While in internment in Ratnagiri (coastal Western Maharashtra), Savarkar was barred from participating in political activities. He used this opportunity to bring about social reform in Hindu society. In those times, the so-called untouchables were barred from entering temples. Savarkar waged a bitter struggle for temple entry of ex-untouchables. In this, he also put his literary prowess to use. Savarkar was instrumental in founding the Patitpavan Mandir in Ratnagiri in 1931. This was the first temple in India to open its doors to all Hindus irrespective of their caste. This was a revolutionary step. To mark this occasion, Savarkar composed a Marathi poem ‘Malaa devaache darshan gheu dya’ (Allow me to see my God) that expressed the anguished cry of ex-untouchables who were being denied temple entry. The poem was sung by two boys of the Bhangi (Balmiki) caste. Members of this caste carried out scavenging work and were considered untouchables. Narayan Sadashiv alias Ulhas Bapat, Savarkar’s associate was an eye-witness when Savarkar composed this poem. In his reminiscences (Smritipushpe, self-published, Pune, 1979, p 63), Bapat remarks that Savarkar must have shed atleast a handful of tears when he composed this poem. Such was the intensity of feeling that Savarkar had for the plight of ex-untouchables. It may be noted that the very same Savarkar remained unmoved on being handed down a punishment of two Transportations for Life. Given below is an English translation of Savarkar’s poem ‘Amucha swadesh Hindusthan’ with the Marathi original. The translation has been done by Anurupa Cinar.
Malaa devaache darshan gheu dya (Allow me to see my God)
मला देवाचे दर्शन घेउ द्या
डोळे भरून देवास मला पाहुं द्या II धृ II
जो तुम्हिच करा दिनरात
मळ काढित मळले हात
म्हणुनीच विमल हृदयात-
हृदय त्या वाहु द्या !
मी तहान जल तो जाण
मी कुडि माझा तो प्राण
मी भक्त नि तो भगवान-
चरण त्याचे शिवु द्या
तो हिंदु-देव मी हिंदु
मी दीन तो दया-सिंधू
तुम्ही माझे धर्माचे बंधू-
अडवु नका जाउ द्या
To see my God in his temple
Allow me, I beseech.
Let my eyes have their fill of Him
Please, O please.
Defiled my hands are
Cleaning your filth night and day.
To cleanse them in the Pure heart
Allow me, I pray.
I am but the body, he its life,
I am the thirst only he can sate.
I am the Wretched, He the Compassionate,
O, let me fall at his feet, prostate.
I am his devotee, he my Lord,
I am a Hindu, he my Hindu God.
O Fellow Hindu Brothers,
Bar not, beg I, my way to my God!