The often-heard term ‘Hindutva’ became popular after nationalist Indian independence activist and politician Vinayak Damodar Savarkar wrote a pamphlet of the same name in 1921, championing the cause of Hindus. Apart from his Hindu nationalism, Savarkar was also a passionate freedom fighter. On the 138th anniversary of his birth, we take a look at certain key facts from his personal life and political activism.
As a college 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 assassinations of British officials like William Curzon Wyllie and A.M.T Jackson. Savarkar reportedly supplied guns to the assassins and was imprisoned. He was also a member of the Hindu Mahasabha- a political party formed to safeguard 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 youths. He wrote The Indian War of Independence (1909), a historical account of the 1857 sepoy mutiny, to raise nationalist sentiments against the colonial rulers. The book was banned and he was arrested for allegedly plotting an armed uprising against the Morley-Minto Reforms (1909).
Savarkar was against social ills like 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 titled Seven Shackles of the Hindu Society (1931) where he denounced caste-based restrictions in Hindu scriptures.
Savarkar championed the cause of Hindus through his Hindutva philosophy. Following 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.
Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi
Savarkar was charged as a conspirator in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse. However, the charges against him could not be proven and he was freed.