The ghazals, patriotic in character, are part of a notebook kept by Savarkar in prison, and there is much surprise that Savarkar has written in fluent Urdu, a language considered unlikely for the champion of political Hindutva. A ghazal is asublime form of Urdu poetry.
The notebook was found in the collection of books handed down by the late S P Gokhale, an associate of Savarkar, to his daughter Manjiri Marathe, a trustee of the Swatantryaveer Savarkar Rashtriya Smarak, who made the discovery.
The notebook is currently on display at the Smarak opposite Shivaji Park maidan.
Savarkar's grandson and chairman of the Smarak Ranjit Savarkar said, "Nobody knew of Savarkar's proficiency in Urdu till this manuscript was found." The two ghazals, running into five pages, portray Savarkar's hope for the freedom of his motherland, a hope he fervently nursed even while incarcerated in the Andamans, better known as Kaala Pani, from 1910 to 1921.
Notebook also contains a Hindi poem
The notebook containing Savarkar's Urdu ghazals also has a Hindi poem written by him, which runs into three pages, Savarkar's grandson said.
He added that except for certain Persian words, the ghazals can be understood by anybody, and the facing pages have their lyrics in Devanagri script.
Noted Urdu poet Nida Fazli, who saw the ghazals, reportedly commented, "Looking at their content and quality, it is clear that you cannot discriminate between languages on the basis of religion. Savarkar learnt and studied Urdu while serving a life imprisonment term in the Andamans. He was a great patriot, which is evident from his poetic creations."
Ranjit Savarkar said the notebook is a hand-made one, its cover fashioned by sticking jail records together. "During the last few months of his stay in the Andamans, Savarkar was made foreman of the oil godown in jail. There, for the first time, he had access to ink and paper. His earlier poems were written on the walls using nails and were memorised by him and then sent via prisoners returning to India. The prisoners too had to memorise the poems to carry them all the way to India."
The first part of the notebook is a scrapbook that includes pictures of personalities such as Rama, Krishna, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Shivaji, Lokmanya Tilak, Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi. "Savarkar was allowed to receive a few books/magazines from home once in a year. These pictures seem to be taken from those. The cover page is the cover of the Marathi magazine Chitramay Jagat," Ranjit Savarkar said.
Talking of how the discovery happened, he said, "The manuscript was sent to 'Wrangler' R P Paranjpe by Pyaremohan, who handed it over to the late S P Gokhale, an associate of Savarkar. Gokhale passed away in 2006. Manjiri Marathe, his daughter and trustee of the Savarkar Smarak, was informed by Ninad Bedekar, a historian, that he had seen a manuscript having Urdu writings of Savarkar in her father's collection. As his collection of documents and books runs into thousands, Manjiri Marathe, after many futile visits to Pune for the search, finally succeeded in finding this manuscript."
The notebook will later be shifted to a museum of Indian revolutionaries that the Smarak is setting up.