Q & A
Questions and Answers
This section deals with various aspects of Savarkar.s life, thought, actions and relevance in a question and answer format. Questions are raised regarding Savarkar and his place in Indian history. Some of these questions stem from genuine curiosity and willingness to understand. Some questions take the form of accusations born out of outright ignorance or sheer malice. This section aims to address some of these questions.
- What is the contribution of Savarkar in the sphere of Hindutva ?
- Where can one read Savarkar's views on Hindutva?
- Where and when did Savarkar write Essentials of Hindutva? What effect did the book have on the Hindu leaders of that time?
- What is Savarkar's definition of a 'Hindu'?
- In his definition of a 'Hindu', Savarkar used the word 'pitrubhu' or Fatherland. Is this word not reminiscent of Hitler's Fatherland?
- What organizational work did Savarkar do among Hindu convicts in the Cellular Jail, Andamans ?
- Jinnah's two-nation theory is not only implicit in Savarkar's concept of 'Hindutva'; Savarkar also stated it explicitly. Speaking at the Hindu Mahasabha session at Ahmedabad in 1937 he said," India cannot be assumed to be an unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main, the Hindus and the Muslims in India". Critics of Savarkar have gone so far as to call him the father of the two-nation theory! Comment.
- In his Presidential address to the 19th session of the Hindu Mahasabha in Karnavati (Ahmedabad) in 1937, Savarkar said, .India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main; the Hindus and the Moslems, in India.. What did he exactly mean by this statement?
- Is it true that the Hindu Mahasabha under Savarkar shared power with the Muslim League? If so, why?
- What were the relations of Savarkar with the Sikhs?
- Why did Savarkar appeal to Hindu youth to enlist in the British army? Did he not realize that this would help the British war effort?
- Savarkar founded the Hindu Mahasabha, after a detailed study of the Nazis. (Letter, Asian Age, 29 Aug 2004). Comment.
- How were the relations between Savarkar and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh founder Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar?
- Was Savarkar communal?
- Had Savarkar studied Islam?
- What were Savarkar's views on Hindu-Muslim relations?
- Was Savarkar in favour of a theocratic state?
- Did Savarkar hate Christians or Muslims?
- What is Savarkar’s contribution to the shuddhi movement?
- What were Savarkar's economic views; in fact did he have any economic views or was he a person only concerned with history?
- Did Savarkar have any economic programme?
While several stalwarts have developed the philosophy of Hindutva, the credit for making a fundamental, systematic, detailed and lucid exposition of Hindutva goes to Savarkar. Savarkar is the philosopher par excellence of Hindutva. However, Savarkar was no arm-chair philosopher. He hated sterile discussions. Writing notices and minutes of Hindu Sabha meetings, keeping records and receipts, drawing a hand-cart of swadeshi goods on the streets of Ratnagiri, running a pan-Hindu café, teaching ex-untouchable children to read and write, bringing up an ex-untouchable girl in his own house in spite of meager personal means were some of Savarkar's contributions as a field-worker of Hindutva. Savarkar was a born leader. Savarkar's associate in revolution Niranjan Pal illustrates this aspect thus, "He was the sun; we were his satellites". But Savarkar was not only a leader; he was a leader of leaders. His seminal writings on Hindutva have influenced some of the tallest Hindu leaders. Little wonder then that even a Tilakite like Dr. Moonje who was Savarkar's senior was moved to exclaim, "In Maharashtra, Savarkar's place is next only to that of Shivaji!" Thus, Savarkar's contribution to Hindutva is that of a philosopher, field-worker, leader and leader of leaders.
Savarkar's views on Hindutva are largely available in three books from his Collected Works: Essentials of Hindutva, Hindu Rashtra Darshan (his six Presidential addresses to the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha sessions) and Hindutvache panchapran (a collection of his articles on Hindutva written in Marathi). The last book substantially contains all the points covered in the first two books. It would hence suffice to refer to the first two books to understand Savarkar.s views on Hindutva. Originally written in English, the two books are available in their original, in several translations and online on http://www.savarkar.org/
Savarkar landed on the Indian mainland from the Andamans on 06 May 1921. After being kept in Alipore Jail for a week, he was shifted to Mumbai and thereafter lodged in Ratnagiri Jail. Savarkar remained in Ratnagiri Jail for under two years. Contrary to the disinformation campaign, Savarkar's release from the Andamans was not an act of mercy on part of the British. Conditions in Ratnagiri jail were so bad that Savarkar confesses that he thought of committing suicide there. It was in such trying conditions that he wrote Essentials of Hindutva under the pen name 'Mahratta'. The book was smuggled out of jail. From the viewpoint of the Hindutva movement, it is fortuitous that Savarkar's Essentials of Hindutva was smuggled to, of all places, Nagpur. Savarkar's close associate in Abhinav Bharat Advocate Vishwanath Vinayak Kelkar who also happened to be Savarkar's distant relative and Sangh founder Dr. Hedgewar's close friend was the first to receive this book. It was Kelkar who published the book.
One of the first persons who must have set his eyes on this book was Dr. Hedgewar. A great churning was going on in Hedgewar's mind at that time. This is how Narayan Hari (Nana) Palkar, writer of Hedgewar's authoritative Marathi biography describes the effect the book had on Hedgewar. Palkar says, "There is not the slightest doubt that the similarity between the ideas on Hindutva and Hindu nationhood in Doctor's mind and the logical, lucid and firm exposition of Hindutva in that book must have strengthened Doctor's self-confidence. Doctor liked that book immensely and in those days and even later he started publicizing the book everywhere." (Palkar, Narayan Hari: Dr. Hedgewar (Marathi): Bharatiya Vichar Sadhana, Pune, pp 121).
Expressing his admiration for Savarkar's definition of 'Hindu', Swami Shraddhananda exclaimed, "It must have been one of those Vedic dawns indeed which inspired our seers with new truths that revealed to the author of Hindutva this mantra, this definition of Hindutva."
The eminent Constitutional expert C Vijayaraghavachariar, who was at different times President of the Indian National Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha expressed his admiration for Savarkar's book thus, "Especially this last chapter is inimitably eloquent and patriotic. I am afraid I am unable to find suitable words to describe my ideas regarding the book, especially the last chapter."
Speaking on 16 May 1963 at a public meeting in Mumbai to mark the 80th birthday celebrations of Savarkar, Golwalkar Guruji said, "...I found that the principles of pure nationalism were explained in a scientific manner in Savarkar's great book Hindutva. In my view, it a pāthya granth; a shāstra grantha."
Savarkar's Essentials of Hindutva may be described as the intellectual bedrock of the present Hindutva movement.
