Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, popularly known as Veer Savarkar among his followers, has played an influential role in shaping the modern politics of India. I have with me Shri Satya Prakash, a well known Savarkarite who has agreed to shed some light on the legacy of Savarkar. So let’s begin with the first question related to the partition of India.
Arguably Savarkar was one of the early proponents of the “two nation theory”. In 1923 Savarkar through his book ‘Hindutva’ defined Hindus as a separate nation and in 1938 he said that Muslims and Hindus would choose differently given a plebiscite. According to Savarkar, nationality did not depend so much on a common geographical area as on unity of thought, religion, language and culture. Would it be fair to say that Savarkar laid the foundation for the partition of India?
It would be intellectually dishonest to quote Veer Savarkar out of context and hold him responsible for the partition of India. Veer Savarkar was strongly against the idea of partitioning the country. In his letter to Sir Stafford Cripps, the British envoy negotiating with Gandhi and Jinnah, Veer Savarkar wrote that Hindus would welcome the Congress-Muslim League pact only if the vivisection of India clause were omitted. His idea was always about having one strong Hindu nation. In one of his speeches Veer Savarkar said:
“A Nation is formed by a majority living therein. What did the Jews do in Germany? They being in minority were driven out from Germany”
So you can see the idea was to drive Muslims out and have one strong Hindu nation. Clearly this is a one nation theory not two.
That sounds very extreme. I mean if the western countries decide to apply Savarkar’s principle on the millions of Hindus settled there then these Hindus will either have to completely embrace western culture or be driven out. That is certainly not something you would propose. Would you?
These western nations are formed on lands that are stolen from others so Veer Savarkar’s principles don’t apply there.
In light of his grovelling mercy petition to the British in which Savarkar referred to himself as an “obedient servant” of the British and pledged to distance himself from politics, don’t you think that conferring a title like “Veer” is simply unreasonable?
This mercy petition is often misused to malign the good name of Veer Savarkar. If you understand the full context in which this mercy petition was made you would understand the genius of Veer Savarkar. After spending several years in jail Veer Savarkar realized that his immense potential would go unrealized if he did not make it out of jail in time. As a well thought out strategy Veer Savarkar pretended to be a loyal servant to the British but in reality he was only loyal to the cause of the Hindu nation.
But after his release from cellular jail, Savarkar never opposed the British, never took part in the freedom struggle and he even assisted the British in their war efforts when Subhash Chandra Bose was recruiting an army to fight against the British.
Just goes to show that Veer Savarkar was not only brave but he was also a man of his word.
As we know that other leaders like Gandhi and Nehru were jailed many times by the British but they never asked for mercy from the British nor did they pledge that they would stop opposing the British. Don’t you think that was a real act of bravery?
Are they known as Veer Nehru or Veer Gandhi today? No. Goes to show that Veer Savarkar was smarter than this lot. He had the vision to trick the British and he kept tricking them till the very end.
Savarkar’s detractors have argued that Savarkar sensed Dalit alienation and hence made token gestures against casteism whereas in reality he was a strong believer in Brahmin supremacy.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Savarkar argued that caste system was put in place to regulate the flow of high caste noble blood to the lower castes. He said:
“is not the very presence of these present castes a standing testimony to a common flow of blood from a Brahman to a Chandal?”
In fact Veer Savarkar was a strong proponent of Anuloma and Pratiloma marriage institutions (inter-caste marriages). He believed that such marriages helped purify the lost souls by passing them the noble blood which refreshed and reinvigorated more than ever.
“All that the caste system has done is to regulate its noble blood on lines believed-and on the whole rightly believed-by our saintly and patriotic law-givers and kings to contribute most to fertilize and enrich all that was barren and poor”
So you admit that Savarkar endorsed ancient scriptures like the Manusmriti which has been a subject of severe criticism due to its treatment of women and the lower castes?
Yes of course! Veer Savarkar said:
“Manusmriti is that scripture which is most worship-able after Vedas for our Hindu Nation and which from ancient times has become the basis of our culture-customs, thought and practice. This book for centuries has codified the spiritual and divine march of our nation. Even today the rules which are followed by crores of Hindus in their lives and practice are based on Manusmriti. Today Manusmriti is Hindu Law.” (Savarkar, V. D., ‘Women in Manusmriti’ in Savarkar Samagar, Vol. 4 [New Delhi: Prabhat], 416.)
So you see the allegations that Veer Savarkar believed in caste superiority are unfounded. Clearly he believed that even lower castes have some noble blood in them and hence he wanted to open the study of Vedas and Vedic rituals to all castes.
Savarkar dedicated his life to the study religious scriptures like Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and Smritis. The influence of religion in his life is quite evident from his writings in which he has quoted extensively from these books. This clearly contradicts with the claim that he was an atheist. How do you explain this contradiction?
Hindutva is much wider than the narrow definitions of religion. It is a way of life. This way of life allows people to be an atheist. Yes it is true that Veer Savarkar spent his life studying the religious scriptures and that is why he was able to understand that Hindusim is only a small part of Hindutva. While Veer Savarkar opposed traditional Hindu rituals his ideology was firmly based in the essence of wider Hindutva. It is the moral duty of every Indian to follow the way of life dictated by Hindutva or they have the choice to leave.
Does this way of life allow the consumption of beef?
Of course not! How can we allow consumption of beef in a way of life dictated by Hindutva?
But Savarkar was a beef eater!
There is a reason the ancient Gurus have stopped us from crossing the seas. Veer Savarkar crossed the seas and picked up some nasty habits. He was human after all.
Savarkar had stated in his will that he should be cremated without any religious rituals yet he chose to end his life himself by following a religious ritual of atmarpan (self-sacrifice). Is it fair to say that he stopped pretending to be an atheist in the last stage of his life?
Why do you assume that he can’t swing between atheism and theism within the confines of Hindutva?
On the scale of Theism to Atheism how Savarkar are you?
The interview is about Veer Savarkar not me. So I will let this one pass.
Thank you for valuable insights into the life of Savarkar.
Disclaimer: The interviewer and the interviewee are fictitious. Any resemblance to real life characters is coincidental but highly likely. The interviewer was not harmed during or after this satirical interview.