Nathuram Godse
Overview
 
Nathuram Vinayak Godse (19 May 1910 – 15 November 1949), from the city of Pune
Pune
Pune , is the eighth largest metropolis in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai, and the largest city in the Western Ghats. Once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire, it is situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau at the confluence of the Mula ...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 was a Hindutva
Hindutva
Hindutva is the term used to describe movements advocating Hindu nationalism. Members of the movement are called Hindutvavādis.In India, an umbrella organization called the Sangh Parivar champions the concept of Hindutva...

 activist and journalist, who was the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

. Along with his brother Gopal Godse
Gopal Godse
Gopal Vinayak Godse , was the brother of Nathuram Godse and one of the conspirators in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948. He was the last one to survive and lived his last days in Pune, Maharashtra, India....

 and six other co-conspirators, he executed a plot to assassinate Gandhi.
Nathuram Godse was born in Baramati
Baramati
Baramati is a city and a municipal council in Pune district in the state of Maharashtra, India.Agriculture is the main occupation of the people of Baramati. The main food crops grown include sugarcane, grapes, and cotton...

, Pune District
Pune District
Pune District is situated in Maharashtra state of India. Pune city is the district headquarters. In the last census on 2001, the total population of the district was 7,232,555, making it the fourth most populous district in India . Urban population comprises 58.08% of the total population...

 in a Chitpavan
Chitpavan
The Chitpavan or Chitpawan, also known as Konkanastha Brahmins , are a Smarta Brahmin community of Konkan, the coastal region of western Maharashtra in India....

 Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 family. His father, Vinayak Vamanrao Godse, was a post office employee and his mother was Lakshmii (née Godavari).
Encyclopedia
Nathuram Vinayak Godse (19 May 1910 – 15 November 1949), from the city of Pune
Pune
Pune , is the eighth largest metropolis in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai, and the largest city in the Western Ghats. Once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire, it is situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau at the confluence of the Mula ...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 was a Hindutva
Hindutva
Hindutva is the term used to describe movements advocating Hindu nationalism. Members of the movement are called Hindutvavādis.In India, an umbrella organization called the Sangh Parivar champions the concept of Hindutva...

 activist and journalist, who was the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

. Along with his brother Gopal Godse
Gopal Godse
Gopal Vinayak Godse , was the brother of Nathuram Godse and one of the conspirators in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948. He was the last one to survive and lived his last days in Pune, Maharashtra, India....

 and six other co-conspirators, he executed a plot to assassinate Gandhi.

Early life

Nathuram Godse was born in Baramati
Baramati
Baramati is a city and a municipal council in Pune district in the state of Maharashtra, India.Agriculture is the main occupation of the people of Baramati. The main food crops grown include sugarcane, grapes, and cotton...

, Pune District
Pune District
Pune District is situated in Maharashtra state of India. Pune city is the district headquarters. In the last census on 2001, the total population of the district was 7,232,555, making it the fourth most populous district in India . Urban population comprises 58.08% of the total population...

 in a Chitpavan
Chitpavan
The Chitpavan or Chitpawan, also known as Konkanastha Brahmins , are a Smarta Brahmin community of Konkan, the coastal region of western Maharashtra in India....

 Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 family. His father, Vinayak Vamanrao Godse, was a post office employee and his mother was Lakshmii (née Godavari). At birth, he was named Ramachandra.

A commonly held theory suggests that 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 attended the local school at Baramati through the fifth standard, after which he was sent to live with an aunt in Pune
Pune
Pune , is the eighth largest metropolis in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai, and the largest city in the Western Ghats. Once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire, it is situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau at the confluence of the Mula ...

 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
Ratnagiri
Ratnāgiri is a port city on the Arabian Sea coast in Ratnagiri district in the southwestern part of Maharashtra, India. The district is a part of Konkan.The Sahyadri mountains border Ratnagiri to the east...

.

Political Career

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)
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or National Patriotic Organization), also known the Sangh, is a right-wing Hindu nationalist, paramilitary, volunteer, and allegedly militant organization for Hindu males in India...

, 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
Marathi language
Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India. It is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. There are over 68 million fluent speakers worldwide. Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India and is the fifteenth most...

 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.

Godse later rejected Gandhi, after what he saw as Gandhi's repeated sabotage against the interests of Hindus by using the blackmailing tactic of "fasting unto death" 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
Partition of India
The Partition of India was the partition of British India on the basis of religious demographics that led to the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India on 14 and 15...

, which left hundreds of thousands of people dead in the wake of religious unrest.

Godse was against Gandhi's personal teachings of extreme or absolutist non violence
Non violence
Non-Violence is a bronze sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd of an over-sized pistol with a knotted barrel and the muzzle pointing upwards. There are currently 16 sculptures all around the world...

. 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

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
Point-blank range
In external ballistics, point-blank range is the distance between a firearm and a target of a given size such that the bullet in flight is expected to strike the target without adjusting the elevation of the firearm. The point-blank range will vary with the firearm and its particular ballistic...

 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.

Trial

Following the assassination of Mohandas Gandhi, he was put on trial beginning May 27, 1948 at Peterhoff, Shimla
Peterhoff, Shimla
Peterhoff is a building in Shimla which has housed at least seven Viceroy and Governor Generals of India during the British Raj. Its first occupant was James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, whose father had secured the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, and whose family had been connected with the old...

 which housed the Punjab High Court.

On November 8 1948, Godse delivered his statement in court enunciating the reasons and motives for the assassination.
He listed Dadabhai Naoroji
Dadabhai Naoroji
Dadabhai Naoroji , known as the Grand Old Man of India, was a Parsi intellectual, educator, cotton trader, and an early Indian political leader. His book Poverty and Un-British Rule in India brought attention to the draining of India's wealth into Britain...

, Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda , born Narendranath Dutta , was the chief disciple of the 19th century mystic Ramakrishna Paramahansa and the founder of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission...

, Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Gopal Krishna Gokhale, CIE was one of the founding social and political leaders during the Indian Independence Movement against the British Empire in India. Gokhale was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and founder of the Servants of India Society...

, Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Lokmanya Tilak –, was an Indian nationalist, teacher, social reformer and independence fighter who was the first popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities derogatorily called the great leader "Father of the Indian unrest"...

 as his influences, along with the ancient and modern histories of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, and the tenets of Socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 and Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

. (Para 27)
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.

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.
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".

Godse accused Gandhi of having a blatant pro-Muslim policy and quoted Gandhi's support for Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu)
Hindustani language
Hindi-Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language and the lingua franca of North India and Pakistan. It is also known as Hindustani , and historically, as Hindavi or Rekhta...

 (which was synonymous to Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

) as the national language of India after the Muslims objected to Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

 and claimed that all of Gandhi's experiments were at the expense of the Hindus.
He explained that Gandhi's unfair treatment and hypocrisy was the cause of his anger.
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
Khilafat Movement
The Khilafat movement was a pan-Islamic, political campaign launched by Muslims in British India to influence the British government and to protect the Ottoman Empire during the aftermath of World War I...

 and the invasion of India by the Amir of Afghanistan, his denunciation of the Arya Samaj
Arya Samaj
Arya Samaj is a Hindu reform movement founded by Swami Dayananda on 10 April 1875. He was a sannyasi who believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas. Dayananda emphasized the ideals of brahmacharya...

 which included several nationalist leaders, his silence over the subsequent murder of Swami Shraddhanand
Swami Shraddhanand
Swami Shraddhanand was an Indian educationist and an Arya Samaj missionary who propagated the teachings of Swami Dayanand. This included the establishment of educational institutions, like the Gurukul Kangri University, and played a key role on the Sangathan and the Shuddhi a Hindu reform...

 by a Muslim, his support for the separation of Sind, his placation of Jinnah and the Muslim League
Muslim League
The All-India Muslim League,, was founded by the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference at Dhaka , in 1906, in the context of the circumstances that were generated over the partition of Bengal in 1905...

, 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
Vande Mataram
Vande Mataram is a poem from the famed novel Anandamath which was written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in 1882. It was written in Bengali and Sanskrit....

, 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
Muslim League
The All-India Muslim League,, was founded by the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference at Dhaka , in 1906, in the context of the circumstances that were generated over the partition of Bengal in 1905...

 (Para 51).

Godse accused Gandhi of infatuation with the Muslim League
Muslim League
The All-India Muslim League,, was founded by the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference at Dhaka , in 1906, in the context of the circumstances that were generated over the partition of Bengal in 1905...

 even after the massacre of Hindus by Muslims after Direct Action Day
Direct Action Day
Direct Action Day , also known as the Great Calcutta Killings, was a day of widespread riot and manslaughter in the city of Calcutta in the Bengal province of British India...

 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".
According to Godse, Gandhi did not impose any conditions on Muslims because Jinnah and the Muslim League
Muslim League
The All-India Muslim League,, was founded by the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference at Dhaka , in 1906, in the context of the circumstances that were generated over the partition of Bengal in 1905...

 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
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

.
He criticized Gandhi's non-violent policy during the communal clashes:
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 1948, on the prayer-grounds in Birla House.
He then accused Prime Minister Nehru of hypocrisy with his speeches of secularism, because he was instrumental in creating the Islamic state of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 along with Gandhi's persistent policy of appeasement towards the Muslims.
In the light of the statement, Justice Khosla commented :

Execution

On November 8, 1949, Godse was sentenced to death. Among those calling for commutation of the death sentence for the defendants were Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru , often referred to with the epithet of Panditji, was an Indian statesman who became the first Prime Minister of independent India and became noted for his “neutralist” policies in foreign affairs. He was also one of the principal leaders of India’s independence movement in the...

, as well as Gandhi's two sons, who felt that the executing their father's killers would dishonour his memory and legacy which included a staunch opposition to the death penalty. Godse was hanged
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 at Ambala Jail on November 15, 1949, along with Narayan Apte
Narayan Apte
Narayan Dattatraya Apte was a Hindu activist and enterpreneur who was executed for his role in the assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi....

, the other conspirator. Savarkar was also charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Gandhi, but was acquitted and subsequently released.

Aftermath

Millions of Indians mourned Gandhi's assassination. The Hindu Mahasabha was vilified and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or National Patriotic Organization), also known the Sangh, is a right-wing Hindu nationalist, paramilitary, volunteer, and allegedly militant organization for Hindu males in India...

, 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
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel was an Indian barrister and statesman, one of the leaders of the Indian National Congress and one of the founding fathers of India...

 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.

A film, Nine Hours to Rama
Nine Hours to Rama
Nine Hours to Rama is 1963 CinemaScope British film, directed by Mark Robson, and based on a 1962 book by Stanley Wolpert of the same name. The film was written by Nelson Gidding and was filmed in England and parts of India...

, 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
Hey Ram
Hey Ram is a controversial Indian film released both in Tamil and Hindi in 2000 and written, directed, produced by and starring Kamal Haasan...

, made in 2000, also briefly touches upon events related to the assassination. The popular Marathi language
Marathi language
Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India. It is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. There are over 68 million fluent speakers worldwide. Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India and is the fifteenth most...

 play Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy ("I am Nathuram Godse, Speaking") was also made from Godse's point of view.

Books on Nathuram Godse

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.

External links

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