Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was popular, known as Vir or Veer was born on May 28 1883, Bhagpur, village near Nasik. He was an activist, politician, Nationalist, lawyer and writer. Savarkar became the leading figure in Hindu Mahasabha and proposed the idea of India as a Hindu Nation.
While a student of law in London (1906–10), Savarkar helped to instruct a group of Indian revolutionaries in methods of sabotage and assassination that associates of his had apparently learned from expatriate Russian revolutionaries in Paris.
During this period he wrote a book named The Indian War of Independence, 1857 (1909), in which he took the view that the Indian Mutiny of 1857 was the first expression of Indian mass rebellion against British colonial rule.
In March 1910 Savarkar was arrested on various charges leading to sabotage and incitement to war and was sent to India for trial and convicted.
In a second trial he was sentenced to his alleged complicity in the assassination of a British district magistrate in India, and, He was sentenced to two life terms after he made a failed attempt to escape while being transported from Marseilles. He was transported to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
During his imprisonment, Savarkar wrote a book Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu? in which he talked about Hindutva, about its pride and defined all the people descended of Hindu culture as being part of Hindutva, including the Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs, which sought to define Indian culture as a manifestation of Hindu values; this concept grew to become a major tenet of Hindu nationalist ideology.
He was brought back to India in 1921 after he signed a plea for clemency under which he would renounce revolutionary activities furthermore, released from detention in 1924.
Savarkar resided in Ratnagiri until 1937 when he joined the Hindu Mahasabha, he served as president of the Hindu Mahasabha political party for 7 years and proposed the idea of India as a Hindu Nation (Hindu Rashtra). Savarkar opposed the Quit India Movement of 1942. In 1943, he was retired to Bombay. When Mohandas K. Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 by a former member of the Mahasabha, Savarkar was accused of having a role in the conspiracy to assassinate Gandhiji but was later acquitted by the court because of insufficient evidence.
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 the ability to serve society is left no more, it is better to end the life at will rather than waiting for death. His condition was described to have become as “extremely serious” before his death on 26 February 1966 at his residence in Bombay (now Mumbai), and that he faced difficulty in breathing; efforts to revive him failed and was declared dead
DID YOU KNOW?
- Amar Chitra Katha published a comic book on him in the 1970s.
- In 2002, Port Blair airport at Andaman and Nicobar Islands was renamed Veer Savarkar International Airport.