By Anurupa Cinar
India’s freedom movement is replete with countless Indians, who have sacrificed their lives. However, today they are, by and large, swept away into oblivion. But there is one name that will remain permanently in history. He, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, prevails. He was born on May 28, 1883.
Savarkar is the stuff that heroes are made of. As a man of sharp intelligence and political acumen, supreme orator, passionate poet, he was a leader of leaders. He had the magnetic personality, the daring, the capability and sincerity to inspire a nation. But, being a foremost exponent of the Karmayoga, as propounded in the Bhagavad-Gita, he believed in duty for the sake of duty. Not for him was the path of acquiring self-glory and power. He was very uncompromising in his principles. This, his deep abiding love for India and his rational approach to life was the driving force of all his actions. As a revolutionary social reformer, he campaigned far and wide to rid society of the caste system. He was a firm believer in freedom and equality for all. The India he had visualized was one where every individual would have equal rights and opportunities, irrespective of caste, creed, race or religion. The minorities would have effective safeguards to protect their language, culture and religion, but would not be allowed to create a state within a state. All Indians should regard India as their Fatherland and Holyland. With the intention of making a collective, united Indian bid for freedom, the oath of his secret revolutionary society, Abhinav Bharat, was: One God, One Country, One Aspiration, One Community, One Life, One Language.
How many countries are blessed with a son of his caliber, his brilliance? His many contributions to India are invaluable, though invisible to many today. It behooves us to direct our thoughts, to spare at the very least a moment of our time, to this great patriot who has sacrificed so much all life long for India.
He was the first to declare complete Independence as a goal for India. With India for the Indians as his goal, in 1899, 16-year-old Savarkar took a sacred oath to sacrifice his all for his Motherland, if need be.
By the late 19th century, India was emasculated, a mere slave of the British. How then was this vicious imperial power ruling by military might and making new laws to serve their end to be circumvented? Where was the Constitution that freedom fighters could appeal to? How were their voices to be even heard, when Indians were being flung into jails, or hanged at the slightest provocation? Where were they to find guns and bombs and military might to counteract all the enemy armory? In England, so Savarkar was quick to realize that. With that in mind he, by winning a scholarship, left for England on June 9, 1906, ostensibly to become a Barrister. In reality his goals were manifold. He wished to study British Law, to circumvent it in his mission. Paramount was the need to spread patriotism in the hearts of the Indian youth. To bring all Indians together for this common, national cause, he wrote The Indian War of Independence, 1857. The government getting a whiff of this, promptly banned the book before its publication. The book was published regardless. In later years, Bhagat Singh and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose translated it into regional languages to inspire the people. In 1907, Savarkar designed the national flag for free India, incorporating the symbols for Muslims, Sikhs and other Hindus. This was hoisted in the Stuttgart convention. The plight of India was now an international issue. He was also determined to contact revolutionaries of other countries and make a common cause for freedom of all slave countries.
The British recognized at a glance in Savarkar what India fails to see even today. Desperate to annihilate him, they charged him with waging war against the King of England and procuring and distributing arms in London. But to doom him for all eternity, he had to be extradited to India. So they tangled Savarkar in a concocted charge of delivering seditious speeches four years earlier in India. The Jaws of Hell, the judiciary system prevailing in India, swallowed him. For 27 years, he was held in bondage by the British. When, finally released, he fought, at the cost of his health, for the freedom of a united India, with equal rights and opportunities for all Indians. After Indepen-dence, he continued to look out for Indian interests right up to his death. To strive so, for the country that so consistently forsook him, is the mark of a great personality. Savarkar was indeed a true, sincere and devoted son of India.