Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s ‘strategic agnosticism’: A compilation of his socio-political philosophy and worldview

  • Siegfried O. Wolf (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


Since India's independence (and even before) there is a growing ideological debate regarding its identity and self-understanding. The focal point of this discussion is the much-disputed and multi-faceted Indian historical figure Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1985-1966). His life and work, and above all his literary compositions, point to numerous paradoxes and controversial phenomena, which divides the discussants basically into two essential camps. On the one side are those who see Savarkar and his socio-political vision (Hindutva) that he proclaimed as the greatest danger to the foundation of the modern, secular state, democracy, and multiculturalism. With this background, Savarkar is used as the synonym for an "anti-modern" regression, and as the ideological founder of a phenomenon that has usually been referred to as "Hindu nationalism" or "Hindu fundamentalism". This side is opposed by a second camp consisting of people who tend to see Savarkar and his perceptions of state theory as a legitimate and ambitious form of democratic self-determination. However, all these controversies about Savarkar do not take into account the philosophical tenets underlying his social and political thoughts. Both Indian as well as Western scholars have focused only on some particular fragments of his thoughts without spending the time and effort to understand his various theoretical concepts in a complex and coherent framework. Therefore, this article aims to explore the philosophical foundation of his notions and actions, and suggests crucial variables for further scientific analysis.


India, Savarkar, Hindu-Nationalism, Identity, Hindutva