Today, on the occasion of Veer Savarkar’s birthday, the news and social media are again filled with the discussions on the contributions of Veer Savarkar in the Indian independence movement. This reminded me of an incident when I was asked by a colleague, who of course, hadn’t heard of Veer Savarkar, whether he was a Hindu extremist, quoting an article from The Scroll, titled “Reading Savarkar: How a Hindutva icon justified the idea of rape as a political tool”. Though knowing as much anti-national and Hinduphobic any news portal could be, hearing such a word for a nationalist and freedom-fighter would come as a slap on any person’s face who loves India and knows a little bit about Indian independence movement.
Since the very best way to show these portals a mirror is countering them by facts, let’s start with this very article. Apart from all the fake narratives and propaganda the writer – Ajaz Ashraf – puts in the article, it has been tried to be supported by misquoting and partially presenting without context a few lines from the Veer Savarkar’s book – Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History. Here, I’ll take only two instances where the Scroll writer actually quotes the lines from the book:
1. He expounded his philosophy of morality in Chapter VIII, Perverted Conception of Virtues, in which he rejected the idea of absolute or unqualified virtue. “In fact virtues and vices are only relative terms,” he said.
The whole text from the book reads as – “In fact virtues or vices are only relative terms. No virtue can be unqualified and absolute under every circumstance or at every place. Be it said briefly that in practice or in ethical code a virtue should be called a virtue only to the extent to which it is useful to the best interests of human society. And the moment it begins to cause harm to mankind, it should be considered a vice and as such discarded forthwith.”
Now any sane person would not need an explanation why Veer Savarkar has written what he has written about the virtues and vices.
2. Savarkar quotes Ravana saying, “What? To abduct and rape the womenfolk of the enemy, do you call it irreligious? It is Parodharmah, the greatest duty!”
The actual text quotes in Sanskrit as राक्षसांनां परो धर्म: परदारा विघर्षणम् .
However, what the Scroll writer conveniently ignores is “राक्षसांनां”. According to the quoted statement, it’s the duty of a demon / monster.
Now coming to the point, it’s about the partial history which we have been taught from our childhoods. A usual student today in our nation believes that independence was given to us on platter by the British because they were scared of the M. K. Gandhi’s principles of non-violence. It may not seem very promising here just because of the choice of words, but this is what a student is being fed from his/her childhood.
It’s not that M. K. Gandhi did not contribute to the independence movement. His methods surely proved successful in bringing the masses together. But he was a self-obsessed person and his favoring of the Muslims in the name of secularism is the reason behind the PoK issue which is not yet sorted even after 70 years. In addition to that, people like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose who were actually instrumental in forcing the British to leave, are wound up in a para or two in the Indian History.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was the person solely responsible for integration of these many princely states in India, the form India is today. How many people know about him? How many people know that he was elected for the first PM of India but only due to M. K. Gandhi, Nehru was made the prime minister. Even after that, only if Nehru heeded to the advise of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, today there would have been no issue with Kashmir. I also faced a question – why Statue of unity? Could not a hospital would have built with that money? My answer to this is – It’s not that building of hospitals has been stopped for this. Hospitals ARE being built. But this is as necessary as the hospital. The people of India must know what all sacrifices have been made to attain independence, and most importantly, by whom. One must be very careful while choosing one’s heroes.
It’s a pity that even after 70 years of independence, it is a matter of debate whether Veer Savarkar was a nationalist. It must be corrected. And we, of all people, should do it.