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The Indian Herald

The Indian Herald
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May 30, 2012

From Revolutionary to Hindutva Ideologue: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar leaves a mixed legacy for Indians

VD Savarkar
One of the most divisive figures in Indian history, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar alias VD Savarkar was remembered on his birth anniversary on May 28.

The contribution of Savarkar was remembered more in Maharashtra, the state he belonged, on his birth anniversary, even as questions remain over his association with freedom movement.

Often considered as founder of Hindutva philosophy, Savarkar was indeed a revolutionary. But he is also accused of seeking British forgiveness once he was imprisoned in Cellular jail at Andaman.

His sentence was curtailed after he gave a commitment that he would no longer take part in any anti-government activity after his release from prison and would keep himself confined to Ratnagiri district.

It was Gandhi who had supported commuting Savarkar's sentence. It is interesting to note that Savarkar was part of the revolutionaries in the initial part of his life but later became a source of inspiration for the fanatic right-wing and a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha.

While he managed to get away with the imprisonment, other freedom fighters served long prison sentences as they didn't apologise to the British. Once released, Savarkar never associated himself with the nationalist movement and even supported joining the English army.

Known as 'Veer' i.e. Brave, Savarkar (1883-1966), didn't support the Quit India movement. He also was close to Nathu Ram Godse, Apte and Karkare, who were involved in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Though he was acquitted for want of evidences, his links with the convicts were known.

After independence when Mahatma Gandhi was killed, his house was stoned. His relationship with Godse was termed as homosexual and angered conservatives. But his supporters claim that he was defamed. Post-independence he was booked for his inflammatory speeches.

Even his death was mired in controversy. He decided to quit his life and ended taking food, which later resulted in his death. His followers say that it was not suicide but a brave decision to renounce life in one's old age when a person feels that he is no longer of any worth to the society.

Savarkar was indeed a major figure in 20th century India but his life remains a mystery and evokes extreme reactions from his followers and his opponents. There is still need to discover the real Savarkar. The key to it lies in the huge volumes he left and his ideas of Hinduism and the country.

TIH Bureau

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