Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

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Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Born 28 May 1883
Bhagur, Nashik, Maharashtra
Died 26 February 1966(1966-02-26) (aged 82)
Bombay, India
Cause of death Sallekhana Prayopavesa
Nationality Indian
Other names Veer Savarkar
Ethnicity Maharashtrian
Education Bachelor of Arts from Fergusson College, Pune, Maharashtra (India); Barrister from Gray's Inn, London (England)
Alma mater University of Mumbai
Gray's Inn
Known for Indian independence movement, Hindutva, Hindu nationalism
Political party Hindu Mahasabha
Religion Hinduism
Spouse(s) Yamunabai
Children sons Prabhakar (died in infancy), Vishwas Savarkar and daughter Prabhat Chiplunkar
Parent(s) Damodar Savarkar
Yashoda Savarkar
Relatives Ganesh Damodar Savarkar (brother), Narayan Damodar Savarkar (brother), Maina Damodar Savarkar (sister)

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (About this sound pronunciation ) (28 May 1883 – 26 February 1966) was an Indian pro-independence activist,[1][2] politician as well as a poet, writer and playwright. He advocated dismantling the system of caste in Hindu culture, and reconversion of the converted Hindus back to Hindu religion. Savarkar coined the term Hindutva (Hinduness) to create a collective "Hindu" identity as an "imagined nation". His political philosophy had the elements of Utilitarianism, Rationalism and Positivism, Humanism and Universalism, Pragmatism and Realism.[3] Later commentators have said that Savarkar's philosophy, despite its claims to furthering unity, was divisive in nature as it tried to shape Indian nationalism as uniquely Hindu, to the exclusion of other religions.[4]

Savarkar's revolutionary activities began while studying in India and England, where he was associated with the India House and founded student societies including Abhinav Bharat Society and the Free India Society, as well as publications espousing the cause of complete Indian independence by revolutionary means.[5] Savarkar published The Indian War of Independence about the Indian rebellion of 1857 that was banned by British authorities. He was arrested in 1910 for his connections with the revolutionary group India House. Following a failed attempt to escape while being transported from Marseilles, Savarkar was sentenced to two life terms of imprisonment totalling fifty years and was moved to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but released in 1921.

While in jail, Savarkar wrote the work describing Hindutva, openly espousing Hindu nationalism. In 1921, under restrictions after signing a plea for clemency, he was released on the condition that he renounce revolutionary activities. Travelling widely, Savarkar became a forceful orator and writer, advocating Hindu political and social unity. Serving as the president of the Hindu Mahasabha, Savarkar endorsed the ideal of India as a Hindu Rashtra and opposed the Quit India struggle in 1942, calling it a "Quit India but keep your army" movement. He became a fierce critic of the Indian National Congress and its acceptance of India's partition. He was one of those accused in the assassination of Indian leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and was acquitted in the trial.[6][7]

The airport at Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar's capital, has been named Veer Savarkar International Airport.[8] The commemorative blue plaque on India House fixed by the Historic Building and Monuments Commission for England reads "Vinayak Damodar Savarkar 1883-1966 Indian patriot and philosopher lived here".[9] In the recent past, the Shiv Sena party has demanded that the Indian Government posthumously confer upon him India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna .[10]

Early life[edit]

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was born in the Chitpavan Konkanastha Brahmin family[11] of Damodar and Radhabai Savarkar in the village of Bhagur, near the city of Nashik, Maharashtra. He had three other siblings namely Ganesh, Narayan, and a sister named Maina.[citation needed] When he was 12, he led fellow students in an attack on his village mosque following Hindu-Muslim riots, stating: "we vandalised the mosque to our heart’s content."[12][13]

