Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is known to people as one of the fervent freedom fighters of India. But he was not just a freedom fighter. He was a bold warrior, good orator, prolific writer, a poet, a historian, a philosopher, a social worker, a cautious leader, a bard and staunch supporter of Freedom and much more. The following article is a glimpse of what we mean by his multifaceted personality. His biography is like a thrilling novel. It inspires readers with patriotism.
He hailed from Maharashtra,. Born in Bhagur, Dist. Nashik on 28th May 1883, he spent his youth in fighting against British Raj. As an extremely brilliant, outspoken and confident school boy, he was famous amongst his teachers and friends. In 1898 when Chaphekar brothers were hanged for assassinating the British Officer - Mr. Rand, Savarkar was just 15 years old. But Chaphekar’s martyrdom impressed him and he decided the freedom of the country as his foremost aim.
Right from his childhood he used to like reading. Invariably found in Library, he used to read the news papers like Kesari, Kal, Dnyanprakash etc. He read "Short History of the World" in childhood. He studied History of India from Vedic time. History was his favorite subject. He had good command over Sanskrit and thoroughly read Sanskrit as well as English literature. Amongst other books, he was impressed by the biographies of Mazini, Garibaldi, Napoleon etc. He read Bible, and Holy Koran, philosophers like Spencer, Mill, Darwin, Huxlay , Emerson etc. He also studied Economics, Geology etc. He could by heart half of Ravindranath Tagore’s literature. He had also carefully studied Lenin and Trotsky.
After matriculation in 1901, he took admission in Fergusson College of Poona. He was however more interested in India's freedom from British rule. The young college students in Poona were charged by the speeches by the patriots and political leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bhopatkar etc. The news papers in Poona were also actively participating in creating anti-British atmosphere in the society and appealing society’s feelings of Nationalism. Savarkar was the uncrowned leader of the youth in this movement. In 1905 he burnt the imported clothes as a token of India’s protest to imported clothes. In May 1904, he established an International Revolution Institute named "Abhinav Bharat". His instigating patriotic speeches and activities irritated the British Government. As a result his B.A. degree was withdrawn by the Government. In June 1906 he left for London to become Barrister. However, once in London, he united and inflamed the Indian students in England against British. He believed in use of arms against the foreign rulers and created a network of Indians in England, equipped with weapons . Although he passed Barrister Examination in England, because of his anti-government activities, he was denied the Degree.
He was the prime inspiration for the Indian students to rise against British rule. The British Government Officers were waiting for some opportunity to arrest him. He was arrested in London on 13 March 1910 on some fabricated offenses. The case against him was to be heard by the court in India. So he was to be sent to India. During his travel in a ship, as the ship neared Marseilles in France, he jumped through a porthole and swam to the port. This was on 8 July 1910. As per the plan, his colleagues were to reach there beforehand. However, they reached late and he was caught by French Police. The French Government denied him asylum.
After the case was decided in India, he was sentenced to 50 years rigorous life imprisonment in Andaman on 24 December 1910. Since 4 July 1911, he was in Andaman Jail in solitude. On 2nd May 921 he was brought to India from Andaman. Since 1921 to 1922, he was in Alipur (Bengal) and Ratnagiri (Maharashtra) Jails. On 6th January 1924, he was released from the jail on two conditions viz. a) He will not actively participate in politics and b) he will stay in Ratnagiri District. He was in house arrest at Ratnagiri.
Thereafter he spent his life in different fields of social work. He breathed his last at the age of 83, on Saturday, February 26, 1966. "Prayopveshana" , meaning fast till death, was what he observed and refused any intake of food. His death was like a true warrior. Death did not grab him, he approached death with erect head.