Savarkar’s relationship with the Damle Household

Download PDF
Hi, Everyone! It is my intention to translate several anecdotes of Savarkar preserved by those who knew him well. I consider it essential to do so to illustrate Savarkar fully to all.


Savarkar Smruti (Memories of Savarkar)  by Moreshwar Damle, Lakshmi Process Studio, Kolhapur, 1982; pages 1-2
Tatya’s Relationship with the Damle Household
Fortunately, our family had the opportunity to form a close connection with such a great patriot like Savarkar. It was like this, the plague was rampant in 1924-25. Savarkar got permission to stay in Nasik from June 24, but only for three months. Later on he was granted two more months extension. But after that he was ordered to return to Ratnagiri, plague notwithstanding. In November 1924 Savarkar was back in Ratnagiri and decided to live in the nearby Shirgaon to be away from plague-ridden areas. This incident took place somewhere around November 1924. Fearing Governmental wrath, no one was willing to take him in. In these circumstances, our father, Mr. Vishnupant Damle, invited him to be our guest. We lived in an old house with not many conveniences. We wondered how it would suit a patriot of Savarkar’s stature. But Savarkar saw our home and accepted our hospitality.
At the time Savarkar was by himself. His wife being pregnant, he preferred that she stay in Satara.
Once in our home, the room Savarkar picked for himself was about twelve feet long and seven feet wide. Actually, it was our rice storage shed—not very well-lit, with one door and a tiny window. And so, our father asked him, “Tatyasaheb, will this tiny room really serve your needs? It has just the door and barely a window! Not much sunlight comes in, either.” To this Savarkar replied, “Vishnupant, firstly, I am not ‘Tatyasaheb.’ If it makes you uncomfortable to call me just ‘Tatya,’ then do call me ‘Tatyarao.’ As for this room—my cell in Andaman was much smaller than this and dirty and dark to boot. That’s what I am used to; better not to forget the jail life already, anyway.
Later on, sitting on the floor of this very room, using his trunk as a desk, Savarkar wrote his book Hindupadpadshahi. With this we got a very good idea how he did his valuable writing work in that dark and dingy cell in Andaman. This room being blessed by Savarkar’s stay, we have preserved it as is till today.


Share it now!

Savarkar: Marnonmukh Shayyewar (Upon the Deathbed)

Download PDF
Hi, Everyone! Savarkar gave up his life in the highest tradition of yoga by prayopaveshan (giving up food and water)at age 83, on February 26, 1966, satisfied that he had carried out all the worldly duties that were his lot in life.

धन्योम् I धन्योहम् I कर्तव्यं मे न वीद्यते किंचित I
धन्योम् I धन्योहम् I प्राप्तव्यं सर्वमद्य संपन्नम् I  

(Blessed am I, blessed am I, I know of no duty now,
Blessed am I, blessed am I, I have fulfilled what I wished to achieve)

He embraced death willingly. This was atmarpan: self-sacrifice.
Knowing that this manner of death could be confused with suicide, Savarkar himself  had written an article,[1]published in the Sahyadri in December 1964, to clearly define the difference between suicide (atmahatya) and self-sacrifice (atmarpan.)

Savarkar was no stranger to suicide. In the terrible, unendurable hardships that he suffered in his thirteen-plus years of horrendous incarceration, he was on the brink of suicide at least three times. One occasion was between the years 1916-18 when his health had broken down completely. At the time, he had faced death squarely and delved deeply into what death meant. That resulted is his masterpiece, Marnonmukh Shayyewar(Upon the Deathbed.)

I first attempted the translation of Marnonmukh Shayyewar in 2010. I was completely overwhelmed by the enormity and level of difficulty of the job. My first draft was ready, but I had no idea if I had even got it right . . . !! A couple months ago, I approached my translation again, quite warily. It was a mess. But somehow, in the last three years my command of Marathi must have improved (must be all the research reading and connecting with Marathi Facebook Friends, I’m sure!) And I was able to revise the poem translation relatively painlessly.

My heartfelt thanks to my mother, Dr. Indrayani Sawkar, and Vikram Edke (a man of many, many talents) without whom I could never have achieved this goal.

And here it is . . . after an excerpt from Savarkar’s My Transportation of Life (a translation of his original Majhi Janmathep) which expresses in his own words how he thought and felt at the time.

“CHAPTER VI
On Death-Bed

While all these activities were carried on with zest during the later years of the war, I found my health completely shattered, as I wrote in the letter I had sent to my brother; and I was removed to the Hospital for rest and treatment. . . . Dysentery took off my appetite for food, and I could not digest it. Want of food added to my weakness and shattered my nerves; the fever was continuously on me; only the last enemy was yet to come, though he was very near. . . . .

I overcame the weakness of body and mind by these meditations. Some time I felt every day that the body could not hold out any longer because one ailment after another was attacking it. This garment of the flesh seemed to be completely tattered and torn so that the soul could no longer wear it. . . . In the hospital my weight had fallen down to 95 pounds, I could take no solid food, I felt distant symptoms of Thisis; fever did not abate, and there was none whom I could call mine near me. During the three following months I became worse, what with the atmosphere of hostility common to all political prisoners around me; what with disrespect and stark despair, with none to talk to me words of kindness and of love, and with no freedom of movement from one place to another. So much so that I knew not when Death would pounce upon me and snap the chord of my life. I realised that the time had come when, with all my will to live, I must pass away.

Am I, then, to die in the hospital? This thought began to haunt me all along. I reviewed in my mind the philosophy of the world and its conclusion on the subject, from Buddha’s doctrine of Nirvana and nescience to the Yoga doctrine of Knowledge; from the materialism of Science to the Monism of Haeckel and Spencer, and to the evolution theory of ‘Substance’ propounded by them, I searched them all for light on death and immortality. From the Mimansa doctrine of the Vedanta to Mill’s Utilitarianism, I ransacked in my mind their conclusions about religion, and about the triple faith of God, Immortality and Duty. And as the fruit of them all came forth my poem “On my bed facing death.” I wrote it while on bed in the hospital, and I had no hope that I should survive to read it. . . . And this I wrote on the threshold of death.”

Upon the Deathbed

 

 

ये मृत्यो! ये तूं ये, यावयाप्रती

निघालाचि असशिल जरि ये तरी सुखें!

कोमेजुनि जावया भिवोत हीं फुलें

हीं द्राक्षें रसरशींत सुकुनि जावया

 भ्यावें तें का म्हणुनी तुजसि परी मी?

 

 

माझ्या पेल्यांत किती पीत राहिलों

तरी न संपतीच अशा असतिजि ह्या

अश्रूंच्या मदिराची मात्र राहिल्या !

