It has become customary in the country to revile Veer Damodar Savarkar, the great revolutionary and author of Hindutva, a book that talks about unalloyed nationalism based on nation first.
For Savarkar, the nation came before everything else, including religion. But he has remained bitterly hated by several quarters. In the latest, it was Savarkar’s statue that came under attack from workers of Congress’s student wing the National Students' Union of India (NSUI).
Interestingly, almost everyone defending Savarkar against the frivolous charges levelled against him is doing so on the basis of his role as a revolutionary. The best way of defending Savarkar is, however, by looking at him through the prism of his ideology and beliefs.
Once that is done, we see the motives of the three principal attackers of Savarkar – the pan-Islamists, the pan-Christians and the Communists, who want to keep India divided so that they can pursue their religious and ideological goals. The three forces are also driving the anti-Savarkar narrative of pseudo-secular parties using vote-bank politics as a tool.
Interestingly, while Congress is defaming Sarvarkar today its supreme leader, Indira Gandhi, extolled him. It clearly shows that the hatred for Savarkar took roots and grew with the growth of Muslim appeasement amongst political parties in the country over the past three decades. Abusing Savarkar guaranteed minority votes to these parties - or so they thought.
Significantly, the pan-Islamists’ dream of turning India into an Islamic country as do pan-Christians of turning India into a Christian country through conversions of Hindus and other means. Their numbers are very small in their communities but they wield enormous influence in India being backed by international protagonists of the two religious ideologies.
They use their might to influence their much more numerous inclusive brethren through misleading propaganda. And both know it is difficult to swallow India in one go given its size and inherent strength. So they want India to remain divided so that they can swallow it piecemeal over a period of time. The same ideological designs apply to both moderate and diehard Communists too.
Their biggest impediment, however, is Savarkar’s unalloyed nationalism that seeks to unite the entire country, including Muslims and Christians, through equal treatment for all and appeasement of none. In his Hindu Rashtra manifesto as quoted by his biographer and Marathi author, Dhananjay Keer, Savarkar says all religions will have equal rights in Hindu Rashtra. He goes a step further and says if the prayers of Muslims and Christians are disrupted by anyone, the government will step in and ensure that they are able to offer their prayers according to their faith.
But at the same time he warns that Hindu Rashtra won’t allow creation of a nation within a nation in the name of religious minoritism, which has been in fact India’s story over the past 100 years. Muslim appeasement first led to partition and then prevented India from emerging as one nation in the true sense as it has led to the proliferation of exclusive ideologies like the Deobandi and Ahle Hadees brand of Wahabism, which believe in pan-Islamism and condemn the moderate face of Islam in the form of Sufism.
India’s partition could have been prevented had the Congress not indulged in Muslim appeasement, according to Savarkar’s advice. And radical Islam won’t have taken firm roots and perhaps Hindus and Muslims would have been living in greater harmony today had Pakistan, which had been one of the greatest promoters and exporters of terrorism in the world in the past three decades, not come into being in 1947.
Supreme on national security
No leader in Indian history had a clearer understanding of the dangers to India’s national security then Savarkar. Perhaps, on this he was ahead of two other greats – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose. His understanding of Indian history and psychology of the three forces which want to keep India divided was far superior to any one in recent Indian history. In fact, author Dhananjay Keer says it was on the advice of Savarkar that Subhash Chandra Bose fled India and befriended Japan and Germany to form the Azad Hind Fauj. Savarkar believed in world diplomacy no one is a permanent friend or a permanent enemy and enemy’s enemy is a friend. This is the advice he gave to Bose.
Warning against Minority appeasement
In 1937, when Savarkar was being freed after 14 years of most rigorous imprisonment and 13 years of movement restrictions, the socialist group of the Congress invited him to join the party. But Savarkar refused the offer and the answer he gave then in response is the key to understanding India’s national security problems based on minority appeasement over the past 100 years. He told them that the Congress had committed the greatest blunder by making Hindu-Muslim unity at any cost a precondition to India’s freedom.
He said the Congress’s belief that freedom can’t be won without Hindu-Muslim unity was being exploited by Muslim leaders to get special rights for the community at the cost of Hindu rights. He said this policy would tear the Hindus and Muslims apart rather than bringing them closer. While labeling Muslim appeasement at the cost of Hindu rights betrayal of the nation, Savarkar made his position clear at that time in the following clearly-defined line: “ I would rather stand in the last row of patriots than the first row of betrayers.”
