Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar a morally guilty man, third rate thinker

On certain fundamental issues, there should not be any ambiguity. In judging Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, it should be crystal clear that he was a morally guilty man with regard to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. And even if he was not a part of the conspiracy to assassinate Gandhi, Savarkar should not escape the judgement of history that he was no Mazzini, he was no Garibaldi, that he was a third rate intellectual, and a despicable moral being. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should show intellectual and moral courage to denounce Savarkar as the Hindutva ideologue and look for superior mentors if they can reach out to any. Perhaps, Bankimchandra Chatterjee and Sri Aurobindo, though it will not be easy to reduce these two literary giants to the vulgar and crude formulations of Hindutva ideology. The sensitive Maharashtrians who take pride in Savarkar are insulting themselves and the Maharashtra tradition. They should look to Mahadev Govind Ranade and Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Tilak was a conservative but he was a great leader. He respected Gandhi even when he dismissed Gandhi's moralism as quixotic. But in the 1919 Amritsar Congress session he fought a losing battle with Gandhi and saw Motilal Nehru and Chitta Ranjan Das supporting Gandhi. Apparently, he told the senior Nehru and Das that they will move away from Gandhi's populist politics. And this from the man who was a populist leader in his own time, and that was his battle with the liberal Gokhale. So, Maharashtrians should discover their own intellectual heritage with greater sophistication and honesty and rigour. And stop making apologies for Savarkar.
When we say that Gandhi was a great leader -- it is this intellectual grace that Savarkar lacked and that is why he is a third rate intellectual -- it does not mean that we agree with his ideas or with his politics. Gandhi was an anti-intellectual and he was in his own way a very unreconstructed Hindu traditionalist. One of the best critics of Gandhi was Bhim Rao Ambedkar and his lecture on Gandhi, Jinnah and Ranade is a classic piece showing the stupidity and egotism of Gandhi and Jinnah as leaders. So there are ways of debunking the Gandhi myth, but Savarkar did not have the intellectual sophistication to do that. That is why he resorted to the morally despicable manner of getting ridding of Gandhi. There have been political assassinations in history, and the conspirators in many instances have been able to invoke high principles of liberty to kill tyrants. The killers of Gandhi had no such argument though Gandhi was an unapologetic moral tyrant, and the best that the Congress, even Nehru and Patel and Ambedkar and even apparent docile Gandhians like Rajendra Prasad knew that independent India had to move beyond Gandhi. The Congress moved beyond Gandhi. And there is no immorality or hypocrisy in what the Congress did so stupid Gandhians have been berating Congress for ever for betraying Gandhian ideals. Gandhian ideals are plain stupid in political and historical senses. What was good for Gandhi could not be good for India. So, we can and we must differ with Gandhi, but at the same time we have to declare the criminal intent and moral pusillanimity of the Savarkar group. There are issues and times when we cannot hide behind euphemisms. Savarkar has no place in the pantheon of heroes. He is a disgraced hero, and he disgraced himself much before his involvement in the Gandhi assassination conspiracy.

1 comment:

Ramachandra Parsa ( Parsa V R Rao ) said...

A very interesting insight into Savarkar's character. Even the rating given to Gandhi's intellectual bearings is very true and people fear to say it aloud.

Gandhi became a leader by default. Tilak and Gokhale died leaving a vacuum, which the cunning Gujju Bania from Porbandar just occupied the empty chair.

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