ये, त्या जरि नैवेद्या अससि भुकेला

आणि जरी दिवस असे अजुनि तरुण हा

 

 

 

 

रि लहानथोर अशीं असति संपलीं

दिवसाचीं  कार्येंही बहुतकरूनिया,

तोडजोड करूनि परी फेडलीं ऋणें

जन्मार्जित  जीं जीं तीं, ऋषिऋणाप्रती

श्रुतिजननीचरणतीर्थ  सेवुनी कधीं,

धरुनि कधी धृवपदांसि संत-तीच्या

आणी ही आचरुनी एक तप अशी

आशेच्या या स्मशानभूंत तपस्या

देवऋणा, फुंकुनि रणशृंग , दुंदुभी 

धडड धडड पिटुनि, आणि तो आघाडिचा

चढवुनिनि तैं हल्ला सहसाचि ज्या पलीं 

सुटली राघुवीराची प्रथम रणाज्ञा

आणि त्याचि रणयज्ञाग्नीं अग्नीं पेटल्या

अस्थि अस्थि, मांस मांस, न्धनें तशीं

जळत जळत आज असे शेष राहिली

राख यौवनाची मम! आणि म्हणुनिची

फेडाया पितृऋणासि आजि अहो मी

शास्त्रातें अनुसरोनि दत्तविधानें,

निपुत्रिकत्वा वारियलें:पुत्र अखिल हें

अभिनव भारतची मम! जेथ जेथ कीं

पाळण्यांत विकसतसे नयन-कमल तें

तेथे तेथे मीच बघें सृष्टी-कुतुहला.

 

 

 

 

 

नव उन्नति शील भालपटलिं दिसत जैं 

उदयोन्मुख तेज तरुण, तैं पुनः पुन्हा

माझ्याही  उदयोन्मुख होति हृदिं या

आशा नव, आकांक्षा उच्च, भावि त्या

आमुचिया वंशाच्या गौरवाचिया-

भारतीय केवल ना, मानवीयही

वंशाच्या गौरवार्थ ! अखिल मानवी

यौवनांत अनुभवीन यौवनास मी

 

 

 

 

आणि पितर माझे ते प्रेमतर्पणा !

येइं सुखें मृत्यो, तरीअसति हीं अशीं,

तडजोड करूनि परी फेडिली ऋणें,

आणि बहुतकरुनीया असति संपलीं

 

 

 

 

दिवसाचीं कार्येंही : यद्यपि कधीं

उगवे हा दिवस, कधीं मावळेहि वा,

 कर्में वा कवण, कशीं कार्य, या दिनीं

याविषयीं पंचांगें भिन्न, भिन्नची

भट्ट आणि पण्डित हे कथिति मज कथा,

रिहि लोकसंग्रहार्थ, धरणाप्रती

मानवीय आत्यंतिक आत्महिताच्या,

सज्जनासि गमलीं अनुकूल तींच कीं

कार्यें म्यां धर्म्य अशीं मानिलीं अणी

तदनुरूप एकाचा म्हणूनि जो ठरे

म्यां माझा भार असे अचलिला मुदें

यथाशक्ति यथापरिस्थिति न भंगितां 

धरिलें तें व्रत कदापि किमपि ना भयें.

 

 

 

 

 

 

सत्कुल, अव्यंग देह, परम दयाळू

जनक आणि जननी ती, त्यांहुनीहि कीं 

वात्सल्यें,  पुण्यें, प्रतिपाळिता तसा

अग्रज, जो अग्रगण्य तापसांमधें;

मूर्त विनय अनुज असा; अद्वितीयसें

प्रेयांचें प्रेमपुण्य; धन्य आणि तें

ध्येय महत्, देई जें जीवनाप्रती

सार्थकत्व मानुजांच्या, काव्यमय करी

जें आयुःकालातें, पूत चरित्रा;

तप कांहीं, जप कांहीं, यश कांहीं तें

कांहींशी मान्यताहि शारदेचिया

राजसभेमाजी कविरत्नभूषिता 

 

 

 

 

 

चाखियले रस नाना; हुंगियले ते

शतभूजलवायुललित शतसुगंध कीं

पंचाग्नीमधिल तया प्रखर भाजत्या

उत्तापापासुनि तों प्रीतिच्या मऊ

स्निग्ध परिश्वंगापर्यंत सर्वही 

शीतल, शीतोष्ण, उष्ण अनुभवयीले

कटिबंधस्पर्श तसें; परिसिले किती

स्वरशत, शतभाषा, शतगीति  नवनवा

शतमंजुल कंठांतिल- आणि मृत्यूच्या

शतकठोर कंठांतिल घोर लागल्या,

नाना जन, जानपदें, जातिविभिन्ना  

देश किती दृश्यें तीं, भूमिच्या महा-

संग्रहालयांत परिभ्रमत पहिलीं.

सुरूप तें, सुरेख तें, सुललित तें असें

पाहियलें डोळ्यांनी किमपि तरि जया

मृत्यो! ते डोळे हे झांक तूं सुखें !

 

 

 

 

 

- झांकणेंचि आवश्यक जरि गमे तरी!

कीं सुरेख पाहियलें - किमपि परी तें !

प्रीति विपल: विरह चिरंतन!  नवीं वयीं,

प्रौढ धुरंधरहि न जी शकति तोलण्या,

तीच धुरा भर उन्हांत तोळणें घडे !

 

 

 

 

म्हणुनि असे अजुनी अपुरीच राहिली

खेळाची हौस हंसत चांदण्यामधें

या आयुष्याच्या मम! रिहि जाणुनी

कीं न ययातीचीहि हौस पुरेशी

झाली जरि आयुष्याचाचि सर्व तो

नृपति करी खेळ एक; आणि पाहुनी 

इच्छेच्या बीजा फल भोग लागतां

इच्छेचीं बीजेंची त्यांत फिरोनी;

आणी अनुभवुनी कीं एक भुकेची

एक जेवणानें जी तृप्ति जाहली

तृप्ति सहस्त्राव्याही भोजनामुळें

असतें कीं तीतुकीची आणि तशीची;

 -मी दे तुज अनुमोदन संपवूं असा

हा जीवनलेख इथेंपृष्ठिं या जरी

पृष्ठें जीं पुढलीं तीं मागल्या तया 

पृष्ठांची असली पुनरुक्तिची तरी !

 

 

 

 

 

म्यां असतां दिवस नसे व्यर्थ गमविला

दिवसास्ताचेंहि म्हणुनि दुःख ना मला.

-भीति उद्यांची ही वा! मृत्युच्या मृता

रि असेल त्या अंधःकार-लतेला

फुलत दुज्या दिवसाचें  फुल तरीही

भीति मज; कीं येथें पेरिलें आम्हीं

फुलत आणि फलत तेंच , कथिति ते तिथें.

