By VIJAY PHANSHIKAR :
● He and his brothers -- all in their teens (elder brother Babarao, he himself Tatyarao, and his younger brother Balarao) -- formed the country’s first secret revolutionary organisation titled ‘Abhinav Bharat’ (Modern India) clearly resolving to launch an armed struggle to overthrow the British rule.
● He was the first in India to organise a boycott of British and foreign goods and commit those to a bonfire (Holi), in his teen years. ● While in England, he had openly supported the martyrdom of revolutionary Madan Lal Dhingra who had murdered Curzon Wyllie -- when many Indians in London had condemned the act.
● While studying law in England, he was arrested by the British authorities for motivating young Indian men to launch an armed struggle against the British rule in India. Though he obtained the ‘Barrister’ degree at Grey’s Inn, he was not given the honour because he plotted against the British.
● While being brought to India, he attempted escape by jumping through the ship’s port-hole and swimming underwater in the Strait of Marseilles to the French shore -- where the French Police handed in over to the chasing British soldiers from the ship.
● He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms of 25 years each to be served in the infamous ‘Kala Pani’ Andaman prisons.
● In the Andaman jails, he underwent rigorous imprisonment that sapped his energy and almost broke his spirit. Despite that, he wrote the epic Marathi poem Kamla while in the prison, by carving the verses on the white-washed walls of his cell with the help of a sharp pebble, committed it to memory, so that it could be reproduced later.
● In the Andaman jails, he organised other prisoners against the Chief Jailor who was treating them brutally. He also organised a ‘shuddhi’ movement in the prison to motivate non-Hindu prisoners to Hinduism.
● He wrote his magnum opus on the history of 1857 War of Independence when he was barely 20 years old -- to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the great Indian uprising. The British rulers were scared of the possible effects of the book on the Indian mind that they banned the book before it was even published -- not just in India and England, but also urged other countries to follow suit. Finally, the book could be first published in 1909, and has remained a great attraction for students of history and general readers ever since.
● When he was just 20 years old, he wrote his famed poem-song Jayostute Shrimahanmangaley .... that inspired generations of patriots. This poem has the value and virtue of an anthem. While in England, he wrote his another great poem Ne majasi Ne Parat Matrubhumila, Saagara Praan Talamalala ... which also has inspired millions of Indians.
● He organised a great social upliftment and equality movement while in a type of house-arrest in Ratnagiri in Konkan and promoted complete elimination of caste-based social system, thus becoming one of the early social reformers in the country.
● He inspired two major armed struggles in the country -- first the Ghadar Movement that sought to liberate India from the British during the World War I by attacking from the West; and later the Indian National Army led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose during the World War II.
● He inspired a range of revolutionary movements across the country to wage armed struggle against the British.
● He was among the first Indian visionaries who promoted science-and-technology-based development.
● He was the earliest proponent of the idea of asking Indian people to join the British Army -- so that the Indians could be trained in military capabilities and skills. This proved to be useful to India’s freedom struggle as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose got several trained soldiers for his Indian National Army. (During the World War II, Gandhiji was opposed to Indians joining military since that violated the principle of non-violence. However, during the World War I, Gandhiji had encouraged Indians to join the British Army, according to some historical accounts.)
● He was stoutly opposed to Partition, but was favourable to purposeful Hindu-Muslim unity as a national need. In fact, his magnum opus 1857 War of Independence, he had hailed the unity which the Hindus and the Muslims displayed as they raised their banner against the British.
● In later years, he led the Hindu Mahasabha to oppose Partition, and even fought India’s internal elections -- though his party lost and the Congress led by Mahatma Gandhi won in the elections, indirectly paving the way for Partition.
● He was an intellectual giant who defined who a Hindu is: The man who treats the land between the Sindhu river and sindhu the oceans -- as his own land -- of piety and purity.
● This definition assumed a great importance in Independent India as some communities started interpreting religion as a mark of identity.