After the death of his parents, the eldest sibling Ganesh, known as Babarao, took responsibility of the family. Babarao played a supportive and influential role in Vinayak's teenage life. During this period, Vinayak organised a youth group called Mitra Mela (Band of Friends) and encouraged revolutionary and nationalist views of passion using this group. In 1901, Vinayak Savarkar married Yamunabai, daughter of Ramchandra Triambak Chiplunkar, who supported his university education. Subsequently in 1902, he enrolled in Fergusson College, in Pune . As a young man, he was inspired by the new generation of radical political leaders namely Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai along with the political struggle against the partition of Bengal and the rising Swadeshi campaign. He was involved in various nationalist activities at various levels. In 1905, during Dussehra festivities Vinayak organised setting up of a bonfire of foreign goods and clothes. Along with his fellow students and friends he formed a political outfit called Abhinav Bharat. Vinayak was soon expelled from college due to his activities but was still permitted to take his Bachelor of Arts degree examinations. After completing his degree, nationalist activist Shyamji Krishna Varma helped Vinayak to go to England to study law, on a scholarship. It was during this period that the Garam Dal, literally "Army of the angry," was formed under the leadership of Tilak as a result of a split between the moderate, "constitutionalist" wing on the one part, and of Tilak's extremist or radical wing in the Indian National Congress. The members of the Garam Dal, did not acknowledge the agenda of the majority moderate Indian National Congress leadership which advocated dialogue with the British rulers and incremental steps towards Independence by gaining confidence of the British. Tilak was soon imprisoned for his support of revolutionary activities.

Activities at India House[edit]

Main article: India House
Madan Lal Dhingra was a protege of Savarkar.

After joining Gray's Inn law college in London Vinayak took accommodation at India House. Organized by expatriate social and political activist Pandit Shyamji, India House was a thriving centre for student political activities. Savarkar soon founded the Free India Society to help organize fellow Indian students with the goal of fighting for complete independence through a revolution, declaring,

We must stop complaining about this British officer or that officer, this law or that law. There would be no end to that. Our movement must not be limited to being against any particular law, but it must be for acquiring the authority to make laws itself. In other words, we want absolute independence[5]

Savarkar envisioned a guerrilla war for independence along the lines of the famous war for Indian independence of 1857. Studying the history of the revolt, from English as well as Indian sources, Savarkar wrote the book, The History of the War of Indian Independence. He analysed the circumstances of 1857 uprising and assailed British rule in India as unjust and oppressive. It was via this book that Savarkar became one of the first writers to allude the uprising as India's "First War for Independence."[14]

The book was banned throughout the British Empire. Madame Bhikaji Cama, an expatriate Indian revolutionary obtained its publication in the Netherlands, France and Germany. Widely smuggled and circulated, the book attained great popularity and influenced rising young Indians. Savarkar was studying revolutionary methods and he came into contact with a veteran of the Russian Revolution of 1905 who imparted him the knowledge of bomb-making. Savarkar had printed and circulated a manual amongst his friends on bomb-making and other methods of guerrilla warfare.

In 1909, Madan Lal Dhingra, a keen follower and friend of Savarkar, assassinated British MP Sir Curzon Wylie in a public meeting. Dhingra's action provoked controversy across Britain and India, evoking enthusiastic admiration as well as condemnation. Savarkar published an article in which he all but endorsed the murder and worked to organize support, both political and for Dhingra's legal defence.

At a meeting of Indians called for a condemnation of Dhingra's deed, Savarkar protested the intention to condemn and was drawn into a hot debate and angry scuffle with other participants. A secretive and restricted trial and a sentence awarding the death penalty to Dhingra provoked an outcry and protest across the Indian student and political community. Strongly protesting the verdict, Savarkar struggled with British authorities in laying claim to Dhingra's remains following his execution. Savarkar hailed Dhingra as a hero and martyr, and began encouraging revolution with greater intensity.

Arrest in London and Marseille[edit]

In India, Ganesh Savarkar had organised an armed revolt against the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909[citation needed]. The British police implicated Savarkar in the investigation for allegedly plotting the crime[citation needed]. Hoping to evade arrest, Savarkar moved to Madame Cama's home in Paris[citation needed]. He was nevertheless arrested by police on 13 March 1910. In the final days of freedom, Savarkar wrote letters to a close friend planning his escape. Knowing that he would most likely be shipped to India, Savarkar asked his friend to keep track of which ship and route he would be taken through[citation needed]. When the ship S.S. Morea reached the port of Marseille on 8 July 1910, Savarkar escaped from his cell through a porthole and dived into the water, swimming to the shore in the hope that his friend would be there to receive him in a car[citation needed]. But his friend was late in arriving, and the alarm having been raised, Savarkar was re-arrested.

