.

The Sabha launched the most vociferous and effective movement for the purification of Marathi language. Dictionaries of pure Marathi words to substitute Urdu and Persian words  were compiled and published.

Rationalist and Author                                              

Savarkar holds that the greater the domination of superstition the lesser is the tendency of people towards science.

In Savarkar’s view whatever contributes to human good is good, what is derogatory to the progress of humanity is bad. He asked Hindus to follow the cause and effect theory that is never disturbed by the thought of Divine pleasure or displeasure. Savarkar said that astrology cannot save what science has doomed and where safety is assured by science, astrology cannot endanger it. He wanted corpses to be burnt in the electric crematorium.

Such a lover of science was bound to condemn the anti-machine attitude and anti-intellectual trends of Gandhism and its charkha fads. Savarkar asks Hindus to test the knowledge in their ancient books on the touchstone of science and to do what is good for the nation.

For Savarkar no animal is sacred. Even the cow is meant for man; not man for the cow. Not cow-worship but cow-protection since it is our national asset. He denounced Hindu kings of the past who, for saving some cows, lost their kingdom, human rights etc.

Discipline, dry gunpowder, range of guns, swords and an unflinching will is what protects the nation. But this worship of strength etc should not be used for aggressive and greedy aims.

As a man of letters Savarkar has few equals in Maharashtra. He was a volcanic writer, dramatist, a renaissance scholar, historian in action, dramatist, novelists and an epic poet.

In the domain of propaganda by literature no Indian writer excelled S. Madholkar wrote, “Savarkar’s idealism in both respects – complete independence of India and resurrection of the Hindus is to be called uncommon for the simple reason that nobody has so comprehensively preached for the resurrection of the Hindu race. He wrote like a rationalists and warrior prophet, was master of thought & word; overwhelmed readers with a battery of arguments, exposed treachery, superstition and hypocrisy.”

During his stay at Ratnagiri, he wrote his famous book Hindu Pad-Padashahi, a history of the rise and fall of the Maratha Empire. Another great book by him was My Transportation for Life on his days in Andamans. It is supposed to be amongst the five best Marathi books, others being Tilak’s Gita Rahasya, Dyaneshwari, Tukaram’s Gatha and Apte’s novel.

As a dramatist S did not care much for the plot. The first play Usshap in 1927 is about the struggles of depressed classes. Next Sanyasta Khadga, the Forsaken Sword, written against the background of the life of Buddha, is a devastating commentary on the doctrine of non-violence and preaches that relative non-violence is a virtue. The third, Uttarakriya deals with post Panipat period of Maratha history and was produced in 1934.

On the role of women he believes that there is a fundamental and natural difference between man and woman. He feels that women’s education is essential, not in a degree sense but in a manner that is congenial to the temperament of women. Women’s education should enable her to enrich the nation with a generation stronger, more beautiful and patriotic than the past. 

Back to Freedom                                           

Although his heroic struggle in the direction of social and mental revolution continued through the period of his internment at Ratnagiri, Savarkar was doing his utmost to break his shackles. Whenever there was fire in any part of India, his house was shadowed. One morning the police surrounded S’s house to search for his proscribed book The Indian War of Independence of 1857. They searched his house but found nothing. Yet they did not come to his house without reason.

Bhagat Singh had printed 2,000 copies  of the famous book to raise funds for his revolutionary society and as a mark of respect sent Savarkar the first two copies to him. For a man who had dodged Scotland Yard for four years, what was the Indian police?

Gandhi had just begun to come out of virtual retirement. The Madras Resolution of the Congress passed a resolution in December 1927 demanding absolute independence. Gandhi dubbed it as childish; Savarkar supported it but wanted complete independence to include Goa and Pondicherry too. His biting articles in the Mahratta and his weekly Sharaddhananda in which he criticized Motilal Nehru and Gandhi for their pro-Muslim policy did more harm than good to the cause which Savarkar championed. Both the weeklies were wound up.

There was a failed move to elect him as the President of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1927. The government prevented him from presiding over the Depressed Classes Congress in Nov 1927. Bhai Parmanand Jain, a prominent Sabha leader wanted Savarkar to represent the Hindus at the Round Table Conference but alas!

The government went on extending the period of Savarkar’s internment from time to time-1929 to 1937 as they considered him a danger to the peace of India. Leaders in the Council and people from outside were doing their utmost for the release of Savarkar, but the Government was not yielding to the pressure.

In the meantime a Committee called Savarkar Restrictions Removal Committee was set up under the chairmanship of Dr M.B.Velkar in July 1935. Lakhs of signatures were collected and the petition was submitted to the government. But India of those days was dominated by Gandhi who literally threw into the waste paper basket the appeal for Savarkar’s release. Nehru was reported to have torn the memorandum to pieces. This was before Savarkar had joined the Hindu Mahasabha as a political party, opposed to the Congress.

Meanwhile provincial elections were held, the Congress was victorious. The Brits were keen to have interim ministries in the provinces with a view to pressing the Congress to accept office. In the interim period of the deadlock Khan Bahadur D Cooper, with the support of Jamanadas N Mehta, a representative of the Tilakite Democratic Swaraj Party, agreed to form an interim government on one condition, that Savarkar would be released precedent to accepting the office.

The Governor agreed subject to Savarkar’s good behavior. The tiger was released unconditionally on May 10 1937.  Ironically it was on May 10 that India’s first War of Independence started. Several functions were held at Ratnagiri in honor of Savarkar’s release.

If you wish to read the above chapters in more detail chapter-wise links are below.

Also read

1 Savarkar the man and mission beyond mercy petitions

2 Do not malign Savarkar for petty political gains

3 Social Revolution

4 Rationalist and author

5 Back to Freedom

6 Hindu Pad-Padashahi

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