HIS ASSASSIN: NATHURAM GODSE
Nathuram Godse was arrested moments after shooting Gandhi, and
was taken to the nearby Tughlaq Road police station. A reporter who managed
to see him briefly in a cell at the police station asked him whether he
had anything to say. ?For the present I only want to say that I am
not at all sorry for what I have done?, he replied. ?The rest
I will explain in court.?
Preliminary investigations revealed that he was the Editor of a
Marathi newspaper - Hindu Rashtra and a well-known member of the
Clean-cut, sober, intelligent, the thirty-seven-year-old bachelor hardly
seemed a candidate for the role of assassin. From time to time he had
written scathing editorials denouncing Gandhi and the Congress party,
though acquaintances could not recall an occasion when he had spoken bitterly
against the Mahatma. He had no personal hatred of Gandhi. Godse even stated
in his trial, ?Before I fired the shots, I actually wished him
well and bowed to him in reverence.?
On 8 November 1948, he was allowed his day in the sun when he rose to
make his statement. Reading quietly from a typed manuscript, he sought
to explain why he had killed Gandhi. His thesis covered ninety-pages,
and he was on his feet for five hours. Godse's statement should
be quoted extensively, for it provides an insight into his personality.
" Born in a devotional Brahmin family, I instinctively came
to revere Hindu religion, Hindu history and Hindu culture. I had, therefore,
been intensely proud of Hinduism as a whole. 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. I have
read the speeches and writings of Dadabhai Naoroji, Vivekanand, Gokhale,
Tilak, along with the books of ancient and modern history of India and
some prominent countries like England, France, America and Russia. Moreover
I studied the tenets of socialism and Marxism. But above all I studied
very closely what Veer (brave) Savarkar and Gandhiji had written and spoken,
as to my mind these two ideologies have contributed more to the moulding
of the thought and action of the Indian people during the last thirty
years or so, than any other factor has done.
All this thinking and reading led me to believe that it was my first
duty to serve Hindudom and Hindus both as a patriot and as a world citizen.
To secure the freedom and to safeguard the just interests of some thirty
crores (three hundred million) of Hindus would automatically constitute
the freedom and well-being of all India, one fifth of the human race.
This conviction led me naturally to devote myself to the Hindu Sanghatanist
ideology and programme, which alone, I came to believe, could win and
preserve the National Independence of Hindustan, my Motherland, and enable
her to render true service to humanity as well. Since the year 1920, that
is, after the demise of Lokmanya Tilak, Gandhi's influence in the Congress
first increased and then became supreme.
His activities for public awakening were phenomenal in their intensity
and were reinforced by the slogan of truth and non-violence, which he
paraded ostentatiously before the country. No sensible or enlightened
person could object to these slogans. In fact there is nothing new or
original in them. They are implicit in every constitutional public movement.
But it is nothing but a dream if you imagine the bulk of mankind is, or
can ever become, capable of scrupulous adherence to these lofty principles
in its normal life from day to day. In fact, honour, duty and love of
one's own kith and kin and country might often compel us to disregard
non-violence and to use force. I could never conceive that an armed resistance
to an aggression is unjust.
I would consider it a religious and moral duty to resist and if possible,
to overpower such an enemy by use of force. (In the Ramayana) Rama killed
Ravana in a tumultuous fight and relieved Sita. (In the Mahabharata) Krishna
killed Kansa to end his wickedness; and Arjuna had to fight and slay quite
a number of his friends and relations including the revered Bhishma because
the latter was on the side of the aggressor. It is my firm belief that
in dubbing Rama, Krishna and Arjuna as guilty of violence, the Mahatma
betrayed the total ignorance of the springs of human action. In more recent
history, it was the heroic fight put up by Chhatrapati Shivaji that first
checked and eventually destroyed the Muslim tyranny in India. It was absolutely
essential for Shivaji to overpower and kill an aggressive Afzal Khan,
failing which he would have lost his own life. In condemning history's
towering warriors like Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Guru Govind Singh as misguided
patriots, Gandhi has merely exposed as self-conceit.
He was, paradoxical, as it may appear, a violent pacifist who brought
untold calamities on the country in the name of truth and non-violence,
while Rana Pratap, Shivaji and the Guru will remain enshrined in the hearts
of their countrymen forever for the freedom they brought to them. The
accumulating provocation of thirty-two years, culminating in his last
pro-Muslim fast, at last goaded me to the conclusion that the existence
of Gandhi should be brought to an end immediately. Gandhi had done very
good work in South Africa to uphold the rights and well being of the Indian
But when he finally returned to India, he developed a subjective mentality
under which he alone was to be the final judge of what was right or wrong.
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.
Thus the Mahatma became the judge and the jury in his own case.
