Nathuram Godse Killed Mahatma Gandhi to Save Hindus and India?
Most people know the name of Nathuram Godse as a killer of Mahatma Gandhi. This is how the whole world remembers him every year on death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on 30th January. However, there has been lots of contradictions about why Godse had to kill Gandhi and what were the real reasons behind Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. Most of these reasons haven indeed been talked about in the past as well but not so openly. That is to only to make Godse always look like a accused and Gandhi as a mere victim. However, when the whole story and underlying reasons are seen with a different perspective, then it ofcourse leads to unearthing of newer facts and analysis. This is what which has been kept hidden from being talked openly so as to keep the image of Mahatma Gandhi and his ideology of non-violence unquestionable always. However, the very fact that lots of plays, dramas and even movies have been released on this controversial topic itself proves that there is indeed other side of story remained untold. Let us try to go through the who background, story and real motives behind Mahatma Gandhi’s murder by Nathuram Godse. Well, whole analysis is based upon the existing information on the topic as available in various online and offline resources.
Nathuram Godse –Background, Family, Early Life
Nathuram Godse’s full name was Nathuram Vinayak Godse and he was born on 19th May 1910 in the city of Pune, India and died on 15 November 1949. He was a Hindutva activist and journalist, who was the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi. Along with his brother Gopal Godse and six other co-conspirators, he executed a plot to assassinate Gandhi.
NathuramGodse was born in Baramatiबारामती, Pune District in a Chitpavan Brahmin family. His father, Vinayak Vamanrao Godse, was a post office employee and his mother was Lakshmii (née Godavari). At birth, he was named Ramachandra.
How Nathuran Godse Got His Name
There is quite an interesting story on how Nathuram Godse got his name. Nathuram was given his name because of an unfortunate incident. Before he was born, his parents had three sons and a daughter, with all three boys dying in their infancy. Fearing a curse that targeted male children, young Ramachandra was brought up as a girl for the first few years of his life, including having his nose pierced and being made to wear a nose-ring (“Nath” in Marathi). It was then that he earned the nickname “Nathuram” (literally “Ram with a nose-ring”). After his younger brother was born, they switched to treating him as a boy.
Nathuram Godse was a Homosexual?
However, other biographers dismiss the above story, together with claims that Godse was a homosexual, as a fabrication by the Congress Party of India, meant to exploit the prejudices against transvestites and homosexuals in conservative Indian society in order to demonize Godse.
Nathuram Godse Schooling and Education
Nathuram Godse attended the local school at Baramati through the fifth standard, after which he was sent to live with an aunt in Pune so that he could study at an English-language school. During his school days, he highly respected Gandhi. In 1930, Nathuram’s father was transferred to the town of Ratnagiri.
Godse’s Entry to Politics
Godse dropped out of high school and became an activist with Hindu nationalist organizations such as the Hindu Mahasabha, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), although the RSS has claimed he left during the mid-1930s, almost 20 years prior to the assassination. They were particularly opposed to the separatist politics of the All India Muslim League. Godse started a Marathi newspaper for Hindu Mahasabha called Agrani, which some years later was renamed. Hindu Rashtra. The Hindu Mahasabha had initially backed Gandhi’s campaigns of civil disobedience against the British government.
What Made Nathuram Godse Against Mahatma Gandhi
Nathuram Godse rejected Gandhi, after what he saw as Gandhi’s repeated sabotage against the interests of Hindus by using the “fasting unto death” tactic on many issues. In Godse’s view, Gandhi was giving into Muslim interests in ways that seemed unfair and anti-national. He blamed Gandhi for the Partition of India, which left hundreds of thousands of people dead in the wake of religious unrest.
Gandhi’s Non-Violence Made Godse so Violent that He Killed Bapu
Godse was against Gandhi’s personal teachings of extreme or absolutist non violence. He thought that such non-violent ideology would lead to Hindus losing the will to fight against other religions, which he saw as a matter of self-defense, and thereby becoming permanently enslaved. This has been said to be one of the major reasons behind his decision to kill Gandhi.
Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi [How Godse Killed Gandhi]
Godse approached Gandhi on January 30, 1948 during the evening prayer and bowed. One of the girls flanking and supporting Gandhi, Abha Chattopadhyay, said to him, “Brother, Bapu is already late” and tried to put him off but he pushed her aside and shot Gandhi in the chest three times at point-blank range with a semi-automatic pistol. Gandhi died almost immediately. After shooting, Godse did not try to run or threaten anyone else. He was attacked and pinned to the ground by the crowd around him and was subsequently arrested when a small group of police officers arrived on the scene a few minutes later.