Case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration[edit]

Permanent Court of Arbitration - Cour permanente d'arbitrage.svg
Court Permanent Court of Arbitration
Full case name Arrest and Return of Savarkar (France v. Great Britain)
Decided 24 February 1911
Court membership
Judges sitting M. Beernaert, president, elected by panel
Louis Renault
Earl of Desart
G. Gram
Alexander de Savornin Lohman
Case opinions
Decision by Unanimous panel

Savarkar's arrest at Marseilles caused the French government to protest to the British, arguing that the British could only recover Savarkar if they took appropriate legal proceedings for his rendition. This dispute came before the Permanent Court of International Arbitration in 1910, and it gave its decision in 1911. The case excited much controversy as was reported by the New York Times, and it considered it involved an interesting international question of the right of asylum. The Court held, firstly, that since there was a pattern of collaboration between the two countries regarding the possibility of Savarkar's escape in Marseilles and since there was neither force nor fraud in inducing the French authorities to return Savarkar to them, the British authorities did not have to hand him back to the French in order for the latter to hold rendition proceedings. On the other hand, the tribunal also observed that there had been an "irregularity" in Savarkar's arrest and delivery over to the Indian Army Military Police guard.[15][16]

Trial and Sentence[edit]

Arriving in Bombay, Savarkar was taken to the Yervada Central Jail in Pune. Following a trial, Savarkar was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment and transported on 4 July 1911 to the infamous Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Prisoner in Cellular Jail in Andaman[edit]

A statue of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar at Cellular Jail.

His fellow captives included many political prisoners, who were forced to perform hard labour for many years. Reunited with his brother Ganesh, the Savarkars nevertheless struggled in the harsh environment: Forced to arise at 5 am, tasks including cutting trees and chopping wood, and working at the oil mill under regimental strictness, with talking amidst prisoners strictly prohibited during mealtime. Prisoners were subject to frequent mistreatment and torture. Contact with the outside world and home was restricted to the writing and mailing of one letter a year. In these years, Savarkar withdrew within himself and performed his routine tasks mechanically. Obtaining permission to start a rudimentary jail library, Savarkar would also teach some fellow convicts to read and write.

On November 14, 1913, Savarkar sought clemency while lodged in Andamans' Cellular Jail. In his letter, asking for forgiveness, he described himself as a "prodigal son" longing to return to the "parental doors of the government". He wrote that his release from the jail will recast the faith of many Indians in the British rule. Also he said "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." [17]

In 1920, the Indian National Congress and leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Vithalbhai Patel and Bal Gangadhar Tilak demanded his unconditional release. Savarkar signed a statement endorsing his trial, verdict and British law, and renouncing violence, a bargain for freedom.

Jaywant Joglekar, who authored a book euologising Savarkar as 'Father of Hindu Nationalism',[18] considers Savarkar's appeal for clemency a tactical ploy, like Shivaji's letter to Aurangzeb, during his arrest at Agra etc.[19]

Restricted Freedom in Ratnagiri[edit]

On 2 May 1921, the Savarkar brothers were moved to a jail in Ratnagiri, and later to the Yerwada Central Jail. He was finally released on 6 January 1924 under stringent restrictions – he was not to leave Ratnagiri District and was to refrain from political activities for the next five years. However, police restrictions on his activities would not be dropped until provincial autonomy was granted in 1937.


See also: Hindutva
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

During his incarceration, Savarkar's views began turning increasingly towards Hindu cultural and political nationalism, and the next phase of his life remained dedicated to this cause.[20] In the brief period he spent at the Ratnagiri jail, Savarkar wrote his ideological treatise – Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?. Smuggled out of the prison, it was published by Savarkar's supporters under his alias "Maharatta." In this work, Savarkar promotes a radical new vision of Hindu social and political consciousness. Savarkar began describing a "Hindu" as a patriotic inhabitant of Bharatavarsha,[21] venturing beyond a religious identity.[20][22] While emphasising the need for patriotic and social unity of all Hindu communities, he described Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism as one and same. He outlined his vision of a "Hindu Rashtra" (Hindu Nation) as "Akhand Bharat" (United India), purportedly stretching across the entire Indian subcontinent. He defined Hindus as being neither Aryan nor Dravidian but as "People who live as children of a common motherland, adoring a common holyland."[23]

