Yamunabai Savarkar (1888 – 1963) was an Indian social worker and the wife of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, an Indian politician, activist, and author.
Yamunabai Savarkar was born as Yashoda on Tuesday, 4 December 1888 (age 75 years; at the time of death) in District Thane, Maharashtra. Her zodiac sign was Sagittarius. She studied up to IV standard. Yamunabai Savarkar belonged to a rich family in the Thane district of Maharashtra.
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Her father’s name is Ramchandra Trimbak (Bhaurao) Chiplunkar. Her father worked as the head of the Jawhar Principality. Her mother’s name is Lakshmibai (Manutai) Chiplunkar. She was the eldest of her four brothers and seven sisters.
Husband & Children
Yamunabai Savarkar got married to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in February 1901. The couple had two children, a son named Vishwas Savarkar, who was an employee at Walchand Group and was an author, and a daughter named Prabhat Chiplunkar who was born on 7 January 1925.
Yamunabai Savarkar with her husband and two children
In December 1904, Yamunabai gave birth to a son named Prabhakar; however, he died from smallpox in 1905. When Prabhakar died, Vinayak Savarkar was in London. In 1926, they had a baby girl whom they named Shalini; however, she died in her infancy. Vishwas Savarkar was born on 17 March 1928.
Yamunabai Savarkar’s son, Vishwas Savarkar
The name of her grandson is Ranjit Savarkar.
Yamunabai Savarkar’s Grandson, Ranjit Savarkar
Marriage with Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Yahusivini, the wife of Ganesh Damodar Savarkar, was a good friend of Yamunabai. The father of Yamunabai was attracted to the sharp intellectual abilities of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. The Savarkars and Chiplunkars were close to each other. Savarkar’s maternal uncle suggested the alliance of Vinayak and Yamunabai to Ganesh Damodar Savarkar as Ganesh was finding a suitable match for Vinayak. Soon, after the alliance was finalised, Ramchandra Chiplunkar promised to finance the higher education of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. In February 1901, they entered into wedlock. Yamunabai was influenced by the patriotic environment of Savarkar’s family. She transformed herself into her that environment and started letting her voice to the poems and ballads of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Reportedly, the other female members of the Savarkar family used to memorize patriotic poems and songs. After their marriage, Vinayak Savarkar went to the Fergusson College to continue his higher studies as promised by Yamunabai’s father. When Vinayak Savarkar was in college, he often visited his home during his college holidays to meet his wife, Yamunabai Savarkar.
Yamunabai Savarkar (sitting left) and children
Joining Atmanishtha Yuvati Samaj
Soon after the marriage, Yamunabai Savarkar was encouraged by the Savarkar family to join Atmanishtha Yuvati Samaj (Marathi for Self-respecting Young Women’s Society). This revolutionary organisation was established by Yesuvahini, the wife of Babarao Savarkar. The main motives behind the establishment of this revolutionary organisation were to indulge more Indian women in the freedom fighting struggle by making them aware of the political conditions in India. This organisation aimed at inculcating nationalism spirit in Indian women by participating in the Indian independence movement. This was a group of approximately 100-125 women including the renowned Indian freedom fighters Godumai Khare and Laxmibai Datar. In the meetings of this organisation, its group members used to chant the patriotic songs composed by Govind (Aba) Darekar and Vinayak Savarkar to inspire each other for a cause. They used to read the anti-British articles, which were published in The Kesari, to boost their morale. One had to take an oath before becoming a member of Atmanishtha Yuvati Samaj. It was read as,
In the name of the Motherland, Shivaji Raja who won freedom through war and Bhavani Mata who gives strength, I hereby give witness before Shivaji and Bhavani Durga Devi that I shall use swadeshi goods only, love my country more than my life, strive for my country’s freedom and help those who are doing so.”