 

 

आणी मी पेराया कष्टलों असें

बीजें कीं तीं जीं निवडुनी दिलीं

त्यांनींची अत्युत्तम म्हणुनिया मला

पेरुं फलाशाविरहित. ‘ तूं तसें जरी 

वर्ततील समरपरिस्थितींत अन्यही ;

रि लोकोन्नति-विनाश होय ना असें

वर्त तसेंची वर्तूं यत्न म्यां सदा 

केला आबाल्य जसें अन्य तुझ्याशीं

वागावें म्हणुनि तुला वाटतें तसें 

तूहिं वाग अन्याशीं संतवचन हें

मी अनुपलिं पालाया कष्टलों अणी

रि आपद्धर्म सेव्य मानिले तरी

ते इतुक्यास्तवची कीं धर्मची स्वयें

ओपुनि दे आपत्तीच्याचि मज करीं !

 

 

 

 

जैं हिरव्या गवताचा गार गालिचा

वरुनि दहापावलीच अंगणामधें

कारागारांत कधीं मी फिरें तधीं

आत्मौपम्यांत मुरत चित्त थिजोनी

कितिदां तरि चरण अकस्मांत चालतां 

स्तंभित होऊनी रहावेत घटिघटी

कांहीं केल्याहि तया तरुण कोंवळ्या

गवताचे अंकुर दुखतील या भयें

पाय त्यांवरी नये पडूंचि कीं पुढें  

हातींचा घास कधीं हटुनि रहावा

हातींची, कीं जितुकीं त्यांत शितें तीं

बिजेंची नव्हत काय ? खातसों अम्ही

फल तें तें भृणघात ? आणि कधिंकधीं

मज पडलें भय कीं मज वेड लागलें !

आत्मौपम्यांस जईं वर्तण्यांत हें  

 

 

 

 

मन माझें अनुसरितां मज पदोपदीं

मरणासम दुःख होय पाहुनी जगीं

पूर्ण असंभवचि तया आचरुं पुरें

तरिही यत्न म्यां केला; अज्ञतेमुळें

वा अशक्यतेमुळेंच पद कधीं जरी

स्खलित जाहलें असले तरि असले तें

म्हणुनि भय अद्यांही ना स्मशामभूमिचा

परतटप्रदेश  जो अनोळखी तिथें

 

 

 

सुखकर प्रवास करवि जें असें असे

ओळखिचें पत्र आम्हांजवळ त्या स्वयें 

भगवान श्रीकृष्णचें-श्रीमंतां गृहे 

शुचीनां च! बा गेहे योगिनामपि

कश्चित् कल्याणकृच्च तात दुर्गतिम्

नहि गच्छति नहि गच्छति सांगती अणी

ते निरीश्वर-स्वभाव-वादिही मला;

म्हणुनि जरी सत्यचि जें वदति ते, जरी

स्वर्ग, नरक जन्मान्तर, बंध मुक्ति वा

निजकर्माचाची परिपाक कीं तरी

मरणाची वेस जयामाजि उघडते

त्या अदृष्ट नगरांतील अति सुरम्य ते

राखवुनि ठेवियले असति बंगले 

अधींची आम्हांस्तव भरूनिया अम्ही

कर्माच्या, धर्माच्या नियत विसारा !

 

 

 

 

परि जरी कीं स्वर्ग, जीव, बंध, कर्म वा

ऐहिक तें इन्द्रजाल मात्र, कीं जरी

संघातोत्पन्न भाव मात्र जीव हा

मृत्युपृथक्करणिं अभावांत ओसरे

रि सर्वोत्तमचि! मरण एक सुषुप्ति

अथवा प्रत्यक्ष मुक्ति! पंचही असे 

मिश्रित भूतांश पृथक् मुक्त होउनी

विहरोत स्वेच्छ नव्या मिश्रणांतुनी,

वा स्वयेंचि, वा शून्यीं ! इंद्रधनु तसें 

संज्ञेच्या आकाशीं विपल शोभुनी

विपलांतचि हा माझा ’मीहि कीं जरी 

विश्वाच्या अंतर्हित ’मीत मावळे     

 

 

 

रि मरणा! मरण न तूं! मरण मुक्तिची!

विपलांतचि परि! विनंती इतुकिची असे:

येणे तरि येउनि जा झटकनी तुझा

दुर्लौकिक जो जगांत, लोक जो तुझा 

द्वेष करिति, तो नचि कीं अससि तूं स्वतः 

निर्दय वा निंद्य म्हणुनि-पाहुनी तुला

अलाची कोणीही परत कीं न तो

सांगूं तूं केंवी तें! -परि विशेषतः

मृत्यो! तूं अप्रियसा जगतिं जें तुझें

सैन्य, पुरस्सर, पीडक हें हिडिस्ससें,

रोगाचें क्रुर असे, त्यामुळेंकीं !

 

 

 

 

मीच न कीं परि अजातशत्रू जो जगीं,

तुल्य ज्या प्रियप्रियादि हानि, लाभ, त्या

भगवान् श्रीगौतमाप्रतीहि भासला

रोग जरा अप्रियचि: लाभ ना दुजा 

आरोग्यासम जगतीं धर्मपद वदे

तरिही जे कोणी तुज नुघडतीलची

स्वेच्छेनें दरवाजे, दुर्ग ते हठी

जिंकुं जीवनाचे तूं धाड धाडही

रोगांच्या सैन्याची गांजत्या तिथें.

 

 

 

मीं तों जीं नुघडतील फोडिलीं तरी

जाणारचि, तीं दारें उघडुनी स्वयें

या माझ्या गेहाचीं, स्वागता असे 

अनिवार्या सिद्ध तुझ्या! म्हणुनि शक्य कीं 

ये तरि, हे अखिल-वीर-वीर-विजेत्या  !

 



 

 

एकलाचि, अपुरस्सर, आणि अकस्मात

परि अशक्य जरि तें तुज एकटें तसें

येणेंची, तरि त्याही क्रुर पीडका

रोगाच्या सैन्याचा क्षोभ सोसण्या

मी असेंचि सिद्ध आजि दोन वत्सरें

पाह्तची अससी तूं मजसि हा असा

शरपंजरिं खिळला! ज्या मधुर लागलें

जीवनांतलें मधु, प्रकाश चक्षुतें,

प्रीति हृदा तो मी त्या सर्व सुखांचे

मूल्य म्हणुनि मृत्युच्या यातनाहि कीं

समजुनि कर्तव्य सहूं सिद्ध असेंची !

 

Come, O Death, come! Having set forth

To get me, gladly come you may!