Scholars, historians and Indian politicians have been divided in their interpretation of Savarkar's ideas. A self-described atheist,[24] Savarkar regards being Hindu as a cultural and political identity. While often stressing social and community unity between Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, Savarkar's notions of loyalty to the fatherland are seen as an implicit criticism of minorities e.g., Muslims, Christians, etc. who regard Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, etc. as their holiest places. Savarkar openly assailed what he saw as Muslim political separatism, arguing that the loyalty of many Muslims was conflicted.

After his release from jail on 6 January 1924.[25] Savarkar helped found the Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha, aiming to work for the social and cultural preservation of Hindu heritage and civilisation.[26] Becoming a frequent and forceful orator, Sarvakar agitated for the use of Hindi as a common national language and against caste discrimination and untouchability.

Another activity he started was to reconvert to Hinduism those who had converted to other faiths. This included the eight members of a Brahmin family named Dhakras who had converted to Christianity. Savarkar re-converted the family at a public function and also bore the marriage expenses of the two daughters in the family.[27]

Focusing his energies on writing, Savarkar authored the Hindu Pad-pada-shahi[14] – a book documenting the Maratha empire – and My Transportation for Life – an account of his early revolutionary days, arrest, trial and incarceration.[28] He also wrote and published a collection of poems, plays and novels. He also wrote a book named Majhi Janmathep ("My Life-term") about his experience in Andaman prison.[29]

Leader of the Hindu Mahasabha[edit]

In the wake of the rising popularity of the Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Savarkar and his party began gaining attraction in the national political environment. Savarkar moved to Mumbai and was elected president of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, and would serve until 1943. The Congress swept the polls in 1937 but conflicts between the Congress and Jinnah would exacerbate Hindu-Muslim political divisions. Jinnah derided Congress rule as a "Hindu Raj", and hailed 22 December 1939 as a "Day of Deliverance" for Muslims when the Congress resigned en masse in protest when the British India Governor-General declared India's inclusion into World War II for the United Kingdom and its allies against Germany and its allies. Savarkar's message of Hindu unity and empowerment gained increasing popularity amidst the worsening communal climate.

Savarkar as president of the Hindu Mahasabha, during the Second World War, advanced the slogan "Hinduize all Politics and Militarize Hindudom", he decided to support the British war effort in India seeking military training for the Hindus.[30] When the Congress launched the Quit India movement in 1942, Savarkar criticised it and asked Hindus to stay active in the war effort and not disobey the government,[14] he urged the Hindus to enlist in the armed forces to learn the "arts of war".[31] Hindu Mahasabha activists protested Gandhi's initiative to hold talks with Jinnah in 1944, which Savarkar denounced as "appeasement." He assailed the British proposals for transfer of power, attacking both the Congress and the British for making concessions to Muslim separatists. Soon after Independence, Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee resigned as Vice-President of the Hindu Mahasabha dissociating himself from its Akhand Hindustan plank, which implied undoing partition.[32]

Opposition to Quit India Movement[edit]

Under Savarkar, the Hindu Mahasabha openly opposed the call for the Quit India Movement and boycotted it officially.[33] Savarkar even went to the extent of writing a letter titled "Stick to your Posts",in which he instructed Hindu Sabhaites who happened to be "members of municipalities, local bodies, legislatures or those serving in the stick to their posts" across the country, and not to join the Quit India Movement at any cost.[33]

Following the Hindu Mahasabha's official decision to boycott the Quit India movement, Syama Prasad Mukherjee, leader of the Hindu Mahasabha in Bengal,(which was then a part of the ruling coalition in Bengal led by Krishak Praja Party of Fazlul Haq), wrote a letter to the British Government as to how they should respond, if the Congress gave a call to the British rulers to Quit India. In this letter, dated July 26, 1942 he wrote:

"Let me now refer to the situation that may be created in the province as a result of any widespread movement launched by the Congress. Anybody, who during the war, plans to stir up mass feeling, resulting internal disturbances or insecurity, must be resisted by any Government that may function for the time being" [34][35]

