Savarkar: Ja Jhunja! Fight for our very own Motherland!

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 Hi, Everyone! On dawn of August 15, 1947, India became free. Savarkar’s dream of a free—though not united—Hindustan was fulfilled.
Almost fifty years before that in 1898, at fifteen years of age he had taken an oath before the Ashtabhuja Goddess to organize a revolution for the freedom of his beloved motherland. He had left no stone unturned in his goal to get freedom for India and bring honor back to his motherland. One of his ways to achieve this was to set about awakening the Indians to the plight of Hindustan and stirring patriotism in their hearts. And one of his weapons for this was his soul-stirring poetry.

It is impossible to remain unmoved by the passion, patriotism, pain, and urgency in his poems. I am posting one of my favorite poems of his with my translation:

Ja Jhunje! (Fight!)

निजजाति-छळानें हृदय कां तळमळतें ?

तुम्हि तरुण शिरांतुनि रक्त  नवें सळसळतें ?

 हे नवें रक्त तों विजेहुनी पेटावें

 मृत्यूसि तुम्हीं गाठून बळें भेटावें

मग मुकुट आपला कोणीं I फोडिला

हिंदूंचा झेंडा कोणीं I तोडिला

   आशेचा अंकुर कोणीं I मोडिला

   हें चिंतुनि चिंतुनि क्रुद्ध आंसावें जळतीं

दिनरात्रीं  डोळ्यांतुनि कां रे गळती ?

ह्या भारतभूस्तव  समररंगणीं गेले

   ह्या चिंतेनें बहु वीर लढुनिया मेले

   कुणि घोर यातनांचिया चितेवरि जळले

कुणीं फांस गळ्यासी लागतांहि ना ढळले

त्या त्यांच्या अपुर्या इच्छा I या क्षणीं

तुम्हांसि बाहती हांका I फोडुनी

   का ऐकूं  येती कोणा  I यांतुनी

जरि येति तरी रे ऊठ कोण जो तो तूं

घे करीं शिरा जा झुंज पुरव तो हेतू

Anguished are ye not by our people’s pitiful plight? Fie!

Pound not in you hot, young, blood, O Youth,

Blood more fiery than lightning? Fie!

Approach Death, meet it head on! Forsooth!

Who dared our crown shatter?

Who dared the Hindu flag tatter?

Who dared our burgeoning hopes batter?

Dwell!  Where are the hot, raging tears

Spilling from your eyes night and day! Fie!

Ah! Sons of Bharat into the battlefield plowed

Their anguished hearts were there razed

Some marched boldly to the gallows uncowed!

Or in pyres of untold tortures were set ablaze

Hark, their  thundering unfulfilled ardor,

Every second it calls out to you harder!

Is there anyone who can hear its clamor?

All ye who do! Awake! Awake!

Fight! Fulfill our cause! Your life stake!

- Anurupa

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Madan Lal Dhingra: A Martyr of India

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 Hi, Everyone! On August 17, 1909, Madan Lal Dhingra was strung up on the gallows in London for his political assassination of Sir Curzon Wylie. This incident shook the very foundation of the British Raj! While revolutionary bombings and assassinations were taking place in India at this time, this was the first time anyone had dared to so boldly commit such an act in Britain itself. And that it should be Madan Lal who should do so was adding further salt to the wound. Madan Lal came from a very eminent Indian family and was socially accepted in London circles; in fact he had won the confidence of Sir Curzon Wylie himself.
Transcript of the Madan Lal Dhingra’s case are found here:
Madan Lal Dhingra is most certainly a martyr of India and his role in the freedom movement cannot be forgotten.
Madan Lal had crossed paths with Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and his life was no more the same. He was stirred into patriotism and a passion to serve his country and was a regular visitor at the India House. Here I am giving excerpts from Dr. Shreerang Godbole’s article, Martyrdom Centenary of Madan Lal Dhingra, Part I & II which gives details of Madan Lal’s sacrifice of his life:
“In the illustrious list of fiery patriots, Madan Lal Dhingra stands out for his sheer courage and supreme sacrifice. Madan Lal Dhingra went to the gallows on August 17, 1909. The centenary of his martyrdom is an occasion for us to remember his immortal saga.

Madan Lal Dhingra was born on September 18, 1883 in Amritsar. His father was an eye specialist and Civil Surgeon of Amritsar. Some say he was the first Indian doctor to reach that eminent position. Madan Lal was the sixth of his seven sons. Two of Madan Lal’s brothers were doctors, one was an MRCP (1895); two other brothers were barristers. Madan Lal was married and had a son. If he had desired, he could have lived a life of luxury. But he chose to be a martyr for India’s freedom struggle. . .  .