Savarkar defines a 'Hindu' thus:
आसिंधु सिंधु पर्यन्ता यस्य भारतभूमिका ।
पितृभू: पुण्यभूश्चैव स वै हिंदुरिति स्मृत: ॥ 11
आसिंधु सिंधु पर्यन्ता यस्य भारतभूमिका ।
"Everyone who regards and claims this Bharatbhumi from the Indus to the Seas as his Fatherland and Holyland is a Hindu"
Acording to Savarkar, every person is a Hindu who regards and owns this Bharat Bhumi, this land from the river Sindhu to the Seas, as his Fatherland (pitrubhu) as well as his Holyland (punyabhu). The term 'Fatherland' refers to the land of his patriarchs and forefathers; his first discernible source must be the land of the Saptasindhu. The term 'Holyland' refers to the land of his prophets and seers, holy men and heroes, piety and pilgrimage. To some, Savarkar's use of the term 'Fatherland' is reminiscent of Hitler's Fatherland. This is of course, arrant nonsense. The term 'pitr' refers to ancestors; it is customary to describe ancestral land as being one that belongs to one's forefathers (not foremothers). Perhaps the alliterative effect of 'pitrubhu' and 'punyabhu' may have influenced the poet in Savarkar. Savarkar wrote his book in 1923 when Hitler was not even on the horizon. The same Savarkar has composed heart-rending poems addressed to his 'matrubhu' (incidentally, the word 'motherland' has been associated with Stalinist Mother Russia; it seems one can attribute negative qualities to perfectly harmless words!). Though the word 'Fatherland' is nowadays used to in association with Nazi Germany, fact is that the word 'Vaterland' simply means 'homeland' in German and prior to Nazism, the word was used extensively in Germanic language countries without any negative connotation.
When Savarkar landed in the Cellular jail in 1911, the condition of Hindu convicts was as follows:
Muslim warders and convicts were permitted to keep a personal copy of the Quran and recite it. Hindu convicts were prohibited from keeping religious books. Muslim warders such as Mirza Khan would beat up Hindu convicts if they dared to read from Tulsi Ramayana and other religious texts.
Muslim convicts would play the azaan loudly and thus awaken the Hindu convicts at dawn.
Muslim convicts would get a day off from work on their festival days. This facility was denied to Hindu convicts.
Muslim warders and petty jail officials would give the most back-breaking jobs and punishments to Hindu convicts. They would frame false cases against them. To escape this discrimination and torture, some Hindu convicts would convert. They would be rewarded by Muslim warders and given light work.
Muslim convicts would deliberately touch the food of Hindu convicts. Orthodox Hindu convicts would refuse to eat it considering it to be polluted. The Muslims would then gleefully partake this food.
Muslim convicts would target susceptible Hindu converts and try to convert them.
Urdu was the 'official' language of the Cellular jail.
Thus, there was a de facto Islamic rule in the Cellular Jail.
Through incessant efforts at Hindu consolidation, Savarkar turned around this state of affairs. He did the following organizational work among Hindu convicts:
Savarkar first taught Hindu convicts to read and write. He spoke to Jail officials and got boks and slates for the convicts. Savarkar created a small library for the convicts. Through talks with Jail officials, he succeeded in getting Hindu religious texts and books such as Tulsi Ramayana, Dnyaneshwari, works of Sant Tukaram, Vivekananda, Ramtirth and Annie Besant.
Seeing that Muslim convicts were adamantly disturbing others by playing the azaan loudly, Savarkar encouraged Hindu convicts to play the conch loudly. The Hindus would drown the azaan by playing the conch loudly. When a case was filed against the Hindu convictsd for playing the conch, Savarkar argued that conch-playing was a part of Hindu religious practice. He offered to stop conch-playing if the azaan fell silent. The policy of tit-for-tat worked.
Savarkar successfully won a day off for Hindu convicts on their festival days. Savarkar started celebrations of Hindu festivals and anniversaries of Hindu heroes.
Savarkar would give moral support to those Hindu convicts who were pressurized to convert on pain of torture. He dissuaded many convicts from converting.
Savarkar educated the orthodox Hindu convicts who refused to eat food touched by Muslim convicts. If food became 'Muslim' on being touched by Muslims, then it would become 'Hindu' again if they were to touch it, he argued to the Hindu convicts. He asked Hindu convicts why their digestive powers had become so weak. They had to learn to remain Hindu after eating any kind of food. Hindu convicts accepted this argument and started eating food deliberately touched by Muslims.
Savarkar foiled many attempts by Muslim convicts to convert susceptible Hindu convicts. He filed cases against those Muslims who attempted to convert.
Savarkar befriended a dreaded Hindu convict and taught him to perform 'shuddhikaran' (purification, re-admittance to Hindu fold) rites. Savarkar asked him to strat 'shuddhi' of converts. The converts would be asked to bathe and eat a 'tulsi' leaf. A few stanzas from the Bhagwad Gita would be recited and lo and behold! The convert was admitted back to the Hindu fold. The Muslim warders and convicts were enraged.
Savarkar championed the cause of Hindi. Hindi replaced Urdu as the lingua franca of the Cellular jail.
Savarkar gave the following message to Hindu convicts when he was released in 1924- "Ek dev, ek desh, ek bhaashaa; ek jaati, ek jeev, ek aashaa" (One God, One country, one language; One community, One life, One aspiration"
The work done by Savarkar in the most trying circumstances is a testimony to his indomitable spirit and organizational skills. He overturned Islamic rule and established Hindu rule in the Cellular Jail.
Jinnah's two-nation theory is not only implicit in Savarkar's concept of 'Hindutva'; Savarkar also stated it explicitly. Speaking at the Hindu Mahasabha session at Ahmedabad in 1937 he said," India cannot be assumed to be an unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main, the Hindus and the Muslims in India". Critics of Savarkar have gone so far as to call him the father of the two-nation theory! Comment.
The two-nation theory long antedated Savarkar's 1937 Hindu Mahasabha presidential speech. In 1930, Sir Muhammad Iqbal became Muslim League President and for the first time publicly demanded an independent, sovereign Muslim state. "I would like to see the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, Sindh and Baluchistan amalgamate into a single state. Self-government within the British Empire or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me the final destiny of the Muslims at least of North-Western India," declared Iqbal. Indeed, the roots of Pakistan may be traced to Islamic theology that considers Muslims to be an ummah that is distinct and indeed at constant war with infidels. Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto bluntly wrote, .The starting point of Pakistan goes back a thousand years to when Muhammad-bin-Qasim set foot on the soil of Sind and introduced Islam in the sub-continent" (quoted in 'The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India', KS Lal, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 1992, p 327). Savarkar was a keen student of Islam and being a hard realist, he merely stated the obvious.