The Pakistan warning
In 1940, when the Muslim League passed the Pakistan resolution, Savarkar was the only man who knew what eventually happened seven years later. When Congress leaders were saying that the partition of India would happen only on their dead bodies, Savarkar said it would be difficult to avert the birth of Pakistan looking at the way Congress was surrendering ground before Muslim League by indulging in appeasement and the way Sindh province had been detached from Bombay Presidency in 1936 due to Muslim League’s pressure. When India was eventually partitioned in 1947 he was proved correct. The developments find mention in Dhananjay Keer’s biography titled, Veer Savarkar.
Prediction on Assam
In 1941, when Muslims from East Bengal started migrating to the Brahmaputra Valley in unusually large numbers, he was the first leader from outside Assam to warn that this influx would result in a threat to Assamese culture as well as India’s northeast frontier in the future. In response, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said, "Nature abhors vaccum, meaning where there is open space how can one prevent people from settling there?"
Savarkar issued a quick riposte: “Pandit Nehru’s knowledge about environment is very poor. Nature also abhors poisonous gas.” Savarkar has been proven right today. In 1941, the Muslims population of Assam was just about 10%. Today, it is 35% and many of them who were Sufis then have become radical Wahabis now under the influence of the preaching of the Deoband schools, better seen as the school of Indian brand of Wahabism.
The China prediction
In 1954, when Nehru came up with the principle of Panchsheel saying that his five mutually beneficial principles of coexistence were adopted by India and its neighbouring nations they would be able to live in a spirit of brotherhood. Savakar again questioned Nehru’s diplomacy by making a historic prediction. He said: “After China’s attempts to swallow Tibet if Pandit Nehru tries to kowtow to China then the Communist nation’s thirst for swallowing other’s land would get a fillip and he won’t be surprised if China tried to swallow Indian land in future.”
Along with Savarkar the warning was also issued by the then RSS chief Guru Golwalkar. Their prediction came true when China attacked India in 1962 and swallowed a large chunk of India’s land.
On Pakistan, Savarkar said that till a nation based on religious hatred was India’s neighbor, she won’t be able to sleep in peace. How true he has been proven.
Savarkar is accused of two things: First, he tendered apology to the British to come out of imprisonment. And two, his ideology led to the creation of Pakistan.
Clearly, based on true evidence both the charges are designed and structured to defame Savarkar for religious and political purposes and are a creation of vote-bank politics. Savarkar never tendered any individual apology but appealed to the British government for a general amnesty for all the convicts undergoing prison sentence in the Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar. And even if he had tendered one it has to be seen in the backdrop of the fact that he was a revolutionary and follower of Chhatrapati Shivaji and not Congress ideology.
If Shivaji escaped from Aurangzeb’s detention in Agra, in 1666, Savarkar also tried to unsuccessfully escape from British custody in 1910 when he jumped into the sea from the British ship SS Morea near the French port of Marsellies in which he was being brought to India after being sentenced to 50 years rigorous imprisonment in London for seditious activities.
And Shivaji had tendered four apologies to Aurangzeb in his life time. All the four apologies were followed by a treaty between the Mughals and Shivaji. And he himself broke three of these treaties as the apologies were part of his diplomatic and military strategy.
Apart from his manifesto where he clearly states that all religions will have equal rights in Hindu Rashtra, there are two other pieces of evidence to disprove the charge of his opponents that Savarkar wanted to reduce Muslims and Christians to second-class citizens.
In 1938, when press reporters asked Savarkar in Lahore as to why he and Jinnah were hell-bent on dividing the nation along communal lines, he gave the following answer: “Myself and Jinnah are not feathers of the same bird. While I stand for equality and no concessions, Jinnah didn’t stand for equality and always asked for more and more concessions for Muslims.” So, Savarkar made it crystal clear that he was not demanding special rights for the Hindus but opposing special rights to Muslims at the cost of Hindu rights and in that he was fighting a battle of equal rights.
In 1942, when some Muslims of Luckow got together and passed a resolution saying that Muslims indulging in cow slaughter would be considered enemies of Hindu-Muslim unity, Savarkar immediately issued a statement extolling the conduct of those Muslims saying: “If such gestures keep on coming from Muslim community Hindu-Muslim unity is possible.”
Savarkar’s opponents are thus merely those opposed to unalloyed nationalism, an ideology that comes in the way of their narratives.