History's HEROES? Dated 1883 - 1966

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Created by

Mihir Mahagaonkar


Fought for the Indian freedom struggle against the British Empire



    • Brave / Courageous
    • A good and strong leader
    • Has integrity (stands up for what they believe and act accordingly)
    • Inspiring / Charismatic
    • Ambitious

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    Indian freedom fighter

    The son of a Chitpavan Brahmin family from Nasik went on to became one of India’s most controversial figure. Coming from a small village in the state of Maharashtra in British India he was a staunch nationalist who is revered by millions even today. This revolutionary championed the idea of Hindutva and was responsible for the formation of the first secret societies in British India who sole purpose was Purna Swaraj(complete independence) during his college days.

    Born in a high caste family in a small town near Nasik in India in 1883, Vinayak's journey is a fascinating journey for Vinayak Damodar Savarkar to Veer Savarkar. A child whose mother had died quite early in his childhood his sister was a mother figure in his life, this led to him often expressing his emotional side through poems from quite a early age. He father always saw in him a zest for knowledge of the ancient history and to understand the meaning of the religious scriptures. When the deadly plague struck in the his state he lost his father and his brother, this left him the only elderly in charge of his siblings. During the same time a British high ranking officer was killed in Pune by the Chafekar Brothers as when someone died of plague in a family the soldiers used to march in wearing the footwear and there were several cases in which they disrespected the women, this led to the killing. Savarkar later moved to the Pune to complete his BA from the prestigious Ferguson College in Pune where he met Lokmanya Tilak who would Tim him under his wings and they would together do a lot of revolutionary activities in Pune like the burning of foreign goods. After completing his BA even though he was fined by the administration for his revolutionary activities he paid the heavy fine by crowd funding, Tilak recommended him to go abroad and speed the revolution abroad. For this Tilak recommended him to Shyamji Krishna Verma who was a lawyer and used to finance the needful students and provide them with a place to stay for their education in England. Savarkar won the scholarship and went to London to study law where with the help of Verma he would start a student rest house which harboured the revolutionary students known as India House. He is said to have inspired Madanlal Dhingra who killed William Hutt Curzon Wyllie , a high level British official in 1909 in London during a meeting with him. Dhingra was hanged and soon Savarkar was arrested and he was sentenced to 50-years imprisonment and transported on 4 July 1911 to the infamous Cellular Jail in the Indian Ocean, also known as Kala Pani (Black Water). While he was being transported in the boat he tried to rescue himself once the boat was near the French port of Marseilles as being a law student he knew that France and British did not have a extradition treaty . He successfully swam to the shore where other revolutionaries like Madam Cama ,Lala Har Dayal and V.V.S Aiyar but unfortunately they were late to reach the port and the British reached the shore and re-arrested Savarkar by bribing the port officials even though they had no legal jurisdiction. A case was also fought by the grandson of Karl Marx in The Hague, contradictory to the fact that the leftist in India have always created a narrative of Savarkar being a communal leader. While in jail he was devastated to the treatment of the Indian revolutionaries where he befriended Satyandrenath Sanyal also his brother Baburao was kept away from him while being in the same jail for leading revolutionaries in the state of Maharashtra while Vinayak was abroad. He wrote several mercy petitions which have become a political problem in India today. Satyendra Nath Sanyal who also wrote several mercy petitions was released and has written in his book that it was Savarkar’s legal knowledge which helped them to be freed along with a large movement in his home state of Bengal, he also points out that Savarkar was their leader in the jail and helped 11 such revolutionaries be freed. Furthermore, Sanyal has written that there was a lack of uprising in Savarkar’s home state of Maharashtra which caused his delayed freedom. Many home ministry documents from the time clearly state that even though Savarkar’s petitions were being written his release would be a big win for the revolutionaries. Eventually the Savarkar brothers were transferred to the Ratnagiri Jail in May 1921. During his incarceration in Ratnagiri jail in 1922, he wrote his "Essentials of Hindutva" that formulated his theory of Hindutva. Finally he was freed on 6 January 1924 but confined to Ratnagiri district. He started working for consolidation of Hindu society. Savarkar remained confined to Ratnagiri district until 1937. He served as the president of the Hindu Mahasabha and advanced the slogan "Hinduize all Politics and Militarize Hindudom" and decided to support the British war effort in India seeking military training for the Hindus. Savarkar opposed and heavily criticised the Quit India Moment in 1942 and also urged the Hindus to enlist in the armed forces to learn the "arts of war“. He continued his work as president even after India become independent on August 15, 1947. 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. 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, Bombay. 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, Bombay dated 7 February 1948, termed Gandhi's assassination a fratricidal crime, endangering India's existence as a nascent nation. The changes were dropped as the approver's evidence lacked independent corroboration and hence Savarkar was acquitted. Savarkar was arrested by the government for making "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 Congress ministers, Vallabhbhai Patel and C. D. 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. Even after his death his legacy lives on.

    Life in Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's world

    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.

    Was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar a Hero?

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