VEER SAVARKAR VINDICATED
A reply to a Marxist Calumny
J. D. Joglekar
Frontline published an article under caption "Far from Heroism : The tale of Veer Savarkar' "in its issue of April 7,1995 vilifying Veer Savarkar Shri J.D. Joglekar prepared a rejoinder to it refuting all allegations made in it and showing its hallowness. There after we sent it to Frontline hoping it would be published. Prof. Awadhoot Shastri editor of Dharmabhaskar monthly felt that it was better not to depend on Frontline for publication, but to publish it ourselves for vindicating Veer Savarkar Accordingly he published the reply in English in the May 1995 issue of Dharmabhaskar and its Marathi version is being published in June 1995 issue. We strongly felt that in future students and researchers would find this letter a good and easy reference work about the life of Veer Savarkar and decided to publish it in book-let.
We are thankful to Prof. Awadhoot Shastri for undertaking the printing work of this book-let. We hope that devotees of Savarkar school of thought will find the book-let useful
22nd May 1995.
Veer Savarkar Vindicated
This refers to the article under the caption 'Far from heroism : The tale of Veer Savarkar', written by Messrs Dubey and Ramakrishnan, which appeared ill the column 'Reappraisal' of Frontline dated April 7, 1995.
The article is an attempt to denigrate Savarkar and thereby condemn Hindutva. It therefore calls for a rejoinder
After Veer Savarkar's death, a great many leaders issued condolence messages about him. Mrs. Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India, said 'Savarkar's death removes a great figure of contemporary India. Describing his name-as a by-word for daring and patriotism, she further said that he was cast in the mould of a classic revolutionary and countless people drew inspiration from him." (Keer - Veer Savarkar- p 548)
I think these few lines are sufficient refutation of three-page colossal effort of your research scholars to denigrate Savarkar.
But for enlightenment of your readers I will give information about Savarkar which throws light upon his life and shows how illustrious it was.
The authors have quoted Savarkar's letters to show how unnerved he became, how his spirit was broken, and how he made an abject surrender. If this was really the position, revolutionaries themselves would have turned their backs on him. This does not seem to be the case. Mr Sanyal, Mr Parmanand, Mr Aiyar, Bhagatsingh, Rajguru and others, socially came to see him in Ratnagiri where he was interned. The authors of the article are not aware that his two followers, who remained devoted to him till the end, were invoiced in terrorist activities. One was Mr Wamanrao Chavan, who shot at a sergent in Dhobi Talao, and was jailed for 7 years. It is to be noted that after this shooting incident, Savarkar was detained in jail for two weeks as Mr Chavan hailed from Ratnagiri. The other was Mr. Gogate who shot at the Acting Governor of Bombay Mr. Hotson. Mr. Gogate was sentenced to imprisonment of 8 years.
Bhai Parmanand was sentenced to death. But later his sentence was committed and he was sent to the Andamans. Mr Ashutosh Lahiri was also sent to the Andamans. Both were in the Andamans at the time Savarkar was there. Your readers would be interested to know that Bhai Parmanand became the president of size Hindu Mahasabha and Lahiri was its General Secretary and both were valued colleagues of Savarkar during the period of his Hindu Mahasabha Presidency from 1937 to 1943.
Incidentally Mr Achyut Patwardhan of '1942 Quit India' fame and Mr S. M. Joshi, leader of the Socialist Party, met Savarkar, when he was released from his internment in Ratnagiri in 1937 and requested him to join their Socialist Party. Strange that Patwardhan and Joshi should have felt that Savarkar, whose spirit, as your beamed authors say, was broken, should join their party!
Your authors have made wonderful discovery. They write, 'One warning from the Government, and his concern for the so-called welfare of the Hindus had disappeared into thin air.' Your readers should read the chapter 'Social Revolution' from Keer's biography of Savarkar or Balarao Savarkar's volume Hindu Samaj Sanrakshak Swa. Veer V. D. Savarkar (Ratnagiri Parva) to find out for themselves what tremendous social transformation he effected in Ratnagiri during his internment there and thereby earned encomiums from several reformers of Maharashtra. The great Social Reformer Mr. Shinde was moved to say that God should give the remaining years of his life to Savarkar And be it noted that Gandhiji, always hard- pressed for tune found it worthwhile to meet Savarkar to discuss social problems with him in 1927 when he was on a tour of Ratnagiri. He also praised Savarkar's sacrifice and patriotism. And yet your authors hare the temerity to pen the above words. Only blind hatred could have produced these words.
