Vinayak Damodar Sawarkar, who is fondly known as Swatantryaveer (The Mighty Freedom Fighter) or Veer (Brave) is one of India’s most celebrated personalities. His thinking, his teaching of Hindutva, his writings, his leadership; everything he did is still to be explored fully. While all of us know that he was a daring warrior against the brutal British Government, very few are aware that he was actually the most bad-ass freedom fighter to be produced by India in that era. Read on to find out why!
#1 He took the oath to fight with British Government at an early age of 15 years
Yes, you read that right!! He took the oath in front of Goddess Ashtabhuja to fight with British in 1898. He was barely 15 years old then. He then went on to establish Abhinava Bharat – a secret wing of freedom fighters – which before he turned 25 was wide-spread across Russia, Germany, France & even Britain. He was the second person to take such a brave oath at the age of 15 years & execute it with all the success. The first one was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
#2 First person to do Holi (burning) of foreign fabrics on Dussehra
Sawarkar was studying BA at Fergusson College, Pune when Lokmanya Tilak asked everybody to boycott British clothes. There came the idea of burning those clothes publicly in Sawarkar’s mind. Tilak was very impressed and asked Sawarkar to go ahead with the idea. The brave college kid arranged the event & burnt British clothes publicly on 7th October 1905. This turned out to be one of the biggest blows to the British Government. Freedom fighters & well-wishers to the Indian struggle for freedom congratulated Sawarkar, except Mr. M. K. Gandhi.
#3 He went to London not only to study, but to understand British Government
While most of the Indians were going to London to earn a degree & get settled in a well-paid job, Sawarkar wrote in his autobiography that he went there to understand the actual functioning of the British Government so that he could find the loop-holes & use them against the Government. He actually did that. Soon after his arrival in London (1906), it became a prominent place for Indian freedom movement.
#4 He was the first freedom fighter to use bombs against British
While studying law in London, Sawarkar made Pistols & sent them to India without letting the British catch any scent of this. He made Pandurang Mahadeo Bapat aka Senapati Bapat, one of his colleagues, get romantically involved with a Russian girl & extracted the recipe to make bombs. Bomb was never used by the Indian freedom fighters before this. Sawarkar was the first to make bombs from the said information & send them to India. This recipe for Bombs was later used by the Indian Revolutionaries. The very first bomb blasted against the British in India was sent by Sawarkar.
#5 The only writer whose book was banned even before its publication
Generally, a book is banned when it is published and someone finds it objectionable. But Sawarkar was the first writer, whom Britishers were so scared of that they actually banned his book before its publication because they considered it highly volatile. The book was “The Indian War of Independence of 1857” and the book became a bestseller! The book became so popular due to the ban that later it got published & distributed by various freedom fighters, few of them were the legendary Bhagat Singh & Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Both of them respected Sawarkar as their Guru. Bose even named the Batallions of his INA from the various names given in the book.
#6 The man who forced two sovereign nations ; i. e. Great Britain & France to move to the International Court of Justice to contest against each other for his custody
Sawarkar took his historic leap at Marseilles on 8th July 1910; while he was being sent back to India for prosecution. Sawarkar trapped British Government as it violated the international laws of Extradition & Asylum by his leap & his subsequent arrest by the British on French soil. This caused a worldwide outrage against England & then France moved to the ICJ for Sawarkar’s custody (25 October 1910). This brought the then unknown India’s struggle for its freedom into an universal lime-light. Of course, the credit goes to the genius Veer Sawarkar!
#7 The only man who got the brutal life-sentence of 50 years
Yes you heard it right!! The usual law is that if someone gets two life-sentences (A life-sentence = 25 years then) for two separate offences, he has to serve only one for the sole reason that a person has only one life!! But British Government was so much scared of Sawarkar that they actually violated their own law & passed verdict that Sawarkar has to serve two life-sentences one after another for 50 years. That too in the Cellular Jail of Andamans, notoriously known as Kala Pani!! To this verdict, Sawarkar only laughed!! Ironically, the Government couldn’t keep him captive him by that long. He was transported to Yerwada Jail in 1923 & then released on condition of not taking part in politics for 5 years.
#8 The Messiah for Dalits who eradicated the practice of untouchability
Sawarkar was transported to Ratnagiri (Maharashtra) on the conditions of not taking part in politics as well as not leaving the Ratnagiri district without prior permission of the Collector (January 1924). In such a paralysed situation of house-arrest, Sawarkar undertook the tough task of the abolishment of untouchability in Ratnagiri. And to everybody’s surprise, he achieved it with 100% success in only 2 years. The Janata Monthly whose editor was Dr. Ambedkar himself, compared Sawarkar’s achievement with that of Lord Buddha (April 1933).
#9 Sawarkar the recruiter
In 1937, the Cooper-Mehta Government of Mumbai forced British Government to release Veer Sawarkar unconditionally. People in Maharashtra gave an application of 1 million signatures to that effect to the Government. As a result, British Government had to release Sawarkar unconditionally (10 May 1937). He then joined a political party called Hindu Mahasabha, as the President. He aggressively campaigned in favor of Indian youth to join British Army in soon to start World War II. This campaign had to face a wave of criticism, especially from Congress who named Sawarkar as a British Agent. But once again, Sawarkar’s timeless vision turned out to be a boon for India when Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose himself declared that it is because of Sawarkar’s insistence to Indian youth to join army that he could form the INA (Singapore, 1945).
#10 The driving force behind the legendary Subhash Chandra Bose
Little do we know that many revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Madanlal Dhingra, Senapati Bapat etc. had termed Sawarkar as their revolutionary Guru, nor we know that it was Veer Sawarkar alone who inspired Subhash Chandra Bose to leave India & fight against British from outside the country. While Bose was expelled from Congress because of the internal politics, he met Sawarkar in Mumbai (June 1940). Sawarkar told the frustrated Bose that his colleague Rasbihari Bose is forming an army out of the captured war criminals from India in Japan. He then suggested Bose to go there & accept the captaincy of the army, to which Bose agreed & the rest is history!!
#11 A selfless, sacrificing patriot who gave his entire life in the service of the nation
We know Lord Ram was in exile for 14 years & so were the Pandavas for 13 years. This collectively becomes 27 years. But do you know, V. D. Sawarkar is the only revolutionary in Bhaarata’s history who was imprisoned for 14 years & then exiled for 13 years making it 27 years of continuously fighting for the freedom of his Motherland!! It is the same period for which late Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for his Nation. Mandela got Bharat-Ratna, Sawarkar got ignorance! This is the sorry state of India and how we treat our national heroes!! In fact the Congress Government was so revengeful for Sawarkar that they imprisoned him for nearly 100 days while Pakistan’s PM was on his India visit (4 April 1950). This is the price Sawarkar paid for his patriotism in free-India!!
#12 Yogi who left this world of his own will
In 1964, Sawarkar started to feel that his goal of freeing India is well-achieved & now he has nothing more left to offer to the nation. Though he was very fit to leave many more years, he declared his will to attain Samadhi like a fulfilled Yogi & started hunger-strike after answering all the questions people asked in the issue. He started hunger-strike on 1st February 1966 & willfully left this material world on 26th February 1966.
Ignorance is not a bliss every time!We must know our true national Heroes & their unmatched, selfless sacrifices. Hope this will prompt us to read more about the life & times of the great freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Sawarkar!