There are people who are revered and demonised in our history. There are a few who fit in both the slots, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is one of them. A person who is certainly not seen innocuous (if I have to be polite) by many. A man who is at forefront of every attack by the left wing zealots. Understanding Savarkar amidst the mist of intellectual barrage created over the years is not an easy ride. Collecting information about the life and times of Savarkar was an uphill task and penning it down is even tougher.
Savarkar’s life is an eclectic one full of riddles and hurdles. He came out of all of that to make a mark in Indian History and most importantly for setting up a parallel discourse. At the time when he got admitted for his college degree in London, there was a brief but critical time in his life just before leaving for London. He completed the translation of biography of the Italian leader Mazzini in Marathi. The introduction he wrote for the book was terse and crisp. None-the-less, this translation also met the same fate as his other writings did. It was banned by the British government. The story behind the printing of this book is quite an emotional one. While many leaders were accustomed to prodigality, Savarkar family had no money to get the book printed. It was Savarkar’s sister-in-law and wife who finally opted to sell their familial bangles and pieces of jewelry. The struggle for independence never eloped from his mind even in the darkest hours of our history.
While in London, he worked with Madam Cama Ji, Shyam Ji Krishna Verma etc. It was the year 1907 which gives the taste of revolutionary and gimmick nature of V.D Savarkar. In the International Socialist Conference, which was held in Stuttgart (Germany) Madam Cama Ji hoisted the then made Independent India’s Flag. This came as a shock for Britishers who thought of Indians as some fools who can never strategise such events. V.D Savarkar was among others in planning this move. Such activities were seen as a rejoice for Indians fighting Britishers back home. Savarkar, by these kinds of events, made sure that the freedom fighters in India never feel low and shall hold their heads high even in the tough and challenging times. He was an inspiration for many including Madan Lal Dhingra who met him in London. It’s quite amazing how those revolutionaries maintained the secrecy of high level in the city which directly ruled India.
Among many events of his life, one really stands out. When Dhingra attacked Curzon Willey, there were people who wanted to bring a motion on condemning Dhingra’s act. It was V.D Savarkar who stood up in the meeting and protested with all his might. Motion failed to pass. Why I say this event stands out is because of the simple fact that the freedom fighters like Madan Lal Dhingra, who was altruistic in nature was needed in more numbers than few. Condemning Dhingra would be morally depressing for many such youths who were in their own intellectual and physical capacity joining the mass movement across the country. Pure River of revolutionaries must flow unaltered. We all know about the Kaala-Paani, and the torture he faced during those years. It would require not just an article but a book to understand the condition and his willingness to work for the society in those 27 long years of prison and house arrest. But I would like to point out one specific incident that shows Savarkar’s fathom on his will and actions even in the worst of times.
Nani Gopal a 16 year old revolutionary was undergoing the similar tortures as others in the Andaman Jail. Finally that boy sat on hunger strike in order to protest against such treatments. He was simply left to die by the British officers. No one was really concerned about him as the agony of each one individual present there superseded every other emotion. But Savarkar was not the one to be bowed down by any such agonies. He was a man of impeccable character. He protested and gathered other prisoners to protest. Slowly his art of uniting people left officers amazed and they were dumbstruck. They couldn’t get how on earth could someone forget about himself and his own severe condition. Savarkar knew he could be tortured even more for this. The devotion towards the motherland which he imbibed throughout his life overweighed every other atrocity. Finally, he was successful and Nani Gopal had some food and hugs from Savarkar. British officers decided not to torture teenagers thereafter.
Such was his charisma and persona. These were some anecdotes of his life. One cannot wipe out Savarkar from history and memories. Next generation youth must read and learn from his resolute character, his charismatic leadership and his vivid idea of Hinduism. Let Savarkar be referred and revered on this independence day.