Mookerjee in this letter reiterated that the Fazlul Haq led Bengal Government, along with its alliance partner Hindu Mahasabha would make every possible effort to defeat the Quit India Movement in the province of Bengal and made a concrete proposal as regards this:

"The question is how to combat this movement(Quit India) in Bengal? The administration of the province should be carried on in such a manner that in spite of the best efforts of the Congress, this movement will fail to take root in the province. It should be possible for us, especially responsible Ministers, to be able to tell the public that the freedom for which the Congress has started the movement, already belongs to the representatives of the people. In some spheres it might be limited during the emergency. Indian have to trust the British, not for the sake for Britain, not for any advantage that the British might gain, but for the maintenance of the defense and freedom of the province itself. You, as Governor, will function as the constitutional head of the province and will be guided entirely on the advice of your Minister.[35]

Alliance with Muslim League and others[edit]

The Indian National Congress won a massive victory in the Indian provincial elections, 1937, decimating the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha. However, in 1939, the Congress ministries resigned in protest against Viceroy Lord Linlithgow's action of declaring India to be a belligerent in the Second World War without consulting the Indian people. This led to the Hindu Mahasabha, under Savarkar's presidency, joining hands with the Muslim League and other parties to form governments, in certain provinces. Such coalition governments were formed in Sindh, NWFP, and Bengal.

In Sindh, Hindu Mahasabha members joined Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah's Muslim League government. In Savarkar's own words,

"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[36][37][38]

In March 1943, Sindh Government became the first Provincial Assembly of the sub-continent to pass an official resolution in favour of the creation of Pakistan.[39] In spite of the Hindu Mahasabha's avowed public opposition to any political division of India, the Mahasabha Ministers of the Sindh government did not resign, rather they simply "contented themselves with a protest"[35]

In the North West Frontier Province, Hindu Mahasabha members joined hands with Sardar Aurangzeb Khan of the Muslim League to form a government in 1943. The Mahasabha member of the cabinet was Finance Minister Mehar Chand Khanna.[37][40]

In Bengal, Hindu Mahasabha joined the Krishak Praja Party led Progressive Coalition ministry of Fazlul Haq in December, 1941.[41] Savarkar appreciated the successful functioning of the coalition government.[37][42]

Civil resistance movement[edit]

Hindus were politically prosecuted in Hyderabad under Nizam's rule. Forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam, imposition of Urdu on Hindu students and neglect of Hindu shrines were some of the main elements of Nizam's anti-Hindu policies.[citation needed] Hindu Mahasabha under the leadership of Savarkar started a civil resistance movement in March 1939. The objective of the Satyagraha was to secure religious and cultural liberty for the Hindus who at that time constituted 86% of total population of Hyderabad State. Many notable people like Senapati Bapat, V. G. Deshpande, Prabhakar Balwant Dani, Madhavrao Mule, took part in it. The Arya Samaj also sent around 10000 civil resisters. At last, on July 19, 1939, the Nizam government announced some political reforms. In the new dispensation, 50% seats were left for non-Muslims.[43] Although Hindus were the majority in the state and Muslims were in minority, Hindu Mahasabha accepted this proposal. They withdrew the movement despite the fact that these reforms for partial reforms. Indian National Congress did not support this movement and called it 'communal' and 'anti-national'.[44]

Views on Mahatma Gandhi[edit]

Savarkar was an outspoken critic of Mahatma Gandhi. He considered him "a sissy", who was willing to cooperate with the British for Gandhi's support on death sentence to Bhagat Singh. He criticized Gandhi for being a hypocrite as he supported use of violence by the British against Germany during World War II. The casualty of Indian soldiers was huge and veer Savarkar and many leaders distanced himelf completely from Gandhi. he questioned the non violence what does it mean for gandhi? as he allowed Indian soldier to kill and get killed for British . He also criticized his appeasement of Muslims at the time of Khilafat Movement.

In articles from the 1920s to the 1940s Savarkar considered Gandhi as a naive leader who "happens to babble...[about] compassion, forgiveness", yet "notwithstanding his sublime and broad heart, the Mahatma has a very narrow and immature head."