In one of the Sunday meetings at India House, Savarkar was delivering an impassioned speech on India’s freedom. Madan Lal and his friends were creating a ruckus in the adjacent room. The din forced Savarkar to interrupt his speech and peep into the adjacent room. There he saw Madan Lal and his friends enjoying themselves. “What’s the matter, Madan? You talk of action and bravery and avoid coming to our weekly meetings. Is this the bravery you keep talking about?” reprimanded Savarkar. The words shamed Dhingra. He quietly left India House and did not show his face to Savarkar for several days thereafter. When he mustered courage to enter India House again, it was to find out if Savarkar was still annoyed with him. When the two met, Savarkar behaved as if nothing had happened between them. He spoke with the same affection. Emboldened, Dhingra asked, “Has the time for martyrdom come?” Savarkar replied, “If a martyr has made up his mind and is ready, it is generally understood that the time for martyrdom has come.”
 Sir Curzon Wylie (October 5, 1848—July 1, 1909):
Dhingra had now made up his mind. In July 1908, he deliberately joined the National Indian Association. This Association was doing its best to discourage Indian students from the militant path. Important British dignitaries attended their functions. Dhingra denounced Savarkar and other revolutionaries in the company of appropriate persons. He soon secured the trust of Miss Emma Josephine Beck, the secretary of the National Indian Association, and came to know the timings of visits of important English guests attending various functions. Eventually the opportunity came and Dhingra took full advantage of it. Having decided on his mission, Dhingra left India House to show that he disagreed with Savarkar. He took lodgings with Mrs Harris at 108 Ledbury Road, London W11 after Easter of 1909. . . .

Preparing for the assassination:
Dhingra was personally acquainted with Curzon Wyllie. Wyllie had received a letter from Kundan Lal Dhingra (Madan Lal’s eldest brother). On April 13, 1909, Wyllie wrote to Madan Lal suggesting that he should meet Wyllie. Dhingra pretended that he wanted to dicuss contents of that letter. On July 1, 1909, several prominent Britishers (including Curzon Wylie) and Indians were to attend a meeting of the National Indian Association at Jehangir Hall in the first floor of the Imperial Institute. The reception was given in the name of Lady Lyall, wife of Sir Alfred Lyall. Madanlal was an Associate Member of the Association. That is how he could approach Wyllie. . . .
On July 29, 1909, Dhingra finalised his plans. He met Savarkar on that evening in Bipin Chandra Pal’s house. Niranjan Pal was present at that meeting. Dhingra seemed to be in good spirit. Savarkar and Dhingra spoke to each other with great affection. Savarkar apprised Dhingra of the statement he was to make after assassinating Curzon Wylie. Niranjan Pal typed the statement and Savarkar asked Dhingra to memorise it. Savarkar then gifted Dhingra with a Belgian-make Browning pistol and took his leave with great affection. Dhingra was overcome with emotion. Savarkar said, “Do not show me your face again if you fail this time.” Dhingra reassured him that this would not happen. The two friends departed. . . .
On July 1, 1909, Dhingra went as planned to the meeting at Imperial Institute. As luck would have it he had forgotten to take the invitation pass. However, as he was an Associate Member, he gained entry after signing in the visitors’ book. Koregankar also arrived armed with a pistol. After the meeting was over, Curzone Wyllie seemed ready to leave. Aji jaao na. kya karte ho! prompted Koregaonkar to Dhingra. Dhingra now approached Curzon Wylie under the pretext of talking to him. The two opened the glass door and left the hall.

The assassination:

As they reached the landing, Dhingra lowered his voice as if he wanted to discuss something confidential. Curzon Wylie brought his ear close to Dhingra. Sensing the opportunity, Dhingra removed the Colt revolver from his right coat pocket and pumped two bullets at point-blank range. The time was 11.20 pm. As Curzon Wyllie reeled, Dhingra fired two more bullets. A Parsee doctor Cawas Lalkaka tried to come in between but Dhingra fired at him as well. However, Dhingra’s attempt to shoot himself failed and he was overpowered. Even in this situation, Dhingra wrestled with his captors and even brought down one of them breaking his ribs. Dhingra was pinned to the ground. Only after his revolver was taken away did his captors heave a sigh of relief. In the scuffle, Dhingra’s spectacles were thrown away. Dhingra calmly told his captors to handover his spectacles. When the examining doctor felt Dhingra’s pulse, he was astounded to find that it was ‘even’. After his arrest, the Police Officer asked Dhingra, “Do you want us to inform any of your friends of your arrest?” Dhingra cleverly replied, “There is no need. They will know about my arrest in tomorrow’s newspapers.” The Police were trying to find out if they could implicate any of Dhingra’s friends. He proved a match for them. Dhingra was taken to Walton Street Police station.
The trial:
The British Press made some vicious allegations against Dhingra, taking advantage of remarks made by an ex-Army officer at the inquest on Wyllie’s death. This was held at Kensington Town Hall before Coroner Mr C. Luxmoore Drew. Dhingra refused to take part in the proceedings. At the inquest, Captain Charles Rollerton, an ex-Army officer of Broadhurst Gardens, Hampstead was present. This witness suggested the possibility of Dhingra having taken the Indian drug called Bhang because of his half dazed and dreamy manner. He added that natives of India very often took Bhang if they were going to perpetrate a deed of this kind. The Coroner asked Miss Beck, the Secretary of the National Indian Association, if she noticed whether Dhingra was under the influence of some drug; but her reply was in the negative. Dhingra, she said, seemed in a normal condition and was quite calm. During the trial, Mrs Harris, Dhingra’s landlady, said she did not think he took drugs. Dr John Buchnan of Vauxhall Bridge was the first doctor to arrive at the scene of assassination. Dhingra, said the doctor, was perfectly calm. He seemed the calmest man in the crowd. During his trial Dhingra was examined by psychiatrists to decide if he was mentally subnormal. Their tests were negative.