Let these flowers fear to wither and die,

Let these juicy grapes dread to shrivel and die,

But me! Why pray should I fear you?

 

 

Sip and sip did I from the Cup of Life,

Yet it is finished not today,

The Wine of Tears but remains.

Come, hungry as you are for this oblation,

Though the day is still so young,

 

 

 

Big or small, as be the deeds of the day

Accomplished they mostly are.

Compromise it took to pay off those debts

Acquired from birth; the Debt of the Sages

I paid by sometimes imbibing the Sacred Water

That washed the feet of Shruti, the Mother Vedas,

And sometimes by following the path of various Saints

And also by practicing penance of hopes for an age

These crematory austerities being for the Debt of Gods

Sounding the War Trumpet, pounding the drums forcefully,

Swift and sudden was the frontal attack

The instant the first battle order Shri Ram issued

And in that Sacrificial War, an inferno was set ablaze

Bone and bone, flesh and flesh fuel to it became—

Just so too, reduced to ashes is my youth! And so,

To discharge the debt I owe to my Ancestors,

Abiding with the Scriptures of Adoption,

That I may not die without an heir, all these sons

Of Abhinav Bharat I take to be as my own! Wherever

The Lotus-eyed One blooms in a crib,

There I am marveling the wonder of creation.

 

 

Whither fresh talent, strong character mark the brows,

Thither, new brilliance rises again and again!

In my bosom arise also

Fresh hopes and high aspirations—for the future

Glory of our Lineage, not just that of India,

But for the glory of Humanity!

In this very Youth of all Humanity,

Shall I relive my own Youth

 

 

 

And so shall my ancestors

To whom I lovingly offer oblations!

Come, O Death, gladly come then

Such are the debts, paid off one way or another,

And most are likely accomplished.

 

 

 

There are deeds of the day: even though

For when the day dawns, when it shall set,

What are the duties, what the deeds,

Many are the opinions given by

Various tomes, priests, and scholars—

For uniting  people, for  the Essence

Of the welfare of humanity,

Deeds that the Noble Ones found to be fitting,

Only such deeds did I consider to be righteous,

 Accordingly is ordained a burden to each one

And joyously have I borne mine

Ability and circumstance notwithstanding,

Ever true to my Oath have I been

Untainted by the slightest trace of fear.

 

 

 

 

Of noble family my parents were,

With faultless figures, and ever so kind of heart.

My elder brother, foremost amongst the Yogis,

Raised me so honorably, with such loving care;

My younger brother, Epitome of Modesty he is;

Unparalleled is this love; blessed am I

And that glorious goal, that gives to human life

Significance, that renders poetic my lifespan,

That sanctifies my character;

Some penance, some chanting—

With a measure of success, some shining

 In Sharda’s Court with Gems among poets.

 

 

Savored many a juice of fruits; breathed in

Hundreds of fragrances wafting with the breezes

Over hundreds of lands and waters,

The heat of the raging five fires,

To love’s sweet, soft embrace—cool, hot, sultry—

All experienced like the encircling of a belt;

Heard hundreds of tunes and languages,

Hundreds of songs, new and newer,

From hundreds of melodious throats,

And Death’s terrible roars from a very harsh throat.

Many people, villages, all kinds of countries,

So many sights seen,

Meandering the  Museum of this Earth;

So beautiful, so distinctive, so entertaining,

Such sights seen with the eyes—

O Death! Gladly close these eyes you may!

 

 

 

If you deem it necessary to close so!

 For I have seen beauty—a little perhaps!

Love for but a moment, a separation for eternity!

That which seasoned stalwarts cannot endure,

Those very yokes in the sweltering sun,

Such I endured in my youth!

 

 

So still unfulfilled in this life of mine

Is desire to frolic in the starlight—

But knowing: slaked not were the yearnings

Of Yayati—no, not e’en a lifetime of fun

Did satisfy the king. And seeing:

Deeds of Desire bear Fruit of Enjoyment,

And lo!—more seeds of desire flow;

Also, experiencing: an appetite

Is as replete by a single meal

As by the thousandth such meal—

Same, exactly the same;

O Death! I give you leave to end

The script of my life here.

The pages to come were perhaps to be

But a repetition of the pages past!

 

 

 

 

Squandered not I even a moment of my life,

So the day’s end brings no sorrow to me.

Mortals do so fear the death on the morrow! 

But even in the darkness, a new flower blooms

To a creeper for the next day.

Fear not I, for what we sow here today

That is what blooms and bears fruit, so they say.

 

 

And with hardship did I sow such seeds

Exquisite, chosen, given to me to sow

Without expectation of fruit, saying to me

“As you behave,  others shall in wartime, adversity;

Behave that no harm shall be brought

Upon the Progress of Humanity.”

That behavior I always aspired to from childhood,

“Behave unto others as you wish them

To behave toward you,” say the saints.

I took trouble to follow this every moment,

Even in distress it served me well—

Just that dharma itself offered calamities to me!

 

 

 

 

Whenever I pace in the narrow prison-yard

Upon the cool, green carpet of grass, then

Absorbed in introspection my mind froze,

Suddenly legs turned to pillars—unmoving!

The fear that the next step shall

Crush the young, tender grass sprouts

Stayed my feet in their spot.

At times, the morsel in my hand

Make it not to my mouth.

These grains I hold are they not seeds?

Does not eating the fruits abort the embryos?

Sometimes, when such forebodings were mine,

How I feared that I was losing my mind!

 

 

 

My mind, following me at every step,

Is awake to the profound grief in this world.

To conquer this totally is perhaps impossible,

  Effort I did make. P’haps powerless or

Unaware my feet may have stumbled,

But fear not I today the unknown

In the alien territory of the crematory,

 

 

To ease such  travel in this land,

A letter of introduction I have from

Lord Krishna himself—to the rich,

The pure, and the house of yogis.

One of noble deeds never attains

Misfortune in his rebirth, so say

The learned rishis to me;

If one believes there is truth in that,

Heaven, hell, rebirth, captivity, or moksha

All are but the consequence of one’s deeds.

So where the Door of Death shall open,

In that unseen City of Beauty,

The house is reserved for us

Pre-determined by the down payment

paid by our many deeds and duties.

 

 

 

If we believe heaven, soul, fetters, or fate

Are but a figment of our imagination,

And the Soul only an illusion created post-death,

Then death by that analysis is non-existent.

Wonderful! Death is just a deep sleep

Or mukti itself! The five such elements[2]

That were combined with release

Wander at will bonded anew,

Or as themselves, or as nothing!

Just like the momentary glory of the rainbow,

The “I” in me has a moment of glory

In the Sky of Consciousness, though

Fated to set in the Universe unknown.

