On the occasion of the 140th Birth Anniversary of the most fascinating and the most debated revolutionary of India, Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, two films on his life & operations were announced, which are to be released later this year. One is Ram Charan’s ‘India House’ and the other is Randeep Hooda’s ‘Swatantrya Veer Savarkar’, in which the actor debuts as a director. Out of these two, the latter has become the hottest topic of discussion in social media circles, not so much for the makeover of the macho man, Hooda into the fiery and awed revolutionary, Veer Savarkar, but for the film’s tagline – The man who inspired Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Khudiram Bose & Bhagat Singh.

By now it is common knowledge that the darbari historians had, all along, tried to establish Veer Savarkar as a British apologist, referring to the ‘mercy’ petitions written by him while he was serving a torturous term in the Cellular Jail at the Andamans. Despite extensive debate regarding the cause & circumstances of those petitions, the Leftist Liberals love to believe in the ‘British loyalist’ theory and are hellbent on convincing all about the same. Hence, Hooda’s claim, vide his film teaser, of Veer Savarkar influencing the most admired and effective revolutionaries, would serve as an apt antidote to their narrative. Hence, it was obvious that there would be a meltdown against the instant tagline and expectedly, it happened. It won’t be surprising if we were to learn that the use of the above-mentioned tagline is a marketing strategy by Randeep Hooda and it did work – the film’s teaser attracted a mammoth 40 lakh views in just 3 days. An unwritten law of advertising is that-controversy sells.

Nonetheless, if we do take a second look at the tagline in question, we would be compelled to admit that Hooda is not wrong. There is no way that he embarked on this bold project without doing extensive research, being fully aware that each and every scene of the film would be taken to pieces and critically analyzed by the naysayers, since it is based on the life of the most debated persona of the previous century.

There were some who were not comfortable with the use of the word ‘inspire’. In this context, it is pertinent to mention that, our brave hearts, who sacrificed their lives, their belongings, their careers and even their reputations for the cause of our Maa Bharati, couldnot have operated in their own cocoons, as is typical of the modern day self declared nationalists on social media. Since they were focused on their goal and were determined to weed out the British imperialists from India, they did whatever could be done best to achieve their goal – drawing inspiration from each other and sharing ideas and material was part of the plot. Hence, some of our revered heroes drawing inspiration from the other revered heroes, do not make the former smaller in stature than the latter. Netaji Subhas still remains the liberator of our nation, Khudiram Bose still remains the youngest revolutionary who would continue to be the tallest youth icon and Bhagat Singh would still be the firebrand, aggressive, socialist revolutionary who did not bow to even death.

Savarkar & Khudiram Bose :

Now coming to the point on how Savarkar inspired the 3 National heroes, let us begin with Khudiram Bose. Savarkar believed in Purna Swaraj and not the Congress methodology of negotiating with the British and being satisfied with the breadcrumbs received by them. Hence, his plan was to commit such acts of aggression as would send shivers down the spines of the British colonial rulers and would compel them to bend backwards and yield to the demands of the revolutionaries. Savarkar was deeply influenced by the Irish & Italian revolutionaries – Giuseppe Mazzini and Garibaldi were his idols. In fact his journey to Britain was more for his revolutionary activities and to master the art of bomb making, than to study law.

The Arms Act of 1878 prohibited Indians from procuring Arms without a license and the process for that too, was cumbersome. Hence, Savarkar planned to procure arms from Russian, French, Irish, Turk and Egyptian revolutionaries and sneak them into India for handing them over to the right people for the job. He was ably aided by his brother, Ganesh Savarkar and his mentor, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak in this mission. The Abhinav Bharat Society founded by him and his brother, Ganesh in Nasik in 1904, helped in the cause of dispatching the arms procured from outside India to the Indian revolutionaries.

Savarkar, while in London, lived and led the India House founded by Shyamji Krishna Verma. He used the same for the purpose of procuring a bomb manual for use against the key British officials in India. Savarkar assigned the task of procuring the bomb manual to Pandurang Mahadev Bapat (Senapati Bapat) and to Hemchandra Das from Bengal, who was associated with Rishi Aurobinda Ghosh’s Anushilan Samity in Calcutta – a secret society meant for arms training of revolutionaries and carrying out acts of aggression on the British. The duo went to Paris and connected with India House old timers, S. K. Verma & Sardar Singh, who, in turn introduced them to a Russian Revolutionary, Nicholas Safransky. Safransky handed over the manual to them, but it was in Russian, which they could not read. However, Hemchandra Das, being an adept photographer took 50 photos of the manual and handed them over to a lady confidante in Germany who was well conversant with Russian and translated the manual for them. The Bomb Manual was one of the most coveted accomplishments of the India House, the transcript of which was dispatched to several locations in India, viz. Bombay, Poona, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Indore and Gwalior through Abhinav Bharat, coordinated by Ganesh Savarkar.

Finally Bapat and Das took the manual to Rishi Aurobinda Ghosh at the Anushilan Samity, who had planned to bomb the British Magistrate from Muzaffarpur, Douglas Kingsford. He entrusted the task of carrying out the bombing to Khudiram Bose, who was a little less than 19 years old at that time and his to his 20 year old partner, Prafulla Chaki. Fate, though, played a nasty trick on the duo, as two British ladies, the Kennedies boarded the carriage meant for Kingsford and those two ladies were killed by the bombs, in his place. Subsequently Prafulla Chaki killed himself as he did not wish to be caught by the British, while Khudiram Bose was caught and went down in history to be revered as the youngest revolutionary to be sentenced to death by the British. The young brave hearts might have missed their targets but their bombs did succeed in shaking up and terrorizing the British rulers. The idea and the formula of making the bombs targeting the British and creating ripples in their ranks, undoubtedly came from Veer Vinayak Savarkar. Hence, how is the ‘inspiration’ bit wrong in the instant case?