At the inquest held at Westminster before Coroner Mr John Troutbeck, Dhingra expressed his deep regret for the accidental death of Lalkaka. He stated that had Lalkaka not come in the way he would not have been killed. He had no reason to kill him.

When produced before Mr Hoarce Smith the Magistrate of Westminster Police Court, Dhingra said, ” I do not plead for mercy: nor do I recognise your authority over me…” Dhingra was committed to the Sessions Court. Dhingra bluntly asked the Court, “…If the Germans have no right to rule over England what right have the English got to rule over India ?” During the trial Indians were not allowed inside the Court.
In his last days, Dhingra had wished that his clothes, books and other belongings should be sold and the money thus raised be given to the National Fund. However, these were confiscated by the Metropolitan Police (of London). Two trunks were taken away by Chief Inspector McCarthy. Dhingra had given a letter authorising Nitinsen Dwarakadas to be the owner of his personal belongings. But when the case came to Bow Street Magistrtate’s court on December 31, 1909 it was ruled that as Dhingra had made no will the police were not bound to return Dhingra’s belongings to Nitinsen! (London Times, January 1, 1910).
When Dhingra shot dead Curzon Wyllie, his brother Bhajan Lal was in London studying Law at Grays Inn. Four days after the event Bhajan Lal attended the public meeting to condemn Madan Lal. On account of that, Madan Lal refused to see Bhajan Lal when the latter visited him in the Brixton prison. Soon after their brother was hanged, his brothers dropped the surname Dhingra, with the exception of Dr Bihari Lal. As their first names ended in Lal they adopted that as the surname. e.g Chaman Lal Dhingra became Chaman Lal. (In a similar manner, many Indian freedom fighters changed their names so that their relations would not be identified and harassed by the British authorities.). When Veer Savarkar went to visit Dhingra, he said, “I have come to seek your darshan”. Both were overwhelmed on seeing each other.

The day of Dhingra’s hanging finally dawned. It was August 17, 1909. Several of Dhingra’s friends made efforts to meet him for one last time in the Pentonville prison. At Savarkar’s suggestion, J. S. Master gave a written application to that effect. He contended that he was Dhingra’s close friend and hence be allowed inside the prison to meet him. He forwarded his application to the Under-Sheriff of London and the Home Office and awaited their response. His request was turned away at both places. Dhingra had assumed that he would die without meeting his friends. However, to the end, he remained calm and composed in the face of imminent death. He enjoyed a good slumber on the previous night and had to be woken-up on the day of his hanging. He performed his morning chores as usual and even had a hearty breakfast. Meanwhile, several Indian youth had mournfully gathered outside the gates of the prison. They were however denied entry inside. Entry was also denied to the waiting journalists. At the stroke of nine, Madan Lal Dhingra began his last journey to the gallows.

A Christian preacher named Hudson walked-up to him to say the final Christian prayer for him. But Dhingra turned him away saying that he was a Hindu. The Deputy Under-Sheriff of London Metcalf read out the death warrant to Dhingra in the presence of Deputy Governor Hales of Pentonville prison and asked him the usual questions. But Dhingra ignored their questions and walked calmly to the noose. His bravery left the accompanying officers dumb-founded. Officer Pierpoint stood at the hangman’s noose waiting for Dhingra. Dhingra smiled at him and ascended the steps to the platform. He himself placed the noose round his neck. Soon thereafter, the wooden platform underneath was withdrawn. Dhingra’s body dropped eight feet and lay hanging. As per convention, his limp body was left hanging for half an hour. When his body was brought down, it showed no trace of fear. Master was allowed to be present at the post-mortem examination which was performed by Dr. Wyliss Shroeder and Asst. Medical Officer Dr. Francis Forewood of Pentonville prison. He wrote the death certificate in the presence of five witnesses. Master again requested that he be allowed to claim Dhingra’s dead body so that his final rites could be performed. However, this request was turned down. The Times, London of August 18, 1909 reported on page 7 column 2, “Shortly after 9, death was announced. Pierpoint was the executioner. An application for leave to have the body cremated was refused and it will be buried in accordance with the usual custom, within the walls of prison.”

Then Master followed Under-Sheriff outside the prison. The correspondent for the Daily Mirror interviewed Master. He asked, “Will Dhingra be considered a martyr by the Indians?” Master replied, “Certainly. He has laid down his life for his country’s good. Whether his idea of this ‘good’ was right or wrong is a matter of opinion.”

