Mai, as popularly known, the most unsung character who with her tenacity and indomitable courage played her role in the freedom struggle, is sadly a forgotten chapter to our generation today.

Least known and mostly forgotten, Yes, She was the Wife of Veer Savarkar.

Mai and Vinayak were married at Nashik in February 1901.  She hailed from an affluent rich family who was brought up into the Luxury of her Parental care. Her formal Name was Yamuna Bai Savarkar, but affectionately she was called as Mai.

Mai has had an unassuming personality. She integrated herself into the modest means of the Veer Savarkar family quickly after her marriage. She dissolved herself into the Patriotic and nationalistic fervor flowing in the Veer Savarkar House.  Gifted with a sweet voice, she was fond of Singing. And Soon she became the voice of Veer Savarkar`s Poetic imagination. His most poems were articulated in her voice only. Such a memorable and beautiful conjugal life has had no inkling of what is stored in future.

Unaware and uninhibited, Veer Vinayak Savarkar was pursuing his Study in Pune prestigious Fergusson College. His one of earliest Poem written as “Kamala” is said to be based on his fascination for “Mai” in these days. Mai (Yamuna Bai Savarkar) was soon blessed with her first child in 1905 and the couple named him Prabhakar.  Soon Veer Savarkar moved to London to pursue his Law education.

Even fairy tale stories have at times disruption. Veer Savarkar and Yamuna Bai Savarkar stories were written with heinous disruption least to say.

While Veer Savarkar was in London, Mai suffered her biggest Jolt of life.  Prabhakar, her first and small adorable Son, unfortunately died of smallpox. Life had not been kind to Mai thereafter ever. The departure of Prabhakar perhaps had robbed her of her fortune. Just 15 days after Son Prabhakar had passed away, Babarao Savarkar the elder Brother of Veer Savarkar was arrested by British and deported to Kalapani Cellular Jail in Andaman for life Sentence.

Broken in the memory of her Son and bereavement of Elder brother Babarao Savarkar, the distraught Mai, was longing for the companionship of Veer Savarker, who was ocean away from her then.

Unmindful of personal tragedy and a grieving wife, Veer Savarkar rebellions against British had unnerved the British establishment. His Organizing ability had expanded his connection to Soviet Communist Rebels, French nationalist forces and Indian revolutionaries. In a controversial move, British intercepted Veer Savarkar from his most daring escape from Marshellie in France and surreptitiously moved him into India.  Savarkar was now facing two charges, first abetment to murder of Nashik Collector Jackson and second was waging a war against British Empire.

Mai (Yamuna Bai Savarkar) was informed about Veer Savarkar arrests and his impending trial at Nasik, She proceeded to meet him in Nasik. She travelled on horseback accompanied with her brother to Nasik on a long arduous journey to Nasik. She was under constant surveillance of British all this while. Fearing the wrath of British police, Very unfortunate but on expected lines, everybody including her friend and relative refused any help or Shelter at Nasik. It was a windy and heavily raining dark night, when Mai spent her sleepless night in the remote shelter of a Temple premises. 

Next morning, Mai could see Veer Savarkar in her presence. As lively and spirited as before, Mai for a while forgot her pain. A meeting of 45 minutes has had great promise and hope for Mai. But it ended just like a blink of an eyelid.

Mai (Yamuna Bai Savarkar) was devastated when she heard about two life sentences amounting to 50 years of life to Veer Savarkar in Andamaan KalaPani. Unlike Veer Savarkar who was an atheist, Mai had profound faith in Sanatan belief. She was a practicing believer. Unwavering faith gave her strength to control her emotion and maintain a stoic look. Except for her mortal remains, her all including Soul appears to have petrified. Mai decided to meet Veer Savarkar and went to see him at Dongri prison in Mumbai. Sight of Veer Savarkar in Chained and in Manacled situations tormented Mai. Helpless before the brutal and savage British law, She was now totally broken. In withering agony and with shaking hands, she cried for once in deep pain. Who on earth can strengthen her now?  

