Indian PM Modi is set to inaugurate new complex of Indian Parliament on May 28 (2023) which is also the 140th birth anniversary of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who is described as ‘great son of India’ and ‘Veer’ [gallant/fearless] by the RSS-BJP lot. Thus the new Parliament built under the direct supervision of PM Modi and his chosen few will be dedicated to Savarkar. It is a horrendous and shameful decision in many respects. Dedication to Savarkar will mean rejection of the whole idea of an egalitarian, democratic and secular India which came into being on August 15, 1947. Honouring of Savarkar would also mean dishonouring of the martyrs and participants of the Indian freedom struggle. Let us know the truth as told by Savarkar himself or contained in the archives of Hindu Mahasabha.
Savarkar’s Hatred for the Tricolour
Savarkar, like the RSS, abhorred every symbol of the Indian people’s united struggle against the British rule. In a circular issued on September 22, 1941 to be followed by the Hindu Mahasabha cadres, he declared,
“So far as the flag question is concerned, the Hindus know no flag representing Hindudom as a whole than the ‘Kundalini Kripanankit’ Mahasabha flag with the ‘Om and the Swastik’ the most ancient symbols of the Hindu race and policy coming down from age to age and honoured throughout Hindusthan…Therefore, any place or function where this Pan-Hindu flag is not honoured should be boycotted by the Hindu sanghatanists at any rate…The Charkha-Flag [before the present national flag spinning-wheel used to be at the centre of the Tricolour] in particular may very well represent a Khadi-Bhandar, but the Charkha can never symbolize and represent the spirit of the proud and ancient nation like the Hindus.”
[Bhide, A. S. (ed.), Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s Whirlwind Propaganda: Extracts from the President’s Diary of his Propagandist Tours Interviews from December 1937 to October 1941, na, Bombay, 1940, p. 470-73.]
Savarkar preceded Jinnah in propounding two-nation theory
Muslim league under MA Jinnah demanded Pakistan in March 1940. Long before it Savarkar had laid down his two-nation theory. Savarkar took over the leadership of Hindu Mahasabha [HM] in 1937. While addressing the 19th Session of Hindu Mahasabha at Ahmedabad in the same year stated:
“As it is, there are two antagonistic nations living side by side in India, several infantile politicians commit the serious mistake in supposing that India is already welded into a harmonious nation, or that it could be welded thus for the mere wish to do so…India cannot be assumed today to be a Unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main: the Hindus and the Moslems, in India.”[i]
[Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya: Hindu Rashtra Darshan (Collected works of Savarkar in English), Hindu Mahasabha, Pune, 1963, p. 296.]
This shameless collusion between Savarkar and Jinnah was described by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in the following words:
“Strange as it may appear, Mr. Savarkar and Mr. Jinnah instead of being opposed to each other on the one nation versus two nations issue are in complete agreement about it. Both not only agree, but insist that there are two nations in India-one the Muslim nation and the other Hindu nation.”
[Ambedkar, BR, Pakistan or the Partition of India, Government of Maharashtra, Bombay, (reprint of 1940 edition), p. 142.]
Hindu Mahasabha led by Savarkar declared unconditional support to the British government during Quit India Movement
The Quit India Movement began on August 9, 1942 as per Gandhi’s call to ‘Do or Die’ in order to expel the British from India. The British rulers swiftly responded with mass detentions on August 8th itself. Over 100,000 arrests were made which included the total top leadership of Congress including Gandhi, mass fines were levied and demonstrators were subjected to public flogging. Hundreds of civilians were killed in state sponsored violence, many shot by the police and army. Congress was banned. During these times of repression Savarkar announced full support to the British rulers in line with the Muslim League.
Addressing the 24th session of the Hindu Mahasabha at Kanpur in 1942, Savarkar outlined the strategy of the Hindu Mahasabha of co-operating with the rulers in the following words:
“The Hindu Mahasabha holds that the leading principle of all practical politics is the policy of Responsive Co-operation [with the British].” He called upon HM councillors, ministers, legislators and conducting any municipal or any public bodies to offer “Responsive Co-operation which covers the whole gamut of patriotic activities from unconditional co-operation right up to active and even armed resistance…”
[V. D. Savarkar, Hindu Rashtra Darshan, vol. 6, Maharashtra Prantik Hindusabha, Poona, 1963, p. 112.]