Godse’s Court Trial
Following the assassination of Mohandas Gandhi, he was put on trial beginning May 27, 1950 at Peterhoff, Shimla which housed the Punjab High Court.
On November 8 1950, Godse delivered his statements in court enunciating the reasons and motives for the assassination.
Godse’s Reply on Why He Killed Gandhi (as answers to the charge sheet filed)
Godse narrated all the reasons that led to killing of Mahatma Gandhi in the form of his answers to the charge sheet filed against him. Below are the excerpts from different but main sections of his answers to the charge sheet.
Nathuram Godse’s Answer to Charge Sheet (Excerpts from Para. 26, 27)
Below is an excerpt of Godse’s answer to the charge sheet filed against him on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.
As I grew up I developed a tendency to free thinking unfettered by any superstitious allegiance to any isms, political or religious. That is why I worked actively for the eradication of untouchability and the caste system based on birth alone. I openly joined anti-caste movements and maintained that all Hindus are of equal status as to rights, social and religious, and should be considered high or low on merit alone and not through the accident of birth in a particular caste or profession. I used publicly to take part in organized anti-caste dinners which thousands of Hindus, Brahmins, Vaishyas, Kshatriyas, Chamars and Bhangis participated. We broke the caste rules and dined in the company of each other.
He listed Dadabhai Naoroji, Swami Vivekananda, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Bal Gangadhar Tilak as his influences, along with the ancient and modern histories of India, England, France, America and Russia, and the tenets of Socialism and Marxism.
Below is the para 28 of his answer to the charge sheet;
All this reading and thinking brought me to believe that above all it was my first duty to serve the Hindudom and the Hindu people, as a patriot and even as a humanitarian. For, is it not true that to secure the freedom and to safeguard the just interests of some thirty crores of Hindus constituted the freedom and the well-being of one fifth of human race ? This conviction led me naturally to devote myself to the new Hindu Sanghatanist ideology and programme which alone I came to believe, could win and preserve the national independence of Hindusthan, my Motherland and enable her to render true service to humanity as well.
Nathuram Godse Dismissed Gandhi’s Non-Violence Policy
He dismissed Gandhi’s policies of truth and non-violence as “nothing new or original” and considered them “implicit in every constitutional public movement”. He defended the use of righteous violence against aggression and quoted the examples of Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Guru Govind Singh. He rebuked Gandhi for his “self-conceit” for condemning them as misguided patriots. However, Gandhi had referred to the issue in a completely different way.
He accused Gandhi of paradoxically being a “violent pacifist” who brought calamities to the country through non-violence. According to Godse, Gandhi developed a “subjective mentality under which he alone was to be the final judge of what was right or wrong” and accused him of having too much power.
Nathuram Godse, Answer to the Charge Sheet (Excerpt from Para. 69)
Below is an excerpt from Para 69 of Godse’s answer to the charge sheet;
If the country wanted his leadership, it had to accept his infallibility; if it did not, he would stand aloof from the Congress and carry on in his own way. Against such an attitude there can be no halfway house. Either Congress had to surrender its will to his and had to be content with playing second fiddle to all his eccentricity, whimsicality, metaphysics and primitive vision, or it had to carry on without him. He alone was the judge of everyone and everything; he was the master brain guiding the Civil Disobedience movement; no other could know the technique of that movement. He alone knew when to begin it and when to withdraw it. The movement might succeed or fail, but that could make no difference to the Mahatma’s infallibility. ‘A Satyagrahi can never fail’ was his formula for his own infallibility and nobody except himself knew what a Satyagrahi is.
Godse Accused Gandhi of Insane and Pro-Muslim Policies
Godse rebuked Gandhi’s “childish insanities and obstinacies”. According to Godse, Gandhi did not allow any room for people to disagree with his “irrational” policies. Thus, Godse held Gandhi’s irresponsibility as the cause of “blunder after blunder, failure after failure, and disaster after disaster”. He also accused Gandhi of having a blatant pro-Muslim policy and quoted Gandhi’s support for Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) (which was synonymous to Urdu) as the national language of India after the Muslims objected to Hindi and claimed that all of Gandhi’s experiments were at the expense of the Hindus.
Nathuram Godse, Answer to the Charge Sheet (Para. 35)
Gandhiji began to hold his prayer meetings in a Hindu temple in Bhangi Colony and persisted in reading passages from Quoran as a part of the prayer in that Hindu temple in spite of the protest of the Hindu worshippers there. Of course he dared not read the Geeta in a mosque in the teeth of Muslim opposition. He knew what a terrible Muslim reaction would have been if he had done so. But he could safely trample over the feelings of the tolerant Hindu. To this belief I was determined to prove to Gandhiji that the Hindu too could be intolerant when his honour was insulted.
