The Diwali edition of the Organiser Weekly in 1965 published one of the last interviews of Veer Savarkar. The complete transcript of his delightful interview to journalist Sridhar Kelkar, which is a ‘first-person’ looking back of the entire stormy life is given below:
Question: Looking back, what are the most thrilling memories which you still cherish?
Answer: Of course, memories of old keep haunting me. I treasure these thrilling memories. They are now a part of me and will remain with me till the end of my life. The first thrilling event, which I still vividly remember, was my dramatic escape from the steamer. It all happened like this; It was Sunday, March 13, 1910. I arrived in London from Paris. I was immediately arrested at the Victoria terminus by the London police. The arrest was made under a telegraphic warrant from the Bombay government. I was held under the fugitive Offenders act of 1881. The charges against me were; 1. waging war or abetting the waging of against his Majesty, the King-Emperor of India, 2. conspiring to deprive his Majesty the King of the sovereignty of British India or a part of it, 3. procuring and distributing arms and abetting the murder of Jackson- the collector of Nasik, 4. procuring and distributing arms in London and waging war from London, 5. delivering seditious speeches in India from January 1906 onwards in London from 1908 and 1909. I was put on the steamer SS “Morea” bound for Aden. I was a prisoner of the British in the steamer. And I realise what my fate would be once I reached my homeland. So, I decided to escape from the jaws of death. Luckily for me, the steamer anchored at Marseilles for repairs. I am now made a dramatic decision to escape somehow from the steamer. So, I went into the bathroom and bolted the door from inside. My Guard waited outside. I jumped from the pothole into the sea and started to swim toward the harbour. The guards opened fire. And bullets whizzed by. I dodged them by diving and cheated death. At last, I reach the harbour and climb the quay. I was happy that, at last, I was on the soil of France a free man. But fate was cruel and unkind. The British guards persuaded me and dragged me back to the steamer- clearly a breach of international law. I had been arrested in a foreign land. Madam Cama and Ayyar, who had planned to rescue me, arrived at Marseilles by Car late by a few hours. They must have got themselves when they heard that I was captured after my dramatic escape.
The second episode which lingers in my mind is when I saw a sentence on two occasions for transportation of life. This means that altogether I had to remain in Andaman Cellular Jail for 50 years. If I had served my full term of imprisonment, I would have been really I would have been released on December 24, 1960. But I was sent to Hindustan after 14 years in the Andamans to be interned for 13 years in Ratnagiri altogether, and I remained a prisoner for the protest for nearly 27 years.
The third event which I shall always cherish was when I met my young patriotic brother and my noble wife in cellular for the first time in 8 years. The government had permitted them to see me in Andaman Jail. How can I express in cold words what I felt then? Anyhow, I was supremely happy to see and talk to my wife, who shared with me the sorrows and agony of a Revolutionary life.
Question: You have been a great revolutionary in your time and a great fighter for India’s freedom. Tell me, how and why did you become a revolutionary?
Answer: It happens like this. Somewhere around about 1897, the country was in the grip of femininity and plague. The people suffered much during this critical period. The soul of the people was in agony. The government did little to elevate the suffering of the people. Death and disease took a heavy toll on life. The excesses committed by the soldiers and antics of bullying incompetent tyrant rand the plague Commissioner infuriated the Chaphekar brothers of Poona. They shot dead rand and other Englishman. The Chaphekar brothers were tried and hanged. The terrible news of their hanging stirred me. I was hardly 16 then. My inquiring mind became restless. I realised, even at a young age, the significance of the act of the Chaphekar brothers. I decided to take a vow, a pledge to fight and die, if need be, for the freedom and liberty of my country. So, at the dead of the night, I sat alone at the feet of a family deity, the armed goddess Durga- and invoked the blessings of the great mother, the source of divine inspiration and strength. I took a solemn vow before Goddess Durga to do my duty towards my country and to fulfil the noble mission of the martyred Chaphekar brothers. I also took a vow to drive out the Britishers from my beloved motherland and make my country free and great once again, the glory that was Hind. This, then, is how and why I became a revolutionary.
Question: When you were a political prisoner on the Andaman Islands, you were cut off from the main currents of Indian life and soil. How then did your mind function, and what were your dominant thoughts?
