“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.