He explained that Gandhi’s unfair treatment and hypocrisy was the cause of his anger.
Nathuram Godse, Answer to the Charge Sheet (Para. 48)
The fact that Gandhiji honoured the religious books of Hindus, Muslims and others or that he used to recite during his prayers verses from the Geeta, the Quoran and Bible never provoked any ill will in me towards him. To my mind it is not at all objectionable to study comparative religion. Indeed it is a merit.
Gandhi’s Bias towards Muslims, Pakistan and Support for Separation of Sind
He quoted numerous examples of Gandhi’s bias such as the fast for the payment of Rs. 55 crores to Pakistan, his support for the Khilafat movement and the invasion of India by the Amir of Afghanistan, his denunciation of the Arya Samaj which included several nationalist leaders, his silence over the subsequent murder of Swami Shraddhanand by a Muslim, his support for the separation of Sind, his placation of Jinnah and the Muslim League, his denial of slaughter and forced conversion of Hindus by Muslims in the Moplah Riots despite evidence to the contrary, opposition to the singing of Vande Mataram, his contrasting treatment of Hindu and Muslim princes, support for cow-slaughter, opposition to Shivaji’s Flag, his hypocrisy over the violent Quit India movement (by his call to “Do or Die”), among others. (Para. 69).
Godse firmly believed in a secular State and was opposed to the supremacist demands of the Muslim League (Para 51).
Godse accused Gandhi of infatuation with the Muslim League even after the massacre of Hindus by Muslims after Direct Action Day and despite their increasing disloyalty and treason to the Interim Government. He also denounced the Congress, which had boasted of its “nationalism and secularism”, of surrendering to Jinnah and accepting Pakistan at the “point of the bayonet”.
What Gandhi Called Non-Violence was the Most Violent Time in History
Godse accused Gandhi for much of the violence that happened in the country during 1960 and 1948 and tried to make a point that Gandhi’s non-violence policy was nothing more than a fake. This is what he answered in the charge sheet in Para 69w.
Nathuram Godse, Answer to the Charge Sheet (Para. 69w, 91, 140)
This is what Gandhiji had achieved after thirty years of undisputed dictatorship and this is what the Congress Party calls ‘Freedom’. Never in the history of the world has such slaughter been officially connived at or the result described as Freedom, and ‘Peaceful Transfer of power’ If what happened in India in 1946, 1947 and 1948 is to be called peaceful one wonders what would be the violent. Hindu Muslim Unity bubble was finally burst and a theocratic and communal State dissociated from everything that smacked of United India was established with the consent of Nehru and his crowd and they have called it `Freedom won by them at sacrifice’. Whose sacrifice?
Godse Accused Gandhi of being Father of Pakistan and not of India
According to Godse, Gandhi did not impose any conditions on Muslims because Jinnah and the Muslim League were not at all perturbed or influenced by his fasts and attached no value to his voice. He also criticized Gandhi’s epithet “The Father of India” for failing in his paternal duty as he consented to its partition. He claimed Gandhi failed in his duty and proved to be the father of Pakistan.
His inner-voice, his spiritual power, his doctrine of non-violence of which so much is made of, all crumbled against Jinnah’s iron will and proved to be powerless.
He criticized Gandhi’s non-violent policy during the communal clashes:
“We should with a cool mind reflect when we are being swept away. Hindus should never be angry against the Muslims even if the latter might make up their minds to undo even their existence. If they put all of us to the sword, we should court death bravely, may they, even rule the world, we, shall inhabit the world. At least we should never fear death. We are destined to be born and die; then why need we feel gloomy over it? If all of us die with a smile on our lips, we shall enter a new life. We shall originate a new Hindustan.”
Godse Killed Gandhi to save Hindus
Had this act not been done by me, of course it would have been better for me. But circumstances were beyond my control. So strong was the impulse of my mind that I felt that this man should not be allowed to meet a natural death so that the world may know that he had to pay the penalty of his life for his unjust, anti-national and dangerous favouritism towards a fanatical section of the country. I decided to put an end to this matter and to the further massacre of lacs of Hindus for no fault of theirs. May God now pardon him for his egoistic nature which proved to be too disastrous for the beloved sons of this Holy Land.
—Nathuram Godse, Answer to the Charge Sheet (Para. 140)
Godse foresaw that he would be hated by the people, his future would be totally ruined, and that he would lose all his honour, which he held more valuable than his life, if he were to assassinate Gandhi. However, he considered that Indian politics in Gandhi’s absence would be practical, able to retaliate and be powerful with the armed forces, and that “the nation would be saved from the inroads of Pakistan”.