Savarkar's concept of the Indian state was truly secular. In his 1937 speech, he clearly says," Let the Indian State be purely Indian. Let it not recognize any invidious distinctions whatsoever as regards the franchise, public services, offices, taxation on the grounds of religion and race. Let no cognizance be taken whatsoever of man being Hindu or Mohammedan, Christian or Jew. Let all citizens of that Indian State be treated according to their individual worth irrespective of their religious or racial percentage in the general population.. If such an Indian State is kept in view, the Hindu Sanghatanists will, in the interest of Hindu Sangathan itself, be the first to offer their whole-hearted loyalty to it. I for one and thousands of the Mahasabhaites like me have set this ideal of an Indian State as our political goal ever since the beginning of our political career and shall continue to work for its consummation to the end of our life.. Can any attitude towards an Indian State be more .secular. than that?" Comment is superfluous.
In his Presidential address to the 19th session of the Hindu Mahasabha in Karnavati (Ahmedabad) in 1937, Savarkar said, .India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main; the Hindus and the Moslems, in India.. What did he exactly mean by this statement?
Misunderstanding was created after Savarkar made the above utterances. Hence, Savarkar clarified his statement to journalists on 15 August 1943 in the office of the Marathi weekly Aadesh published from Nagpur. He also clarified his position in an interview given in Mumbai on 23 August 1943. The interview was published in the Aadesh dated 28 August 1943. Given below is an English translation of Savarkar.s clarification as published in the Marathi weekly Aadesh dated 23 August 1943. The clarification includes questions asked by the journalist:
.I have denied that I stated that there are two nations in Hindusthan. I said that journalists conveniently published a brief and out-of-context report; this they did so as per their convenience. But I had to issue a clarification in an interview to newspaper correspondents at the Aadesh office on 15 August 1943 so that my opinion does not create misunderstanding..
Mahasabha President Veer Savarkar gave the above clarification when asked about the statement issued by some journalists in Nagpur.
.You always say that in Hindusthan, Hindus are a nation and that the Mussalmans and others are communities. How does one reconcile this statement and the statement that there are two nations in Hindusthan?. When asked this question, Veer Savarkar replied, .I had clarified this in my Nagpur interview. But instead of reporting this, journalists simply reported that I accept the two-nation theory. This has resulted in the whole misunderstanding. I am surprised that a storm has been raised now on this issue. Because I have always been referring to the two-nation theory right from my Ahmedabad speech.
It is a historic truth that the Mussulmans are a .nation.. I had clarified the historical and racial background of this theory in Nagpur. Islam is a theocratic nation based on the Koran right from its inception. This nation never had geographical boundaries. Wherever the Mussulmans went, they went as a nation. They also came to Hindusthan as a .nation.. Wherever they go, Mussulmans shall either remain foreigners or rulers. As per the Koran, those who are not Mussulmans are kafirs, enemies of Islam. Even today, after praying in the mosque, Mussulmans ask for atonement for committing the sin of living in a kafir-ruled state. As per the principle of Mussulmans, the earth is divided into two nations . Dar-ul Islam (land of Islam) and Dar-ul Harb where Islam does not rule (enemy land). As per their religious command, their campaign on Hindusthan was as a separate nation. They conquered the Hindu Nation as a enemy nation, not as One Nation. The Hindu Nation arose again and having defeated the Mussulmans at various places, saved the whole of Hindusthan to establish Hindu Padpadshahi also as a separate Hindu Nation opposed to the Muslim nations. This history certainly cannot be denied. In the recent past, the educated class among the Hindus mostly through the vehicle of the Congress tried its utmost to champion territorial nationalism by saying that at least in Hindusthan, Hindus and Mussulmans are one nation because they reside in one country. Though the effort was well-intentioned, the Mussulmans never gave up their principle of theocratic or scriptural nationalism and the feeling of being a nation separate from the Hindu Nation. And they never shrank from stating this right. Seizing the right opportunity and taking advantage of the Congress. policy of surrender, the Muslim League once again emphatically put forth that same old theory of the Mussulman nation being a separate nation. If one turns a blind eye to this reality, the Hindu Nation is bound to be divided. So we do not care if you consider yourself to be a separate nation. The effort towards Hindu consolidation is to emphatically state that the Hindu Nation is a self-evident and unified Nation. The Mahasabha came forward as a separate and mighty national organization of the Hindu Nation. Hindu Nationalism gave a cutting edge to the effort of consolidation.
People still do not understand the important thing that stating the fact of Mussulman and Hindu nations being present in Hindusthan is not to accept the Pakistani adamancy of carving a country of the Mussalmans. If I call someone a grihasta (householder), it does not make him a resident of my griha (house). Whether the Mussulmans consider themselves a separate nation or not, at least as far as Hindusthan is concerned, they are a minority compared to Hindus. Like the English, they have come here as foreigners and if they want to stay in Hindusthan, they should do so only as a minority community. An independent, unified, indivisible and single State should be established in Hindusthan. Hindusthan is the Fatherland and the Holyland of Hindus and even today they are an overwhelming majority in this their country. Hence, even if there are in this country, by force or tyranny, the English, Portuguese, French or those invaders such as the Americans or Japanese who call themselves a .nation., Hindusthan should be considered politically a nation of the Hindus as per the principle of peoples. power. If they want, minorities may stay here merely as minority communities. This is the objective; this is the oath of Hindu consolidation. This objective should be achieved through consensus if possible. Else, by strength and should opportunity arise, by force, this or the next generation of Hindus shall achieve this objective. While two or two hundred nations that consider themselves separate from the Hindus have presently entered Hindusthan by force and are demanding Partition of Hindusthan, it is not by a woolly-headed and cowardly denial of this fact but rather by understanding, facing and changing it shall an independent, undivided and indivisible Hindu nation alone shall without doubt, remain in Hindusthan. But as in our history when the Hindu Nation successfully rallied under the Hindu Flag, the Hindus should come forward and rise unitedly..
Q: .If Hindus and Mussulmans are two nations, how will they form a single nation?.
A: .We should not confuse between .nation. and .state.. Even if the state goes, the nation remains. When the Mussulmans were ruling over us, the government (state) was theirs. But the existence of the Hindus was most certainly intact. Even so, there is no problem in a common state of Hindus and Mussulmans. In the past, we had nations (rashtra) such as Maharashtra, Saurashtra, Devrashtra (near Berar). Where are these nations? They mingled with each other. The Shakas and Huns came to Hindusthan as nations. But what is the evidence of their existence today? We digested them. So if the Mussulmans want, they could amicably stay with Hindus as a minority community. In the past, nations such as Prussia, Bavaria etc. existed in Germany. But today, they have all together formed the German nation. By law, no one in Germany may call himself Prussian or Bavarian but German only.