 

 

 

So, Death! End you are not!—only a release!

That in moments! Only request is,

If on your way you are, delay not!

Your notoriety in this world, hatred you are held in

It is not because you are cruel or condemnable—

No one ever returned after seeing you

That they could give a report!

Especially, O Death! You gain unpopularity

In this world, by the army preceding you—

That hideous menace of cruel diseases!

 

 

 

Not just I, but even one with no enemy in the world,

Has his share of love and hate, loss and gain.

Gautama Buddha himself realized disease is hateful.

“No gain like good health in this world,” says the Dharmapad.

Even so, for those who will not welcome you willingly,

Or the stubborn ones who conquer  the battles of life, Troublesome Armies of Disease you send to them!

 

 

Break my unwilling doors, but taken from my house

I shall be only when I open the doors myself—

Your welcome here is incontrovertibly proven,

So it is feasible for you to come,

O Conqueror of All Heroes!

 

 

Alone, without surprise, not leading your army,

If impossible it is for you to come so—

No matter, I am prepared the past two years

To withstand the wrath of your pitiless Army of Disease!

You must certainly have seen me thus,

Lying on the bed of arrows! He who found in life

Sweetness of honey in life, light to brighten the eyes,

And love for the heart—that is me!

As a price for all that happiness,

I am prepared to endure the torments of death,

As a duty to be borne!

 

 

 

Anurupa



[1] Find the original article from Sahyadri here: http://www.savarkar.org/files/u1/Aatmarpan.pdf

 

[2] A being is supposed to be made up of five elements: earth, wind, water, luster, and sky.

Share it now!

Savarkar’s Proposal for the Constitution of India

Download PDF

I am posting the points of Savarkar’s proposed guidelines for the Constitution of India. It is truly democratic. Some of the issues facing India today would surely have been avoided.

Savarkar’s Proposed Guidelines for the
National Constitution of Hindustan

(A) Hindustan from the Indus to the Seas will and must remain as an organic nation and integral centralized state.

(B) The residuary powers shall be vested in the Central Government.

(C) All citizens shall have equal rights and obligations irrespective of caste or creed, race or religion—provided they avow and owe an exclusive and devoted allegiance to the Hindustani State.

(D) The fundamental rights of conscience, of worship, of association etc. will be enjoyed by all citizens alike; whatever restrictions will be imposed on them in the interest of the public peace and order or national emergency will not be based on any religious or racial considerations alone but on common national ground.

(E) “One man, one vote” will be the general rule irrespective of creed, caste, race, or religion.

(F) Representation in the Legislature etc. shall be in proportion to the population of the majority and minorities.

(G) Services shall go by merit alone.

(H) All minorities shall be given effective safeguards to protect their language, religion, culture etc. but none of them shall be allowed to create “a state within a state” or to encroach upon the legitimate rights of the majority.

(I) All minorities may have separate schools to train their children in their own tongue, religion, or culture, and can receive government help also for these, but always in proportion to the taxes they pay into the common exchequer.

(J) In case the constitution is not based on joint electorates and on the unalloyed national principle of one man one vote but is based on the communal basis, then those minorities who wish to have separate electorates or reserve seats will be allowed to have them, but always in proportion to their population and provided that it does not deprive the majority also of an equal right in proportion to its population too.

Share it now!

Excerpts of Savarkar’s interview by an American journalist

Download PDF
“O Goddess of Freedom . . .
Here is The Bounteous One, our very own Motherland,
Why oh, why did you push her away?
Oh why did your Motherly love of old wither away?
Oh so anguished is my soul!
For she is now but a slave to others,
Why oh why did you abandon her so,
Answer me, I pray!”

-         V. D. Savarkar, Jayostute
(translation by Anurupa Cinar)

Hi, Everyone! Here are some rare excerpts of an interview of Savarkar with an American journalist. The exact date is not known, but the year is 1943, judging by the content.

The interview is entirely from the perspective of an American. But point to note is that here is proof indeed that Savarkar had become a force to be considered in a very short time. Specific comments to highlight this are in red.

The journalist makes some very puzzling comments re Savarkar’s appearance. Savarkar, of course, must have worn his dhoti which may have appeared like a nightgown to American eyes. But why should it have been dirty? Why were the glasses specked? Why the unshaven cheeks? From all reports, Savarkar wore pristine clothes and was immaculately turned out.

·        Was it the journalist’s imagination? Was Savarkar prone to the 5 o’clock shadow? Or had he just returned from a hectic tour and had no time to tidy himself?

I don’t know.

There was no ostentation in Savarkar’s room. It was austere in the extreme—maybe even dull and dreary. Perhaps that colored Treanor’s opinion.

Anyway, here are the interview excerpts:

“Would you wish that I should confess to you everything?” asked old man Savarkar.

I hadn’t meant to ask an awkward question. I thought perhaps since he’d been con­victed and served time it was all a matter of record. He had already admitted they wanted to hang him and that he had gotten off with 50 years.

What I was curious to know was whether the old man, now so respectable, had actually thrown the bombs which killed the high government officials in England. That was when he said:

“Would you wish that I should confess to you everything?”

It was some other fel­lows and he wasn’t saying who. It’s not important now, anyway. That was way back at the beginning of the cen­tury when Savarkar was sowing his wild oats as a terrorist.

It was before my time. It’s like storybook stuff when bombs had fuses that revolu­tionaries lit with a match. That was Savarkar’s time as a revolutionary in London and later in India.

Now he’s in good odor de­spite the fact that some of his fellow terrorists threw a bomb at a viceroy. Those were the days.

Savarkar is quite a sight to western eyes. He’s a leading politician at the mo­ment, head of the Hindu Mahasabha . . .

Savarkar was not specially dressed for the occa­sion of this interview. He looked at his worst. His sunken cheeks were unshaven, his perfectly round, metal-rimmed eyeglasses were specked, and he was dressed in a soiled length of cloth which looked like a nightgown and was insecurely fastened in front with silver studs, some of them missing.

But he didn’t appear to give damn. He is interested in ideas. I didn’t tell him that in America people are apt to consider political ideas dull and he apparently doesn’t suspect it. When he talked over his plans he seemed to see a great American political audience with a voracious appetite for Indian politics.

His voice would become like a phonograph record and he would go on and on, braiding and unbraiding a tired look­ing handkerchief while be carried on about the Hindu Mahasabha.

I suppose he’s a little of a fanatic to our taste. But he has a certain power of personality and is definitely a figure of some importance on the Indian political scene today, particularly now that many of the leading Hindus are de­tained along with the Mahatma.

To savarkar it must be rather odd to be almost the only one not detained.

