On May 28, 2016 when Bharat was celebrating another successful year of 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 Bharat’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 a nationalistic unified society. It was also the 133rd 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 Bharatiya 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 a place of reverence in Bharat’s history.
In the galaxy of Bharatiya 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 Bharat from 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 Law (Barrister) in London on scholarship, he not only sowed the seeds of Independence-movement among the Bharatiya students 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 Bharat 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 a ‘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 Bharat 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 Bharat 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 then French government 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 Bharat 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 the Independence Struggle. He was the first political leader to demand absolute political independence for Bharat – not just independence – as the only goal for the country’s liberation.
Savarkar remains the only Bharatiya 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 untouchability and religious demagoguery. As a brilliant visionary, Savarkar’s prophesies of the pre-independence period are now modern-day Bharat’s stark sociopolitical realities.
Savarkar was the ultimate prince among all revolutionaries and spent a decade in Anadaman’s Cellular Jail in the 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 the 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 this adversity. As Savarkar’s written words, including his poems were like live-wire to ignite fire of independence in the hearts of Bharatiyas, he was denied paper, pen-pencil in the 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 the underground resistance in Bharat 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 leading political forces at the time.
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 the nation’s consciousness, its cultural soul and eternal heritage – but not in religious terms.
He gave self-esteem, national identity, and unflinching courage to ‘Bharitiya 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.
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