Regarding the Mussulmans in Hindusthan, it may be said that you (Hindus) are trying to rope them with you but do the Mussulmans so desire? In the end, .desire. is the most influential and important factor for a .nation.. If they consider themselves separate, what is achieved merely by saying that you consider them your own? And hence, we need not worry whether they come with us or not. And there is no reason why we should sacrifice Hindu interests and plead with them to perforce say that they are not a separate nation. Hindus are a nation unto themselves. Considering this, the Hindus should continue the freedom struggle by consolidating themselves irrespective of whether the Mussulmans come with them or not. If they so desire, they may stay here, else they shall go where it pleases them..
Is it true that the Hindu Mahasabha under Savarkar shared power with the Muslim League? If so, why?
It is true that the Hindu Mahasabha under Savarkar's leadership shared power with the Muslim League in certain provinces. This was in tune with Savarkar's policy of 'responsive cooperation' or saadhyaanukul sahakaarya (Earlier, Lokmanya Tilak had espoused the same policy) In 1943, the Muslim League adopted a confrontationist policy towards the British. As part of this policy, then Chief Minister Fazlul Haq of the Muslim League tendered his resignation. On 11 December 1943, Fazlul Haq approached the Governor and apprised him of his intention to form a new ministry. Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee of the Hindu Mahasabha accepted a cabinet post in the said. In a statement issued in this regard, Dr. Mookerjee said that communal amity and unity was the need of the hour in Bengal. To ensure this, a strong and representative Government having the support of Hindus and Muslims was necessary. Everybody should support the Ministry leaving caste and religious hatred aside, stated Mookerjee. A similar statement was issued by Fazlul Haq. It was Savarkar's consistent policy to occupy Governmental posts to safeguard Hindu interests. The soundness of this policy was proved on the very next day. Sarat Chandra Bose, younger brother of Subhas Chandra Bose was placed under house arrest by the British for his suspected links with the Japanese. When this issue was raised in the Assembly the next day, Dr. Mookerjee in his maiden speech as Minister gave an assurance that he would make all efforts to secure Bose's release. In his Presidential speech to the Madhya Pradesh Hindu Parishad on 13 December 1943, Savarkar gave an account of how Fazlul Haq was forced to include Dr. Mookerjee in his Ministry. In pursuance of the same policy, the Hindu mahasabha participated in the Muslim League Ministry in Sind. When the League Ministry in Sind passed a resolution in favour of formation of Pakistan, the lone dissenting voice was that of the Hindu Mahasabha minister (It is noteworthy that the so-called nationalist Muslim Allah Bux who was a Congress member abstained when this resolution was introduced in the Sind Assembly). To summarize, the Hindu Mahasabha under Savarkar occupied positions of power whenever possible not to enjoy power per se but to safeguard Hindu interests. It is noteworthy that Savarkar himself never occupied a position of power. If he had wished, he could have joined the Congress and led a cushy life. He chose to stand up to the dominant line of thinking in the country at the time and speak what was in the best interests of the Hindus.
Savarkar celebrated Guru Govind Singh.s birth anniversary in London. Savarkar and Dr. Gokulchand Narang, the celebrated author of The Transformation of Sikhism, addressed the gathering. .Even a Sikh scholar would not have been able to give such a scholarly speech. was Dr. Narang.s comment on Savarkar.s speech.
The eminent Akali leader Master Tara Singh would be pleasantly surprised to hear Savarkar quoting profusely from the Sikh scriptures. Guru Govind Singh was one of Savarkar.s heroes. Savarkar was honoured at the Golden Temple (Hari Mandir) in Amritsar during his tour of Punjab.
Savarkar supported the British Government.s campaign for war effort and pleaded with Hindu youth to join in the armed forces in huge numbers. His move looked like supporting the enemy (British rulers). There were two main reasons for his appeal.
British had been predominantly recruiting Muslims from Punjab and North West Frontier Province into the Indian Army. Their percentage had risen to 70%. This posed a grave threat to Indian freedom.
Moreover, Gandhi.s policy of constant capitulation to Muslim demands had also created a sense of superiority among Muslims and inferiority among Hindus. Military training of Hindus was the only answer. If not, Muslims would have joined in the armed forces in large numbers again and be trained in warfare.
This allegation is totally false. Muslim League was founded in Dacca in December 1906. Alarmed by this development, the Punjab Hindu Sabha was founded in 1907. At that time, Savarkar was in England. The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha was formed in 1915. Swami Shraddhanand, Pandit Malaviya, Sir Tejbahadur Sapru and Gandhi attended its Subjects Committee meeting. Savarkar was incarcerated at that time in the Cellular Jail in the Andamans. Savarkar thus was not a founder of the Hindu Mahasabha. The Nazi Party came into being in 1923. How could the Hindu Mahasabha be formed in 1915 after a detailed study of the Nazi Party which was formed in 1923 ?
How were the relations between Savarkar and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh founder Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar? (*For details of the extremely close relations between Savarkar's elder brother Babarao and Dr. Hedgewar, see Babarao's biography given elsewhere in this website)
Both Savarkar and Dr. Hedgewar (01 April 1889 to 21 June 1940) had the highest regard for each other. They were both revolutionaries and organizers of Hindus.
- Dr. Hedgewar was a member of the Anushilan Samiti, a revolutionary organization.He was in close contact with revolutionary groups in Kolkata, Nagpur and Punjab. Around 1917, the revolutionary groups would meet at various places in Nagpur. New recruits would be given among other things, copies of Savarkar's biography of Mazzini and his book on the Indian War of Independence 1857. These books would be kept between the covers of books such as 'Two Beauties'. (Palkar, Narayan Hari.Dr. Hedgewar (Marathi), Bharatiya Vichar Sadhana, Pune, 4th edition, Pune 1998, p 61).
- Dr. Hedgewar was disturbed by the pandering of the Congress leaders to pan-Islamist sentiment in the form of the Khilafat movement. His views on Hindutva and Hindu Nationalism were slowly crystallizing. As coincidence would have it, it was around the same time that Savarkar formulated his views on the same subject. While still in prison, Savarkar wrote his seminal book 'Essentials of Hindutva' and had the book sent out of prison in1922-23. The first copy of the manuscript reached Advocate Vishwanathrao Kelkar in Nagpur. Adv. Kelkar was a distant relative of Savarkar and also Dr. Hedgewar's close friend. Dr. Hedgewar was gratified to find the remarkable similarity in Savarkar's and his own views. Dr. Hedgewar liked the book immensely and he started publicizing the book at that time and even later (Palkar, ibid, p 121).
- However, Savarkar was in prison at that time. In 1923, at a public meeting in Mumbai, Sardar Patel, Sarojini Naidu and Jamnadas Mehta demanded Savarkar's release. Similar efforts to secure Savarkar's release were being done for 1-2 years by the large body of Savarkar's admirers in Nagpur. On 14 October 1923, at a Congress rally held in Nagpur to demand Savarkar's release, Dr. Hedgewar delivered a hard-hitting speech. He said, ".It is no favour if the Government releases him (Savarkar) after 14 years. That is the law. If the Government wants to wipe away its failure in punishing him after murdering justice, it will do so (release him). But that does not seem to be the Government's intention. Savarkar has been punished on the basis of one-sided evidence! The Government is displaying pure malice. If the Government does not release him even now, it shall be one more proof of the Government's prejudice against the Indian Nation." (Palkar, ibid, p 121).
