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Book Review

Pro Patria Mori Meets Fire-And-Brimstone

The winds are favourable...Savarkar is enveloped in a biographic embrace. Sampath is digressively elaborate; Purandare is concise and critical. Both are sympathetic.

Pro Patria Mori Meets Fire-And-Brimstone
Photo courtesy: Savarkar Smarak
Savarkar started off as a secularist, but his jail experiences transformed him
Pro Patria Mori Meets Fire-And-Brimstone
outlookindia.com
2019-10-26T10:20:12+05:30

I came to know of Savarkar many years ago through the Tamil translation of his captivating work on 1857.  Though I have never been a votary of Hindutva, my respect for young Savarkar has remained undiminished all these years in spite of the accusations of cowardice made against him by several ideologues. Indira Gandhi’s statement that his name was a byw­ord in daring and patriotism was correct and primarily about his young days. Savarkar in his later years, after he had chosen to wear the robe of Hindutva, was completely different.

A decade ago, acclaimed publishers would not have touched Savarkar with a bargepole. With the change of governm­ent and with the air nowadays redolent with the unmistakable tang of majoritarianism, the rules of the game have clearly chan­ged. Two books on the person who was, in the words of one the authors, “one of the most contentious political thinkers of the twentieth century”, have appeared in quick succession. Savarkar is contenti­ous all right.   If his name induces revere­nce in the Hindutva set, it provokes anger and disgust in the other, secular, set. In the commotion of their continuing fights the real Savarkar has been lost. These two books are intrepid attempts to bring him back and assess his correct place in Indian history. They are welcome.

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