Savarkar led Hindu Mahasabha ran coalition governments with Muslim League during Quit India Movement
Hindu Mahasabha and Jinnah led Muslim League joined hands in running coalition governments in Bengal and Sind (and later in NWFP) in 1942. Defending this collusion between HM and ML against Congress Savarkar stated,
“In practical politics also the Mahasabha knows that we must advance through reasonable compromises. Witness the fact that only recently in Sind, the Sind-Hindu-Sabha on invitation had taken the responsibility of joining hands with the League itself in running coalition Government. The case of Bengal is well known. Wild Leaguers whom even the Congress with all its submissiveness could not placate grew quite reasonably compromising and socialable [sic] as soon as they came in contact with the Hindu Mahasabha and the Coalition Government, under the premiership of Mr. Fazlul Huq and the able lead of our esteemed Mahasabha leader Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerji, functioned successfully for a year or so to the benefit of both the communities.”
[Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya: Hindu Rashtra Darshan (Collected works of Savarkar in English), vol. 6, Hindu Mahasabha, Pune, 1963, pp. 479-80.]
It is to be noted that Mookerji was deputy premier and held the portfolio of suppressing Quit India Movement in Bengal.
Backstabbing Netaji Subhash Chander Bose
When Netaji Subhash Chander Bose was planning to liberate India militarily, Savarkar offered full military co-operation to the British masters. Addressing 23rd session of Hindu Mahasabha at Bhagalpur in 1941, he declared:
“Our best national interests demands that so far as India’s defence is concerned, Hindudom must ally unhesitatingly, in a spirit of responsive co-operation with the war effort of the Indian government in so far as it is consistent with the Hindu interests, by joining the Army, Navy and the Aerial forces in as large a number as possible and by securing an entry into all ordnance, ammunition and war craft factories…Again it must be noted that Japan’s entry into the war has exposed us directly and immediately to the attack by Britain’s enemies…Hindu Mahasabhaits must, therefore, rouse Hindus especially in the provinces of Bengal and Assam as effectively as possible to enter the military forces of all arms without losing a single minute.”
[Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya: Hindu Rashtra Darshan (Collected works of Savarkar in English), vol. 6, Hindu Mahasabha, Pune, 1963, p. 460.]
According to HM documents Savarkar was able to inspire one lakh Hindus to join the ranks of the British armed forces.
Savarkar’s mercy petitions were no ruse but instruments of abject surrender
Savarkar submitted minimum 5 mercy petitions [MP] in 1911, 1913, 1914, 1918 and 1920. Savarkarites claim that these were submitted not as an act of cowardice but “as an ardent follower of Shivaji, Savarkar wanted to die in action. Finding this the only way, he wrote six letters to the British pleading for his release”. A perusal of the two available mercy petitions will prove that there cannot be a lie worse than the claim that Savarkar’s MP petitions were in league with the tricks which Shivaji used to hoodwink the Mughal rulers successfully. The mercy petition dated 14th November, 1913 ended with the following words:
“[Therefore] if the government in their manifold beneficence and mercy release me, I for one cannot but be the staunchest advocate of constitutional progress and loyalty to the English government which is the foremost condition of that progress. …Moreover my conversion to the constitutional line would bring back all those misled young men in India and abroad who were once looking up to me as their guide. I am ready to serve the Government in any capacity they like, for as my conversion is conscientious so I hope my future conduct would be. By keeping me in jail nothing can be got in comparison to what would be otherwise. The Mighty alone can afford to be merciful and therefore where else can the prodigal son return but to the parental doors of the Government?”
The petition dated 30th March 1920 from this prodigal son of the British masters ended with the following words:
“The brilliant prospects of my early life all but too soon blighted, have constituted so painful a source of regret to me that a release would be a new birth and would touch my heart, sensitive and submissive, to kindness so deeply as to render me personally attached and politically useful in future. For often magnanimity wins even where might fails.”
[Available with the National Archives, Delhi.]
There was nothing wrong on the part of the CJ detainees in writing mercy petitions to the British. It was an important legal right available to the prisoners. Apart from Savarkar, Barin, HK Kanjilal, and Nand Gopal too submitted petitions. However, these were only Savarkar and Barin who sought forgiveness for their revolutionary past. Kanjilal and Nand Gopal did not demand any personal favour but status of political prisoners.
