By: Shambu Nashipudi
The 30th President of America Calvin Coolidge once said, “A nation that forgets its heroes will itself soon be forgotten.” and our nation is guilty of this crime. Indian History is perhaps more about the missing pages about Nationalist Heroes, whose lives should have been a must read for all Indian. Yes, bulk of the blame lies with Marxist propagandist, sorry historians, but can we completely absolve ourselves for remaining inert?
Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, Subhash Chandra Bose and Veer Savarkar were the few prominent ones whom the British dreaded for their revolutionary thoughts and armed struggle. Unfortunately, the same narrative continued even after Independence under the dispensation of Nehru and ecosystem of Left-Liberals.
Albeit propaganda has its own limitations. Savarkar’s thoughts and ideas have again started capturing imagination of thinking class but in popular memory and discourse, Savarkar still remains either maligned or ignored. A new generation of scholars, writers are now attempting a course-correction in their own humble ways.
The story of Savarkar and his nationalism goes back to his childhood days, when the hanging of Chapekar brothers by British govt in 1890’s traumatized the young Savarkar, who would vow before Goddess Durga that he would strive to ensure Bharat is independent from the clutches of foreign occupation.
The seeds of patriotism sown in childhood days were blossoming into a plant that would grow up into a giant banyan tree. Savarkar traveled to England to study Law on a scholarship and his revolutionary activities started to take shape. He was arrested in London in 1910 on charges of inciting revolt and violence against the British and was deported back to India. What followed was 50 years of imprisonment and transportation for Life to the dreaded Cellular jail in Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Apart from being a true Nationalist, Savarkar was a historian par excellence. In 1908, at the young age of 26, Savarkar wrote the magnum opus ‘The First War of Independence – 1857’. The book remains the most detailed account of the uprising of Indians against the ruthless British rulers. He successfully established the fact that the uprising was a ‘War of Independence’ and not a mere ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ as recorded by the British historains.
Savarkar wrote “The history of the tremendous Revolution that was enacted in the year 1857 has never been written in this scientific spirit by an author, Indian or foreign.” The book became the inspiration for Indian revolutionaries.
‘My Transportation for Life’ by Savarkar was published in the weekly “Kesari” of the venerated Late Lokmanya Tilak in a series during 1925-26. Savarkar writes about Hindu Muslim relationship in his book Hindu Pad Padshahi, that while the historic enmity between Islamist aggression and Hindu resistance should not be projected into current normal Hindu-Muslim relations but the lessons from history, however, should not be forgotten.
Savarkar was also emphatic and critical about the existing fault lines in Hindu society. He was a fierce rationalist and rejected the birth based varna system. He worked to build places of worship for people from all sections of society. As a Social reformer, he worked to eradicate many issues ailing the Hindu society like accountability, cast based divisions among Hindus, and proselytization of Hindus to Islam. The fact that there were no ways for Hindu brethren to return back to Dharmic fold agitated him immensely.
Savarkar gave the country the political philosophy of Hindutva and coinage of the term ‘Hindutva’ in his book ‘Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu?’ (1923). He said those who regard this land of Bharat, spread between the river Sindhu in the north and the ocean Sindhu Sagar, Indian Ocean in the south, as their Pitrubhumi (fatherland) and Punyabhumi (holy land) are Hindus.
In the age of political correctness, the fact remains that it was Savarkar who gave Hindutva a definitive shape and without a shred if doubt he remains the philosophical and intellectual fountainhead of Hindu political renaissance.
In the later years Savarkar wrote ‘Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History’ to counter the then accepted view that India’s history was a saga of continuous slavery and defeats by external powers and regimes inimical to culture of the land.
The name ‘Savarkar’ is synonymous with courage, bravery, might and patriotism. True to his name, he was an inspiration to many revolutionaries of Indian’s freedom struggle, starting from Bhagat Singh, RSS founder Dr Hedgewar, Subhash Chandra Bose, among others.
In spite of being a self-proclaimed atheist, Savarkar was a true karma yogi who followed the principles of the Gita in his life.
Britishers confined Savarkar’s spirit to the cells of Cellular jail for over a decade but there is no bigger ignominy to patriots like Savarkar when the nation forgets or ignores the sacrifices of people who laid down their lives for the nation’s greater good.
Veer Savarkar led the country through troubled times. He unapologetically united the Hindus under one flag and gave them an ideology for ages to come. Savarkar said, for a nation to survive it has to reclaim its past. “The nation that has no consciousness of its past has no future.”
The only fitting tribute for Savarkar in the 21st century would be realisation of the nation about the reality of Bharat being a Hindu Rashtra and the emphatic declaration of the same.