As a consequence of his terrorist activities, he was sen­tenced to 50 years in all. The first 14 he served in solitary confinement on the Andaman Islands, when the “old war,” as he called it, broke out, and one thing led to another and he was transferred to the mainland. He spent another 14 years interned in a village and six years ago was set free.

How he managed it I don’t know, but despite all that con­finement he was enough in tune with the spirit of the times to get into the political whirl and come to the top of a strong minority party which exerts a considerable influence today. He’s a real story. I for­got to mention that his ter­rorist party was active in California 40 years ago, trying to line up the Sikhs in Central California.

I got him on the subject of Gandhi and the fast. As is everyone, he was respectful to the Mahatma, but he wasn’t respectful to the so called weapon of the fast. I judge he thinks fasters—al­ways excepting Gandhi, who is in a special category even to his political opponents—be fed through the nose with milk. At least he used that expression several times.

“If a fast is so effective,” he asked, “why doesn’t Churchill fast against Hitler? What would Hitler say?”

I couldn’t think for the moment what Hitler would say. But Mr. Savarkar is sure it would be something rude.

Then we fell to talk­ing about America’s interest in India. As an old terrorist who did 14 years solitary confine­ment, he did not gush the usual sentimentality that America should offer some influence because her heart is pure. I am tired, as a matter of fact, of Indians who want us to help them because our heart is pure.

“The world is run by self-interest, not the Bible,” he said. “What is your self-interest in India?”

He offered that our self-interest was as a fighting base, now and in the future. He fore­sees a long fighting future of 50 years before we get the world settled and thinks we would be smart to have a little Indian good will.

“Why not oblige India?” he asked. “You will need her someday.”

And That’s it!
Toodle-oo!
Anurupa


 

Share it now!

Savarkar: “Let us use our donkey . . .!”

Download PDF

Hi, Everyone! Savarkar had a very practical, rational approach to everything. He didn’t just talk and advice people in the abstract, he always had a concrete, viable workable option.

More from Mr. Joglekar’s “vignettes”:

“Savarkar was an ardent advocate of abolition of untouchability. It was an essential part of his movement for Hindu solidarity. The orthodox section approved of Savarkar’s Hindu solidarity movement, but not his campaign against untouchability. The late Mr. Davare, who was one of the leaders of the orthodox section, indicated his dissent about it.

Savarkar argued with him thus: “Our Hindu Sanghatan movement has just begun. We have to face three antagonists – the Congress, the Muslims, and the British. So why begin with differences amongst the Hindu Sanghatanists? First establish the area of agreement. It is quite vast. Let us work with one mind in that area. A lot of good will is achieved. We will go our separate ways when the real differences arise. Why waste our little organized strength in playing up the differences at the present moment?”

Once the late V. G. Deshpande remarked about a certain prominent worker from the state of Uttar Pradesh that he was a government man. To this Savarkar replied: ‘We are so few that our number could be counted on fingers. Why drive away people from our fold on mere suspicion? It is no use wailing that the Congress has a horse and we have a donkey. You will achieve nothing by it. We must use our donkey and try to get a horse. But so long as we do not have a horse, we should not foolishly drive away our donkey.’

There are lessons in these instances for a person who wants to be an administrator or an organizer.”

Anurupa


Share it now!

The Magic of Savarkar’s Oratory

Download PDF

Hi, Everyone! This is how Mr. Joglekar describe’s Savarkar’s oratory:

I had heard many of his public speeches and at a time when his eloquence was at its zenith.

I have read the speeches of Cicero, Demosthenes, Fox, Burke, Churchill, Hitler, and others. At some point in the speeches, you feel the eloquence. And yet there is a feeling that something is missing. One feels that they are not instinct with liveliness. There is no rhythm, no stress on words. Printed speeches are like Greek statues. They look beautiful but are cold. The future generations will have this experience while reading Savarkar’s speeches.

We were fortunate. We heard some of his finest speeches.

The late Mr. D. V. Gokhale, former assistant editor of Maharashtra Times, wrote an article on Savarkar after his death. He wrote therein, ‘Next day he gave a lecture in Shivaji Akhada. The subject was Hindutva. I do not remember even a word of the historical and social arguments he then advanced. But I was caught in the cataract of his eloquence. It is said that the chariot of Dharmaraja used to run a few inches above the ground. I remember that I felt a little elevated from the ground while listening to Savarkar’s first speech. His personality and eloquence cast a permanent spell on me.’

Gokhale’s opinion, to a large extent, is a representative one.”

Anurupa

Share it now!

Savarkar: The Orator

Download PDF

Hi, Everyone! From his childhood, Savarkar had paid great attention to honing his talents. They were his invaluable resources for achieving his goal—freedom for his beloved motherland. He studied the art of oratory, until he had polished his natural talent for it to excellence.

Chitragupta has this say about Savarkar’s oratory:

“Savarkar Speaks

And now rose Savarkar—he was always careful to have the “last word” which never failed of effect—and the difference, not in rhetoric but in lucidity of expression and sincerity of feeling, was marked from the beginning. Although Savarkar’s speech used to be marked by a certain indifference to grammatical precision, he had a magic way of riveting the attention of his audience and holding every one spell bound for the whole time he spoke. His words proceeded from a deep feeling and conviction and penetrated to the depth of the listener’s heart. His appeals were never made in vain; they went straight to the heart. As I review the past to day, I feel bound to acknowledge that the quality which secured his speeches a place unmistakably superior to that claimed for studied rhetoric and polished oratory, was deep “Sincerity of feeling.”

Nor is it an exaggeration to say Savarkar is one of the few really effective speakers I have known and heard, and there is hardly an orator of the first rank either here or in England whom I have not had the privilege of hearing— excepting Mr. Eardily Norton, of whom I have heard so much that I should be almost reluctant to avail myself of the opportunity of hearing him speak lest I should be disappointed. So it was a walk over for Savarkarand poor Riza had lost his chance.”

Anurupa


 

Share it now!

Savarkar: The Leader

Download PDF

Hi, Everyone! Author Chitragupta has written a biography of Savarkar’s London days, Life of Barrister Savarkar. His words are very valuable in giving us an insight into Savarkar’s personality. He says:

“For the first time I heard of Savarkar in the most casual way from Riza just before I left for England in 1909. But I had no idea of who and what he was. On arriving at the India House, Highgate, London, I, my old friend Saiyad Haidar Riza who distinguished himself as a powerful platform speaker in the year 1907 and 1908, and another friend (all the three of us having traveled together), were ushered into the dining room, where several cheerful faces greeted us. Saiyad Haidar Riza carried a reputation with him, especially as he had been granted a scholarship by old Pandit Shyamji Krishnavarma (which, however, he like others, resigned within a short time of his arrival there), and therefore it was natural to expect that Savarkar, who was the “boss of the house,” would personally welcome Saiyad Haidar Riza.