In the same article, in a box item, under the caption 'Contrasting approaches.' the authors have mentioned Motilal Nehru's six months sentence. This should not have been done. No one denies Motilal's sacrifice. But can six months jail in 1930 be compared with 50 years' sentence in 1911? In 1930 the Government had become mellow. Provincial autonomy was 7 years away and Swarajya was 17 years away. But in 1911 the British Indian Government was harsh. When Savarkar was jailed, Gandhiji was in South Africa, Jawaharlal Nehru was in London. Motilal Nehru was more with the liberals than with the extremists in the Congress. What kind of life Savarkar had to face in the jail in lice Andamans? History ticket of Savarkar tells the story. Here are few notings :
(I) 6 months solitary confinement;
(Source material for a history of the freedom movement in India Vol. II,. Bombay Government publication : pp- 478/479)
How many top leaders of the Congress had to suffer such punishments?
There is a following noting on page 464 of the above book. (Xerox copy attached)
'He is always suave and polite but like brother, he has never shown any disposition to actively assist Government. It is impossible to say what his real political views are at the present time.'
Your authors write, 'What is clear from a study of these documents, many of them available with the National Archives, New Delhi, is that Savarkar sought his release from British prisons not merely by giving an undertaking not to engage in political activity but also by acknowledging that he had had a fair trial and a just sentence.' Now, one does not have to go to the archives to read the contents of these letters. Savarkar in his book 'My Transportation', has narrated on various pages what talks he had with Sir Reginald Craddock in 1913, with members of Jail Commission, and with the Governor and what restrictions he would accept for his release from the Jail. (Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya, Vol 1,-pp 448/620,690).
Savarkar did not believe in Satyagraha. So jail going was not an important pall of his political activities. If he was caught, he thought it legitimate to give any undertaking to secure his release. He was a disciple of Shivaji. One should read Shivaji's letter to Aurangzeb. To secure his release, Shivaji made many promises in that letter But when he escaped these promises evaporated in thin air (Xerox copy attached).
Why judge Savarkar by Gandhian principles? We may, if we want, judge him by Leninist standards. Did not Lenin accept the offer of 'Sealed Car' from the Kaiser's German Government- a capitalist government? He came in that train to lead the Bolshevik Party and to seize power in Russia. Stalin made a pact with Hitler, his arch enemy. But what is laudable in Lenin and Stalin becomes condemnable in Savarkar. To a jaundiced eye everything looks yellow.
'In contrasting approaches' your authors write, 'The desperate telegram from Hailey in which he explained the old man's determination and character in some detail, forced the issue and Motilal Nehru was released on September 8, 1930- unconditionally. He died five months later, on February 6, 1931 in Lucknow, with Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhiji at his bedside.' How could Gandhi and Nehru be at his bedside? Because 'On January 25th Viceroy, Lord Irwin, ordered the unconditional release of Gandhi and the members of the Congress Woking Committee, including Nehru.' (Frank Moraes- Jawaharlal Nehru- p 171)
Mr Nehru's wife, Kamala, went to Europe for treatment. Mr Moraes writes 'On September 4, 1935, Nehru was suddenly discharged from Almora, five and half months before his term was to expire ... On the same afternoon he set out by Air for Europe......... On the evening of September 9th he reached Badenweiler.' [p- 246]
No one grudges this sympathetic treatment to Nehru. One only wishes that people should know that Savarkar brothers met their family members only once in the Andamans. And in this meeting Savarkar's elder brother came to know that his wife had died earlier Here are real contrasting approaches.'
Now how was Savarkar treated in the jail in the Andamans? the following three excerpts show it :-
(I) Bombay Government do not recommend any remission of the sentences passed upon Ganesh Damodar Savarkar and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar [p. 467]
(II) 'Government of India agree that the Savarkar brothers should not be released under the Royal Amnesty.'
This is dated 8th december 1919. P.
(III) 'The Government of Bombay by their letter No. 1106/36, Home Department, dated 29th February 1921, informed the Government of India that the Governor in Council was not in favour of the transfer of the Savarkar brothers from Andamans to a jail in the Bombay Presidency, as that would lead to a recrudescence of agitation in their favour.' (p.477-478)
(Source material for a history of the freedom movement in India.)
Your readers should carefully read the marked lines. They showed the Government's worry and public sympathy for Savarkar.