These childish insanities and obstinacies, coupled with a most severe
austerity of life, ceaseless work and lofty character made Gandhi formidable
and irresistible. Many people thought that his policies were irrational
but they had either to withdraw from the Congress or place their intelligence
at his feet to do with, as he liked. In a position of such absolute irresponsibility,
Gandhi was guilty of blunder after blunder, failure after failure, and
disaster after disaster. Gandhi's pro-Muslim policy is blatantly illustrated
in his perverse attitude on the question of the national language of India.
It is quite obvious that Hindi has the most prior claim to be accepted
as the premier language.
In the beginning of his career in India, Gandhi gave a great impetus to
Hindi but as he found that the Muslims did not like it, he became a champion
of what is called Hindustani. Everybody in India knows that there
is no language in India called Hindustani; it has no grammar; it has no
vocabulary. It is a mere dialect; It is spoken, not written. It is a tongue
and a crossbreed between Hindi and Urdu, and not even the Mahatma's sophistry
could make it popular. But in his desire to please the Muslims he insisted
that Hindustani alone should be the national language of India. His blind
followers, of course, supported him and the so-called hybrid language
began to be used. The charm and the purity of the Hindi language were
to be prostituted to please the Muslims. All his experiments
were at the expense of the Hindus.
From August 1946 onwards the private armies of the Muslim League began
a massacre of Hindus. The then Viceroy, Lord Wavell, though distressed
at what was happening, would not use his powers under the Government of
India Act of 1935 to prevent the rape, murder and arson. The Hindu blood
began to flow from Bengal to Karachi with little retaliation by the Hindus.
The Interim Government formed in September was sabotaged by its Muslim
League members right from its inception, but the more they became disloyal
and treasonable to the government of which they were a part, the greater
was Gandhi's infatuation for them.
Lord Wavell had to resign as he could not bring about a settlement and
was succeeded by Lord Mountbaten. King Stork followed King Log. The Congress,
which had boasted of its nationalism and secularism, secretly accepted
Pakistan literally at the point of the bayonet and abjectly surrendered
to Jinnah. India was vivisected and one-third of the Indian Territory
became foreign land to us from 15 August 1947. Lord Mountbaten came to
be described in the Congress circles as the greatest Viceroy and Governor-General
this country ever had.
The official date for the handing over of power was fixed for June 30,
1948, but Mountbaten with his ruthless surgery gave us a gift of vivisected
India ten months in advance. This is what Gandhi had achieved after thirty
years of undisputed dictatorship and this is what the Congress
party calls 'freedom' and 'peaceful transfer of power'. The Hindu-Muslim
unity bubble was finally burst and a theocratic state was established
with the consent of Nehru and his crowd and they have called it 'freedom
won by them with sacrifice' - whose sacrifice? When top leaders of Congress,
with the consent of Gandhi, divided and tore the country - which
we considered a deity of worship - my mind was filled with direful
One of the conditions imposed by Gandhi for his breaking of the fast
unto related to the mosques in Delhi occupied by the Hindu refugees. But
when Hindus in Pakistan were subjected to violent attacks he did not so
much as utter a single word to protest and censure the Pakistan Government
or the Muslims concerned. Gandhi was shrewd enough to know that while
undertaking a fast unto death, had he imposed some conditions on the Muslims
in Pakistan, there would have been found hardly any Muslims who could
have shown some grief if the fast had ended in his death. It was for this
reason that he purposely avoided imposing any conditions on the
He was fully aware from past experience that Jinnah was not at all perturbed
or influenced by his fast and the Muslim League hardly attached any value
to the inner voice of Gandhi. Gandhi is being referred to as the Father
of the Nation. But if that is so, he has failed in his paternal duty
inasmuch he has acted very treacherously to the nation by his consenting
to the partitioning of it. I stoutly maintain that Gandhi has failed in
his duty. He has 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.
Briefly speaking, I thought to myself and foresaw that I shall be totally
ruined, and the only thing I could expect from the people would be nothing
but hatred and that I shall have lost all my honour, even more valuable
than my life, if I were to kill Gandhiji. But at the same time I thought
that the Indian politics in the absence of Gandhiji would surely be practical,
able to retaliate and would be powerful with the armed forces. No doubt,
my own future would be totally ruined, but the nation would be saved from
the inroads of Pakistan. People may even call me or dub me as devoid of
any sense or foolish, but the nation would be free to follow the course
founded on the reason, which I consider necessary for sound nation-building.
After having fully considered the question, I took the final decision
in the matter, but I did not speak about it to anyone whatsoever. I took
courage on both my hands and I did fire the shots at Gandhiji on 30th
January 1948, 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 favorable towards the Muslims. But at
the same time I could clearly see that the policy was entirely due to
the presence of Gandhi.
I have to say with great regret that Prime Minister Nehru quite forgets
that his preaching and deeds are at times at variance with each other
when he talks about India as a secular state in season and out of season,
because it is significant to note that Nehru has played a leading role
in the theocratic state of Pakistan, and his job was made easier by Gandhi's
persistent policy of appeasement towards the Muslims. 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 leveled 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."