Madan Lal Dhingra went to the gallows in Pentonville prison in London on August 17, 1909. This prison was built between 1840 and 1842. Two Indian revolutionaries went to the gallows here. Madan Lal Dhingra on August 17, 1909, and Udham Singh on July 31, 1940.

Dhingra wished that his last rites according to Hindu dharma should be performed on his dead body and it should be cremated. Many Hindus petitioned to the Home Secretary Mr Herbert Gladstone that Dhingra’s body should be handed over to them, as Brahmins were ready to perform the last rites. This request was denied! The last wish of a man sent to the gallows was denied! His body was put in a coffin, which was buried within the prison premises.

(Note :- The Cremation Society of England was founded in 1874. So, cremation was definitely available in London in 1909.)

After Dhingra went to the gallows, the Times, London wrote an editorial (July 24, 1909) titled ‘Conviction of Dhingra’. The editorial said, “The nonchalance displayed by the assassin was of a character, which is happily unusual in such trials in this country. He asked no questions. He maintained a defiance of studied indifference. He walked smiling from the dock.”

Last statement

As desired by Gyan Chand Varma, Sardar Singh Rana , who was then in Paris, published Dhingra’s last testament on a postcard along with his photograph. Below the words Vande Mataram, was written August 17, 1909 (the day of Dhingra’s martyrdom) and below this were written the following words, “To the sacred and inspiring memory of patriot Madan Lal Dhingra, who died for his country.” Rana sent copies of these to Veer Savarkar who was in London through Govind Amin. Savarkar in turn sent a large number of these copies to India. The Government soon banned it. Nonetheless, it became public. Madan Lal Dhingra’s final statement was as inspiring as his actions. Titled Challenge it read as follows:

“I admit the other day; I attempted to shed English blood as an humble revenge for the inhuman hangings and deportations of patriotic Indian youths. In this attempt, I have consulted none but my own conscience; I have conspired with none, but my own duty. I believe that a nation held down in bondage with the help of foreign bayonets is in a perpetual state of war. Since open battle is rendered impossible to a disarmed race, I attacked by surprise; since guns were denied to me, I drew forth my pistol and fired. As a Hindu I felt that a wrong done to my country is an insult to God. Her cause is the cause of Sri Ram! Her services are the services of Sri Krishna! Poor in health and intellect, a son like myself has nothing else to offer to the Mother but his own blood and so I have sacrificed the same on her altar.

“The only lesson required in India at present is to learn how to die and the only way to teach it, is by dying ourselves. Therefore I die and glory in my martyrdom! This war of Independence will continue between India and England, so long as the Hindu and the English races last (if the present unnatural relation does not cease!). My only prayer to God is: May I be reborn of the same Mother and may I re-die in the same sacred cause, till the cause is successful and she stands free for the good of humanity and the glory of God!”

-Vande Mataram

Dr. Shreerang Godbole is a Pune-based endocrinologist, social activist and author. He has contributed in making
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Savarkar’s Mindblowing marseilles Leap

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“O Goddess of Freedom, Life is to die for you, Death is to live without you!”

- V. D. Savarkar, Jayostute (translation)

July 8, 1910 . . . that was the day Savarkar threw his heart over the fence and executed a most daring, magnificent escape at Marseilles harbor.With that he thumbed his nose at the might of the British Raj and put it in a most sorry position! But there were many inherent dangers in his daring act and consequences of failure were dire.

What was going on in Savarkar’s mind before he took the leap?

Fortunately, that has been recorded by his biographer Chitragupta in Life of Barrister Savarkar. During the British Raj days, Savarkar often wrote under a pseudonym. This biography is also purported to be written by Savarkar himself. Here are his thoughts, in the third person, before he leapt to freedom:
“Mr. Savarkar had weighed all the consequences of an attempt to escape in his mind. He knew that failure was almost certain under these most unfavorable and hostile circumstances. . . . And if failure was almost certain how terrible would be the consequences! He had read harrowing accounts of the cruelty that these very officers were capable of when in their calmer moods. To what demoniacal fury and tortures would they not subject him if thus they got exasperated by his attempt to break off from their custody? Then any such attempt was bound to lay him open to far more serious charges and was bound to prejudice his first case in a most damaging way. For as the case stood there could have been no substantial documentary or other reliable evidence strong enough to sustain all the charges against Mr. Savarkar, so cleverly had he worked throughout that otherwise reckless agitation. Even the best legal opinions, in spite of the confessions of his former comrades that were wrung out by the Police in India, were one on the point that if he chose to defend and if no further complications took place he could not get more than seven years or so in any ordinary conducted trial. But an attempt at such daring escape would doubtless furnish that much dreaded complication.
Yes: true it was that thus the price of failure would be most exacting. But if it succeeds? Succeeds even partially? What grand tradition of heroic fortitude would it not leave behind to raise the prestige of the Indian revolutionist party in the esteem of all mankind? It will take Europe by surprise. It will wash away the stigma that the leader of Abhinava Bharat was trapped by the Government as easily as one would trap a mouse.
No! His arrest must cost them much more than the arrest of any single private individual had ever done. It must tax the utmost ingenuity of the English Government and force them to stand mortified and humiliated before all Europe. If no help, well he would individually do it at any rate. It was worth risking worth doing. Failure or success, he will have the satisfaction of having played his own of Indian Independence. But if, in pursuit and hunt, they shoot? Well, it would be far more in keeping with his position as the president of the Abhinava Bharat, the leader of young Indian, to die in that fashion, to get shot in the struggle than to live to rot in the Andamanese dungeons or end his life on the gallows. He must risk. But the steamer was to sail just after day break. These guards are all closing and tightly pressing on both sides. Still, if at all, this is the time. Now or never!
He actually repeated to his mind “Now or never!”
Such were the thoughts running through the mind of this amazing man!
Watch my videos, Savarkar: the Great Escape, Part I & II on Youtube:

Also watch two quick videos:
1) Savarkar’s Heroic Jump:

2) The Savarkar Case Bungle up:

The video, Point to Point Biography of Savarkar is a quick study guide to his biography. Click on the pictures with hands and on the swiveling targets to get more information (source documents, articles, videos, pictures etc.) in the PDF or PPT version. Those links are given in the description of the video.



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Savarkar and Travancore

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Hi, Everyone! There are so many commendable qualities in Savarkar that I could write pages and pages on them. But today, the particular aspect I want to mention is the fact that no matter what, he never, ever even for a moment betrayed his country or his people in thought or deed—that is what my research has revealed to me.

Savarkar was very much ahead of his times, and very often that lead to misunderstanding him, even by those devoted to him. His every word and action was scrutinized, judged, and many times looked at through the spectacles of the Congress perspective. He was also, it seems, held to a much higher standard than other leaders of the Freedom Movement. While so many of the latter have been forgiven for any indiscretions or not-so-savory actions (big or small,) Savarkar is held accountable for everything he ever said or did. Never is any excuse made for him, nor is he given the benefit of doubt—funny thing is, he does not need either.

From lack of understanding unnecessary aspersions have been cast upon him. One such case is Savarkar and his advice to the Maharaja of Kashmir and Maharaja of Travancore, just before independence was given to India in 1947.

I first heard of this some months before I started to write and research Part II of my novel Burning for Freedom. It was told to me by someone (who shall remain nameless) in hushed tones, as if repeating a deep, dark secret. “Don’t tell anyone,” he said, “But Savarkar advised the Maharaja of Travancore to remain independent.” He seemed to think it was treacherous of Savarkar to do so, and that it must be kept hidden from the general public. A couple of thoughts rushed into my mind right away at this.

What cheek, I thought, that someone (of whose capacity for logical and analytical thinking I very much had my doubts) should think so of one who has given so much of himself for the freedom of his country. It seemed to me that to speak thus of what Savarkar did gave it the aura of it being something unsavory, rather than the action itself.

The other thought was that I certainly had to look into it, and no matter what my conclusion, whether it was something that cast a blemish on Savarkar or not, I was going to reveal it in my novel.

My novel was not just about eulogizing Savarkar, it was for showing Savarkar as he was, for showing what happened in history then. If I was being extremely frank and unbiased in exposing Gandhi, then I had to be equally frank and unbiased in revealing Savarkar. My credibility as a writer and researcher depended on it, and this was so very important to me.

One may agree or not agree with Savarkar in what he advised the Maharaja of Travancore. What is important is to know the circumstance and the context of the occurrence, to know how Savarkar saw the situation, what he felt, and how he reacted.

The background of this incident is this: Thanks to an indiscreet press conference of Nehru, described by his biographer Leonard Mosley as “a direct act of sabotage,” Jinnah who had agreed to a United India now had put the Pakistan demand back on the table. A ruthless Direct Action was unleashed upon the Hindus to achieve this and the neither the Government nor the Congress leaders were protecting them from the violent and ruthless wrath of the Muslim League. By June 1947, the violence had reached horrendous heights. Pakistan was granted to the Muslim League, but there was no decrease in the violence. Now the Muslim League was clamoring for the whole of Punjab and Bengal. To top that, Mountbatten was pushing the Maharaja of Kashmir to accede to Pakistan and the Nizam of Hyderabad had every intention of remaining independent (one must keep in mind he occupied a very large territory in middle of India) if he couldn’t accede to India.

Savarkar with his unerring political acumen was certain that Pakistan was going to attack India immediately after independence (that is exactly what Pakistan did) and gouge out whatever pieces of India it could and lay claim to them. With a Government that had shown itself to be helpless and incompetent, with Nehru and Gandhi still pushing non-violence upon the Hindus, and with Gandhi advocating the dismantling of the army of India, India was so very vulnerable—most certainly that’s how Savarkar saw it.