He then confessed that he fired the shots at Gandhi on January 30 1950, on the prayer-grounds in Birla House.
I do say that my shots were fired at the person whose policy and action had brought rack and ruin and destruction to millions of Hindus. There was no legal machinery by which such an offender could be brought to book and for this reason I fired those fatal shots. I bear no ill will towards anyone individually, but I do say that I had no respect for the present government owing to their policy, which was unfairly favourable towards the Muslims. But at the same time I could clearly see that the policy was entirely due to the presence of Gandhi.
—Nathuram Godse, Answer to the Charge Sheet (Excerpt from Para. 135)
Godse Accused Nehru as well for being Instrumental in creation of Pakistan
He then accused Prime Minister Nehru of hypocrisy with his speeches of secularism, because he was instrumental in creating the Islamic state of Pakistan along with Gandhi’s persistent policy of appeasement towards the Muslims.
This is what Godse said while confessing on why he killed Gandhi and denying any mercy or help for this from any one in this matter.
Finally, I now stand before the court to accept the full share of my responsibility for what I have done and the judge would, of course, pass against me such orders of sentence as may be considered proper. But I would like to add that I do not desire any mercy to be shown to me, nor do I wish that anyone should beg for mercy on my behalf. My confidence about the moral side of my action has not been shaken even by the criticism levelled against it on all sides. I have no doubt that honest writers of history will weigh my act and find the true value thereof someday in future.
—Nathuram Godse, Answer to the Charge Sheet (Para. 150)
Court’s Decision and Statement over Godse’s Trial and Statements (by Justice Khosla)
In the light of the statement, Justice Khosla commented :
The highlight of the appeal before us was the discourse delivered by Nathuram Godse in his defence. He spoke for several hours, discussing, in the first instance, the facts of the case and then the motive, which had prompted him to take Mahatma Gandhi’s life. The audience was visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs. The silence was accentuated and made deeper by the sound of an occasional subdued sniff or a muffled cough…
I have however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of ‘not guilty’ by an over-whelming majority.’
Execution –Godse was Hanged on 15 November 1949
On November 8, 1949, Godse was sentenced to death. Among those calling for commutation of the death sentence for the defendants were Jawaharlal Nehru, as well as Gandhi’s two sons, who felt that executing their father’s killers would dishonour his memory and legacy which included a staunch opposition to the death penalty. Godse was hanged at Ambala Jail on November 15, 1949 along with Narayan Apte, the other conspirator. Savarkar was also charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Gandhi, but was acquitted and subsequently released.
Aftermath –RSS Ban and Denial About Godse’s RSS Membership
Millions of Indians mourned Gandhi’s assassination. The Hindu Mahasabha was vilified and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS, was temporarily banned. However, investigators could find no evidence that the RSS bureaucracy had formally sponsored or even knew of Godse’s plot. The RSS ban was lifted by Prime Minister Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1949.
The RSS, to this day denies any connection with Godse, and disputes the claim that he was a member.
After the assassination, many criticized the Indian government for not doing more to protect Gandhi who, earlier in the week,had been the target of a bomb plot by the same conspirators who later shot him. Of particular concern, was the fact that a Bombay detective had wired the names and descriptions of the assassins along with the fact that they were known to be in Delhi stalking Gandhi. On the other hand, Gandhi had repeatedly refused to cooperate with his own security and had resigned himself to a violent death which he accepted as an inevitable part of his destiny.
Plays, Dramas and Movies on Mahatma Gandhi’s Assassination by Nathuram Godse (from Godse’s Point of View)
Till date, there have been many instances when this topic has been dramatized in the form of plays and movies. Below are the some of the plays and movies which were created from the point of view of Godse again hinting that there indeed was the other side of the story.
A film, Nine Hours to Rama, was made in 1963 and was based on the events leading up to the assassination, seen mainly from Godse’s point of view. The film Hey Ram, made in 2000, also briefly touches upon events related to the assassination. The popular Marathi language play Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy (Marathi:मी नथुराम गोडसेबोलतोय)(“I amNathuram Godse, Speaking”) wasalso made from Godse’s point of view.
Books on Nathuram Godse’s Point of View:
Three books were based on Nathuram Godse in which the author narrated his life story and why he assassinated Gandhi. But the books were banned by government. The books were:
1. Why I assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, published by Surya Bharti, Delhi, India, 2003. ISBN 1-375-09979-6
2. May it Please your Honor!, published by Surya Bharti, India, 2003
3. Gandhi Vadh aur Main(Gandhi Hatya Aani Me) by his brother Gopal Godse in 1989.