V D Savarkar

  • Category
    History & Culture
  • Published
    22nd Oct, 2019

Issue

Context:

The election manifesto of Maharashtra BJP, released recently said the party will ask the NDA government at the Centre to confer country’s highest civilian award on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

Background:

  • Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, more commonly known as Veer Savarkar, was one of the most prominent freedom fighters. He was born on May 28 in the year 1883.
  • He championed atheism and rationality and also disapproved orthodox Hindu belief. He even dismissed cow worship as superstitious.
  • He was instrumental in forming the idea of a Hindu nation before the Independence.
  • He was against all foreign things. In 1905, during Dussehra, he set up a bonfire by burning foreign goods and clothes.
  • During his stay in London, he learned about the guerrilla war style along the lines of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. He wrote about that in his book, The History of the War of Indian Independence, which was banned across the British Empire.
  • He was arrested on charges of plotting an armed revolt against the Morle-Minto Reform of the British Empire in 1909.

Analysis

Contribution of Savarkar in Freedom Movement:

  • After getting into the Fergusson College in Poona, in 1902 Savarkar was moved by the revolutionary ideologies. He started working with secret revolutionary organizations in Poona.
  • He had convened in 1904 a meeting of some two hundred selected members of the Mitra Mela- a revolutionary party. The name of his party was later changed to Abhinava Bharat.
  • When he went to England for higher studies, he continued his revolutionary activities and set up a front organization named 'Free India Society’. He founded this Society to mobilise youths against the colonial rule in India.
  • In the Ratnagiri jail his most important work Hindutva was written and sent out secretly and was published under the pen name Mahratta.
  • After his release from the Ratnagiri jail, he joined the Hindu Mahasabha. He became the president of the party.
  • From 1937 to 1947 he had strained every nerve to keep India united.

Savarkar on Hindutva:

  • Savarkar in his important work Hindutva : Who is a Hindu? developed the core of his philosophy on the concept of Hindutva.
  • According to him, Hindutva was not a word but a history. It was not only a history of the spiritual or religious life of the Indian people but a history of the entire civilization. Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva.
  • In order to make Hindutva a grand concept Savarkar held that by an 'ism' it was generally meant a theory or a code more or less based on spiritual or religious dogma or system.
  • He was of the opinion that Hindutva embraced all the departments of thought and activity of the whole being of the Hindu race.
  • According to him, every person was a Hindu who regarded this land as his ‘Fatherland’ as well as his 'Holyland', i.e. the land of the origin of his religion.
  • He held that the followers of ‘Vaidicism, Sanatanism, Jainism, Buddhism, Lingaitism, Sikhism, the Arya Samaj, the Brahmo Samaj, the Dev Samaj, the Prarthana Samaj and such other religions of Hindusthani origin’, were Hindus and constituted ‘Hindudom’.
  • He opined that the Indian Muslims, Christians, Jews, Parsees were excluded from the right to claim themselves as Hindus, in spite of India being their ‘Fatherland’. Similarly, though the Japanese, the Chinese and other nationals considered India as their ‘Holyland’, yet they were not considered as Hindu people because this land was not their ‘Fatherland’, i.e., the land of their forefathers. So, according to him, a person would be considered Hindu, i.e., a normal citizen of Hindusthan, if he or she fulfilled two criteria of Hindutva.

Relevance of his ideologies in today's life:

  • Savarkar held that in reality cultural or national unity could not afford to loosen the bonds, especially those of a common name and a common banner, that were the mighty sources of organic cohesion and strength. There was no sign of other 'ism's disowning their special dogmas which landed them into ‘dangerous war cries’.
  • Savarkar held that the Hindu nation had grown out of the Indian soil and had its roots struck deep and wide in it. He was of the opinion that the idea of Hindu nation was not a fiction invented to antagonize the Muslims. “It is a fact”, he declared.
  • He called for a unified India on the basis of Hindu principles. He described Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism as one and the same and outlined his vision of a Hindu Rashtra (nation) as Akhand Bharat (United India).
  • He held that Sanskrit should be considered as the sacred language. He opined that Sanskrit was the richest and the most cultured of the ancient languages of the world. He was also of the opinion that the Sanskrit language should be ‘an indispensable constitutent of the classical course for youths’.
  • Savarkar opined that the Hindu Mahasabha was not a communal body. He held that the party should not be condemned as sectional for it tried to defend the just and fundamental rights of the Hindu nation against the unjust and overbearing aggression of other human aggregates and did not infringe on equal and just rights and liberties of others. He declared that the consolidation and the independence of the Hindu nation were but another name for the independence of the Indian nation as a whole.

Way forward:

  • Savarkar breathed his last on 26 February, 1966, leaving behind him a treasure of theorizations on Hindutva, Indian nationalism and such other themes that are so relevant even today to men and women fighting for a strong, united India.
  • His theoretical writings are considered by many to have Hindu revivalist overtones, whereas many others dispute such an evaluation.
  • He became involved with Hindu cultural and political nationalism. He propagated the idea of Hinduism in his ideological treatise, ‘Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?’.

Learning Aid

Practice Question:

V D Savarkar has made significant contributions in the freedom movement. He has brought the ideology of Hindutva which has significant relevance in today’s life. Enumerate his contributions in the freedom movement, his Hindutva ideology and how it will improve in making country’s future better.

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