Given below is an English translation of Savarkar’s assorted views on ‘reformer’.
Who is a true reformer?
He who gives up verbosity and acts as per the principle of ‘irrespective of whether others do it or not, as far as I am concerned, I will practise reform on a daily basis” alone is a true reformer. (1935, Hindutvache panchapran or The Spirit of Hindutva; Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol. 3, p.75)
How does reform succeed?
Many are those who suggest reform but few are those who practise it! Any reform succeeds primarily on the strength of those who practise it. (1937; Ksha kirane or X-rays; Samagra Savarkar Vangmaya, Vol.3, p.252)
However the key to bring about reform in any deep-rooted tradition is to put it into practice with immediate effect rather than indulging in intellectual rumination. Rather than intellectual or verbal arguments, making evident the desirable effects of reform and remove any doubts on that score. (1931, Bhasha shuddhi or purification of language, p. 84)
The future is yours
…Reform implies a minority, tradition implies a majority! Hence a revolutionary social reformer is always alone to begin with. So if you are true reformers, it is imperative that you should hold aloft the flag of reform irrespective of whether some one else joins you or not….people will crowd before the deity of tradition; continue the festivity of reform assuming that before the deity of reform there are only five of you, the sixth being the future. (1930, Hindu samaj sanrakshak Savarkar or Savarkar as defender of Hindu society, p. 222)
A reformer has to renounce popularity
‘Varam janahitam dhyeyam kevalaa na janastutihi!’ (‘Not praise of people, public welfare alone’!). Who does not like praise from the public? In his Kumarasambhava, Kalidasa has described the doyen of ascetics Lord Mahadeva Himself thus, “stotram kasya na tushtaye” (“who is he who is not pleased by praise”). Praise is desirable, even necessary but praise that is obtained by putting the welfare of the people at stake is to be emphatically rejected! Social and religious reformers should scrupulously stay away from that temptation. This is because those who fight for the welfare of the people in the realm of politics can easily gain the praise of the public. (1936, Vidnyannishtha nibandha or pro-science essays, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol. 3, p.414)
He who wants to truly serve the nation should champion that which is in the interests of the people irrespective of whether it is popular or not. He who embraces or rejects a principle or policy that is in national interest solely with an eye on whether he will be applauded or humiliated is not a sincere servant of the people. (1937, Hindu samaj sanrakshak parva or the phase as defender of Hindu society, p. 159)
Working in the social field is like walking on a bed of thorns. It is not for the faint-hearted! (Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol 3, p.640)
Those reformers who have to wound the sentiments of the people as a matter of duty have also to face the wrath of society for some time as a matter of duty. (1937, (Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol 3, p.651)
Each one has a right to freedom of thought
I hold that each one has a right to form his opinions after independent thought and to express them fearlessly. (1943, Akhand Hindusthan Ladhaa Parva or the phase of the battle for Undivided Hindusthan, p.185)
How should reformers behave with conservatives?
Just as we reformers have a right to reform; this class of sincere conservatives has a right to boycott us. Being their co-religionists, reformers should not berate, much less hate them because they call for a boycott. Rather they should happily put up with the inconvenience of boycott till the conservatives have a change of heart. (1936, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol 3, p.632)
A true reformer is undaunted by boycott
…if a reformer has a right to reform, then society also has a right to boycott the reformer. A reformer who is undaunted by boycott and continues to be a reformer in the face of odds is alone a true reformer. (1936, Vidnyannishtha nibandha or pro-science essays, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol 3, p.419)
Conservatives are also our brethren
…If we were to search for the most devout followers of the Hindu Nation, those with single-minded pride of Hindutva and a truly burning desire for the victory of Hindutva in their hearts, leaving aside the question of whether or not they possess strength and intelligence, if we were to search for such of our co-religionists, we shall first visit our schools that impart knowledge of the Vedas and shastras and traditional centres!
Conservative or reformer, each Hindu is a brother in dharma, a brother in nation.
…Any group would have some fools, hypocrites and ill-tempered individuals. If the
conservatives have hypocrites in their midst, do the reformists not have their share of them? As far as possible, I try not to be unfair in any of my writings. (Vidnyannishtha nibandha or pro-science essays, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol 3, p.424-425)
When is the charge of hurting religious sentiments untenable?
…Each one may publicly preach what he thinks to be true. Each one should have the right to make a reasoned argument against a practice that is anti-people or based on falsehood and say so. So long as that argument is civilized and inspired not by hatred but by good wishes, so long as it does not result in willful humiliation, then it should not be considered to have hurt religious sentiments. (Vidnyannishtha nibandha or pro-science essays, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol 3, p.430)
A refutation of the charge that “your social thoughts are demoralizing”
Time and again, Shalya chastised Karna to demoralize him. But Karna’s opponent Partha was also chastised by his charioteer (meaning Krishna). The cause and effect of the two chastisements was different. So too the cause and effect of the criticism of missionaries and the criticism of those who defied death for the sake of this Hindu Nation has to be necessarily different. (1934, Vidnyannishtha nibandha or pro-science essays, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol 3, p.375)
The means of propaganda of the reformers
Those who have to draw the attention of society to the ill-effects of certain undesirable traditions without caring whether society shall rise against them will not only have to develop ways of intellectual persuasion to do their work but also vividly focus on ordinary incidents involving those who are directly and frequently affected by the ill-effects of such traditions. (1937; Ksha kirane or X-rays; Samagra Savarkar Vangmaya, Vol.3, p.153)
The do’s and dont’s to be followed by reformers:
A rationalist should also be a utilitarian. He must know the sociological principle that bringing people together is never achieved by the individualism of each person. It will be necessarily based on a common principle binding all individuals. Hence, even if a
belief or tradition is superstitious but results in a greater national good, a resourceful rationalist will not fail to use it as a temporary means of bringing people together. He will outright demolish those beliefs or traditions that in the final analysis are harmful to the nation. To the rest, he will turn a blind eye. Without remaining superstitious himself, he will refrain from demolishing in a blind craze for rationalism, those superstitious beliefs which overall add to national strength. (1935, Maharashtra Sharada periodical,
In a Ram temple, some Hindu brethren will pray to the idol itself as God, some will worship it as an image of God’s incarnation, some will worship it in the belief that it gives deliverance. While a rationalist is not bound by any of these beliefs, he will nonetheless look upon the idol as a memorial of a national hero and will worship it with nationalist feeling. That is the difference. But he will not go to the extreme of refusing to participate in the festivity of King Ramchandra as this would harm public and national organization. Such extremism is not rationalism but madness akin to superstition. Sometimes, useful superstition is not to be rejected. (1935, Maharashtra Sharada periodical, September 1935)
Unsheath those weapons!
Discard those 5000 year old superstitions of untouchability and scripture-based caste discrimination! Unshackle the bonds that stem from literalist belief in shrutis, smritis and puranas and hinder your duty! And unsheath every weapon that is capable of destroying all calamities that strike you today! May you find that weapon in the armoury of your tradition or in that of modernity. (1934, Vidnyannishtha nibandha or pro-science essays, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol 3, p.380)