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Defending The Pag: Sri Veer Savarkar

Mar 26, 2006
Gur Fateh Saadh Sangatji
Most of us might have heard or read about Shri Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar ji. He most the most dreaded Freedom Fighters during the British Rule. His devotion for Sikhi is well known. He had persuaded Dr. Ambedkar to convert to Sikhi when he was looking for a Panth to free himself from the shackles of caste system.He had written books on Sikhi which unfortunately remained unpublished. Here is a beautiful incident i came across on the website www.savarkar.org

[FONT=Tahoma,Tahoma]Harnamsingh was a Sikh, a Keshadhari, which means that he would not cut his hairs and had to tie them above the head like ancient sages. It was therefore impossible for him to wear a cap of any kind. He had to wear a turban. Even though he wore a collar, necktie etc like a European he wore turban also. In those days (i.e. by 1906) very few Sikhs had travelled abroad, therefore he presented a sight of some clumsiness, or an eccentric. Therefore, to the Europeans, especially to their women and children, a man with a turban was a sight of fun. It used to make them laugh.
At times, our group of Indian youth used to go on the deck to enjoy fresh air. Harnamsingh, who shared a cabin with me also used to join us. Europeans pointed at his turban and laughed. At first, we ignored them. But one day their children pointed to the turban and said, ‘ what a funny hat ’ and came very close to him. Their parents, instead of controlling the children, also began to laugh.
Harnamsingh moved on, Mr Etiquette pushed a white boy aside. As a result, the rest of the children went away and their parents too did not make a fuss. But after we returned to our cabin, Mr Etiquette said to me, ‘ Savarkar, tell Harnamsingh not to wear the turban. Why should we dress that makes the Europeans laugh at us and ridicule our behaviour? Though they laughed at Harnamsingh, I felt that it was an insult to all of us. In future, if he insists on wearing the turban, I will not go on the deck.’
I reacted, " My friend, I will never tell Harnamsingh to abandon the turban. Some of our customs are out of date and harmful. I am ahead of all of you in proposing their abandonment. I am far more reformist when it comes to that. However, it is sheer cowardice to abandon certain customs merely because the Europeans laugh at them. Apart from convenience, if we look at it aesthetically, our turbans are far more appealing and colourful than the European hats, which look like dustbins. We should use hats when they are suitable for the occasion. Moreover, wearing a turban is essential to the Sikh way of life. To stop wearing it, simply because Europeans laugh at it, is a national insult to us. I say, ‘ Why don’t WE ALL wear turbans and go on the deck for a walk. When Europeans see that we are all united, their ridicule will subside."
Mr Etiquette sprung up and said, " You said the right thing. From tomorrow, I too will wear a turban and accompany Harnamsingh." Thus I had been successful in kindling his self-respect.
I used to argue in many ways with Indian youth, who were suffering from inferiority complex and try to teach them self-respect. I led this course of action to change their outlook, to make them aware of current politics and to induce them to join the Indian freedom struggle. In short, I used to say, " Today, the English are ruling over us. We therefore have to learn their habits in detail. And while doing that, if we make mistakes, we feel so shy and guilty. I also used to feel the same way. But that is wrong. When we were masters in our land and Europeans came to our land for trade, they too had to learn our customs and manners, they too made silly mistakes and our forefathers too laughed at them in those days."



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