Answer: Although I was far away from home, I was not really cut off from the life and thoughts of our people. We were operating a strange kind of news agency, something like bush wireless in the jail news filter through many channels. Once I received a letter from a prisoner in Punjab. He had written on the back of a ticket of a convict who delivered it safely to me. I used to pick up an old newspaper from the water closets so the petition officers and old soiled wrapping papers. From this, I learned a lot about what was happening in the world outside. Many prisoners lost villages working outside the jail for bringing in pieces of newspaper. But the news agency worked continuously because of these daring messengers who knew the art of hoodwinking the jail warders and guards. Also, a system was devised by which messages were transmitted by political prisoners through peculiar sounds of the chain. My thoughts in the Andaman naturally turned to the revolutionary struggle that was being waged in India and by Indians abroad.
I was given a very hard job in the silver chain. I was yoked to an oil mill like a bullock. But I knew that each drop of oil that fell in the bucket would set aflame the hearts of all revolutionaries. It was this thought that helped and inspired me in the dark, difficult, agonising solitary life in the cellular jail.
You asked me how my mind function in jail? Well, it required terrific willpower, grim determination and a passionate devotion to the cause to be able to face the deadly and maddening solitude of a solitary cell on the devil’s island. When I was given the work of chopping the barks of coconut with a wooden mallet, my hands bled and swelled. But I endured. When I was yoked to the Oil Mill, the most horrible, painful and demoralising job given to me, I did not complain. I suffered in silence. The idea of committing suicide came once. But reason prevailed, for I wanted to die a hero in freedom’s battle and not by committing suicide. So, you see how the mind function during the grim battle, within and without.
Question: How would you compare Indian revolutionaries with revolutionaries in Russia and China?
Answer: Indian revolutionaries had a tougher fight than the revolutionaries in Russia or China. In Russia, they revolted against the Russian czarist regime and in China, again the Chinese Manchu Dynasty. But in India, we had to fight against the foreign rulers whose way of life, culture, religion and philosophy had nothing in common with the Hindus of Hindustan. In a way, our revolutionaries have been better than the revolutionaries of Russia and China.
Question: Do you think that the “1857 mutiny” was India’s first organised revolt against the British for the freedom of the country as a whole? Some historians say that the 1857 revolt was organised by half a dozen disgruntled but daring leaders who banded together for the maintenance of their respective privileges and status. What do you think?
Answer: I wrote a book on 1857’s war of Independence. I have done a great deal of research on the matter. I read original letters, numerous documents and hundreds of books both at the Indian house and in the British Museum. I have a firm that the 1857 memorable event was not just a mutiny. Indeed, it was India’s first war of independence. Those historians denied this basic fact of the history of fooling themselves and also fooling others. They have yet to learn the real history.
Question: What are the factors which contributed to the liberation of the country?
Answer: There are many factors which contribute to the freedom of Bharat. It is wrong to imagine that Congress alone won independence for Hindustan. It is equally absurd to think that no cooperation, Charkha and 1942 quit India movement was solely responsible for the withdrawal of British power from our country. There was another dynamic and compelling force for finally deter mind the issue of freedom. First, Indian politics was carried to the Army, on whom the British depended entirely to hold down Hindustan. Second, there was a revolt of the royal Indian Navy and threatened by the Air Force; third, the valiant role of Netaji Subhas Bose and the Indian National Army; four, the War of Independence in 1857, which shook the British; five, that terrific sacrifices made by
thousands of revolutionaries and patriots in the ranks of Congress, other groups and parties. So, freedom came with the blood, sweat and tears of countless men and women of Hindustan.
Question: Did Gandhiji and other Congress leaders persuade you at any time to join the Congress? If they did, why did you not join the Congress party?
Answer: I never believed in Gandhiji‘s doctrine of non-violence. Absolute non-violence is not only simple but immoral. This doctrine of non-violence benumbed the revolutionary fervour, softened the limbs and hearts of Hindus and stiffened the bones of enemies. The lambs resolved to lead a vegetarian life, but the wolves were not concerned with the pious revolution. Revolt, bloodshed and revenge have often been instruments created by nature to root out justice, and I felt I could not join the Congress because of my fundamental differences with the Congress on their methods, policies and programmes.
The Hindu Maha Sabha would have joined the Congress in the 1942 movement if the Congress had solemnly guaranteed that it would irrevocably stand by the unity and integrity of India and that Congress would not make any pact with the anti-national Muslim league. The people now know that our dream of free independent Akhand Hindustan was systematically sabotaged by congress leadership.
Question: Assuming you had joined the congress years ago, don’t you think you would have served your country and your ideology in a positive way?
Answer: I don’t think so. It is wrong to assume a thing which had no basis for assumption. Anyway, if I had, by magic, persuaded myself to join Congress, I would have been a fish out of water complete misfit in the company of lambs dedicated to winning freedom by spinning Charkha and shouting non-violence slogans. I would have been driven out of Congress like Subhash Bose, who tried to reorientate congress policy and programme. I would have been a traitor to my conscience, to the ideals of the Hindutva and Hindu nation, if I had served the Congress for a mess of postage. I am indeed happy and proud that I am not a party to the partition of Hindustan. Many generations yet unborn may well say that I served my country and my people with devotion and passionate faith.
