Savarkar’s contribution to the shuddhi movement

From: Team To: aryaputra_1… Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2012 3:11 PM

Subject: Savarkar’s contribution to the shuddhi movement

The atmarpan divas of Swatantryaveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (28 May 1883-26 February 1966) falls on 26 February. It was on this day that Savarkar left his mortal coil in the highest tradition of Yoga by giving up food and water. Having done all his earthly duties, he embraced death in a spirit of sublime self-contentment. It is fitting to recall Savarkar’s manifold and inspiring contribution to nation-building. A cause that was very close to Savarkar’s heart was that of shuddhi. The word shuddhi means purity or purification. The concept is central to traditional Hindu thought and practice. The Hindu dharmasastras lay great stress on purity with regards to behaviour. A person was deemed to be an outcaste if he violated the rules and norms of behaviour as laid down in the dharmasastras. Such a fallen person could be taken back into his caste and hence into the Hindu fold if he performed suitable penance. In this broad sense, the term shuddhi can be found in various juridicial texts and commentaries. During the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the term came to acquire a more particular meaning, namely the incorporation into Hindu Dharma of non-Hindu persons or groups by means of ceremonial action. The importance of the shuddhi movement in Hindu consolidation, nay in the very survival of India as a Hindu nation cannot be over-emphasized. Shuddhi in its particular sense has a hoary tradition with solid scriptural basis. Maharishi Deval, Swami Ramananda, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Harihar II, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Chhatrapati Sambhaji, the Peshwas, Maharaja Ranbir Singh of Kashmir, Swami Dayananda, Swami Shraddhananda, Mahatma Hansraj, Vinayak Maharaj Masurkar are some of the better known proponents of the shuddhi movement. The contribution of Savarkar to the shuddhi movement is that of a philosopher, worker, leader and leader of leaders. Savarkar stated a profound truth in his maxim “Change of religion is tantamount to change of nationality”. While Savarkar was not against voluntary acceptance of any religion after due thought, he was certainly against unethical methods employed by predatory religions to increase their flock. Savarkar lamented that Hindu rulers did not realize the grave consequences of mass conversions by Islamic rulers and failed to carry out shuddhi even when they had the opportunity and strength to do so. Along with his elder brother Babarao, Savarkar carried out a unique shuddhi movement in the hell-hole of the Andamans. Savarkar has written extensively on his shuddhi campaign in his My Transportation for Life. The Pathan warders would coerce or lure susceptible Hindu prisoners to convert to Islam. The Savarkar brothers carried out this shuddhi campaign in the face of violent assaults and an attempt on their life. In the absence of a formal shuddhi ceremony, Savarkar would ask the reclaimed prisoners to eat the tulsi leaf and chant from the Ramcharitmanas or the Gita. Savarkar’s shuddhi campaign inside the four walls of the Cellular Jail had a salutary effect on the free Hindu residents of the Andamans. They started getting themselves enumerated as Hindus in the census. During his internment in Ratnagiri, Savarkar continued his shuddhi campaign. Through speeches and writings, he mobilized public opinion in favour of shuddhi. In memory of Swami Shraddhanand who was martyred (27 December 1926) in the cause of shuddhi, Savarkar started the Shraddhanand weekly. He personally brought back several Christian and Muslims into the Hindu fold. The reversion of the Dhakras family (25 May 1926) who had converted to Christianity 15 years earlier was performed with much enthusiasm by Savarkar. In 1928, he made efforts to get their daughter married and performed her kanyadan. He traveled from Ratnagiri to Kharepatan to attend the thread ceremony of their two sons. It was during Savarkar’s stay in Ratnagiri that he met Vinayak Maharaj Masurkar of the Ramdasi tradition. Masurkar had started the Brahmacharyashram at Masur in Satara district (hence popularly known as Masurashram). It was Savarkar who told Masurkar Maharaj to bring back to the Hindu fold the hundreds of Rambhakts who had crossed over to alien religions. As a result, the Masurashram embarked on a shuddhi campaign in Portuguese-ruled Goa and brought back to the Hindu fold 7815 Gavdas who had been converted to Christianity. Coincidentally, it was on 26 February 1928 that the first batch of 1150 converted Gavdas underwent shuddhi in Tiswadi, Goa. Savarkar collected funds in Ratnagiri to assist Masurkar Maharaj in his endeavour. Savarkar was one of the very few individuals who was privy to Masurkar’s plans to carry out shuddhi of the Gavdas. As leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, Savarkar relentlessly championed the cause of shuddhi, saying that shuddhi and sangathan went hand in hand. On 21 August 1955, 40 fishermen who had been converted to Christianity were brought back to Hindu Dharma by Shankaracharya Yogeshwaranandji at Dadar, Mumbai. So overjoyed was Savarkar, that he exclaimed, “May I be reborn to carry out shuddhi work, such is its importance!” In his will, Savarkar had instructed that a sum of money be given six monthly to organizations engaged in shuddhi work. On this, the atmarpan divas of Savarkar, let us dedicate ourselves to the holy cause of shuddhi! Thanks, Team


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