During the Partition of India, he and his party were enraged at the support given by Gandhi to Pakistan such as Gandhi's protests and fast against the economic sanctions imposed on Pakistan by Jawaharlal Nehru (refusing to pass on its share of central-bank funds from before independence).[45]

Opposition to the partition of India[edit]

The Muslim League adopted the Lahore Resolution in 1940, calling for a separate Muslim state based on the Two-Nation Theory, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar summaries Savarkar's position, in his Pakistan or The Partition of India as follows,

Mr. Savarkar... insists that, although there are two nations in India, India shall not be divided into two parts, one for Muslims and the other for the Hindus; that the two nations shall dwell in one country and shall live under the mantle of one single constitution;.... In the struggle for political power between the two nations the rule of the game which Mr. Savarkar prescribes is to be one man one vote, be the man Hindu or Muslim. In his scheme a Muslim is to have no advantage which a Hindu does not have. Minority is to be no justification for privilege and majority is to be no ground for penalty. The State will guarantee the Muslims any defined measure of political power in the form of Muslim religion and Muslim culture. But the State will not guarantee secured seats in the Legislature or in the Administration and, if such guarantee is insisted upon by the Muslims, such guaranteed quota is not to exceed their proportion to the general population.[46]

Support for Jewish state in Palestine[edit]

Savarkar in a statement issued on 19 December 1947, expressed joy at the recognition of the claim of Jewish people to establish an independent Jewish state, and likened the event to the glorious day on which Moses led them out of Egyptian bondage. He considered that justice demanded restoration of entire Palestine to the Jews, their historical holy land and Fatherland. He regretted India's vote at the United Nations Organisation against the creation of the Jewish state terming the vote a policy of appeasement of Muslims.[47]


Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tributes to Veer Savarkar at Parliament of India.

Veer Savarkar wrote more than 10,000 pages in the Marathi language. His literary works in Marathi include "Kamala", "Mazi Janmathep" (My Life Sentence), and most famously 1857 - The First War of Independence, in which Savarkar popularised the term "First War of Independence" for what the British referred to as the "Sepoy Mutiny". Another book was Kale Pani (Black Water which means "life sentence" on the island prison on the Andaman islands), which reflected the treatment of Indian Independence activists by the British. To counter the then accepted view that India's history was a saga of continuous defeat, he wrote an inspirational historical work, Saha Soneri Pane (Six Golden Pages), recounting some of the "Golden periods" of Indian history. At the same time, religious divisions in India were beginning to be exacerbated. He described what he saw as the atrocities of British and Muslims on Hindu residents in Kerala in the book, Mopalyanche Band (Muslims' Strike) and also Gandhi Gondhal (Gandhi's Confusion), a political critique of Gandhi's politics. Savarkar, by now, had become a committed and persuasive critic of the Gandhian vision of India's future.

He is also the author of the poems Sagara pran talmalala (O Great Sea, My Heart Aches for the Motherland), and Jayostute (written in praise of freedom). When in the Cellular jail, Savarkar was denied pen and paper. He composed and wrote his poems on the prison walls with thorns and pebbles, memorised thousands lines of his poetry for years till other prisoners returning home brought them to mainland India. Savarkar is credited with several neologisms in Marathi and Hindi, including "Hutatma" (Martyr), "Mahapaur" ( Mayor), Digdarshak (leader or director, one who points in the right direction), Shatkar (a score of six runs in cricket), Saptahik (weekly), Sansad (Parliament), "doordhwani" (telephone), "tanklekhan" (typewriting) among others.[citation needed]

He chaired Marathi Sahitya Sammelan in 1938.

