Religious vows and observances

Given below is an English translation of Savarkar’s assorted views on religious vows and observances.

 

How should vows and observances be selected?

The objectives of vows and observances are self-purification, reaping the fruits of actions and obtaining blessings for the hereafter. All these objectives can be met by service to humankind. If one were to select those vows and observances which directly benefit humankind, our society and nation and which instead of reinforcing ignorance and superstition in man further his knowledge and happiness, one can obtain this-worldly fruit of benefiting our nation and humankind and at the same time obtain blessing for the hereafter by pleasing the gods. (Samaj Chitre or portraits of society, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.2, p. 702)

Service to man is service to God

…The righteousness of yagnas (*sacrificial fire), charity and penances stems from their ability to uphold society. Man (Nar) is the ultimate manifestation of the Divine (Narayan). Which yagna, which vow, which penance other than that of serving humankind can please the gods? (1935, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 338)

Advice to women

Oh women, Hinduism will live and become victorious only if this Hindu nation lives, survives and becomes victorious. Hinduism will surely die if this Hindu nation were to die, if this Hindusthan becomes ahindusthan (lit: land of the non-Hindus). If Hindu women truly wish to observe religious vows, under the present circumstances, these have to be necessarily those that directly benefit this Hindu nation. Do such service on a regular basis! Give away riches, labour, food and if need be your honour and your very lives for this most beloved Hindu nation! That is the dharma (* righteousness) for both this world and the hereafter. Vows and observances are to be judged on this touchstone! (Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.4, p. 307)

Reinvent those vows that are based on superstitious beliefs

…Those vows that have no material benefit and are solely popularized on the basis of Puranic fables should be reinvented and given a different form. (Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.4, p. 298)

Which vows need to be observed?

…In the present circumstances, vows should directly serve the Hindu nation or humanity. They should alleviate the sufferings of the wretched and the meek. Vows should involve physical or economic hardships and should result in direct service of the nation. These are the vows that should be observed by Hindu saints and commoners. (Ksha kirane or X rays, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 157)

Which vows need to be discarded?

Those vows whose presiding gods and their descriptions have been rendered totally false by today’s experimental science should be discarded. In ancient times, certain incidents and lifeless objects were considered as living gods purely due to the ignorance regarding the science of creation. Those vows which were popularized merely to appease such gods should be considered worthy of rejection in the present time. (Samaj chitre or portraits of society, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.2, p. 703)

It is foolishness to say that I shall perform Satyanarayana puja if God blesses me

(*Satyanarayana puja is performed by devout Hindus on any auspicious occasion, usually in the Hindu month of shravan. It is usually performed as thanksgiving for blessings received; story of Satyanarayana narrated by Sri Vishnu to the rishi Narada in the Reva khand of Sri Skandapurana)

To hope that God will do what is good for me; to say that I shall perform satyanarayana puja if God blesses me is downright silly and utterly false. For if it is god whom we thank for saving us from a calamity, who brought that calamity upon us in the first place? The same satyanarayana, the same god! (1934, Vidnyannishtha nibandha or pro-science essays, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol. 3, p.296)