I meet Savarkar

I took another gentleman, who looked rather prominent, and who has since then become sufficiently distinguished in his own to be Governor of the House, but he hastened to inform us that Mr. Savarkar would soon be down. Presently the door of the dining room was thrown open and there entered a short but rather agile figure, bearing a clean shaven and smiling face, a pair of keen and, I thought, fascinating eyes behind a gold pince-nez secured by a real gold chain attached to the left ear, hair parted on one side so as to make a neat bracket with curls on a moderately open forehead. The moment he opened his lips there emanated from them a sort of juvenile musical voice, which was inclined to be shrill but not unpleasantly so. There was a softness in his appearance and a something in his voice, which bordered on the feminine—to be something out of the ordinary one must possess something of opposite sex, for is not genius sexless?

This was Savarkar, fragile as an anaemic girl, restless as a mountain torrent, and keen as the edge of a Toledo-blade.

There was no hesitation, no stopping to think, about him. All opinions and actions came from him in an easy flow, and bore the stamp of unshakeable self-confidence. He seldom opened lips except to convince or at least silence the listener. As I think of it now, I wonder how so young a person—for he could not have been much beyond two or three and twenty in 1909—commanded the will of almost everyone who came into contact with him. I knew he was accused by some of his intellectual friends as a born leader, a man cut out for the part. He typified in himself the rivals as a “tyrant,” but Vinayak was a spirit of Shivaji and, I believe, consciously imitated Giuseppe Mazzini in his general behavior.

Savarkar’s manner

He used to be an ardent admirer and a very careful student of Mazzini’s life teaching and owned much of his politics, inspiration to that Italian patriot and thinker. But apart from what he had consciously acquired or unconsciously assimilated he seemed to possess no few distinctive marks of character, such as an amazing presence of mind, indomitable courage, unconquerable confidence in his capability to achieve great things, and a subtle genius for mastering complete details and devising astonishing means to reconcile conflicting interest.

A born captain, he loved and clove to his lieutenants and those who could fit into his scheme of things, but he brooked no rivals and somehow managed to leave every claimant to the first position in the cold, in a manner that you failed to notice any maneuver about it. He struck me as an incomparable strategist; whose maneuvers were sure and certain, and so cleverly marked that the practiced eye failed to detect the process, and yet the results were there, and you admitted his nimble skill.”

With this account one can see the Savarkar who turned around the Indian Freedom Struggle situation completely. In his short four years in London, he had stirred patriotic fervor in very many Indian students. He had posed a grave danger to the stability of the British Empire.

Anurupa

Share it now!

David Garnett’s plan for Savarkar’s escape.

Download PDF

Hi, Everyone! Here in David Garnett’s words one can read how Savarkar’s situation was at the time, in 1910. The British really bent the law to slap the extradition order on Savarkar. They dug up speeches that he had given in 1906 and declared they were seditious.

There are two peculiar points regarding this.

·        There are government letters written in 1906 that clearly state that this very same speech was not a threat to the British empire.

·        The law that allowed the British to stretch reality to the extent of charging this speech as seditious was not passed until 1908 . . . !

David Garnett understood this injustice to Savarkar and was determined to help without worrying about the consequences to himself.

“After telling him I would do my best to find him a temporary home, I went to Bow Street, where I understood Savarkar was up before the Magistrate. I did not see Savarkar, but found myself being given a searching questioning by Inspector Parker of Scotland Yard. I realized immediately that it would not do to try to be clever. My best line was the truth. But in my answers I exaggerated my ingenuousness. I explained I was a science student who had met Indians in my classes, had visited India House and become acquainted with Savarkar. Seeing he was in trouble I had come along to see if I could help in any way. When and where could I see him?

Parker’s attempts at grilling me broke down before my truthfulness. Finally he told me that as Savarkar was only a remand prisoner I could see him any morning at Brixton Gaol. When I left Bow Street I felt convinced that Parker had classified me as a young fool of no importance—-and he was quite right in doing so. I was only eighteen and certainly looked innocent.

Next morning I went to Brixton Gaol. The prison lies at the end of a long cul-de-sac. There was a big door for vehicles with a smaller door in it for men. The visitor to the prison rang a bell and a warder unlocked and opened the smaller door, and the visitor stepped in. The warder immediately locked the door, took his particulars, and walked across to unlock an inner door of steel bars, and the visitor found himself in the prison proper. It was obvious that the warder’s chief duty was to see that the outer and inner doors were never unlocked at the same moment, since there were frequently prisoners passing inside. There was sufficient space between the two doors for a lorry or a Black Maria to stand while they were both shut.

I took in all this at a glance; the strength and weakness of this mediaeval system were instantly apparent to me, and I thought over the weakness of the system as I waited with others in a room. The weakness was the time-lag before the warders in the prison could render help to the forces of law and order outside the gate. Presently we were shepherded along a passage divided into a series of open compartments with arrow-mesh steel wire separating the visitor from the distraught prisoner he had come to see.

The vehement jabber of these distracted creatures, who seemed to be trying to combine whispering with talking at the tops of their voices, was horrible. Presently I came to the compartment where I was to see Savarkar. It was empty. 1 examined the steel mesh netting. A moment or two later he strolled in and was very much surprised to see me. He was perfectly calm and at his ease. I discussed his defense and offered to collect money for it, and to do anything I could to help him. All he wanted at the moment were some clean collars: the size of his neck was only 131/2!—the size of a schoolboy.

From the point of view of the government his arrest was peculiar and required careful handling. They had evidence of his connection with the murder of Mr. Jackson at Nasik, but were not prepared to charge him with it. For the murder occurred while Savarkar was in London and he ought, therefore, to be tried in London. If he were tried in England on, let us say, an incitement-to-murder charge, he would, if convicted, get a sentence of two or three years. If he were tried in India, it would be another matter. The authorities were therefore trying to extradite him to India, but to do so they had to dig up, or manufacture, evidence of crimes committed while he was in India, carefully avoiding reference to the crimes he might have committed in London. This took some time, and while the case was being prepared, Savarkar had to be brought up at Bow Street week after week and remanded, bail being refused.

Eventually, the Indian authorities dug up some speeches that Savarkar had delivered in India several years before, and for which they had had ample opportunity to prosecute him at the time. They then applied for his extradition on that evidence only. The evidence was thin, for the speeches had been delivered at a time when the political atmosphere in India was completely different. The speeches, which had not been thought worth prosecuting him for at the time, had become seditious as the ferment of unrest increased in India.