- Around mid-1923, Dr. Hedgewar, Vishwanathrao Kelkar, Dr. NB Khare, Vasudevrao Phadnis, Gopalrao Ogale, Balwantrao Mandlekar and others decided to start a daily newspaper called 'Swatantrya' to press forth the demand of 'absolute political freedom'. After making great efforts throughout the Central Provinces for 1-2 months, these friends floated a trust called 'Swatantrya Prakashan Mandal'. Dr. Khare and Dr. Hedgewar had toured Berar to raise funds for this trust. Around the beginning of 1924, the 'Swatantrya' started publication under the editorship of Vishwanathrao Kelkar. Dr. Hedgewar was a leading light of the trust and in a way, its director. Dr. Hedgewar would spend long hours in the office of this newspaper and occasionally wield his pen for it. The newspaper barely lasted for one year and closed shop on 06 November 1924. Only one copy of this newspaper could be traced by Dr. Hedgewar's biographer NH Palkar. The front and back covers of this copy had advertisements of Savarkar's books 'Echoes from Andamans' and 'Essentials of Hindutva' respectively. Around this time, Savarkar had been released from internment in Ratnagiri (due to the plague there) and allowed to spend a few days in Trimbakeshwar (near Nashik). During this time, Dr. Hedgewar, Vasudevrao Phadnis and SD Pendse made strenuous efforts to have Savarkar installed as President of the Sahitya Sammelan (Literary Conference) to be held in Nagpur. Articles supporting this demand were published in 'Swatantrya' (Palkar, ibid, p 122-123).
- After finalizing the thought of organizing the Hindu Nation, Dr. Hedgewar decided to meet Tatyarao Savarkar who was in internment in Ratnagiri. Accordingly, in the month of March (1925), Dr. Hedgewar went there accompanied by Vishwanathrao Kelkar and Dr. Savarkar. At that time, there was an outbreak of plague in Ratnagiri and hence Savarkar had shifted to Shirgaon near Ratnagiri. There he was staying at the house of Vishnupant Damle. Doctorji was there for two days and in that time, he gave Savarkar an idea of his proposed organization and also understood Savarkar's views in this regard (Palkar, ibid, p 131). After the founding of the Sangh, Dr. Hegdewar came once again to Ratnagiri to invite Savarkar to Nagpur to give him a guard of honour. At that time, Dr. Hedgewar was put up at the house of Dr. Mahadev Ganpat Shinde, a close associate of Savarkar. Dr. Shinde's son Dr. VM Shinde has recounted his reminiscence (Shinde, VM Dr. Aathvaninchi bakul phule, Navachaitanya Prakashan, Mumbai, p 51) as follows, "At that time, Dr. Hedgewar was put up in our house. Savarkar's house did not have the necessary facility and he was under constant surveillance of the British C.I.D. So as a matter of convenience, Dr. Hedgewar stayed at our house. He (Dr. Hedgewar) had also called a meeting of local pro-Hindu individuals. At that time, Savarkar said that this movement (Sangh) should not remain confined to Nagpur but that it should extent all over the country; only then it would prove useful. Due to internment, Savarkar could not leave the district. Hence, he suggested that his trusted lieutenant Dr. MG Shinde (my father) be invited to Nagpur and given a guard of honour. Accordingly, when my father went to Nagpur, Dr. Hedgewar called him and gave him a guard of honour. The first Ratnagiri shakha of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was started in the Patitpavan Mandir. I was in the first batch that took the Sangh pledge. After some time, this shakha started being held in the garden of Tatya Paranjpe's house in Tilak lane."
- In 1937, Savarkar was released unconditionally from Ratnagiri. In June and July, the atmosphere in Maharashtra was electrified by his felicitation programmes. Doctorji was overjoyed. It is noteworthy to understand how Doctorji's joy found expression in a letter written while Savarkar was being felicitated in Pune. Doctorji writes, ".truly there is no doubt that you are fortunate! You could spend time with an incomparably selfless patriot such as Barrister Savarkar and taste the nectar of his speech. We are also waiting for that day." (Palkar, ibid, p 306-307).
- In December 1937, Savarkar toured Berar and Central Provinces. In this tour, Doctorji accompanied Savarkar at Nagpur, Chanda, Wardha, Bhandara, Akola, Umred and other places. In this much talked about tour, Savarkar was felicitated in the Nagpur shakha on 12 December. At other places too, Savarkar was taken to the shakhas. Seeing the live-wire Hindutva created by Doctorji in these parts in the form of the Sangh, Savarkar spoke admiringly and blessed the Sangh. Writing about the fallout of this tour, Doctorji said, ".His (Savarkar's) tour has created in these parts a situation akin to that which must have been present at the time of the samudramanthan (*churning of the ocean). All in all, there is new energy in the people" (Palkar, ibid, p 311-313).
- Shankarrao Samudra, a senior Sangh worker who was an eye-witness to Savarkar's tour of the Akola Sangh shakha has recounted the following reminiscence, "After his release. Swatantryaveer Tatyarao Savarkar was to visit Akola for a Conference. Doctorji decided to meet him there. In the morning, we all reached the Akola station with Doctorji. On reaching the station, Doctorji took the garland in his hands and making his way through the crowd, he opened the door (of the train) himself and having fulfilled his desire to be the first to place a garland around Swatantryaveer's neck, he prostrated himself (saashtaang dandavat) at his feet in the compartment itself and brought him out of the compartment. Swa. Savarkar was put up in the guest-house of the Mohota Mill. As Doctorji expressed the desire that I should remain with Savarkar and his body-guard, I stayed in that residence. Over the next two to three days, I could see Savarkar's daily routine and his habit of indulging in intellectual writing in his leisure time. Doctorji wanted to introduce the Sangh to Swatantryaveer in his Akola tour. He desired that this meeting be held in seclusion and in the presence of trusted lieutenants. Accordingly, it was decided to hold this meeting at the residence of Akola Nagar (Tehsil) Sanghchalak Babasaheb Chitale. For some time, Tatya Telang, Bapusaheb Sohoni, Tatya Sohoni, Swa. Savarkar and his body-guard and I were the only people present there.
