On May 28’ 2016 when India was still celebrating another successful year of Hon. PM Modi’s ever progressive administration, a unique ceremony was unfolding, hundreds of miles from its shores at ‘Central Cellular Jail’ of “Port Blair” in Andaman Islands. On this day, in presence of Amit Shah, President of BJP and other dignitaries, the long awaited honor of one of India’s greatest freedom fighters – ‘Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’, popularly known as “Swatantryaveer Savarkar” was once again being restored. It was not only a tribute to his sacrifices for ‘Bharat’, but also, to his pioneering social efforts to build nationalistic unified society. It was also 133 birth anniversary of this iconic revolutionary. By rededicating ‘Veer Savarkar Jyot’ on this day, PM Modi was rewriting a dark hurtful episode that created a national fire-storm, a decade earlier. Then, the Congress Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, as an appeasement to his leadership had misguidedly removed the Plaque dedicated to Savarkar from the ‘Memorial for Indian Revolutionaries’ at the ‘Cellular Jail’ and replaced it with the one for, Mahatma Gandhi. The fact of the matter is, though Mahatma Gandhi was an Iconic freedom fighter, he was not a ‘revolutionary’ (‘Krantikaari’) nor had he ever been into Andaman’s draconic ‘kala-paani’ Jail. With this event, PM Modi, also fulfilled the promise he had made to the electorates. ‘Port Blair Airport of Andaman Islands’ was already named as ‘Veer Savarkar International Airport’ by former PM Vajpayee during his administration. It is worth assessing why Savarkar has place of reverence in Indian history.
In the galaxy of Indian revolutionaries, the words ‘Swatantryaveer’ and ‘Savarkar’ are almost synonymous with each other. Born on May 28’1883, he was so much consumed with passion to liberate India from the British rule that at the tender age of 8, he took the oath to liberate his country with all possible means and to fight for it till the end. While studying for ‘Law Degree’ (Barrister) in London on scholarship, he not only sowed the seeds of independence-movement among the Indians studying there, but also, created an international support forum for it. It was there that he wrote his ground-breaking famous book “1857 – First War of Independence” on an epic historic chapter of collective bravery of Princely states of India to overthrow the British ‘Raj’. Savarkar, with his painstaking research showed to the world that this entire episode which the British had derided as nothing short of ‘Sepoy Mutiny’, was in fact, the most courageous effort of gallantry to liberate the country. At the time, this book had the distinction of being proscribed (banished) by two governments, even before it was published. This fearless patriot shook the mighty British rule in India so much so that he was sentenced to two life-terms of 25 years each on trumped up charges for his relentless activities against the British-Raj. Savarkar’s dramatic daring escape to the shores of Marseilles, France from the porthole of the ship that was to carry him to India for the trial is now a part of heroic folklore. His subsequent arrest by the British on French soil became cause-célèbre in the ‘International Court of Law’ at Hague setting the stage for the French government then to topple. At his trial, where he was denied all personal representation, Savarkar, on hearing his sentence courageously rebuked the Judge with, “what makes you think that you are going to last that long in my motherland”. That is exactly what happened. Savarkar went on to live in ‘Free India’ for years to come. Madanlal Dhingra, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and scores of others took counseling and inspiration from him during ‘Independence Struggle’. He was the first political leader to demand the absolute political independence for India – not just ‘independence’ – as the only goal for the country’s liberation. Savarkar remains the only Indian to forfeit his degree of ‘Barrister’ because of his refusal to take the pledge of allegiance to the British throne. He was not only a gifted writer, inspiring orator, outstanding poet-dramatist, but also, a comprehensive social reformer. He created an active crusade against the untouchability and religious demagoguery. As a brilliant visionary, Savarkar’s prophesies of pre-independence period are now modern-day India’s stark socio-political realities.
Savarkar was the ultimate prince among all the revolutionaries and spent a decade in its Central Jail in most inhuman conditions. In spite of that, the British could not break his morale or his will to fight the ‘British Raj’. Within the walls of gigantic ‘Cellular Jail’, Savarkar continued his work of eradicating untouchability and illiteracy among the prisoners to unify them. One must read his famous book, ‘My Life Sentence’ (“Mazi Janmthep”) to know what he endured and what he achieved even in his adversity. As Savarkar’s written words, including his poems were like live-wire to ignite fire of independence in the hearts of Indians, he was denied paper, pen-pencil in Andaman prison. Savarkar triumphed over this inconvenience by writing his poems on the prison walls by thorns and making the prisoners memorize them whenever someone was to be released. This is how his inspiring work was transported to underground resistance in India for nationwide circulation. In this captivity, his greatest creation – 10,000 stanzas ‘Kamala- Mahakavya’ – the lengthiest poem ever written in the world – was born. For creating a mass movement for freedom struggle, Savarkar established “Hindu Mahasabha” which became one of the most dominant political forces at the time. To his credit, he asked to dissolve this ‘Party’ after the independence as it had served its purpose (unlike like ‘Congress’). Savarkar’s intellectualism was based solely on Science and Technology, rather than on ritualistic religious notions. Needless to say, his views, at times, were contrarian to age-old Hindu dogmas. He initiated and propagated the concept of ‘Hindutva’ as the primary identity of ‘Bharatbhoomi’, giving rise to ‘Hindu Nationalism’. He defined it, fundamentally, in terms of nation’s consciousness, its cultural soul and eternal heritage – but not in religious terms. He gave self-esteem, national identity, and unflinching courage to ‘Indian nationalists’. Not many people know that Savarkar has been a political guiding light in the life of Hon. PM Modi all along, like many generations before him. Savarkar left this mortal world on February 26’ 1966 by refusing to have any food in his last days, in the best traditions of yogic Hindu philosophy.