How desperate and helpless must Savarkar have felt! It is at this time that Maharaja of Kashmir and Chief Minister of Travancore wrote to him seeking an opinion for their wish to remain independent. He advised them to do so and encouraged them to build a strong army which could save India if his worst fears came true. It was most certainly not an act of betrayal of India.

Below, I am giving the excerpt from my novel Burning for Freedom—a small conversation I created to highlight this.

“Gullible, naïve Hindus!” muttered Savarkar. “Gajanan, where are the letters I received from Maharaja Hari Singh[1]and Ramaswami Aiyar?”[2]

“Here they are, Tatyarao,” said Gajanan, digging them out from a pile of letters by his side and handing them to Savarkar. “They are determined to remain independent. They want to know your opinion.”

“Here are my drafted replies, Gajanan,” said Savarkar. “I have told them they have my full support in this decision—and they must immediately start building up an extremely strong army.”

Gajanan gaped.

Keshu blurted out, “But, Tatyarao … is that wise?”

Savarkar was silent for a long moment. Then he looked up. Tears were glinting in his eyes.

“Picture this scene, Keshu, Gajanan. Do you really think that the Muslims who are so aggressively mowing down the Hindus now are going to just stop after independence? No! Pakistan will surely attack Hindustan and try to take over as much of our country as they can. If they reach Delhi, we are lost! And don’t forget, the Nizam’s land is a sizeable chunk smack in the middle of our Hindustan. He is panting for an Islamic State in Hyderabad and looking for a way to accede to Pakistan”—the tears rolled down his cheeks—“what faith can we place in our Government? They have proved themselves to be biased, incompetent, and heartless! Do you have faith that they will defend our country? Can we take that chance?”

“But, Tatyarao, an independent Kashmir and Travancore compromises the integrity of Hindustan, doesn’t it?” cried Keshu.

“Times are desperate, Keshu—desperate! It calls for desperate measures. Mountbatten is pushing the Maharaja of Kashmir to join Pakistan; that cannot be permitted! Our roots are in the Himalayas of Kashmir; they are our natural protection from enemies. If we have Kashmir as a strong independent Hindu state in the north—just like Nepal—and Travancore in the south, we will have armies to count on when Pakistan attacks. Otherwise, if Gandhi does actually dismantle our army, as he is advocating, Hindustan will be a sitting duck!” He fell silent.

“Tatyarao, surely, surely the Government of India won’t be so idiotic!” cried Gajanan.

“A Pakistan taking over Hindustan is … is …”

“Yes, Keshu,” said Savarkar, “a horrendous thought to even put in words but notan impossibility!”

A few days later, Ramaswami Aiyar was attacked by a Christian; fortunately he survived. He resigned from his post, and Maharaja Chithira Thirunal Bala of Travancore acceded to India. The Maharaja of Kashmir managed to hold out and remain independent.


[1] Maharaja of Kashmir.

[2] C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyar, Chief Minister of the State of Travancore.

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Savarkar’s Shackles

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“Fetters forever encircling the Feet of our Desire—
Who forges those social fetters,
That impose the laws of decorum?”

- V. D. Savarkar, Shackles


Hi, Everyone! Savarkar’s poem Bedi is very deceptive—not very long and with short sentence structure. Reading it I even felt that it was easy to grasp. That illusion, of course, lasted only until the moment I tried to translate it.

The genius of Savarkar—that rhythm, those speaking yet economical words!—coupled with the genius of the language was really impossible for me to reproduce in translation.

The words of this poem are really the tip of the iceberg. There is a deep philosophy behind them. It took me a very long time (and many scrapped attempts) to get a handle on translating the dialogue-style of the poem without putting in my interpretations.




उजळित उजळित जें I काय करीं

लालिसी तूं दिवसभरी

      बंदी, चांदीचे I किंवा ते

      अलंकार सोनेरी ?”


अजि नचि I केवल ती I लोखंडी

बेडी माझी, खंडी

      जखडोनी माझ्या I या पायां

      स्वेच्छ गती जी चंडी


फोडुनि तोडुनि जी I जाळावी

तीच कशी उजळावी

     आपण अपुलिची I रे बेडी ?

     हौस तुझी ही वेडी !”


सुटते सुटते ही I नचि हो ती

परि जोंवरी तोंवरतीं

     गंजे ती तरि कीं I गांजी या

     अधिक आपल्या पायां


चरणासि  सतत इच्छेच्या I जी वेढी

डि कवण विधिनिषेधांची I ही बेडी   

जाणे कोण अजी I निश्चित तें

      परंतु कीं मज गमतें

इच्छे घडि त्याची I इच्छाची

वा बेडी तदिच्छेची ! 


“O how you polish them, over and over,

Pampering them all day!

What think you —

Ornaments of silver and gold they are?”




My iron fetters—not just for today are they here!

O, break these shackles, do

They destroy my free will to move so!




“Fit only to be shattered and burnt they are—

Why then lavish care upon our very own fetters?

‘Tis an insane fancy you cherish!”





Break they will one day,

For ever they are not! Until then

Why let the fetters rust?

