|Nathuram Vinayak Godse|
Nathuram Godse at his trial for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi
19 May 1910|
Baramati, Pune District, Bombay Presidency, British India
(now in Maharashtra, India)
|Died||15 November 1949
Ambala Prison, East Punjab, India
(now in Haryana, India)
Cause of death
|Execution by hanging|
|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(RSS) and Hindu Mahasabha. According to Vinayak Chaturvedi and Thomas Hansen, Nathuram left RSS in the early 1940s to form a militant organization Hindu Rashtra Dal.However, Nathuram's brother--Gopal Godse, who was also a co-accused in the Gandhi assassination-- has asserted that Nathuram continued to be a member of the RSS.Nathuram 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.
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. 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.
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, Maharashtra.
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. 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.
Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi
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.
Trial and execution
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, 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. However, Godse's brother Gopal claims that all the Godse brothers were members of the RSS at the time of the assassination. According to Gopal Godse:
“All the brothers were in the RSS. Nathuram, Dattatreya, myself and Govind. You can say we grew up in the RSS rather than in our home. It was like a family to us. Nathuram had become a baudhik karyavah [intellectual worker] in the RSS. He has said in his statement that he left the RSS. He said it because Golwalkar and the RSS were in a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But he did not leave the RSS.”
Attempts at rehabilitation
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. There are also attempts to build a temple for Godse and to celebrate 30 January as a Shaurya Diwas ("Bravery Day"). A civil suit has been filed in Pune Court asking for a ban on the documentary film.
According to an article published in October 2014, in a journal of the Kerala unit of the RSS, Godse had erred in targeting Gandhi. The article implies that Nehru should have been Godse's target instead of Gandhi. According to the article:
Actually, Nehru was responsible for the Partition and all other tragedies including Gandhi’s assassination. On the basis of an honest perusal of historical records and Godse’s arguments, it will hardly be possible to rebuff students of history if they were to evaluate that Nathuram Vinayak Godse had erred in his aim.
The Kerala Home Minister had asked the police to initiate appropriate legal action in this connection.The editor of the RSS journal had stated that he stands by the article.However, the RSS later condemned and disowned the article and claimed the views expressed in the article were solely those of the writer.
- 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.
- 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)
- May it Please your Honor!, published by Surya Bharti, India, (2003) - the play based upon the book was banned
- Why I assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, published by Surya Bharti (1993)
- Nine Hours to Rama, Stanley A. Wolpert (1962)
- 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)...
- 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...
- A.G. Noorani. "The BJP and Nathuram Godse". Frontline.
- "Early life | Nathuram Godse". Nathuram.com. Retrieved 2014-01-30.
- Jeffrey, Robin (1990). India, Rebellion to Republic: Selected Writings, 1857–1990. Sterling Publishers. p. 105.
- Time (14 February 2000)."His Principle of Peace Was Bogus". Retrieved 3 July 2007
- The Hindu (18 August 2004). "RSS releases 'proof' of its innocence". Retrieved 26 June 2007
- Zee News(IANS) (30 December 2010). "RSS denies Godse was its member, rebuts Cong claim". Retrieved 1 November 2011
- "The Book on Trial". google.co.in.
- Bharat Bhankal. "Bha Bha Blogship: NATHURAM GODSE - His Last Speech". bharatbhankal.com.
- Controversy over "Hey Ram" at the Wayback Machine (archived February 1, 2008)
- The Times (London), pg. 3. 16 November 1949. Missing or empty
- Ghose, Debobrat (21 December 2014). "Hindu Mahasabha head speaks to FP: Godse was a `martyr' and `patriot'". Firstpost. Retrieved 2014-12-21.
- "Hindu Mahasabha announces Godse temple". Deccan Chronicle.
- PTI. "Pune court to hear suit against Godse film". The Hindu.
- "Kerala Cong shoots back at RSS for article on Nehru". Hindustan Times.
- "RSS disowns controversial Nehru article". Indian Express.
- Rediff on the NeT."Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy – The Transcript"
- 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.
- - 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.
- Frontline - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. 1998-05. Retrieved 2014-01-30. Check date values in:
- Charisma and Commitment in South Asian History: Essays Presented to Stanley ... - Google Books. Books.google.com. 2004. ISBN 9788125026419. Retrieved 2014-01-30.
- Elst, Koenraad, Gandhi and Godse – a Review and a Critique, Voice of India, 2001. ISBN 81-85990-71-9
- Godse, Nathuram, Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, Surya Bharti, Delhi, India, 2003. OCLC 33991989
- Godse, Nathuram May it Please Your Honor!, Surya Bharti, India, 2003
- Khosla, G.D., Murder of the Mahatma and Other Cases from a Judge's Notebook, Jaico Publishing House, 1968. ISBN 0-88253-051-8
- Malgonkar, Manohar (2008). The Men Who Killed Gandhi, New Delhi: Roli Books, ISBN 978-81-7436-617-7
- Phadke, Y.D., Nathuramayan
- Pradeep Dalvi’s, "Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy" narrations by robby Raju pathak
- Time Magazine's February 2000 interview of Gopal Godse
- Article discussing Why Godse Killed Gandhi
- Rediff's January 1998 interview of Gopal Godse
- Article discussing pro-Godse play
- Eyewitness to Gandhi assassination
- Eyewitness: Mahatma Gandhi Assassination on YouTube
- First Information Report (FIR) by police
- "An Assassin Speaks" written by Gopal Godse, narrations Navneet singh