  • Savarkar Samagra: Complete Works of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 10 volumes,ISBN 81-7315-331-0
  • Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? Nagpur, 1928.
  • The Indian War of Independence, 1857. New Delhi: Rajdhani Granthnagar, 1970; 1st ed., 1908.
  • Hindu Rashtra Darshan: A Collection of Presidential Speeches Delivered from the Hindu Mahasabha Platform. Bombay: Khare, 1949.
  • Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History. Trans. and ed. S. T. Godbole. Bombay: Veer Savarkar Prakashan, 1985.
  • My Transportation for Life. Trans. V. N. Naik. Bombay: Veer Savarkar Prakashan, 1984; 1st ed., 1949.
  • Saha Soneri Paane (translation: Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History [48])
  • Joseph Mazzini (on Giuseppe Mazzini)
  • 1857 che Svatantrya Samar
  • Hindupadpaatshahi
  • Hindutva
  • Jatyochhedak Nibandha
  • Moplyanche Banda
  • Maazi Janmathep (translation: My life imprisonment)
  • Kale Pani
  • Shatruchya Shibirat
  • Londonchi batamipatre (translation: London Newsletters)
  • Andamanchya Andheritun
  • Vidnyan nishtha Nibandha
  • Hindurashtra Darshan
  • Hindutvache Panchapran
  • Kamala
  • Savarkaranchya Kavita (translation: Poems by Savarkar)
  • Sanyasta Khadg

Arrest and acquittal in Gandhi's assassination[edit]

A group photo of people accused in the Mahatma Gandhi's murder case. Standing: Shankar Kistaiya, Gopal Godse, Madanlal Pahwa, Digambar Badge. Sitting: Narayan Apte, Vinayak D. Savarkar, Nathuram Godse, Vishnu Karkare

Following the assassination of Gandhi on 30 January 1948, police arrested the assassin Nathuram Godse and his alleged accomplices and conspirators. He was a member of the Hindu Mahasabha and of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Godse was the editor of Agrani - Hindu Rashtra a Marathi daily from Pune which was run by a company "The Hindu Rashtra Prakashan Ltd" (The Hindu Nation Publications). This company had contributions from such eminent persons as Gulabchand Hirachand, Bhalji Pendharkar and Jugalkishore Birla. Savarkar had invested 15000 in the company. Savarkar, a former president of the Hindu Mahasabha, was arrested on 5 February 1948, from his house in Shivaji Park, and kept under detention in the Arthur Road Prison, Mumbai. He was charged with murder, conspiracy to murder and abetment to murder. A day before his arrest, Savarkar in a public written statement, as reported in The Times of India", Mumbai dated 7 February 1948, termed Gandhi's assassination a fratricidal crime, endangering India's existence as a nascent nation.[49][50][51]

Approver's testimony[edit]

Godse claimed full responsibility for planning and carrying out the assassination. However, according to the Approver Badge, on 17 January 1948, Nathuram Godse went to have a last darshan (audience / interview) with Savarkar in Bombay before the assassination. While Badge and Shankar waited outside, Nathuram and Apte went in. On coming out Apte told Badge that Savarkar blessed them "Yashasvi houn ya" ("यशस्वी होऊन या", be successful and return). Apte also said that Savarkar predicted that Gandhi's 100 years were over and there was no doubt that the task would be successfully finished.[52][53] However Badge's testimony was not accepted as the approver's evidence lacked independent corroboration and hence Savarkar was acquitted.

Kapur commission[edit]

On 12 November 1964, at a religious programme organised in Pune to celebrate the release of Gopal Godse, Madanlal Pahwa and Vishnu Karkare from jail after the expiry of their sentences, Dr. G. V. Ketkar, grandson of Bal Gangadhar Tilak,[54] former editor of Kesari and then editor of "Tarun Bharat", who presided over the function, gave information of a conspiracy to kill Gandhi, about which he professed knowledge six months before the act. Ketkar was arrested. A public furore ensued both outside and inside the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and both houses of the Indian parliament. Under pressure of 29 members of parliament and public opinion the then Union home minister Gulzarilal Nanda appointed Gopal Swarup Pathak, M. P. and a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India as a Commission of Inquiry to re-investigate the conspiracy to murder Gandhi. The central government intended on conducting a thorough inquiry with the help of old records in consultation with the government of Maharashtra. Pathak was given three months to conduct his inquiry, subsequently Jevanlal Kapur a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India was appointed chairman of the Commission.[55]

The Kapur Commission was provided with evidence not produced in the court; especially the testimony of two of Savarkar's close aides - Appa Ramachandra Kasar, his bodyguard, and Gajanan Vishnu Damle, his secretary,[56]

Kasar told the Kapur Commission that Godse and Apte visited Savarkar on or about 23 or 24 January, which was when they returned from Delhi after the bomb incident. Damle deposed that Godse and Apte saw Savarkar in the middle of January and sat with him (Savarkar) in his garden.