● He had the unique intellectual and spiritual capability to look deep into the future and make predictions about what will happen to India. He was, thus, the first Indian leader who cautioned that China could be a danger zone for the country -- which has been proved right.
● He had a great strategic vision and felt that if India was to be the world leader, it must become a very strong military power unhesitatingly, unabashedly (which is now happening, thanks to the receptive mind of the current Government).
● He was foremost Indian litterateur who spent all his literary energies in promoting the cause of freedom. Y et, Swatantryaveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is being made the target of a fully falsified propaganda that he was not a nationalist and the one who bent before the British seeking pardon -- so that he could be released from the Andaman jail. His posters are burned in public places, A Union Minister even went to the extent of removing his name’s plaque at the cell in which Swatantryaveer Savarkar was incarcerated. And in recent times, an irresponsible and stupid political leader said that it was Swatantryaveer Savarkar who promoted the Two-Nation Theory. Another allegation is that Swatantryaveer Savarkar was involved in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Nothing can be a greater and bigger rubbish than this. Each of these allegations is nonsensical and untrue to the hilt. Yet, time and again, Swatantryaveer Savarkar’s detractors have brought up those allegations to malign him. There can be no bigger disfigurement of truth and defilement of dignity of a man who should be called India’s Rashtra-Purush. Let us consider some of these allegations and show how false those are.
First, the Two-Nation Theory. Those who make this allegation are so idiotic that they do not realise that Sir Syed Ahmad Khan first promoted the TwoNation Theory when Swatantryaveer Savarkar might not have been born, or might have been a toddler. Second, the allegation about Swatantryaveer Savarkar sought pardon from the British to have himself freed from the Andaman jails. This also is utter nonsense. He did write a letter -- signed by over a hundred Andaman prisoners seeking amnesty in a standard official format -- which was the common practice employed by many others engaged in freedom struggle. In fact, in a letter, Swatantryaveer Savarkar wrote, in effect, that his name could even be omitted from the clemency petition if the British had any objections, but other be granted clemency. It may be worth mentioning that such petitions were sent to the British Government in hundreds of numbers. One such petition was sent by none other than Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya in favour of Kakori Conspiracy accused Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan (among others). Another petition was sent in by somebody for clemency to Barindra Kumar Ghosh (brother of Aurobindo Ghosh) as well, for example.
In Swatantryaveer Savarkar’s letter, the standard format was never breached and there was no apology for his participation in freedom struggle. Another fact is that a high-ranking British officer who met Swatantryaveer Savarkar in Andaman later wrote that the fire-brand leader was unrepentant and resolute in his attitude that the British had to be thrown out of the country in any manner. Third, the allegation about the Gandhi assassination case. Every legal and judicial platform has exonerated Swatantryaveer Savarkar from the allegation that he was involved in Gandhiji’s murder. Let us also not forget that Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had told Swatantryaveer Savarkar’s lawyer (when the Gandhi murder trials were going on) that he must fight his client’s case well and that his client’s name would be cleared of the stigma. Despite all this reality, there is a small, politically-motivated section that tries to heap all negative attributes upon Swatantryaveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
Of course, all such attempts achieve only one thing -- grab headlines for a while. Barring that, the whole nation has known the value and worth of Swatantryaveer Savarkar. His poems and songs and plays and scholarly writings are sung and read by millions across the country -- not just in Marathi but in translations in most Indian languages. His strategic thoughts and visionary views are studied by experts not just in India but also elsewhere in the world. Countless literary meets extol the virtue of Swatantryaveer Savarkar’s prose and poetry. His books on history have become a main source of material on correct history of India. No matter the opposition from a small number of politically-motivated persons, Swatantryaveer Savarkar, without doubt, has become an icon at the highest point in Indian consideration. No matter the Goebbelsian propaganda against him, he has been a darling of Indian people -- whether the Government confers upon him a posthumous Bharat Ratna or not. For, such honours matter little for the man who has ruled over Indian hearts. There is no doubt that every Indian person -- in India or abroad -- will agree that Swatantryaveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar deserves to be called Rashtra-Purush (The Leader Of The Nation).