"Doctorji gave a brief introduction of the founding, setting up and prevailing situation as regards the Sangh to Savarkar. He (Savarkar) too expressed satisfaction. There was no expectation or plan of one guiding the other. But towards the end of their conversation, Doctorji only said, "Tatyarao, you are a visionary. The concept and inspiration of the Hindu Nation shall manifest and impress itself through your life. You tour the country as a visionary without getting involved or included in any organization. Awaken the directionless Hindu society that is under foreign yoke by educating it. I assure you that through the medium of this small organization that I have started, I shall build up a powerhouse of devoted swayamsevaks throughout the country, raise this Hindu nation as a great force in the world and make it attain glory after securing freedom."
"The meeting concluded with the feeling that a meeting of minds of two great men had taken place. At the meeting in Akola, Doctorji had indicated to Swatantryaveer about the plan to organize his visit to the Nagpur shakha and a public meeting. Accordingly, fully uniformed swayamsevaks gave a guard of honour to this Hindurashtrapurush at the Reshimbaug Sanghasthan even as it was raining. Doctorji gave a fitting welcome to Swatantryaveer Savarkar and appealed to him to express his views freely. Guru Govind Singh's slogan of "savaa laakh se ek ladaau, chidiyon se mai baaz ladaau, nave govind singh naam kahaavu" which Swatantryaveer mentioned in his speech resonated at that time. The next evening, Savarkar gave an English speech on 'Hindu nation' at the University Hall. Poojaniya Doctorji had got an inkling of the Second World War and hence he had organized a well-planned meting with Swatantryaveer" (Patange, Ramesh (ed). Sanghgangotri, Saptahik Vivek, Hindusthan Prakashan Sanstha, Mumbai, 2003, p.18)
- On 02 April 1938, Doctorji returned to Nagpur from Nashik. In the meanwhile, Dharmaveer LB Bhopatkar's letter to Doctorji had arrived informing him that he (Doctorji) had been elected as President of the Hindu Yuvak Parishad (Hindu Youth Conference). This letter dated 28 March was followed by Savarkar's telegram stating, "Accept the Presidentship". Seeing the chance of meeting hundreds of young men from Maharashtra and taking the insistence of someone like Savarkar into account, Doctorji accepted the proposal. The Hindu Yuvak Parishad was held in Tilak Smarak Mandir, Pune on 01 May 1938. On the dais were Savarkar, his elder brother Babarao and Dr. Hedgewar among other dignitaries (Palkar, ibid, p. 316, 318). In his speech at the Hindu Yuvak Parishad, Savarkar described the Sangh as 'the hope of the future Hindu nation and the only medium to produce future generations" (Palkar, ibid, p. 321)
- Doctorji encouraged Sangh swayamsevaks to participate in the Bhaagaanagar (Hyderabad) Unarmed Resistance movement called by the Hindu Mahasabha under Savarkar's leadership (Palkar, ibid, p. 330-331).
- On 10 September 1939, Savarkar called a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha at Sardar Griha, Mumbai to take stock of the situation arising from World War II. Savarkar wrote a letter to Doctorji requesting him "to guide the meeting as a distinguished guest". However, Doctorji could not attend due to his failing health (Palkar, ibid, p. 361).
- On 11 May 1940, a two day Provincial meet of the Maharashtra Province of the Sangh was held in Pune. It was attended by Doctorji and the then Sarkaryawah (General Secretary) Shri Guruji. In the afternoon while the meeting was going on, Savarkar suddenly arrived there. On the insistence of Doctorji, Savarkar spoke for five minutes. In his speech, Savarkar said, "The condition of the Hindu Nation has deteriorated today. In this situation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the only hope. Great nations have had to do what the Sangh is doing today.Consolidation is the only means to move from weakness to strength. Hence, you place full faith in your leader. We launched several movements for the country in our life but none could achieve complete success. Hence I am again telling you emphatically that this and this organization alone can raise the Hindu Nation" (Palkar, ibid, p. 383).
- News that Doctorji was terminally ill was conveyed to Savarkar.On receiving this telegram, he decided to come to Nagpur. Just then, he received a telegram informing him that Doctorji was no more. Savarkar was deeply grieved. He immediately sent a telegram stating, "Dr. Hedgewar has passed away, long live Dr. Hedgewar. Hedgewar has passed away, long live the Sangh!" (Palkar, ibid, p. 400)
Verily, Savarkar and Dr. Hedgewar could be described as "two bodies but one heart".
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English defines communal as .of or for a community, for the common use; of a commune, esp.that of Paris.. A community means a body of people having religion, profession etc. in common. 'Commune' is a group of persons not of same family, smallest division for an administrative purpose Communalism is the principle of communal organization of society.
In his address as the President of the Nagpur session of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha in 1938, Savarkar clarified the difference between communalism and nationalism. "Nationalism and Communalism are in themselves either equally justifiable and human or not. When nationalism becomes aggressive or when it tries to suppress the equitable rights of other communities and tries to usher all to itself , it is as immoral in human relations as is communalism.. But when communalism is only defensive, it is as justifiable and human or equitable as nationalism itself. The Hindu nationalists do not aim to usurp what belongs to others. Therefore even if they be called Hindu communalists, they are justifiably so and are about the only real Indian Nationalists for, a real and justifiable Indian Nationalism must be equitable to all communities that compose the Indian Nation. But for the same reason the Moslems alone are the communalists, in an anti-national and treacherous sense of the term. For, it is they who want to usurp to themselves all that belongs to others. The Indian National Congress only condemns itself as an anti-national body when it calls in the same breath the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League as bodies equally communal in the reprehensible and treacherous sense of that term. Consequently, if to defend the just and the equitable rights of the Hindus in their own land is communalism then we are communalists par excellence and glory in being the most devoted Hindu Communalists, which to us means being the truest and the most equitable Indian Nationalists! Savarkar never asked for special rights or privileges for the Hindus. Hence he was not communal, as the term is understood today. The Muslim League, with its unending, aggressive demands was communal. But its communalism was natural. The Congress, who acquiesced to every Muslim demand, while running after the mirage of Hindu-Muslim was also perversely communal.
Savarkar was among the few Hindu leaders who had studied Islam. While still in the Cellular Jail, Andamans, Savarkar had read the Quran first in its English and subsequently Bengali and Marathi translations. Responding to the opinion of his Muslim friends that the real beauty of the Quran lies in its original, Savarkar asked them to read each page from the original and then translate it for his benefit into Hindi. As Savarkar describes, he heard them recite the Quran with great concentration and after keeping his mind clean and pure as a devout Muslim. In later life, Savarkar read several books written by Western authorities on the Quran. Savarkar's deep study of Islam is evident from his numerous articles such as those on Kemal Pasha, Khilafat movement and various Islamic sects. Savarkar had learnt to read and write Urdu.
Savarkar's views on Hindu-Muslim relations are a result of his study of Islamic scriptures, a deep insight into historical events, assessment of ground realities and an uncanny ability to visualize the future. These views may be summarized as follows:
- Savarkar did not despise Muslims per se. In his book describing harsh prison life - My Transportation for Life, Savarkar stated in 1923, "I have no hatred in my heart for Muslim or Christian brothers or even for those living in tribes in primitive state. I do not even despise any of them. I oppose only that section of it vehemently which is oppressive and violent towards others."
