Wednesday, August 10, 2022

V. D. Savarkar On Mahatma Gandhi’s Politics

V. D. Savarkar

Between 1927 and 1929, V. D. Savarkar wrote the monograph titled The Gandhian Confusion. As the title suggests, this monograph is his furious and passionate outburst against the confusion (anarchy) created by Mahatma Gandhi’s style of politics. In Chapter 1, “The Way to Freedom,” Savarkar begins his tirade against Gandhiji with these words:

“When, about a year and a half, Mahatmaji announced that, renouncing politics, he would devote himself to the constructive programme of Khadi, every patriot—fed-up with his crazy and wasteful politics and disappointed at the loss caused by that politics in the past six years and at the misdirection our country suffered due to the confusion—had indeed felt a bit relieved. It was believed that, at least now onwards, Gandhiji would cease to meddle unduly in politics that is beyond the ken of his knowledge, intelligence and power; stay away from the anti-national agenda of dampening the spirit of our youth with the useless quibbling over ‘ahimsa’, ‘asahakarita’, ‘vidhayak karyakram’ etc. and just stick to his Charkha. 

"But you see him attending the National Congress, upholding that old crazy programme and dispatching utterly trash letters with reference to the Nagpur Satyagraha and thus continuing to dabble in politics in spite of his declaration—‘I won’t be in active politics.’” 

In Chapter 2 of his monograph, “Gandhiji and these Naive Hindus,” Savarkar alleges that Gandhiji defended Abdul Rashid: 

“How natural it is that when Gandhiji called Abdul Rashid ‘bhai’ (brother) and infuriated the whole Hindu world, he spoke in his defense! Every actor has to act in such a way to give the best justice to his role. We all know that the whole world is a stage and we all are the actors. As Gandhiji is playing the role of a Mahatma (a noble soul) it is but natural that his dialogues should be such as to lend colour to that role and not like a petty mortal like Samartha Ramdas who says, “To be proud of what is just is not to be proud at all. Because justice and injustice can never be equal,” and defends the caste into which he is born.”

In December 1926, Abdul Rashid had killed the Arya Samaj leader Swami Shraddhanand. I don’t think Gandhiji defended Abdul Rashid, but he failed to denounce him in strong language. In his article, “Hindu-Muslim-Tensions: Causes and Resistance,” published in Young India in 1922, Gandhiji had criticized Shraddhanand. Conservatives like Savarkar felt that, by his criticism, Gandhiji had emboldened and encouraged the Islamic hardliners and that led to Shraddhanand’s assassination.

In Chapter 3, “Which is the Religion of Peace?” Savarkar rejects Gandhiji’s contention that Islam was a religion of peace. He summarizes the violent history of Islamic conquests in a couple of paragraphs and notes that the invaders destroyed thousands of temples in India and forcibly converted a large part of the population. He points out that there is no historical record of the Marathas, Rajputs, and Sikhs breaking any mosque or forcibly converting the Muslims, and then he sarcastically asks: “So, which one is the religion of peace – Hinduism or Islam?”

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