Remembering Veer Savarkar

When I was about 15 years of age, I recall stumbling upon Dhananjay Keer’s peerless work, “Veer Savarkar” in Bengaluru’s Central Library. I was so fascinated by Savarkar’s life that I tore away entire chapters from the library’s copy just so that I can keep them. Those were the pre-internet days of my penury.

Prior to this time, I used to come across references to Savarkar in my shakha and a few of his exploits at the Sangh’s annual OTC. It never occured to me then that Savarkar was being viewed at a very superficial-intellectual level as is common when recounting great exploits of heroism and courage in the face of extreme pain and hopelessness. Somehow, the Sangh did not discuss his political views except as a resister of Gandhian politics. This I found strange and only with the development of my own political maturity. Nevertheless, this was my foundational introduction to Veer Savarkar.

As years went by and I read more, the only critiques or observations about Savarkarian political thought I came across was in Leftist publications from commentators such as AG Noorani and Vinay Lal. The so called Rightists in the Sangh, whenever they refered to Savarkarian thought, were superficially hagiographical and refused to question or investigate its premises and impact on national life or the future of Hindu politics such as it is, from any traditional Hindu perspective. To conduct such excercises is to my mind very important for the following reasons.

1. Was Savarkar a success?

2. Did he fail against Gandhi (that anti-thesis to any numbers of named and unnamed heroes) or did he win?

3. If Savarkar won, how is it manifested today? If he lost, why did he lose?

4. Is Savarkarian thought really very different from Nehru or any other X secular-liberal thought? Was Savarkar’s emphasis on Hindutva substantial or was it merely nominal?

5. Why indeed are the anti-Savarkarite Leftists angry with him? Is it because he dared retain a Hindu tinge to an agenda that was essentially theirs? Can we investigate the touchstones of their differences with Savarkar?

For a stimulating mental spark, let us see what Savarkar wrote on the dawn of freedom –

“Let the Indian State be purely Indian. Let it not recognise any invidious distinction whatsoever as regards the franchise, public services, offices, taxation on the grounds of religion and race. Let no cognisance be taken whatsoever of a man being Hindu or Mohammedan, Christian or Jew. Let all citizens of that Indian state be treated according to their worth irrespective of their religion or racial percentage in the general population.”

How then Shriman, are you different from the secular-liberal yoke that grinds Hindu nationhood to this day?

Questions asked, shall we attempt answers?

– Namaste

Problem Statement – Jati?

What’s the problem dude?

They say, Hindu society’s Jati system is cause for disunity and discrimination within

What do they propose to do?

– Abolish Jati

If it was that simple, why wasn’t it abolished all those years ago?

– Because if Jati was abolished, how would the State implement its Reservation policy?

So what would have happened if Reservations had not been implemented and Jati abolished?

– But how does one abolish Jati?

Well, you can identify what elements underpin Jati and then eliminate them…

– So, what are those elements?

Let’s see. 1. Endogamy 2. Jati specific customs/traditions. See? Easy! Now, let’s abolish endogamy and all such customs and traditions!…Jati will die

– Aww…really?? Time Out!

Huh?!

– Yeah, I yelled time-out!

Why?

–  I did not know you wanted a Police State.

Huh?! 

– Yes, because only a Police State could muster the authority to abolish endogamy & customs/traditions and enforce such laws.

Your kidding right? Your joking! Why would we need a Police State to enforce such laws? Hindus would gladly welcome this freedom!

– No. I’m not kidding because traditional Hindu society will not view this as freedom. Endogamy and unique customs & traditions are sources of community bonding. Moreover, plenty of Jati traditions are linked to worship and reflect the relationship of Hindus with their Gods and Goddesses.  Therefore, abolishing Jati and enforcing laws that aim to eliminate elements underpinning Jati, will effectively mean dismantling most things dear to Hindus.

Ha! What about Dalits then? Do you think they won’t want this freedom?

– Good question. But then this becomes a Dalit problem, not a Jati problem.

And why not? After all, it was because of Jati that the so-called Untouchables were never assimilated!

– But it was not intended for Jati to assimilate any group, let alone the so-called Untouchables.

That’s easy for you to say. The question remains.

– What is the question?

How do you solve the Dalit problem?

– By identifying what underpins the plight of Dalits. I believe it is, 1. Poverty 2. Lack of education/opportunity 3. Lack of political representation.

Ok, so how does one tackle all this?

– I believe poverty is not something the State can eradicate by itself, but it can help empower all Jatis including Dalits, by ensuring equal political representation leading to expanded opportunities in education and jobs.

But why all Jatis? Why not only Dalits?

– Because that is the real and proper demand of a Democracy that has empowered all its citizens to vote.

I don’t understand.

– Let me explain. Our leaders at the time of our Independence possessed two frames of mind. One frame recognized “reality” and the other envisioned what was “ideal” according to them. It was in this “ideal” frame of mind that they decided on the Right of Universal Adult Franchise in a Multi-Party Democracy. What this did was to empower each defined adult with a vote that could usher in and throw out Governments. In a Multi-Party Democracy, this condition obviously led to competition for maximum votes. In traditional society, it is common for people to vote along collective lines. Therefore, Hindus voted along Jati lines. They sought out candidates of their Jati to vote for with political parties matching the demand with supply.

What’s all this got to do with our discussion?

– Hang on.

The fault in the “ideal” was whilst the early leadership empowered individual citizens who acted collectively along Jati lines, they correspondingly did not make it incumbent upon political parties to design themselves in a way all Jatis in their sphere of contest could find representation. This fault in the design had obvious colossal implications.

Such as?

– Traditionally weaker Jatis would find no voice. Smaller and better organized/educated  Jatis could outmaneuver others for bigger slices of the cake.

Let me mull over this a bit. In the meanwhile you do agree that historically, Jati created hierarchies, discriminated against weaker Jatis, thereby causing disunity, don’t you?

– I don’t.

*Sigh*…and why not?

In traditional society it was not Jati that caused hierarchy. Hierarchy was caused by easy access to sources of power and notions of pollution. It is important to understand that Jati was not created but evolved in the manner of Hindu society’s evolution and growth. Hindus, unlike Muslims or Christians, do not convert others to grow their “religion”. Hindus have, instead, absorbed entire tribes, clans and nations unto themselves whilst leaving their respective peculiarities largely undisturbed. That is the reason why you see so much diversity and heterogeneity. So, it is quite possible that this non-enforcement of a Hindu Koran or a Hindu Bible afforded these varied tribes and clans to maintain their essential social autonomy undisturbed and encouraged practices of endogamy; that would be perfect. These autonomous tribes and clans emerged as Jatis, over a period of time. This system of Jatis created occupational and spiritual ritual dependencies – not hierarchies.

Also, I would like to see evidence to show Jati caused our national decline in the last thousand years.

Ok, time to go home now. Will catch up tommorow. Meanwhile, let me know if you have questions.

Bye, Namaste!

%d bloggers like this: