Veer Savarkar: The revolutionary misunderstood
History often becomes confined in the hands of ideological fanatics. The ideological torch bearers distort history as much as per their own pensive and slant. In the past years, Indian history has been dominated by the British and then by Marxists. History has been seen from the perspective of the west. Marxism is not Indian and therefore can there be any Indian perspective to the study of history? Marxist school of thought enjoyed a huge charm in the post-colonial era but now the environment and social dynamism has completely changed and the need of the hour is to study our history through Indian perspective. Time has changed, there is a global right wave and it is the time to revisit our distorted ancient literature.
A paradigmatic case in modern times is that of the great Indian revolutionary Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. The history has been unjust to him. Savarkar, who spent more than twenty seven years in prison for his dauntless revolutionary activities against the British. While in prison in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, he coined the term “Hindutva” and this term has been misinterpreted in the most contorted and willful way by the left. The Gandhian contemplation of nationalism focused on territorial nationalism and on the other hand nationalism according to Savarkar emphasised on identity, Cultural Nationalism. He stood for a social unity of all Hindu communities, he described Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism as one and the same. He believed that starting from the Sindhu river till Sindhu sea each and every people living here is Hindu and Hindutva is not confined to a religion but people living in this territory. He emphasized for a social integration and united cultural national identity.
Savarkar defined Hindus as people who consider the territory both as father-land and holy-land. His idea of loyalty to the fatherland are seen as a silent criticism of who regard Mecca and Jerusalem, etc. as their holiest places. Savarkar’s upright grievances against a section have been sought to be twisted to depict him as an insensitive, merciless anti-Muslim extremist. Unfortunately Savarkar is often quoted and compared to leaders like Nazi by historians. Nazis regarded Germans as master race on other hand Savarkar stood for equality for all, appeasement of none. Savarkar was an atheist and a staunch rationalist who disapproved of all sought of orthodox Hindu belief, disregard cow worship as mere superstitious.
There isn’t a greater example of buckle of history by left-wing fanatics than in the case of this famous revolutionary. Savarkar favoured one man one vote, be the man Hindu or Muslim. He strongly opposed for special electorate for the Muslims and any such exclusive treatment. 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. Savarkar was ethical in his philosophy of equality for all. World history is evident that whenever the minorities are extended with special preferential privileges they have used it for political gains (i.e Muslim League) and here majority is to be no ground for penalty. He stood for equal treatment in the state as the minorities can be part of the Indian state but not Indian nation.
Savarkar’s stance on the Muslim issue can be seen while addressing a group of Indian students on Dusshehra day in London in 1909, Savarkar had said, “Hindus were the heart of Hindustan but just as the beauty of the rainbow is not impaired but enhanced by its varied hues, Hindus will look more beautiful across the sky by assimilating all the best from the Muslims, Jews and Parsi and other civilisations”, Gandhi agreed with his views, says Pramod Kapoor, author of Gandhi-An Illustrated Biography.
Savarkar was candid in his speech often inviting criticism from both Jana-sangh as well as the Congress. In 1964, Savarkar felt his goal of an Independent India is achieved .So he declared his wish to attain Samadhi and started hunger-strike on February 1, 1966 and passed away on February 26, 1966. His life was full of ups and downs and even after more than fifty years of his death, his teachings and literature are not explored fully. All we know is that he was an independence activist who fought against British Government. Alas, history has distorted Savarkar’s ideology and India owes a debt to Savarkar.
-Writer is an Activist and former Media President of Delhi University Students Union.