Savarkar secured remission of 37.5 years in his sentence of 50 years
Savarkar was incarcerated at Andamans on July 4, 1911 for two life terms [50 years]. On May 2, 1921 [after NINE years TEN months] he was transferred along with his elder brother, Babarao, to the mainland. He was finally released conditionally on January 6, 1924 [total imprisonment TWELVE years SIX months] from Yeravda Jail.
Savarkar as a worshipper of Manusmriti and Casteism
Savarkar is glorified as a rationalist and crusader against Untouchability. Let us compare these claims with Savarkar’s beliefs and acts as recorded in the HM archives. While delivering presidential address to the 22nd session oh Hindu Mahasabha at Madura He declared Manu to be the lawgiver for Hindus and emphasized that once we “re-learn the manly lessons” which Manu taught “our Hindu nation shall prove again as unconquerable and conquering a race as we proved once”. [Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya: Hindu Rashtra Darshan (Collected works of Savarkar in English), vol. 6, Hindu Mahasabha, Pune, 1963, p. 426.]
He declared Manusmriti to be “that scripture which is most worship-able after Vedas for our Hindu Nation …Today Manusmriti is Hindu law. That is fundamental”. [Savarkar, VD, ‘Women in Manusmriti’ in Savarkar Samagr (collection of writings of Savarkar in Hindi), vil. 4, Prabhat, Delhi, p. 415.]
So far his crusade for Untouchables entry into Hindu temples was concerned he gave undertaking to Brahmins that “the Hindu Maha Sabha shall never force any legislations regarding the entry of untouchables in the ancient temples or compel by law any sacred ancient and moral usage or custom prevailing in those temples. In general the Mahasabha will not back up any Legislation to thrust the reforming views on our Sanatani brothers so far as personal law is concerned”.
[Bhide, A. S. (ed.), Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s Whirlwind Propaganda: Extracts from the President’s Diary of his Propagandist Tours Interviews from December 1937 to October 1941, na, Bombay, 1940, p. 425.]
Savarkar wanted Nepal King to rule India in case the British decided to leave India
Savarkar even preached that it was legitimate to have the King of Nepal as ‘Free Hindusthan’s Future Emperor’ if the British plan to leave India. His advice to the British rulers was very clear:
“If an academical [sic] probability is at all to be indulged in of all factors that count today, His Majesty the King of Nepal, the scion of the Shisodias [sic], alone has the best chance of winning the Imperial crown of India. Strange as it may seem, the English know it better than we Hindus do…It is not impossible that Nepal may even be called upon to control the destiny of India itself. Even Britain will feel it more graceful that the Sceptre [sic] of Indian Empire, if it ever slips out of her grip, should be handed over to an equal and independent ally of Britain like His Majesty the King of Nepal than to one who is but a vassal and a vanquished potentate of Britain like the Nizam.” [Italics as in the original]
[Bhide, AS, (ed.), Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s Whirlwind Propaganda: Extracts from the President’s Diary of his Propagandist Tours Interviews from December 1937 to October 1941, na, Bombay, 1940, pp. 256-57.]
Savarkar criticized Shivaji for not allowing molestation/rape of captured Muslim women
Savarkar was a great defender of molestation and rape as a political tool against the women of adversaries. In his important work of Hindu history, Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, originally written in Marathi and translated in English in 1971 he included a chapter titled ‘Perverted Conception of Virtues’ (chapter VIII). He criticized Shivaji and Chimaji Appa for restoring back to the families the women of defeated Muslim and Portuguese governors. Since Shivaji did not allow molestation of captured women Savarkar complained:
“Did not the plaintive screams and pitiful lamentations of the millions of molested Hindu women, which reverberated throughout the length and breadth of the country, reach the ears of Shivaji Maharaj and Chimaji Appa?”
He went on to lament that “It was the suicidal Hindu idea of chivalry to women which saved the Muslim women (simply because they were women) from the heavy punishments of committing indescribable sins and crimes against the Hindu women. Their womanhood became their shield quite sufficient to protect them”.
[‘Perverted conception of virtues’ in V. D. Savarkar (tr. By S. T. Godbole), Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, Bal Savarkar India, Delhi, 1971, pp. 147-159.]
With these irrefutable facts about Savarkar, PM Modi bent upon honouring him on this May 28 will only accelerate the undoing of democratic-secular India, egalitarian part of the Indian civilization for which RSS has been dreaming since its inception in 1925.
Shamsul Islam is a retired professor Delhi University