There is no mention of Nathuram Godse in Gandhi Smriti (then known as Birla House), where Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead during prayer by the Hindutva zealot and the first terrorist from independent India. It restricts discussion of the incident to how a “madman carried it out.” Perhaps it was thought prudent at the time to avoid discussing the hate-filled ideology that led to Gandhi’s death. But without the truth, this attempt at reconciliation has been a mistake.
The shocked, hysterical crowd yelled to kill him and threatened to lynch Nathuram Godse after he attempted but failed to shoot himself.
Recent attempts to whitewash the views of murderer Godse, such as those made by governing party MPs like Pragya Thakur, and to rehabilitate VD Savarkar have received full support from those holding the highest positions in the land.
Gandhi’s greatest contribution to India was to help wean off this fascist appeal of force and intimidation. Contrarily, it has been argued that the fascists’ resounding success in Germany and Italy served as an inspiration and source of encouragement for the proponents of Hindu Rashtra ideology.
Today we have a ruling clique that worships violence and believes it to impact society positively. Creating new enemies necessitates a firm, violent, and coercive response.
A special court established by order of the central government found eight men guilty of the murder case inside Red Fort. On November 15, 1949, Godse and accomplice Narayan Apte was sentenced to death for the murder of the Father of the Nation.
What Ideology Led to The Murder of Mahatma Gandhi?
Godse had been an active Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member, but at the time of the murder, he had left the organisation and joined the Hindu Mahasabha, according to his own admission. He also stated that he acted alone during his trial. However, the controversy surrounding his ties to the RSS has caused Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the home minister at the time, to briefly ban the group before lifting it.
Perhaps it is worthwhile to consider what Gandhi’s assassination’s politics mean in today’s socio political environment.
There are two main conceptions of Indian nationalism, one of which sees Hinduism as its defining characteristic and the other which lacks a clear definition but regards as Indian everyone who recognises and adopts India.
Savarkar was the one who officially declared India to be a Hindu country. Gandhi, Nehru, and others opposed this.
Majoritarian Hindu fanaticism and related ideologies that played a significant role in the politics surrounding Gandhi’s assassination are still prevalent today. However, it would be inaccurate to claim that Hindu extremist political parties only opposed Gandhi’s principles.
Some historians assert that the Hindu extremist ideology that led to Gandhi’s death also threatens India today.
The Mahatma’s principled refusal to yield to anti-Muslim sentiment in the aftermath of the post-Partition turbulence served as the immediate provocation for his murder. His refusal to grant “the Hindus” the ability to “set things right” with “the Muslims” infuriated supporters of Hindu assertiveness.
And these supporters thought it was utterly unacceptable that the Mahatma should use his moral authority to try to put an end to the murderous activity taking place right in the centre of independent India.
Gandhi was killed by communal forces and their polarising ideology, which are still at work today by way of the Ghar Wapsi and Love Jihad campaigns.
The Mahatma’s promotion of ahimsa (non-violence) as a political tool was what most aroused the wrath of the Mahasabhites/RSS, not his principled opposition to the Hindu Raj or even his unwavering pursuit of a Hindu-Muslim understanding. Gandhi’s opponents believed that if “Hindu society” was to reestablish its glorious past, violence was not only inevitable but also necessary.
The general consensus seems to be that Nathuram was once active in the RSS but decided to resign his membership in the early 1930s. Nathuram saw himself as an impassioned and ardent defender of the Hindu motherland against the atrocities of Muslims.
This single fact, if it is true, has been used by the RSS to claim that Gopal Godse had no ties to the organisation in the five decades since Gandhi was assassinated. Curiously, Nathuram’s younger brother Gopal Godse, who was convicted of taking part in the conspiracy to murder Gandhi and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison and who continues to refer to Gandhi in the harshest terms as the betrayer of India, has found himself attempting to hide his brother’s lengthy affiliation with the RSS despite having complete sympathy for the RSS’s ideological outlook.
Therefore it does not matter if someone holds elaborate ceremonies, shows, and events to commemorate Gandhi’s 150th birthday, but the fight against the Mahatma and his philosophy will not cease. His murder cannot be permitted to be in vain, after all. Gandhi’s ability to stop this use of violence by urging Indians to partake in the virtuous and edifying pleasures of ahimsa is his unrivalled achievement.
Therefore, it hardly matters if Nathuram Godse was still a member of the RSS when he killed Gandhi. Godse spent his entire adult life working for Hindu extremist groups like the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha. The RSS’s ongoing efforts to deny involvement in Gandhi’s murder indicate this extreme pusillanimity and propensity for lying, which have always been the telltale signs of a group dedicated to realising the idea of Hindu Rashtra.
Today, a preference for violence in both words and deeds is driving majoritarian politics forward. We as a society have indeed developed a morbid obsession with violence.
The use of violence and intimidation is attempted to be justified as the inevitable result of social churning on social media platforms, in television studios, and newspaper columns. The aggressiveness, roughness, and murderous tendencies of the mob are rationalised away as the urgently required venting of resentment and animosities of a long-repressed “Hindu Samaj.”
May this land get free from hate and be blessed with peace and prosperity. Panchayiti’s Triubte to Bapu on his Death Anniversary.