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The Brilliant Revolutionary And Barrister: Veer Savarkar

Veer Savarkar is remembered for his indomitable courage and his sharp intelligence. As part of our Hall of Fame series, BrainGain magazine brings you the story of Savarkar, the Law student, who fought Britain tooth and nail.
BY Resham Mukherjee |   18-08-2015

The revolt of 1857, considered the first war for freedom, is said to have deeply influenced Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, popular as Veer Savarkar. He grew with stories from the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, and the life of Shivaji, which significantly contributed to his farsightedness as a crusader. He was hardly 10 years of age when well-known newspapers from Pune (erstwhile Poona) published his poems.

Savarkar formed a Friend’s Union called Mitra Mela in early1900. It eventually grew into the famous Abhinava Bharat Society with a network of revolutionaries in Central and Western India. He often wrote articles on patriotism, literature, history, and science in Aryan Weekly, which was found by this group.

After graduating from Fergusson College Pune he went to Mumbai to study Law, but soon was awarded a scholarship to study law in London by a then resident of London, Pandit Shyamji Krishna Varma. He left for London in 1906.

While studying law he continued to work for freedom movement and involved Indian students in London. He stayed at the India House and spread his revolutionary ideas through pamphlets, booklets and books. He translated the autobiography of Mazzini into Marathi to inspire activists. Also, with his excellent oratory skills, he impressed his teachers and fellow mates.

Driven by high patriotic ideals, Savarkar decided to celebrate May Day (1 May) in London to remember the heroes of 1857. This was against Britain’s practice to honour the day for British victory over Indian revolutionaries in 1857.

Before Savarkar arrived in London, the Indian students there appeared more English than the Brits themselves. Savarkar is credited to have effectively changed the culture. As a result, weekly meetings were held, and the practice of celebrating anniversaries of Guru Govind Singh, Shivaji, as well as Dusshera was started.

Savarkar got his articles on Indian affairs translated into French, Russian, German, Italian and other languages to make the world aware of India, and gain support for the cause of Indian freedom. The Indian revolutionaries of Abhinava Bharat worked with their counterparts in Russia, Ireland, Egypt and China. These revolutionary activities brought India House into focus, particularly Veer Savarkar. He won the sympathies of Irish men serving in Scotland Yard.

He aimed at dismantling the caste system in Hindu culture. His group used Swadeshi goods and held the first bonfire to burn foreign clothes in Pune.

In London, Savarkar became a prominent figure as a revolutionary. His letters from London were spread across Maharashtra, his home state. Chased by British authorities in London, he fled to Brighton from where he continued to write in the international media. Despite the turbulence, he passed the final examination of the Gray’s Inn - one of four Inns of Court in London.

In 1910, he was arrested in England on charges of killing Jackson, the then British Collector of Nasik. The next year he was sentenced to transportation for life and was jailed in Andamans for a long time. Savarkar and his Abhinava Bharat continued to inspire youths for causes of democracy even after independence.

Aged 83, he undertook a fast unto death in early 19 66. Approximately 50,000 people took part in his funeral procession.


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