Mohandas Gandhi was in Ratnagiri on March 1, 1927. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was ill and Gandhi reached Savarkar’s house. In this meeting, Savarkar asked Gandhi to clarify his attitude about untouchability and Shuddhi.
Gandhi said, “We cannot have a long talk today, but you know my regard for you as a lover of truth and as one who would lay down his life for the sake of truth. Besides, our goal is ultimately one and I would like you to correspond with me as regards all points of difference between us. And more. I know that you cannot go out of Ratnagiri and I would not mind finding out two or three days to come and stay with you if necessary to discuss these things to our satisfaction.”
Savarkar thanked Gandhi and said, “I thank you, but you are free and I am bound, and I don’t want to put you in the same case as I. But I will correspond with you.”
The news of this meeting and conversation between Gandhi and Savarkar was published in ‘Young India’ on March 17, 1927. It should be noted that Gandhi himself was the editor of the English newspaper ‘Young India’.
However, on this day, Gandhi also gave a speech in Ratnagiri. In this speech, without taking Savarkar’s name, he said that “… when Mussalmans are converting us, who is going to listen to your khadi? Have you, I ask, become so impotent that you will be Mussalmans because someone compels you to embrace Islam? If you have true dharma in you, no one dare violate it.”
Not only this, but Gandhi also said in his speech that “I am asked to take part in the Shuddhi movement. How can I, when I wish that its Muslim and Christian counterparts should also cease? It is unthinkable that a man will become good or attain salvation only if he embraces a particular religion—Hinduism, Christianity or Islam. Purity of character and salvation depend on the purity of heart. I, therefore, say to the Hindus, Do whatever you like, but don’t ask a man like me, who has come to his conclusions after the maturest thinking, to take up what he cannot. Man’s capacity is after all limited. I can do what is within my power, not what is beyond it.”
Gandhi’s full speech was also published in ‘Young India’ on March 17, 1927.
In the year 1924, Savarkar was released from jail on the basis of two conditions. Firstly, he will not take part in any political activity. Secondly, he will not go out of the district without the permission of the District Collector of Ratnagiri.
According to Niranjan Takle, a journalist and researcher said in an interview, “Savarkar had a written agreement with Viceroy Linlithgow that both of them had a common objective of opposing Gandhi, the Congress, and the Muslims.”
Niranjan Takle says that “the British used to give him a pension of sixty rupees a month. What kind of service did he do for the British, for which he used to get a pension? He was the only person to get such a pension.”