Justice Kapur concluded: "All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group."[57][58][59]

Later life and death[edit]

After Gandhi's assassination Savarkar's home in Dadar, Mumbai was stoned by angry mobs.[14] After he was acquitted of the allegations related to Gandhi's assassination and released from jail, Savarkar was arrested by the Congress government, for making "militant Hindu nationalist speeches", he was released after agreeing to give up political activities. He continued addressing social and cultural elements of Hindutva. He resumed political activism after the ban on it was lifted, it was however limited until his death in 1966 because of ill health. His followers bestowed upon him honours and financial awards when he was alive. Two thousand RSS workers gave his funeral procession a guard of honour. According to McKean, there was public antipathy between Savarkar and the Congress for most of his political career, yet after independence Patel and Deshmukh unsuccessfully sought partnership with the Hindu Mahasabha and Savarkar. It was forbidden for Congress party members to participate in public functions honouring Savarkar. Nehru refused to share the stage during the centenary celebrations of the India's First War of Independence held in Delhi. After the death of Nehru, the Congress government, under Prime Minister Shastri, started to pay him a monthly pension.[60]

On 8 November 1963 Savarkar's wife Yamuna died. On 1 February 1966 Savarkar renounced medicines, food and water which he termed as atmaarpan (fast until death). Before his death he had written an article titled "Atmahatya Nahi Atmaarpan" in which he argued that when one's life mission is over and ability to serve the society is left no more, it is better to end the life at will rather than waiting for death. He died on 26 February 1966 at the age of 83. He was mourned by large crowds that attended his cremation. He left behind a son Vishwas and a daughter Prabha Chiplunkar. His first son, Prabhakar, had died in infancy. His home, possessions and other personal relics have been preserved for public display.

After his death, since Savarkar was championing militarisation, some thought that it would be fitting if his mortal remains were to be carried on a gun-carriage. A request to that effect was made to the then Defence Minister, Y.B. Chavan, who later on became Deputy Prime Minister of India. But Chavan turned down the proposal and not a single minister from the Maharashtra Cabinet showed up to the cremation ground to pay homage to Savarkar. In New Delhi, the Speaker of the Parliament turned down a request that it pay homage to Savarkar. In fact, after the independence of India, Jawaharlal Nehru had put forward a proposal to demolish the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and build a hospital in its place. When Y.B. Chavan, as the Home Minister of India, went to the Andaman Islands, he was asked whether he would like to visit Savarkar's jail but he was not interested. Also when Morarji Desai went as Prime Minister to the Andaman islands, he too refused to visit Savarkar's cell.[61]

Religious views[edit]

Although Savarkar is regarded as a Hindu Nationalist, he also professed atheism.[62] He was an outspoken opponent of the caste system.[12]


In the 1996 Malayalam movie Kaala Pani directed by Priyadarshan, the Hindi actor Annu Kapoor played the role of Veer Savarkar.

The Marathi and Hindi music director and Savarkar follower, Sudhir Phadke, and Ved Rahi made the biopic film Veer Savarkar, which was released in 2001 after many years in production. Savarkar is portrayed by Shailendra Gaur.[63][64]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Dhananjay Keer, Veer Savarkar. Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1966.
  • Kumar, Megha (Nov–Dec 2006). "History and Gender in Savarkar's Nationalist Writings". Social Scientist 34 (11/12): 33–50. JSTOR 27644182. (subscription required (help)). 
  • Harindra Srivastava, Five stormy years : Savarkar in London, June 1906-June 1911 : a centenary salute to Swatantrayaveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, b. 28 May 1883-d. 26 February 1966, ISBN 978-0-8364-1470-7, OCLC 234299389
  • Sharma, Jyotirmaya (2011). "Vinayak Damodar Savarkar". Hindutva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism (Third ed.). Penguin Books India. pp. 127–175. ISBN 9780143418184. 

External links[edit]