That will only add to the distress.




“Fetters forever encircling the Feet of our Desire—

Who forges those social fetters,

That impose the laws of decorum?”

Who knows that today? Ordained it be.

But think so do I,

We have the power to choose betwixt

Desire or Fetters for that Desire!





Most difficult of all were the last lines of the poem! Every week I would come back to them. Every week I would gaze at them for a long time and change what I had written. Finally, inspiration struck one day, and I nailed them down—but I did come this close to giving up! Now when I look at my lines I wonder what all the agony was about.


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Me running true to type for once!

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“Be chary about laughing at others, for you never know when you have to eat crow!”

-         Anurupa Cinar

Hi, Everyone! Growing up, one thing was very obvious to me that in my community a light colored skin was very coveted. Never was there an instance of where the words “gora/gori” (light-skinned) was not included in any description of beauty!

Skin color is a God-given thing, and always seemed immaterial to me as a consideration for anything, including beauty. Skin-color is also a matter of perspective. Take my skin color for example; I am brown-skinned, light-skinned, or yellow-skinned depending on who is describing me.

Anyway, point of writing this is that I am not in agreement with this fascination with the “light-colored skin.” I have memories of teasing my mother, quite unmercifully, when “gora” or “gori” came into her descriptions.

And yet what did I do when it came to giving a physical description to my Keshu (in my novel Burning for Freedom)?

Before I knew it, I was typing out: light-skinned, tall, muscular . . . ! Not only that, I went whole hog and gave him light-colored hair and light-colored eyes too!!

How I laughed at myself! After all these years of making fun of others for their “gora” obsession, here I was running true to type. And I couldn’t talk myself out of it, either.

Having given Keshu the typical Chitpavan Brahmin coloring, I was happy to find, though, that it was very convenient in developing my plot line. It was a very, very useful for the revolutionary plot and in developing the gay molestation scene as well as well as in a frivolous scene I wrote in the Andaman days that just flowed out of my mind without planning.

That’s my justification and I’m sticking to it!



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Savarkar and Ho Chi Minh

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Two great leaders of one mind:

“O Goddess of Freedom, Life is to die for you,
Death is to live without you!”
-         V. D. Savarkar

“Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty.”
-         Ho Chi Minh

Hi, Everyone! To give another example of the esteem Savarkar was held in, read this excerpt from The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam.[1]

“Ho Chi Minh’s bedroom and study are still as they were on the day he died. The books near his bedside include one on New Zealand Verse, another on the Indian nationalist leader Veer Savarkar, another on the history of Vietnam, another on Marxism and several other titles I could not read clearly. These books were written in English, German, French, Russian and Vietnamese. He read all these languages, and spoke many of them. No party hack, however sophisticated, could have put such an eclectic collection of books together after his death. It had to be his.”

Ho Chi Minh, President of North Vietnam from 1954 until his death, led the Vietnamese nationalist movement for more than three decades. Upon his death his “house on stilts” where he died was preserved as is. There is a study beyond his bedroom which is lined with bookshelves too. So the books he had on the desk next to his bed must have a special significance to him.
Savarkar’s book is one of them according to Martin Windrow and there is no reason to doubt his word!

I did try to verify this fact independently, though. I did find a photo of the desk. Now the books are covered by a glass frame, I believe.

If anyone has connections in Hanoi, Vietnam, please do try to get a closer photo of Savarkar’s book.


[1] By Martin Windrow, Da Capo Press, 2004.

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Power: The Corrupter

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“The power to lead is the power to mislead, and the power to mislead is the power to destroy.”

    - Thomas S. Monson

“The measure of a man is what he does with his power.”

                                                                                                                – Plato

Hi, Everyone! With the independence of India, the political scene within the Congress fold had changed considerably. There was a shift in power. Prime Minister Nehru was in a strong position. He was no more the Second-in-Command; he was no more second to the Mahatma.

·       Throughout his political career Nehru had acquiesced in many of Gandhi’s suggestions and schemes, just to hang on to the power. He knew as well as the next man that to oppose the Mahatma was to commit political suicide. Now he had acquired that power. He didn’t need the Mahatma.

·       Of late years, especially after Noakhali, it was getting difficult to keep a lid on Gandhi’s sexual peccadillos—his predilection for young girls, even those from his own family. Gandhi himself was ready to talk of the “purity” of his “experiments.”

·       Gandhi had refused to pay respect to the flag of India as his charkha was out-voted in favor of the chakra. He had ranted and raved re that in his Harijan.

·       Gandhi’s latest debacle was interfering in Government policy and twisting the Government arm into handing the fifty-five crore Rupees to Pakistan.

Yes, he had only nuisance value for Nehru and the Government of India. In Lester Pearson’s biography he says Nehru had told him that Gandhi was a “hypocritical old man.”

Gandhi was no more the cossetted and spoilt favorite of the British. He was now an albatross around Nehru’s neck.

·       Could this be why there was such abysmal lack of protective security for the Mahatma? Even after the bombing event? 