Question: What is India of your dream?
Answer: My India would be a democratic state in which people belonging to different religions, sects, or races would be treated with perfect equality. None would be allowed to dominate others. None would be deprived of his just an equal right of free citizenship, so long as everyone discharged the common obligation which he owed to the state as a whole, Hindustan, the motherland holy land of Hindus, from the Indus the seas would be an undivided organic state. The Hindus would be a casteless society, a consolidated and modern nation. Science and technology would be encouraged. There would be a total liquidation of land Lordism. All that land would belong to the state eventually. All key industries would be nationalised. India would be self-sufficient in respect of food, clothes, shelter and defence. The India of my dreams would have unbounded faith in the world Commonwealth. Because the earth has the common motherland of all. But India would not go under during the evolution of the world Commonwealth, the foreign policy of a military strong Akhand Hindustan would be a policy of neutrality and peace. And a powerful centralised state of Hindustan would contribute effectively towards enduring peace and prosperity in the world.
Question: Some think that you believe in a Hindu nation because you are a fanatic communalist. What have you to say about it?
Answer: Let us get this thing straight. People have a wrong notion of a Hindu nation and communalism. A Hindu means a person who is Cartist land of Bharat Varsha from the Indus to the seas as his fatherland and the holy land, the land of origin of his religion and the cradle for his faith. There for, the followers of Vedism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism and all hill tribes are Hindus. The Parsis, amongst the other minorities, are by race, religion, language and culture, almost akin to Hindus. The Christians and Jews could be politically assimilated with the Hindus. Around this life, the centre moves Hindutva, not religious dogma or creed but the thoughts and activities of the whole being of the Hindu race. The problem of the minority is that only one minority Muslim minority. A Hindu nation therefore is a group of people bound together by ties of common religion and culture, common history and traditions, common literature, occupying a territory of geographical unity and aspiring to form a political unit. Therefore, in Hindustan, the Hindus are a nation. Those who think I am a fanatic Hindu and communalist suffering from a strange malady hallucination. I am neither of fanatic Hindu nor a communalist. I cannot make donkeys think like horses.
Question: What are your views on the present state of affairs in India?
Answer: After freedom, people hoped that they would have a little peace, a little comfort a little happiness after all that happened during the regime of the British. Their homes have been dashed. After 18 years of independence, we find people unhappy, miserable, demoralise and frustrated. Big projects and schemes have not yet touched the common man who is desperately fighting for his daily bread- fighting for his very existence. The Congress party and Government are filled with dead wood, old and tired men who have outlived their political useful Ness of the country. They remain in power and prevent the training of young men for the task of tomorrow.
Question: What of the future?
Answer: It is sheer madness to imagine for a moment that a country will go to pieces. A country that has produced eminent statements like Chandragupta., Vikramaditya, Shalivahan, Chanakya and Shivaji can never be a politically bankrupt nation. Hindustan has a tradition of thousands of years of great men presiding over the destiny of Bharatvarsha in times of crisis. As in the past, so in the future, men of destiny will always be there to guide, serve and die for the motherland.
Question: Do you think in an atomic age, militarisation of the country is essential?
Answer: Yes. I have always maintained two things Hinduise politics and militarise the nation. If you are strong, you can even show the shoe as Khrushchev did at the United nation assembly. But if you are weak, your fate will be in the hands of a powerful aggressor.
Question: Assuming that Congress disintegrates, do you foresee a contest for political power between a form of Hindu fascism and communism?
Answer: A Hindu, of my conception, is not a fascist but a real democrat in the true sense of the world. He is also a communist, in a way. If all Hindus who believe in the fundamentals of Hindutava unite, then the contest for political power does not arise.
Question: And finally, is our revolution complete? Or are we still in the midst of it?
Answer: The end of our revolution has come with the attainment of our freedom. Those of us who fought for the country‘s liberty are naturally very happy to see it free and independent. The days of the bomb, the pistol and a gun are over. We have now to devote ourselves to the consolidation of our hard-won freedom. But our aim of achieving Akhand Hindustan with its natural boundaries still remains to be fulfilled. I am old now, and the time has come for me to say goodbye to all that! I have served the cause of my country in accordance with the dictates of my conscience. I am glad that I have lived to see my country free from bondage. As long as the world lasts, this our ancient land-this, our great Bharatvarsha, will live in all its glory.