Your authors have said that Savarkar and his family showed increasing tendency to mollify the British authorities. What was wrong in that? Any family would do that. It is natural; moreover, the British Government was not sympathetic, tender and accommodating to Savarkar brothers, as it was with Gandhi and Nehrus, I will illustrate :
While sentencing Gandhiji in 1922 to six years imprisonment Sir Robert Broomfield observed:
'I should like to say that if the course of events in India should make it possible for the Government to reduce the period and release you, no one will be better pleased than I'. (Tendulkar- Mahatma- Vol II- p 134)
Government on medical advice released Gandhiji in 1924. (Mahatma Vol. II p-163)
The same consideration was extended to Mr Nehru. Mr Moraes writes, 'On the night of August 11th Nehru was brought from Dehra Dun under police escort to Allahabad and there informed that he was to be temporarily released in order to see his ailing wife. He was to be at liberty for eleven days.' (Jawaharlal Nehru p. 237)
Mr Moraes further writes : 'Nehru had given the Government no undertaking when he came out of jail, but he fell it would be improper to engage in political activities during the respite they had allowed him.' (p.238). The Government was sure that he would not take part in politics and hence did not impose condition. However in Savarkar's case, the Government imposed the condition that he should, not engage in political activities. How can it trust a man who jumped the ship at Marseilles?
Your authors have written about Savarkar's surrender, etc, It would have served the cause of history better if they had inquired into what was happening in tile Congress camp. Writing about the settlement, Gandhi- Irwin pact, Mr Moraes writes,
'Glancing at it, Nehru noticed that Gandhi had accepted the principle of self-Government with reservations or safe-guards. He was numbed by the discovery, being literally shocked into silence.'
'As Nehru lay in bed that night, his mind travelled back to the saga and sacrifices of the non-violent movement. Were all these sacrifices to be frittered away in this temporary provisional compromise? How could Gandhi have brought himself to surrender the position when victory seemed within his grasp? ?Were all their brave words and deeds to end in this? Nehru wept. He was distressed beyond measure, and his grief and embitterment found vent in tears (p-181)
Comments are superfluous!
Your authors have laboured hard to show that Savarkar's spirit was broken. They should have read the following paragraph from 'The struggle for Freedom.'
Dr Majumdar writes :
"By that time the individual civil Disobedience 'was dead like a door nail.' Referring to the commencement of the New Year, 1934, the official history of the Congress records : 'The progress of events in the line of Civil Disobedornce was none too satisfactory, The prisoners who were released were fagged. The provincial leaders who had promised at Poona Conference to lead their provinces if Mass Civil Disobedience were given up and individual civil disobedience continues did not carry out their pledges, except in a few cases. Those who were released from jails found themselves unable or unwilling to face another conviction. 'Slowly and silently the movement faded away, and during the upheaval caused by the great earthquake at Bihar on 16 the January, 1934, it passed away unnoticed into the limbo of oblivion."
(Struggle for Freedom : Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Publication -p. 525)
This should show whose spirit was really broken.
In 1937, when all restrictions imposed on Savarkar were removed and Savarkar became free, Subhashchandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru and M. N. Roy welcomed him to full freedom. Your authors say, 'Although Savarkar's conditional release was not much of a secret at the time, when it occured it was criticised by sections of the press.' And yet Bose, Nehru and Roy thought it wise to welcome him. Who is more sensible? Bose, Nehru and Roy or your authors?
Your authors have stated - '.........Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who was one of the founders of the Hindu Mahasabha and is considered to be the father of the Anti-Muslim Hindutva ideology....' This statement reveals their colossal ignorance. For Hindu Mahasabha was founded in 1915 when Savarkar was in jail. According to Dr Majumdar - 'The great leaders of Hindu Mahasabha, to begin with, were Swami Shraddhananda, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya and Lala Lajpat Rai. Rajendra Prasad, too, presided over the special session in 1923. Then came Dr B. S. Moonje and Bhai Parmananda, and last of all the great revolutionary, Veer Savarkar, who gave it a militant character. During the whole of this period the Hindu Mahasabha really constituted a political organisation to fight for the interests of the Hindus to which the Congress leaders were indifferent and even hostile.' (- Struggle for Freedom - Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Publication pp - 988/989)
As regards the charge of anti- Muslim Hindutva let me quote a few lines from Savarkar's Hindutva, He says, 'It may be that at some future time the word Hindu may come to indicate a citizen of Hindusthan and nothing else !' Does this not show that Savarkar visualised that a time would come when Muslims would be included in the fold of the Hindus? If this is so, how can Hindutva be anti-Muslim? But when ignorance parades as research, it becomes limitless.
The last heroic thing that Savarkar did was to give up his life voluntarily. No man who has lost his nerves can do this. How many leaders, accept Vinoba Bhave, have shown this courage? Any way, Savarkar has departed from this world in 1966 with his reputation unsullied. No amount of research will tarnish it. He was father of Hindutva-Hindu Nationalism. Now Hindutva has gathered its own momentum. No denigration of Savarkar will stop the growth of Hindutva.
It would have served the cause of National integration
better if your authors had made research to find out why Indian nationalism
failed and why Pakistan was created and why Muslim separatism still persists.