Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, more commonly known as Veer Savarkar, was one of the most prominent freedom fighters. Savarkar was known for his bravery and so earned nickname ‘Veer’ that is a courageous person. He was influenced by his elder brother Ganesh who had played an influential role in his teenage life.
Veer Savarkar’s contribution is significant to India’s present distinction of having one of the largest armies in the world. Prior to India’s Independence and especially before World War II, the British Army was dominated by Muslims, who formed almost 50% of the force. Savarkar read this dangerous situation, which could have led to a civil war (in case of “no partition”) or a possibility of unwanted activity between newly formed countries (in case of “partition”).
Savarkar was the revolutionary figure to first establish the concept of ‘Hindutva’. He asked Hindu youths to join the Indian army in large numbers. In his call given on 24th March, 1942, he addressed the Hindu youths to join the army, particularly the navy in Konkan area.
Savarkar found support from Dr. Ambedkar who endorsed this view and who was also pushing for the reformation of the Mahar Regiment in the Army. This initiative also led to the quick formation of the Indian National Army being developed by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
During his imprisonment in, he wrote his famous and controversial book, Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? which was later published by his supporters. In this book, it was revealed that Savarkar was against orthodox Hindu belief and for him, Hindus are those who are patriotic and proud inhabitant of ‘Bharatvarsha’ (India).
In his book, he described Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism as one, who can support to create Akhand Bharat. The self-proclaimed atheist, Savarkar, was proud to be a Hindu and always described it as his political and cultural identity.
After his release from Andaman jail on January 6, 1924, he participated in ‘Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha’, and work on the abolishment of untouchability and to preserve social and cultural heritage of Hindus. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar compared his work with Lord Buddha.
In his other book, ‘The Indian War of Independence’. In his book ‘Kale Pani’, he mentioned his struggle in cellular jail for Independence.
Savarkar had always been a fierce critic of the Indian National Congress (INC) and opposed the ‘Quit India Movement’. He also objected to Congress’s acceptance of Indian partition.
In 1964, Savarkar declared his wish to attain Samadhi at the age of 83, as he believed that his purpose of life was fulfilled after India gained Independence. On February 1, 1966, he started a voluntary hunger-strike which ended with his death on February 26, 1966.