Nathuram Godse

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Nathuram Vinayak Godse
Nathuram godse.jpg
Nathuram Godse at his trial for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi
Born (1910-05-19)19 May 1910
Baramati, Pune District, Bombay Presidency, British India
(now in Maharashtra, India)
Died 15 November 1949(1949-11-15) (aged 39)
Ambala Prison, East Punjab, India
(now in Haryana, India)
Cause of death
Execution by hanging
Nationality Indian
Criminal charge
Assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Nathuram Vinayak Godse (19 May 1910 – 15 November 1949) was a militant Hindu nationalist organizer in India, who is known for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. He shot Gandhi in the chest three times at point-blank range on 30 January 1948 in New Delhi. Born in Pune, Maharashtra, he had been a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Mahasabha. He left RSS in the early 1940s to form a militant organization Hindu Rashtra Dal.[1][2] He resented Gandhi's accommodating attitude to India's Muslims and plotted the assassination with Narayan Apte and six others. After a trial that lasted over a year, Godse was sentenced to death on 8 November 1949 and was hanged a week later.

Early life[edit]

Nathuram Vinayakrao Godse was born, at the nativity mission center, Pune District. His father, Vinayak Vamanrao Godse, was a post office employee and his mother was Lakshmi (née Godavari). At birth, he was named Ramachandra.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] In 1930, Nathuram's father was transferred to the town of Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.

Political career[edit]

Group photo of people accused in the murder of Mohandas Gandhi. Standing (L to R): Shankar Kistaiya, Gopal Godse, Madan Lal Pahwa, Digambar Ramchandra Badge. Seated (L to R): Narayan Apte, Vinayak D. Savarkar, Nathuram Godse, Vishnu Karkare

Godse dropped out of high school and became an activist with Hindu nationalist organizations Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Hindu Mahasabha, although there have been doubts about the exact years of his membership.[6][7] The Hindu Mahasabha had at one time backed Gandhi's campaigns of civil disobedience against the British government but stayed away from the Quit India Movement in the 1940s. Both the organisations were opposed to the separatist politics of the All India Muslim League.

Godse started a Marathi newspaper for the Hindu Mahasabha called Agrani, which some years later was renamed Hindu Rashtra. Godse rejected Gandhi's philosophy, believing Gandhi repeatedly sabotaged the interests of Hindus by using the "fasting unto death" tactic on many issues. In Godse's view, Gandhi was giving in to Muslim interests in ways that seemed unfair and anti-national.[8][9]

Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi[edit]

Godse approached Gandhi on January 30, 1948 during the evening prayer at 5:17 PM. When Godse bowed, one of the girls flanking and supporting Gandhi, said to Godse, "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 Beretta M 1934 semi-automatic pistol. Gandhi was taken to Birla House, where he later died.[10]

Trial and execution[edit]

Following the assassination of Gandhi, Godse was put on trial at Peterhoff, Shimla which housed the Punjab High Court. On November 8, 1949, he was sentenced to death. Among those calling for commutation of the death sentence for the defendants were Jawaharlal Nehru, as well as two of Gandhi's sons, who felt that executing their father's killer would dishonor his memory and legacy which included a staunch opposition to the death penalty. Godse was hanged at Ambala Jail on November 15, 1949,[11] along with Narayan Apte, a co-conspirator. Savarkar was also charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Gandhi, but was acquitted and subsequently released.


Millions of Indians mourned Gandhi's assassination; the Hindu Mahasabha was vilified and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was temporarily banned. However, investigators could find no evidence that the RSS bureaucracy had formally sponsored or even knew of Godse's plot. The ban on the RSS was lifted in 1949. To this day it denies any connection with Godse and disputes the claim that he was a member.[7] However, Godse's brother Gopal claims that all the Godse brothers were members of the RSS at the time of the assassination.[12]

Attempts at rehabilitation[edit]

In 2014, following the Bharatiya Janata Party's rise to power, the Hindu Mahasabha has begun to make various attempts to rehabilitate Godse and portray him as a patriot. It has requested the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to install the bust of Godse. It has created a documentary film Desh Bhakt Nathuram Godse (Patriot Nathuram Godse) for release on the death anniversary of Gandhi on 30 January 2015.[13] There are also attempts to build a temple for Godse and to celebrate 30 January as a Shaurya Diwas ("Bravery Day").[14] A civil suit has been filed in Pune Court asking for a ban on the documentary film.[15]

In art[edit]

