Savarkar: Hindutva politics - III
by Shreerang Godbole on 06 Jun 2016 2 Comments

On 10 May 1937, Savarkar was released unconditionally from internment in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. He had been in political exile for nearly 25 years. Fate was to give him only a decade in active politics. Years of hardship in the Andamans had wrecked his health. In 1940, 1941 and again in 1942, Savarkar had expressed his desire to resign as President of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHMS) on account of poor health. In fact, he had to be brought on a stretcher at the 1942 Madurai session of the ABHMS. On the eve of the 1943 Amritsar ABHMS session, when Savarkar became bed-ridden, the HMS was left with no option but to accept his resignation.  


Savarkar had an almost impossible task cut out for him. World War II was at the doorstep. Freedom which now seemed within grasp would be meaningless if the Hindus were not roused from their political slumber. Woolly-headed ideas of Hindu-Muslim unity and non-violence had effectively emasculated them. The British and Muslim League were united by a common goal of Hindu disempowerment. Such were the political forces ranged against Savarkar. His was virtually a single-handed fight for a unified Hindu homeland.


Time was fast running out. Worse, he had to make do with very limited resources. While evaluating Savarkar’s success or otherwise as a Hindutva politician, it would be only fair to reflect on the odds he faced. Those who are presently fortunate to taste the fruits of Hindutva politics should bear in mind that the foundations of their success were laid down by Savarkar some eighty years ago. It is precisely Savarkar’s role as a Hindutva icon that rankles his detractors. If Savarkar had been a secularist or a Marxist, his detractors would have had no problems with his track record in the Andamans or Ratnagiri.    


This article deals with only the most ‘controversial’ positions Savarkar took in his political career from 1937-1947. These include his so-called espousal of the Two-Nation theory at the 1937 HMS session in Karnavati (Ahmedabad), his position on the 1942 Quit India Movement, his alleged pro-British support to militarization during World War II and his support to an independent Travancore State in the run-up to India’s freedom in 1947.


If Savarkar’s original statements in this regard had been publicized, the anti-Savarkar brigade would have no leg to stand on! Savarkar’s motivated detractors take advantage of the silence of Savarkar’s ill-informed supporters to perpetuate their falsehoods. Savarkar’s political positions may be put to scrutiny. But they have to be understood in their context and without benefit of hindsight. 


Savarkar and the two-nation theory


The entire case of the Savarkar-baiters rests on a solitary sentence culled out from his nearly 6000-page literature. Fortunately, Savarkar has himself answered the charge that he had put forth the two-nation theory. The sentence in question can be found in Savarkar’s Presidential address to the 19th session of the HMS at Karnavati (Ahmedabad) in 1937. Savarkar stated, “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.” 


If critics bother to read the entire speech, it shall be evident that Savarkar had not espoused the two-nation theory. Savarkar was one of the few Hindu leaders who had made a deep study of Islam from its scriptures. His views on Islam and Muslims are not those of an ignorant bigot. Savarkar’s Presidential address is not a run-of -the-mill political speech.  After dwelling on the definition and significance of the word ‘Hindu’, the status of the Hindus as a nation unto themselves, the mission of the Hindu Mahasabha, unified Indian State and the cooperation of the minorities, Savarkar turned his attention to the attitude of the Muslims.


He stated. “As it is, there are two antagonistic nations living side by side in India, several infantile politicians commit the serious mistake in supposing that India is already welded into a harmonious nation, or that it could be welded thus for the mere wish to do so. Our well-meaning but unthinking friends take their dreams for realities… The solid fact is that the so-called communal questions are but a legacy handed down to us by centuries of a cultural, religious and national antagonism between the Hindus and the Moslems. When time is ripe you can solve them but you cannot suppress them by merely refusing recognition of them.”  Thus, Savarkar, the scholar of Islam, historian and hard-headed realist was giving an assessment and a proposition. 

(The speech can be read at


When misunderstanding was created after Savarkar made these utterances, he clarified his statement to journalists on 15 August 1943 in the office of the Marathi weekly Aadesh in Nagpur. He also clarified his position in an interview given in Mumbai on 23 August 1943, published in Aadesh on 28 August 1943. Given below is an English translation of Savarkar’s clarification as published in Aadesh dated 23 August 1943.


“I had clarified this (my statement that there are two nations in Hindustan) 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 Quran right from its inception. This nation never had geographical boundaries. Wherever the Mussulmans went, they went as a nation. They also came to Hindustan as a nation... Wherever they go, Mussulmans shall either remain foreigners or rulers. As per the Quran, 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 Hindustan was as a separate nation. They conquered the Hindu Nation as an enemy nation, not as One Nation.


“The Hindu Nation arose again and having defeated the Mussulmans at various places, saved the whole of Hindustan to establish Hindu Padpadshahi also as a separate Hindu Nation opposed to the Muslim nation. 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 Hindustan, 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 Hindustan 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 Hindustan 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 Hindustan, they should do so only as a minority community.


“An independent, unified, indivisible and single State should be established in Hindustan. Hindustan 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., Hindustan 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 Hindustan by force and are demanding Partition of Hindustan, 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 remain in Hindustan. But as in our history when the Hindu Nation successfully rallied under the Hindu Flag, the Hindus should come forward and rise unitedly.” 


Savarkar was asked that if Hindus and Mussulmans are two nations, how will they form a single nation?  He answered, “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 Hindustan 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 Hindustan, 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.”


That Muslims consider themselves as a nation or Ummah was not Savarkar’s invention nor did he ever endorse this Islamic concept. It is noteworthy that the Afro-American religious movement started by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in Detroit, Michigan in 1930 was named ‘Nation of Islam’.  


To say that Jinnah adopted Savarkar’s idea is arrant nonsense! Can the anti-Savarkar brigade quote a single sentence from Jinnah’s speeches or writings where he has named Savarkar as his source of inspiration? In a letter to newly elected Congress President Badruddin Tyabji (1888), Sir Syed Ahmed wrote, “Is it supposed that the different castes and creeds living in India belong to one nation, or can become nation, and that their aims and aspirations be one and same? I think it is quite impossible.”  


Tyabji’s answer is even more revealing, “Now I am not aware of anyone regarding the whole of India as one Nation and if you read my Inaugural address, you will find it distinctly stated that there are numerous communities or nations in India…” (Source Material for a History of the Freedom Movement in India, Vol.2, pp 70-73). 


The idea of an independent, sovereign Islamic State carved out of India was first publicly stated by Sir Muhammad Iqbal in his Presidential address to the Muslim league in 1930.  Iqbal said, “I would like to see the Punjab, the North West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated 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 be to me the final objective of the Muslims at least of the North-Western India.”


(To be continued…)

The Week(Kochi, 24 Jan 2016) carried an article making serious allegations against Veer Savarkar. In a series of articles, this author rebuts the allegations.

28 May 2016 is V.D. Savarkar’s 133rd birth anniversary; this year also marks the 50th anniversary of his atmarpan

See also


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