Speration from Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was working as a lawyer in London in 1906. In London, he got involved in revolutionary activities against the British Raj in India. The British police kept him under surveillance. Meanwhile, his elder brother, Babarao Savarkar, was detained by the Britishers for his involvement in the anti-British activities in India and was sent to the Andamans cellular jail for rigorous punishment after fifteen days of Vinayak’s infant son’s death. Vinayak Damodar was also detained in London by the British police and was sent to India. During his voyage, he tried to escape at Marseilles and was again arrested. He was then kept at Nashik jail.
Meetings with Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in jail
Soon after Yamunabai Savarkar received the information that Vinayak was detained at the Nashik jail, she went along with her brother to meet Vinayak. She travelled from Trimbakeshwar to Nashik on a horse. At Nashik, she was not helped by any of her friends as they all were scared of the British government. None of her friends accommodated her. She stayed at a temple in Tambat Ali, Nashik with her brother and met her husband for forty-five minutes the next day. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was then shifted to the Dongri prison in Mumbai soon after he was sentenced to the cellular jail at Andamans. Yamunabai Savarkar visited him in the Dongri prison. According to some media sources, after meeting her husband, she got emotional. Upon this, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar encouraged her by stating that he was sacrificing his life for the independence of India, and he added that the main aim of human life was not to produce children and gather scarce things as such a life was also led by crows and sparrows. He said,
If the Almighty shows compassion, we shall meet again. Till then, if you are ever tempted by the thought of an ordinary family life, remember that if producing children and collecting a few twigs to build a home is to be called married life, then such a life is led by crows and sparrows as well.”
Yamunabai answered that she was understanding his emotions and was trying to follow his path. She said,
We are trying to do just that. As far as we are concerned, we have each other. If you take care of yourself, we shall feel fulfilled.”
Reportedly, after the meeting ended, Vinayak Savarkar reassured his wife and her brother that he could bear the weight of the handcuffs happily by walking thirty steps back with raised arms. Yamunabai Savarkar again met Vinayak Savarkar in the Ratnagiri district jail when he was released from Andamans jail.
After Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was released from the Andaman cellular jail, Yamunabai started participating in social activities. She organised a women’s public meeting on 26 July 1930 at the Vithal Mandir in Ratnagiri. The agenda of the meeting was to propagate the concept of ‘Swadeshi’ among its women members and to boost them to widen their Indian freedom movements. On 9 September 1932, Yamunabai Savarkar and Madhavrao Bagal, who was the leader of Satyashodhak, attended an inter-community dinner of women at Ratnagiri. This dinner was organised to celebrate Madhavrao Bagal’s visit to Ratnagiri. On 10 September 1932, Yamunabai Savarkar and Vinayak Savarkar together hosted an yagnya event organised by Akhil Hindu Yagnya in Ratnagiri. Yamunabai Savarkar was invited to consecrate a holy palanquin on 20 August 1936 on the occasion of the Akhil Hindu Nama Saptah in Maharashtra. An inter-community dinner was attended by more than 4oo women including the Indian women revolutionaries and the low castes and ex-untouchables on 26 September 1936. Yamunabai Savarkar was the chief guest of this dinner, which was held at the Patit Pavan Mandir, Ratnagiri. Yamunabai Savarkar was felicitated by the ladies’ wing of the Chitpavan Brahmin Sangh on 19 April 1941 for her activism in social works and revolutionary activities. She was honoured for her tireless work in encouraging the women of India to participate in the Indian revolutionary movements by enrolling their children in the Indian armed forces. On 30 January 1944, Yamunabai Savarkar was invited to attend an Akhil Hindu Tilgul (sesame and jaggery) event. She was requested to deliver a speech on the stage. In her speech, she claimed that India was her home. She said,
The nation is my home and my home is my nation.”