Savarkar & Netaji :

The common argument against the connection between Netaji and Veer Savarkar emanates from the fact that their ideologies were different. The leftist liberals refer to the composition of the INA, as constituting of soldiers from all over India and all religious communities, to reinforce their narrative. However, they forget that Netaji was fighting for the cause of Maa Bharati. Hence he wanted to unite all Indians into a common platform to fight against the common enemy – the British colonial rulers. That does not change the fact that Netaji was a staunch Hindu. He was deeply influenced by Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansadev. His commitment towards Hinduism & spiritualism is evident from his letters to his mother, Pravadevi at the tender age of 16.

Both Netaji and Veer Savarkar desired complete freedom of Maa Bharati from the shackles of British colonial rule and this commitment was enough to bring them together. Both of them were in favour of militarization and direct confrontation with the British. What more of commonality can we ask for the sake of our nation? With the intention of weeding out the British from India, the duo had a three hour long meeting at Veer Savarkar’s residence in Dadar on June 22, 1940. Veer Savarkar’s aide, Balarao Savarkar revealed the discussions that the duo had during the meeting, vide his letter dated June 2, 1954. During the one to one meeting, Savarkar suggested that Netaji should garner the Indian forces from foreign soil, preferably from a nation hostile to the British, viz. Germay and then, with German help, proceed to Japan to join hands with Rashbehari Bose there. Rashbehari Bose had founded the Japan Chapter of Savarkar’s Hindu Mahasabha and also the Indian Independence League in 1942, which he subsequently handed over to Netaji and it was reconstituted into the INA.
It was Savarkar who motivated the Indians, particularly the Hindus to join the INA and strengthen Netaji’s efforts to fight the British. Netaji duly acknowledged Savarkar’s contributed during his radio broadcast on June 25, 1944 from Singapore. He said – “When, due to misguided political whims and lack of vision, almost all the leaders of the Congress Party are decrying all the soldiers in the Indian Army as mercenaries, it is heartening to know that Veer Savarkar is fearlessly exhorting the youth of India to enlist in the Armed Forces. These enlisted youth themselves provide us with the trained men from which we draw the soldiers of our Indian National Army.”

Savarkar was a voracious reader. He was inspired by Rajanikanta Gupta’s Bengali book (published in 1886), ‘The history of Sepoy Mutiny’ to pen his book ‘The First Indian War of Independence of 1857’ in Marathi. The manuscript of the same was sent to India for publishing but no publishing house was willing to publish it for fear of CID raids. The manuscript went back to Paris. As the British Scotland Yard had a whiff of the book, the British CID declared it to be revolutionary and dangerous. The book was proscribed even before it was published – the first of it’s kind. The book was ultimately printed in Holland in 1909 but not without British interference. The book was then distributed in India, America, Japan and China wrapped in specially printed covers, bearing fictitious names such as ‘Pickwick Papers’ and ‘Scot’s Works’ and sold at a price of Rs. 300/-, which was a big amount at that time. The book was well accepted by the Indian revolutionaries. It inspired India’s 2nd War of Independence in 1914, known as the Gadar Mutiny. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose published the book in in India, which again inspired his INA exploits of 1943 or India’s 3rd War of Independence when Netaji took control of the Andamans, by defeating the British and unfurled our National flag at Port Blair. The names of the battalions and divisions, songs and slogans, spirit and inspiration of the INA were derived from the instant book – a vivid example is the Rani Jhansi Regiment. (Vide ‘Savarkar and the times’ – by Dhananjay Keer’)

Savarkar and Bhagat Singh :

The Communists in our country have surreptitiously, claimed Bhagat Singh to be their own, thus, slyly detaching him from rest of the other revolutionaries. This may have been an attempt to associate themselves with our nation’s freedom movement, even though it is widely believed that most of the British apologists joined with the communists, post independence. The Communists loath Veer Savarkar because of his hindutva ideology. Hence, associating him with Bhagat Singh would definitely cause ripples in their ranks. However, if we peruse Vikram Sampat’s ‘Savarkar : Echoes from a forgotten past’, we would learn the following about Bhagat Singh’s reverence for Savarkar and his works.

1. Bhagat Singh was about to publish the fourth edition of Savarkar’s book, ‘The Indian War of Independence of 1857′. The copies of the same were found by the British while searching the residences of the members of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HRSA).

2.An article published in Savarkar’s Shraddhanand titled “The Real Meaning of Terror” was published by Bhagat Singh and colleagues in Kirti in May 1928.

It is believed that “The most powerful weapon against one’s enemy is not an atom bomb or AK-47 but it is an idea!” It was Veer Savarkar’s idea of all out attack on the British establishments in India, which shook them to the extent of marking him as the most dangerous amongst all their prisoners. Even his badge that he wore while serving his prison term in the Andamans, bore the ‘D’ symbol. He was kept under house arrest for 13 long years even after his release from prison. This was not without reason. If such an awe inspiring persona influenced the most prominent national heroes of our country, that would certainly not be tantamount to belittling the latter. On the other hand, it would help us understand the amount of pain, sweat and struggle along with the astute planning and teamwork that earned us our freedom from colonial rule and the same should serve as an inspiration to the present day nationalists.

  • References :
    1. Savarkar : Echoes from a forgotten past – Vikram Sampat
    2. Savarkar and his times – Dhananjay Keer
    3. The Two Great Indians – Yukikazu Sakurasawa
    4. Behind the Enemy Lines : Savarkar & the India House -2 – Ameya Ranade in Bharatmimansa.com, June 2, 2020




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