- Savarkar correctly diagnosed that changing demography of the nation over centuries had led to contemporary problems. Savarkar characterized the religious aggression of the Muslims to be more dangerous than an armed invasion. Dwelling on this issue in his 'Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History', Savarkar said that Islamic theocracy had claimed twenty to thirty million Hindus over a thousand years. Since then, small and large "Islamic lands" arose in every village, town and province in India. Thus the Partition of Hindusthan into a Hindu half and a Muslim half had started covertly at that time. Savarkar dubbed these small and large Muslim lands as time bombs planted in the body politic of Hindusthan. Savarkar rues that the Hindu rulers, common folk and historians of that day failed to realize the significance of these developments. Savarkar notes that the Marathas did not launch a religious counter-assault (meaning bring about widespread re-conversion) despite having the opportunity and strength.
- Savarkar was acutely aware of the pan-Islamist, trans-national mindset of Muslims. In his Presidential address to the 19th session of the Hindu Mahasabha, Karnavati, 1937, he observed, "A Mohammedan is often found to cherish an extra-territorial allegiance, is moved more by events in Palestine than what concerns India as a Nation, worries himself more about the well-being of Arabs than the well-being of his Hindu neighbours and countrymen in India..."
- Savarkar disagreed with the superstition that the Muslim problem was a result of the so-called British policy of 'Divide and Rule'. Savarkar said, "The Congress always used to fancy that the Moslems, if left to themselves would never have indulged in any anti-national, ulterior, anti-Hindu designs. The Moslems -including Messers. Jinnah, Huq and Hayat Khan- were very simple-minded folk incapable of any political subterfuges and as devotees of Islam -peace and goodwill, had no aggressive political aims of their own against the Hindus. Nay, even the Frontier tribes, the 'brave brothers Moplas', the Moslem populations in Bengal or Sindh who indulge in such horrible outrages against Hindus have no taste for it at all, nursed within themselves - but were almost compelled to rise and revolt against the Hindus by 'the third party' the Britishers. When the British did not step in, we Hindus and Moslems lived together in perfect amity and brotherly concord and Hindu-Moslem riots was a thing simply unheard of. Thousands of Congressite Hindus are observed to have been duped in to this silliest of political superstitions. As if Mahamed Kasim, Gazanis, Ghoris, Allaudins, Aurangzebs were all instigated by the British, by this third party, to invade and lay waste Hindu India with a mad fanatical fury. As if the history of the last ten centuries of perpetual war between the Hindus and Moslems was an interpolation and a myth. As if the Alis or Mr. Jinnah or Sir Sikandar were mere school children to be spoiled with the offer of sugar pills by the British vagabonds in the class and persuaded to throw stones at the house of their neighbours. They say, 'before the British came, Hindu-Moslem riots were a thing unheard of.' Yes, but because instead of riots, Hindu-Muslim wars were the order of the day (Presidential address to the 21st session of the Hindu Mahasabha, Kolkata, 1939).
- When Gandhi declared Hindu-Muslim unity to be more important than Swaraj itself and started granting ever-increasing concessions to the Muslims, Savarkar observed, "When will our unity-hankers understand that the real question at the root of this Moslem displeasure is not a word here or a song there! We would have sacrificed a dozen songs or a hundred words of our own free will if thereby we could really contribute to the unity and solidarity of Hindusthan. But we know the question is not so simple as that. It is the strife of different cultures and races and nations and these trifles are but the passing and outward symptoms of this malady deep seated in the Moslem mind. They want to brand the forehead of Hindudom and other non-Moslem sections in Hindusthan with the stamp of self-humiliation and Moslem domination and we Hindus are not going to tolerate it any longer not only in the interests of Hindudom alone but even in the interest of Indian nation as well...Let the Hindus realize that the real cause of this mischief is nothing else but the hankering of the Hindus after the Willow-the Wisp of a Hindu-Moslem unity. The day we gave the Mohammedans to understand that Swaraj could not be won unless and until the Mohammedans obliged the Hindus by making a common cause with them, that day we rendered an honourable unity impossible. When an overwhelming majority in a country goes on its knees before a minority so antagonistic as the Mohammedans, imploring them to lend a helping hand and assures it that otherwise the major community is doomed to death, it would be a wonder if a minor community does not sell their assistance to the highest bidder possible, does not hasten the doom of the major community and aim to establish their own political suzerainty in the land" (ibid, Karnavati, 1937).
- Savarkar had prophesized that the Muslim problem would remain in independent India. He said, ".We must watch (the Moslem minority) in all its actions with the greatest distrust possible. Granting them on the one hand every equitable treatment which an Indian citizen can claim on an equality of footing with another, we must sternly refuse them any the least preferential treatment in any sphere of life - religious, cultural or political. Not only while we are engaged in our struggle for liberating India but even after India is free we must look upon them as suspicious friends and take great care to see that the Northern Frontiers of India are well guarded by staunch and powerful Hindu forces to avoid the possible danger of the Indian Moslems going over to the alien Moslem nations across the Indus and betraying our Hindusthan to our non-Hindu foes" (Presidential address to the 20th session of the Hindu Mahasabha, Nagpur, 1938).
- To Hindus, Savarkar's advice was as follows, "It is not want of resources, Oh Hindus, which forces you to be so helpless and hopeless but it is the want of practical insight in political realities to know your resources; and the tact to use them. You have lost the political eye altogether" (ibid, Kolkata, 1939). "The belief in absolute non-violence condemning all armed resistance even to aggression evinces no mahatmic saintliness but a monomaniacal senselessness!...I want all Hindus to get themselves re-animated and re-born into a martial race. Manu and Shri Krishna are our law-givers and Shri Rama the Commander of our forces. Let us re-learn the manly lessons they taught us and our Hindu Nation shall prove again as unconquerable and conquering a race as we proved once when they led us: conquering those who dared to be aggressive against us and refraining ourselves, not out of weakness but out of magnanimity, from any unjustifiable designs of aggression against the unoffending" (Presidential address to the 22nd session of the Hindu Mahasabha, Madura, 1940).
- In his Presidential address to the 19th session of the Hindu Mahasabha, Karnavati, 1937, Savarkar laid down the Hindu formula for Hindu-Moslem unity thus - 'if you come, with you; if you don't without you; and if you oppose, in spite of you - the Hindus will continue to fight for their National Freedom as best as they can'!