I wrote a short letter on the subject, which was printed in the Daily News under the heading past offences. Meanwhile, I went practically every week to Brixton Gaol to see Savarkar, taking with me clean collars and handkerchiefs and I collected a few pounds for his legal defense.

Finally, the time came for me to leave Letchworth and I returned to London, sending my luggage by train and walking all the way as far as Finchley, starting about nine o’clock in the morning and getting home to Hampstead about six o’clock in the evening. I had meant to walk the whole way, but my heel chafed and the temptation of the electric tram was too great.

Next morning I went down to Brixton and learned from Savarkar that the documents from India were on the way and that it would only be two or three weeks, at most, before the case came up for trial. There was not the slightest doubt how it would go. I hesitated, waited until the warder walking up and down the corridor was out of earshot and said: “Why not try and escape? I have an idea how it might possibly be managed.”

Savarkar said he had been thinking of it, but had decided he would have more chances of success on the way back to India, but if I had a plan he would be glad if I would work it out. When I had done so, the necessary money would be forthcoming from C.C., with whom I could discuss it freely. I asked Savarkar a number of questions about prison routine and then went down to the Cearne that afternoon to think things out.

Savarkar was taken every week to Bow Street for the formalities of a remand, always in a taxi and not a Black Maria. He was accompanied by one, or sometimes two, detectives. His going up for a weekly remand had become a routine matter and he was taken from the prison at the same time, within two or three minutes.

The essence of my plan was that he was to be rescued at the prison gates, or within a few yards of them. A watcher would note when the taxi which was to take him to Bow Street drove up. A car would then drive up to the prison with supposed visitors, who would overpower the detectives, and Savarkar would jump in the car, which would drive off with him. The essential feature of the rescue was that the rescuers should not avoid arrest, or to escape themselves. They would have to deal with the two detectives, and the taxi-man, but there would not be time for help to arrive from the prison, owing to the routine of the two gates.

At first I thought I should have to find both the rescuers and cars, but I came to the conclusion that it was impossible for me to do so.”

David Garnett even traveled to Paris to make arrangements for Savarkar’s escape, but it all fell through. His father, too, found out what he was up to and hurriedly put a stop to what was certainly David’s treachery to his own country.

Anurupa

Share it now!

Savarkar, a hero for a British schoolboy, David Garnett . . . !

Download PDF

Hi, Everyone! David Garnett was a British schoolboy who had the opportunity to meet Savarkar.

The extent to which he held Savarkar in respect is evident in the fact that he was ready to commit what can most certainly be considered treason in a British boy . . . !

He was of significant help to Savarkar in London. It was David Garnett who had published Madan Lal Dhingra’s statement for Savarkar. The British police were taken aback at this, for they had gone to considerable pains to squash this telling statement. David Garnett  had even tried to arrange for Savarkar’s escape from the Brixton prison.

Had David Garnet been successful in freeing Savarakar—to annihilate whom the British had bent the laws of England and contrived new ones in India, so desperate were they to get him—one shudders to think what dire punishment he would have had to endure!

Here is what he says of Savarkar in his own words:   

“At my entrance there was some surprise. Nanu came forward and welcomed me and stopped a young man, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, and introduced me to him. He was small, slight in build, with very broad cheekbones, a delicate aquiline nose, a sensitive, refined mouth and an extremely pale skin, which was almost as pale as ivory on the forehead and cheekbones but darker in the hollows.

Soon after my arrival we trooped into the dining-room and Savarkar, after addressing the company in Hindi, stood up and began to read aloud. As I could not understand what he was saying, I looked about the room without paying much attention to him. The sight of those brown men, some sitting round a long table, others leaning against the walls, all listening intently to the staccato voice of the speaker, was very strange to me. When I was with Dutt or Mitter I could forget they were Hindus and I was an Englishman, but at this meeting I felt alone. My race and colour did indeed create a gulf between me and these brown men. But the consciousness of this gulf did not dismay me. On the contrary, I rejoiced in the sense of freedom which it gave me. In this company I could be myself and say whatever came into my lead. There was no question of my feeling shy and, at that age, I was always feeling shy, now I was delivered from that burden, simply because I did not know these people’s standards. Whatever I did, or was, would be strange to them. I felt exhilarated. I had embarked on an adventure of my own finding; there was nobody to guide me; nobody to feel ashamed of me. It was a new departure. . . .

Then I looked at Savarkar and thought that his was the most sensitive face in the room and yet the most powerful. I watched how he spat out his words, with almost convulsive movements. And, from looking at him, I became aware that he was actually reading aloud in English, not in Hindustani. His accent, his mispronunciations, the strange rhythm of his staccato delivery had deceived me. What a wool-gathering fool I was! But it was a relief to make the discovery for myself. I listened then attentively and made out that he was reading about a battle in which an Indian general called Tatia Tope had been defeated by English troops and Sikhs.

Savarkar was, although I did not know it, reading aloud a chapter from his extremely propagandist history; the Indian Mutiny called The Indian War of Independence of l857 by An Indian Nationalist, which was secretly printed a few months later. When he had finished his chapter, the greater part of the audience went into an adjoining room and someone put a record of Indian music on the gramophone. . . .

After India house was closed by the police, Savarkar went to live over a small and extremely dirty Indian restaurant in Red Lion Passage, where Dutt, who had quarreled with Mr. Pal, joined him. I arranged with the proprietor, a large old Jew called Jacobs, to have lunch there five days a week for four shillings a week, paid in advance, and forfeited if I did not turn up.

As a result I saw a certain amount of Savarkar and was more than ever struck by his extraordinary personal magnetism. There was an intensity of faith in the man and a curious single-minded recklessness which were deeply attractive to me. The filthy place in which he was living brought out both his refinement and also his lack of human sympathy, both characteristic of the high-caste Brahmin. The windows of the room which Dutt and Savarkar shared as a sitting-room, looked across the narrow, filthy alley of Red Lion Passage—one of the dirtiest slums in London. In the room opposite lived an appalling slattern with four young children. Often she was screaming, frequently drunk, sometimes one could see her through the open window, lying insensible upon the floor.

Dutt often spoke of her and her children with horror and pity. But Savarkar was indifferent to her existence and indeed oblivious to his environment. He was wrapped in visions. What was his vision then? I cannot say, but I believe it was that India was a volcano, which had erupted violently during the Mutiny and which could be made to erupt again, and that every act of terrorism and violence would beget further violence and terrorism, until Indians regained their manliness and their mother country her freedom. All the sufferings involved were but a fitting sacrifice to her.

Eventually Savarkar was persuaded to leave England and go to Paris, as another assassination, in which his younger brother was compromised, had taken place in his native city, Nasik.”

More of David Garnett’s reminiscence tomorrow.

Anurupa

Share it now!