VINAYAK DAMODAR SAVARKAR DATE OF BIRTH: The commonly heard term ‘Hindutva’ became popular after the nationalist Indian independence activist and politician Vinayak Damodar Savarkar wrote a pamphlet of the same name in 1921, championing the cause of the Hindus. In addition to his Hindu nationalism, Savarkar was also a passionate freedom fighter. On his birthday, we take a closer look at some key facts from his personal life and political activism.
- Political activism
As a student, Savarkar founded a secret revolutionary society called Mitra Mela in 1899 with his brother Ganesh Damodar Savarkar. This evolved into the Abhinav Bharat Society, which was involved in the murders of British officials such as William Curzon Wyllie and AMT Jackson. Savarkar reportedly supplied weapons to the killers and was imprisoned. He was also a member of the Hindu Mahasabha, a political party founded to protect the rights of Hindus.
- Advocating Indian Nationalism Abroad
While studying law in the United Kingdom, at Gray’s Inn, Savarkar advocated revolutionary ideas against the British among Indian youth. He wrote The Indian War of Independence (1909), a historical account of the Sepoy mutiny in 1857, to stir up nationalistic feelings against the colonial rulers. The book was banned and he was arrested for plotting an armed rebellion against the Morley-Minto reforms (1909).
- social reforms
Savarkar was against social ills such as casteism and untouchability. He helped children from lower castes receive formal education and established a temple where all castes could pray together. He wrote an essay entitled Seven Shackles of the Hindu Society (1931), in which he denounced the caste-based restrictions in Hindu scriptures.
Savarkar defended the cause of the Hindus through his Hindutva philosophy. After his grim experiences in the Andaman Cellular Jail, he wanted India to be transformed into a nation for Hindus and communities with their historical and religious roots in India. For him, Hindutva was about a strong sense of national identity.
- Murder of Mahatma Gandhi
Savarkar was charged with conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse. However, the charges against him could not be proven and he was released.
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