In his 1937 Presidential address to the Karnavati (Ahmedabad) session of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, Savarkar declared: "Let the Indian State be purely Indian. Let it not recognise any invidious distinctions whatsoever as regards the franchise, public services, offices, taxation on the grounds of religion and race. Let no cognizance be taken whatsoever of man's being Hindu, Muhammedan, Christian or Jew. Let all citizens of that Indian State be treated according to their individual worth irrespective of their religious or racial percentage in the general population". Again in 1938, he declared, "On stepping into the post independence Indian Parliament, not a trace should remain of distinctions of being a Hindu, Mussalman or a Parsee".
Savarkar believed in universal brotherhood of man. In the first part of his autobiography he stated, " I never myself hated nor did I allow others to hate English as Englishmen only as oppressors. Once India achieves its freedom we must forget any hatred for England. We are all creations of the same god."
In his book describing harsh prison life - My Transportation for Life, Savarkar stated in 1923, " I have no hatred in my heart for Muslim or Christian brothers or even for those living in tribes in primitive state. I do not even despise any of them. I oppose only that section of it vehemently which is oppressive and violent towards others."
In the letter of 6 July 1920 he wrote to his brother from jail, " We believe in an universal state embracing all mankind and wherein all men and women would be citizens working for and enjoying equally the fruits of this earth and this sun, this land and this light, which constitute the real Motherland and Fatherland of man. All other divisions are artificial though indispensable."
The word shuddhi means purity or purification. During the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the term came to acquire a more particular meaning, namely the incorporation into Hindu Dharma of non-Hindu persons or groups by means of ceremonial action. The contribution of Savarkar to the shuddhi movement is that of a philosopher, worker, leader and leader of leaders.
Savarkar stated a profound truth in his maxim "Change of religion is tantamount to change of nationality". While Savarkar was not against voluntary acceptance of any religion after due thought, he was certainly against unethical methods employed by predatory religions to increase their flock. Savarkar lamented that Hindu rulers did not realize the grave consequences of mass conversions by Islamic rulers and failed to carry out shuddhi even when they had the opportunity and strength to do so.
Along with his elder brother Babarao, Savarkar carried out a unique shuddhi movement in the hell-hole of the Andamans. Savarkar has written extensively on his shuddhi campaign in his My Transportation for Life. The Pathan warders would coerce or lure susceptible Hindu prisoners to convert to Islam. The Savarkar brothers carried out this shuddhi campaign in the face of violent assaults and an attempt on their life. In the absence of a formal shuddhi ceremony, Savarkar would ask the reclaimed prisoners to eat the tulsi leaf and chant from the Ramcharitmanasor the Gita. Savarkar's shuddhi campaign inside the four walls of the Cellular Jail had a salutary effect on the free Hindu residents of the Andamans. They started getting themselves enumerated as Hindus in the census. During his internment in Ratnagiri, Savarkar continued hisshuddhi campaign. Through speeches and writings, he mobilized public opinion in favour of shuddhi. In memory of Swami Shraddhanand who was martyred (27 December 1926) in the cause of shuddhi, Savarkar started the Shraddhanand weekly. He personally brought back several Christian and Muslims into the Hindu fold. The reversion of the Dhakras family (25 May 1926) who had converted to Christianity 15 years earlier was performed with much enthusiasm by Savarkar. In 1928, he made efforts to get their daughter married and performed her kanyadan. He traveled from Ratnagiri to Kharepatan to attend the thread ceremony of their two sons.
It was during Savarkar's stay in Ratnagiri that he met Vinayak Maharaj Masurkar of the Ramdasi tradition. Masurkar had started theBrahmacharyashram at Masur in Satara district (hence popularly known as Masurashram). It was Savarkar who told Masurkar Maharaj to bring back to the Hindu fold the hundreds of Rambhakts who had crossed over to alien religions. As a result, the Masurashram embarked on a shuddhi campaign in Portuguese-ruled Goa and brought back to the Hindu fold 7815 Gavdas who had been converted to Christianity. Coincidentally, it was on 26 February 1928 that the first batch of 1150 converted Gavdas underwent shuddhi in Tiswadi, Goa. Savarkar collected funds in Ratnagiri to assist Masurkar Maharaj in his endeavour. Savarkar was one of the very few individuals who was privy to Masurkar's plans to carry out shuddhi of the Gavdas.
As leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, Savarkar relentlessly championed the cause of shuddhi, saying that shuddhi and sangathan went hand in hand. On 21 August 1955, 40 fishermen who had been converted to Christianity were brought back to Hindu Dharma by Shankaracharya Yogeshwaranandji at Dadar, Mumbai. So overjoyed was Savarkar, that he exclaimed, "May I be reborn to carry out shuddhi work, such is its importance!" In his will, Savarkar had instructed that a sum of money be given six monthly to organizations engaged in shuddhi work.
Many people have an impression that Savarkar was occupied with ancient or medieval history and was not concerned with economics. This notion is unfounded. While organizing and leading the Indian Revolutionary movement in England, Savarkar used to emphasize the importance of expertise in Political Science, Economics and Administration. Without knowledge of these subjects, he used to remark to his revolutionary coworkers, it was not possible to do even destructive, leave aside a constructive work. He never saw eye to eye with moderate leaders like Hon.G.K.Gokhale but he admired the scholarship of moderate stalwarts like Gokhale, and Ramesh Chandra Dutt. In the Cellular Jail in the Andamans, young political convicts were deprived of education owing to their incarceration. Writing material was denied to the convicts Savarkar devised an ingenious method of continuing their education. The cells of the convicts were changed at regular intervals. So with the help of a smuggled nail or a thorn, Savarkar used to jot down definitions of topics from Economics and Political Sciences on the walls of his cell, in the hope that the incumbent to his cell will read them. There have been numerous teachers who taught Economics in a classroom. Savarkar was the only Economics teacher who used thorns and prison walls to teach his students.
Savarkar advocated a sound and pragmatic economic programme. He elaborated his economic policy in his 1939 Presidential address to the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha session held at Calcutta (now Kolkata).
Savarkar's economic policy may be summarized as follows:
- Man does not live by bread alone. It is unwise to attribute all human behaviour to economic factors alone.
- The industrial age should be welcomed. Although handicrafts have their role in national economy and should be encouraged, machines should do national production on a large scale.
- Peasants and workers are the backbone of the society and should get reasonable share of national income, so that they can lead an average life, free from wants. Their villages need to be invigorated. Since they are part and parcel of the nation they should share the common duties and obligations.
- The interest of both the Capital and the Labour should be subordinated to the interests of the Nation as a whole
- The State would take every step to protect national industries from foreign competition.
- Key industries, manufactures and such other items should be nationalized if the National Government can afford to do so and conduct them more efficiently than private enterprise. The same principle applies to agriculture.
- All strikes and lockouts, which undermine and cripple national industries or production should be referred to State arbitration and settled or quelled if serious.
- Private property, in general, should not be violated. In no case, the State should appropriate private property without reasonable recompense. Savarkar was totally against landlordism.