Yamunabai Savarkar was present at the public function, which was organised by the party employees of Vinayak Savarkar on his 61st birthday. This function was organised to honour the deeds of Vinayak Savarkar. The Hindu Mahasabha organisers felicitated Yamunabai Savarkar with a traditional sari and other precious items like a gold necklace and cash in December 1950 at a convention of Hindu Mahasabha. This conversation was held at Veer Savarkar Nagar in Pune under the chairmanship of Dr N.B. Khare, and it was attended by thousands of women. During the event, M.S. Dikshit, an author who wrote the biography of Yamunabai Savarkar, was felicitated with a pen by her. The function went on with some speeches by some women members of Hindu Mahasabha in the honour of Yamunabai. Those who spoke in honour of Yamunabai Savarkar were Shantabai Gokhale (Pune), Godumai Khare (Nashik), Saraswatibai Kavanikar, Malatibai Agarkar, Lele, and Sindhutai Godse.
She died on 8 November 1963 at Dr AK Talwalkar’s Colony Nursing Home in Dadar, Maharashtra due
Yamunabai Savarkar’s health got deteriorated in 1956, and she was suggested complete rest by the doctors of Dr AK Talwalkar’s Colony Nursing Home in Dadar. At the end of the year, she recovered from her illness. In October 1963, she was again hospitalised at AK Talwalkar’s Colony Nursing Home in Dadar where she was diagnosed with lymphoma. She breathed her last on 8 November 1963 at the same hospital due to prolonged illness. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar talked about her life on the demise of Yamunabai. He said,
Mai has passed. Her life has been fulfilled.”
The body of Yamunabai Savarkar was taken to the crematorium place from the hospital directly after her death as wished by Vinayak Savarkar. It was not taken to the Savarkar Sadan. Moreover, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was not present at the cremation of his wife, Yamunabai Savarkar. Once, someone asked Vinayak the reason behind not attending the cremation of his own wife. He then replied,
I have already bid farewell to Mai. I do not feel up to it to go there.”
- She was also known by the name Mai.
- According to a media source, Yamunabai Savarkar’s complexion was dark.
- When Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was held as one of the suspects in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination then an enraged crowd attacked Vinayak at his home. At that time, Yamunabai Savarkar was spotted standing beside her husband with a stick to counterattack the crowd.
- Reportedly, the poem ‘Kamala’ was written by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar when he was detained in jail. He dedicated this poem to his wife, Yamunabai Savarkar, and it is said that this poem exactly corresponded to the character of Yamunabai.
- In May 1924, when the plague hit Ratnagiri, Babarao Savarkar and Yamunabai Savarkar shifted to Mumbai. They moved to Mumbai along with Narayanrao Savarkar, the younger brother of Vinayak Savarkar.
The Savarkar brothers (Left to right) Narayan, Ganesh and Vinayak, with Shanta, sister Maina Kale and Yamuna
- On 1 March 1927, Mahatma Gandhi and his wife Kasturba Gandhi were travelling to Maharashtra for a public meeting. During their stay in the state, in one of his meetings, Gandhi wished to meet Vinayak Savarkar. Meanwhile, Vinayak was unable to meet Gandhi as he was not well and was down with a high fever. Later, Mahatma Gandhi and his wife were invited by Vinayak Savarkar to his place. Kasturba Gandhi also accompanied her husband at the invitation. According to media sources, the meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Vinayak Savarkar lasted for ninety minutes during which Yamunabai and Kasturba were chatting in Vinayak’s kitchen while attending the pleasantries.
- Yamunabai Savarkar actively advocated against the untouchability system prevalent in India. Once, she energetically organised an untouchability movement in Ratnagiri before the independence of India.
- Vinayak Savarkar was supported by Yamunabai Savarkar in his all major campaigns including social reforms in India.
- Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an atheist. However, Yamunabai Savarkar believed in worshipping Hindu deities. She used to worship Hindu gods every day; however, Vinayak never stopped her from following the religious path.
- Reportedly, Yamunabai Savarkar selflessly looked after an ex-untouchable girl who was once sheltered by Vinayak Savarkar at his home in Ratnagiri.