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Savarkar's Hindutva: A case of mistaken identity

The Punekar tries to understand the man’s philosophy on his death anniversary.

Reposting an article on Veer Savarkar that we had written on his death anniversary. Today we remember the man, the great freedom fighter on the eve of his birthday. May he be born again for the country definitely needs him.

Today is the 47th Death Anniversary of a forgotten (read ignored) Indian revolutionary and freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, also known as Tatyarao and Swatantryaveer (Veer means brave and Swatantrya means freedom, so he was referred as the brave who fought for freedom). He is infamous for Gandhi assassination and many secularists question his photograph being hung in the Parliament house. Savarkar however was a true patriot and someone who suffered immensely while fighting for the nation and for greater good, which most fail to observe. The reason might be a case of mistaken identity or the false belief that has been attached to Hindutva from both sides, the opposer’s of it and the propagators.
Here are the 5 elements of Savarkar’s ideology of Hindutva, a term created by him.
Utilitarianism is the theory that holds proper course of actions as the one that maximises utility or productivity and maximises happiness. Savarkar believed that a person’s salvation lied in doing good and working for the betterment of the country or Hindu Rashtra as he coined it. Hindutva believes that by working for the betterment of its people and for the greater glory of the country one can find true happiness and this love for the country acts as a motivation to increase one’s productivity.
Rationalism and Positivism:
Both rationalism and positivism believes that information derived from sensory experiences, with logical and practical treatments is the source of all authoritative knowledge. Savarkar emphasised on humans to be rational and to question everything and not blindly follow or accept something. Savarkar’s actions and thoughts too were dictated by a scientific temperament and his thoughts, teachings and some actions were shocking and against some of the existing beliefs.
Humanism and Universalism:
Humanism believes that all humans are equal and should be treated equally and respected equally. It doesn’t matter what a person’s caste, creed or religions is, a person is to be judged only by his actions and not anything else. His definition of being Hindutva wasnt that one had to be a Hindu to follow it, he believed Hindustan to be the land of our forefathers and anyone who lives in India and considers it as their ancestral land are a part of Hindu Rashtra. Thus, even Muslims and those belonging to other religions are not considered anti-Hindu like we are made to believe. Though Savarkar was a revolutionary and believed that sometimes violent means have to be adopted, he also made sure that violence should always be used only as the last option. Every human life is sacred and so its only under dire consequences or acts of self defence when its allowed to kill a human. Nathuram Godse, a follower of Savarkar, believed this too and and gave sound reasoning for assassinating Gandhi. It was also Savarkar’s strong belief in equal human rights that drove him to start the first Ganeshotsav including ex-untouchables, inter-dining ceremonies (before it was considered inauspicious to dine with someone belonging to a lower caste) and Patipavan Mandir which was open to all.
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition where theory is extracted from practice and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice. The ideologies of Hindutva dictate that without believing in an ideology and practising it is different. Thus the words, “Dehakadun devakade jatana madhye desh lagto”.
Savarkar was a hard realist and held the truth above all, even if its was sometimes too harsh to handle. Savarkar had warned of a possible partition way before the actual independence and even though freedom was something he sought the most (being in the most brutal imprisonment in Andaman and his extreme patriotism to watch India independent) he suggested that Indians first solve the internal disputes and conflict before declaring independence. To most at that time, it must have been shocking but it spoke more of the realist in him, who foresaw what many failed to see and was ready to take strong steps to curb it.
(For a more indepth analysis on Savarkar’s Hindutva, Akhanda Bharat, Hindu Rashtra please refer to )

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