“My body as sacrifice in the blazing fire I offer,
T’is but a first installment of this debt!
Over and over in every lifetime, give this body I will,
Into the holy pyre of your liberation.”
- V. D. Savarkar, Pahila Hapta (First Installment)
Hi, Everyone! In the last couple of posts I gave a look-see into Savarkar’s beliefs re petitions and pledges. It certainly gives irrefutable justification for any petition Savarkar made.
But the point I want to make in this post (and the next) is that—even if such undeniable justification did not exist—there is nothing demeaning or improper in Savarkar’s petitions to the Andaman authorities.
I have deliberately used the words “Savarkar’s ‘Mercy’ Petitions” in the title of this post. Savarkar’s detractors have brandished these words year after year until the facts and Savarkar’s character have been distorted beyond recognition.
The words “Mercy Petition” put together so seem to lend credence to the claim that Savarkar was begging for forgiveness and compassion. But it is no more than a clever wielding of words by his detractors.
· In actual fact, Savarkar’s petition was a perfectly normal and clever legal maneuver he made use of to try to gain freedom.
What is the definition of “petition”?
· It is “a formally drawn request that is addressed to a person or group of persons in authority: a petition for clemency; a petition for the repeal of an unfair law.”
In Andaman, the only way to communicate with the authority—with any hope of being heeded—was by way of petitioning.
The justification of using the word “mercy,” is given by quoting Sir Reginald Craddock’s words, “Savarkar’s petition is one of mercy.” A closer look at Craddock’s statement makes it quite clear that Craddock is using the word “mercy” to classify Savarkar’s petition (as opposed to the petitions of the other four political prisoners being more in the form of complaints.)
What does the word “mercy” mean here?
· It is “the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment.”
It is in this capacity that Craddock has used the word “mercy.” His entire report makes it quite clear that there was very little of “begging for forgiveness” or anything like it in Savarkar’s petition or demeanor. Check what Craddock’s next sentence is:
“Savarkar’s petition is one of mercy. He cannot be said to express any regret or repentance, but he affects to have changed his views.”
The second sentence and particularly the word “affects” makes it crystal clear that Craddock did not for a second believe Savarkar meant a word he wrote in the petition. When taken out of context quotes can be very misleading. By using only the first sentence the Savarkar-bashers have misrepresented the truth.
In actual fact, Savarkar’s petition is drawn up simply and concisely giving just arguments. There is no undue praise of the British, nor are there any avowals of loyalty. The language used is what was generally used to draw up formal petitions. On the link below, read Savarkar’s petition for yourself to see the truth of my words:
But Savarkar-bashers have used the words “mercy” and “petition” with additional malicious words like “demeaning apologies and abject undertakings” thrown into the pot to create powerful—but erroneous—word pictures.
· Savarkar’s perfectly innocuous and normal petition has been given the cloak of “appealing, entreating, begging” etc. and from thence leading to accusations of Savarkar sacrificing his motherland and becoming loyal to the British.
If the readers do not bother to read Savarkar’s actual petition, they will believe the malicious spiel—spouted year after year—to be true.
And the anti-Savarkar propaganda thrives in this breeding-ground.