One is hard put to it to not think it. The police of free India were the same that worked so brilliantly for the British. In the British times, hardly a scheme was allowed to materialize successfully, so efficiently did the police work! What changed then in free India?

·       Was it the orders they received?

Points to note:

·       Morarji Desai had the utter nerve to sanctimoniously point unjust fingers at Savarkar for complicity in Gandhi’s murder, when one word from him was all that was required to prevent Gandhi’s death.

·       Government of India arrested 20,000 people and tortured so many after the death of the Mahatma. Could they not have arrested a few to prevent the death of the Mahatma?

They had ten days, one culprit in custody, and direct information but did nothing to save the Mahatma.

·       After the death of the Mahatma, the Government of India galvanized into action and ruthlessly put to death the name and reputation of Savarkar—and were only prevented from putting him to death by the prevailing of justice in free India—and annihilated the Hindutva-minded people and their work.

This is why I call it their diabolical masterstroke. So many birds all killed with one stone—killed with the bullet that killed Gandhi.


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Shenanigans of Gandhi, Part I

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 “Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

Gandhi’s Democracy

Hi, Everyone! There was a clear policy in the Congress: follow the dictates of the Mahatma, or be kicked out. As Gandhi put it, “Anyone who does not believe in the fundamental policy of Congress [read Gandhi] should leave and work outside it.”

And if the person did not leave willingly, he was “persuaded” to do so by underhanded scheming against him!

The next five posts are going to illustrate Gandhi’s shenanigans, his scheming, in the case of K. F. Nariman, Dr. Khare, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Dr. Lohia, and Bhulabhai Desai.

I quote from Dhananjay Keer’s Mahatma Gandhi: Political Saint and Unarmed Prophet, pages 633-34. The time is mid 1937:

“At this juncture Gandhi was involved in a long, bitter public controversy which raged for over six months in the Bombay presidency. At the instance of Sardar Patel the Congress members of the Legislative Assembly of the Bombay Province, deprived K. F. Nariman of his opportunity to be the leader of the Assembly Party. Nariman was a selfless, fearless, brilliant, patriotic leader and was looked upon as the natural leader of legislative Party.

Nariman had riled the Gandhian Right wing leaders by his book Whither Congress. Sardar Patel preferred a docile Maharashtrian solicitor B. G. Kher, to a strong leader, Nariman . . . Gandhi stood by Patel. . . .”

Here I would like to add I have ordered both, Whither Congress and What Next from the library. It would be interesting to find out what Nariman wrote that required his brutal eviction not only from the Congress, but the political scene of India! To continue:

“For months Gandhi had been assuring Sardar Patel that Nariman would come to harm . . . and yet Gandhi wrote to Nariman his silence had been in the interests of Nariman! Gandhi agreed to be the sole arbitrator in the dispute. Nariman helplessly agreed.

Gandhi in his foregoing letter said that if on the examination by Bahadurji or Madgaonkar, his findings were against Nariman, he should have an opportunity of tendering an apology and making a full and frank confession of his weakness and the wrong done to the public, the Sardar and other colleagues. But if he found Nariman unjustly dealt with by the Sardar, Gandhi observed, he would try to undo the mischief. . . .

Partial as he was to the Sardar, Gandhi evidently assumed that sardar was innocent and Nariman guilty: for he mentioned no punishment to the Sardar if he was found guilty.

On September 26 he wrote to Patel that he should try to forget the Nariman affair. ‘You have transferred.’ he replied reassuringly,your worries to me and I have passed them to Bahadurji.’

 . . . Gandhi was confident of what his judgment would be.

In the second week of October, Bahadurji decided against Nariman on both the counts, his action in the election of 1934 and his action in the present dispute.

Gandhi endorsed the decision and sent it to Bahadurji who read it in his office to Nariman in the presence of Mahadev Desai.

All kinds of pressures were brought on Nariman. To increase the tempo of it, a telegram had been sent to Nariman on the previous day conveying the news that Gandhi’s health was affected and would not be completely restored till this episode had been satisfactorily ended.

Overpowered by the anxiety for the Mahatma’s health, Nariman lost his grit and balance. He signed an apology which had probably been drafted by Gandhi and signed his political death warrant.

Soon after, Nariman recanted. But it was too late.

Gandhi, who had agreed that the enquiry would be private and even the Working Committee need not know about it, sent all the records to the Working Committee; and without giving Nariman a chance to reply, they all got together to guillotine Nariman politically.

He was declared unworthy of holding any position of trust and responsibility in the Congress organization.

The rest of his life Nariman spent reading What Nextand saying, ‘Had I served my Lord as faithfully as I served Congress, He would not have deserted me.’”

Here you have the Mahatma of the Indians, the man to whom “Truth is God” and who would “sacrifice freedom for truth,” who publicly denounced the revolutionaries for their “secret” agendas, scheming without batting an eyelid!

Quite a few of Gandhi’s letters tracing this sorry tale are available here:

Mahatma Gandhi Facts: Gandhi Revealed.

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