  • The actor Horst Buchholz portrayed Nathuram Godse in the 1963 film Nine Hours to Rama.
  • In the 1982 film Gandhi, the actor Harsh Nayyar portrayed Godse.
  • The Marathi language play Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy ("This is Nathuram Godse Speaking"), first staged in 1997, was produced from Godse's point of view.[16]
  • The film Hey Ram, made in 2000, also briefly touches upon events related to the assassination.
  • Several books based on Nathuram Godse's life were banned by the Indian government:
  • Gandhi Vadh aur Main (Gandhi Hatya Aani Me), by Gopal Godse (1967)[17][18]
  • May it Please your Honor!, published by Surya Bharti, India, (2003) - the play based upon the book was banned[19]
  • Why I assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, published by Surya Bharti (1993)[citation needed]
  • Nine Hours to Rama, Stanley A. Wolpert (1962)[20]


  1. ^ Chaturvedi, Vinayak (2011). "Vinayak and me - Hindutva and the politics of naming". In Boehmer, Elleke; Chaudhuri, Rosinka. The Indian Postcolonial: A Critical Reader. Routledge. p. 145. ISBN 978-0415567664. Retrieved 2014-07-28. Godse abandoned the RSS after some years, claiming that it lacked proper levels of militancy, and co-founded the Hindu Rashtra Dal (Hindu National Party)... 
  2. ^ Hansen, Thomas Blom (1999). The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India. Princeton University Press. p. 249. ISBN 9781400823055. Retrieved 2014-07-28. In the early 1940s Godse left the RSS to form a militant organization, Hindu Rashtra Dal, aimed at militarizing the mind and conduct of Hindus... 
  3. ^ "Early life | Nathuram Godse". Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  4. ^ Jeffrey, Robin (1990). India, Rebellion to Republic: Selected Writings, 1857–1990. Sterling Publishers. p. 105. 
  5. ^ Time (14 February 2000)."His Principle of Peace Was Bogus". Retrieved 3 July 2007
  6. ^ The Hindu (18 August 2004). "RSS releases 'proof' of its innocence". Retrieved 26 June 2007
  7. ^ a b Zee News(IANS) (30 December 2010). "RSS denies Godse was its member, rebuts Cong claim". Retrieved 1 November 2011
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Controversy over "Hey Ram" at the Wayback Machine (archived February 1, 2008)
  11. ^ The Times (London), pg. 3. 16 November 1949.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ The BJP and Nathuram Godse, Frontline, 8 February 2013
  13. ^ Ghose, Debobrat (21 December 2014). "Hindu Mahasabha head speaks to FP: Godse was a `martyr' and `patriot'". Firstpost. Retrieved 2014-12-21. 
  14. ^ Hindu Mahasabha announces Godse temple, Deccan Chronicle, 24 December 2014
  15. ^ Pune court to hear suit against Godse film, The Hindu, 25 December 2014
  16. ^ Rediff on the NeT."Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy – The Transcript"
  17. ^ Pg 176 - My friends had greeted me, and arranged a small ceremony. Late Shri ... On completion he published the series in a book form titled 'Gandhi Hatya Ani Mee' (Gandhi assassination and I) in October 1967. The Government being allergic to the truth which exposed their falsehood, banned the book two months later.
  18. ^ - The axe was to fall on the Marathi memoirs of Gopal Godse. ... and "spurned", he decided to publish his memoirs.6 It was immediately banned in several parts of India and copies of the book forefeited to the State.
  19. ^ Frontline - Google Boeken. 1998-05. Retrieved 2014-01-30.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  20. ^ Charisma and Commitment in South Asian History: Essays Presented to Stanley ... - Google Books. 2004. ISBN 9788125026419. Retrieved 2014-01-30. 


  1. Elst, Koenraad, Gandhi and Godse – a Review and a Critique, Voice of India, 2001. ISBN 81-85990-71-9
  2. Godse, Nathuram, Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, Surya Bharti, Delhi, India, 2003. OCLC 33991989
  3. Godse, Nathuram May it Please Your Honor!, Surya Bharti, India, 2003
  4. Khosla, G.D., Murder of the Mahatma and Other Cases from a Judge's Notebook, Jaico Publishing House, 1968. ISBN 0-88253-051-8
  5. Malgonkar, Manohar (2008). The Men Who Killed Gandhi, New Delhi: Roli Books, ISBN 978-81-7436-617-7
  6. Phadke, Y.D., Nathuramayan
  7. Pradeep Dalvi’s, "Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy" narrations by robby Raju pathak

External links[edit]