Restrained and composed Veer Savarkar was barely able to hold her. Mai had no strength left to speak or plead. The so familiar composed voice of Veer Savarkar assuaged her for a while. She was realizing in those words of Veer Savarkar the impending struggle and desired strength to wade through the life ahead.  Mai was a true warrior, a true companion of Veer Savarkar. Broken, dejected and pained, she yet not lost her faith and belief in God and hope of his returning home one day.

Departing from the Dongri Prison with her welling teary eyes, she promised to let the flame of struggle remain alighted until he comes back. The British Surveillance and restriction on the Savarkar family was extremely intrusive. Two members of Savarkar family were undergoing incarceration at Andaman Cellular jail.

Mai as popularly called for her name Yamunabai Savarkar, led a grueling struggle to survive the decade of Veer Savarkar incarceration at Cellular Jail.  She continued her association and active role in nationalist organizations like Atmanishtha Yuvati Samaj, popularizing patriotic songs of Aba Darekar and Poem of Veer Savarkar from Keshri. Stories of Shivaji Maharaj and Bhavani Durga Devi strengthen her grit to stay alive with self-esteem.

Nearly 14 years eclipsed, when Mai, Yamuna Devi Savarkar in 1924 was finally permitted to meet Veer Savarkar at Nasik.  After over a decade of torturous stay at Cellular Jail Kalapani, Veer Savarkar was allowed confinement at Ratnagiri Jail under strict condition of no Political activism.  Veer Savarkar and Mai, Yaumnabai Savarkar utilized this time in writing and spreading awareness. Soon the Savarkar family was blessed with two Daughter child Prabhat and Shalini. However Shalini could not survive beyond her infancy. By now, Mai, Yamuna Bai Savarkar had gradually settled into her routine. 1927, Mahatma Gandhi along with Kasturba paid a visit to Veer Savarkar and Mai in 1927 at their Ratnagiri House. Kasturba specially was moved when she met Mai. The two ladies sat together for hours in the kitchen of Mai and talked. Veer Savarkar himself was not keeping good health those days following decades of inhumane torture at Kala Pani he sustained.

1928, The Savarkar family had a Boy child named Viswas. The Birth of Viswaas was a reposition of Mai trust in Mata Bhavani after having toiled in memory of her irreparable loss of first child Prabhakar.

Veer Savarkar could not have participated in any political events all these years due to British conditions. Hence Mai took the lead and started a women’s movement in 1930 at the Vithal Mandir in Ratnagiri to propagate Swadeshi. She actively promoted inter community dining of women challenging the Inter caste difference. It was 1936, she organized Akhil Hindu Yagya, a largest ever inter community dinner in Ratnagiri again at the Patit Pavan Mandir in Ratnagiri. Veer Savarkar was finally relieved of his legal retrains in 1937 and he took no time in returning to political activism. He conceptualized Hindu Mahasabha in 1937 and became the active President for the next seven years.

Mai stood rock bottom to Veer Savarkar in his struggle and Sacrifice. She balanced the household and social responsibility besides occasional foray in the political realm in his absence as well.  She was a large hearted lady. She took care of a Dalit girl as her third surviving child whom Veer Savarkar had adopted in his life time. After the assassination of Gandhi, She bravely faced the assault of mad frenzy crowd, who virtually had lynched her but for her valiant defense. She was truly a great character of strength and integrity.

By 1956, Mai was sinking into poor health. Lymphoma ravaged her health condition. Seven year of deteriorating health and medication, finally she passed away on November 8, 1963.

Veer Savarkar almost fainted into unconscious state at her demise. He was left with no will to carry forward his life any more. Having assessed his objective, mission and work in his life, Veer Savarkar was satisfied with his effort contribution, he could have done to bring change in Hindu Society. Veer Savarkar gradually started refusing his medication, his food and then water to relieve his mortal body for spiritual attainment. He left for heavenly abode three years after Mai departure in 1966.

Reading about Veer Savarkar, an indomitable character of freedom struggle is thoroughly incomplete without reading about the Mai, Yamuna Bai Savarkar.

DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.