Today I am going to write about a news which has been much talked about i.e., Swar Kokila Bharat Ratna, Lata Mangeshkar’s relationship with one of India’s greatest sons and freedom fighter who believed in Chhatrapati Shivaji’s ideas of Swaraj and Swadharma – Veer Savarkar. Lata ji left this world for her heavenly abode on 6th February 2022 at an age of 92. In many articles and tweets Lata ji talked about her relationship with Savarkar ji, when she was a small girl. The entire Mangeshkar clan had a very close relationship with Savarkar ji. Her brother Hridayanath Mangeshkar was fired from All India Radio for singing a poetry written by Savarkar. He had knowingly taken that risk.
To refresh your memory let me tell you about Savarkar ji and then the relationship with Lata ji’s family.
Veer Savarkar or Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a great son of Mother India was born on 28th May 1883 to Damodar and Radhabai Savarkar, near Nashik, Maharastra. Savarkar joined the Hindu Mahasabha and popularized the term Hindutva (Hinduness), previously coined by Chandranath Basu to create a collective "Hindu" identity as an essence of Bharat. Surprisingly Savarkar was an atheist and also a pragmatic practitioner of Hindu philosophy.
Savarkar began his political activities as a high school student and continued to do so in Ferguson College (Poona). He and his brother founded a secret society called Abhinav Bharat Society. When he went to the United Kingdom for his law studies, he involved himself with organizations such as India House and the Free India Society. He also published books advocating complete Indian independence by revolutionary means. One of the books he published called “Indian War of Independence” about the great Revolt of 1857, was banned by the British authorities. In 1910, Savarkar was arrested and ordered to be extradited to India for his connections with the revolutionary group India House.
On his voyage back to India, Savarkar staged an attempt to escape and seek asylum in France, while the ship was docked in the port of Marseilles. The French port officials however, handed him back to the British while disobeying international law. On return to India, Savarkar was sentenced to two life terms of imprisonment totaling fifty years and was moved to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Island. Savarkar resided in Ratnagiri till 1937, when he joined the Hindu Mahasabha. He started traveling widely, becoming a forceful orator and writer, advocating Hindu political and social unity.
Savarkar was critical of the decision taken by the Congress in its Wardha session of 1942, which passed a resolution which said to the British: "Quit India but keep your armies here". Savarkar said it “was the reinstallation of British military rule over India”, which he felt would be much worse. In July 1942, as he felt extremely stressed carrying out his duties as the president of Hindu Mahasabha, and as he needed some rest, he resigned from the post of the president. This coincided with MK Gandhi’s Quit India Movement.
In 1948, Savarkar was charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of MK Gandhi, however, he was acquitted by the court for lack of evidence. Savarkar resurfaced in the popular discourse after the coming of the BJP into power in 1998, and again in 2014 with the Modi-led BJP government at the center.
The airport at Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar's capital was renamed Veer Savarkar’s International Airport in 2002. A postage stamp in his memory was released in 1970. The Malayalam movie, Kala Paani was made to commemorate his life. Annu Kapoor played the role of Savarkar.
What was the relationship of Savarkar ji to Lata ji? Freedom fighter and among the earliest proponents of the Hindutva ideology, Veer Savarkar, remains one of the most vilified personalities in Indian history. For decades, Savarkar was treated with disdain and demonized by successive Indian governments, a majority of them headed by the Congress party. A conscious effort was undertaken to defame Veer Savarkar so as to discredit his beliefs and undermine his contribution to India’s freedom struggle. But legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar and her family were among those who saw through this facade carefully created by the Congress party and its loyalists and held “Savarkar for who he was a staunch patriot dedicated to the cause of India’s freedom and an erudite man with a flair for poetry and writing”.
Lata ji did not like Savarkar ji not only because of his love for his motherland, but also for the personal relationship he had with her family. He wrote a play for Lata ji’s father Pundit Dina Nath Mangeshkar’s theater company. He tried to spread awareness against the British rule. The name of the play was ‘Sanyasth Khadga’. The play went live on 18th September 1931. Lata ji recalled her mother Sevantha who was lovingly called mai used to make dinner for all the people associated with the play. She met Savarkar when she used to deliver lunch and dinner. She was lucky enough to have met and interacted with a person like Savarkar ji.
Every year on his Jayanti on 28th May she would tweet her respect. She said “ those who are speaking against Savarkar ji do not know how big a patriot and self-respecting person he was”. Now both can meet in heaven.