The Twitter trend translating to ‘Hail Nathuram Godse’ on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday has led to re-stating some open-ending facts that resonate with his action
The fact that Nathuram Godse is trending on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday is a bit grotesque. Not because he killed one of the most famous social workers of the bygone century, but he justified his killing right on the spot. The silence in the court after his last justification forced the government to silence his voice in the public.
The Godse sympathizers or lamenters might be hit right at the gut, but can anyone justify the killings by British soldiers during Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s non-violence struggle. As it is said, the history of the hunter will always be glorified till the dear writes its own. (Used as a metaphor without any intention to hurt feelings.)
Who was Nathuram Godse?
Nathuram Godse was born to a Hindu household who played his part in promoting religious equality, according to his speech. Being a Hindu, he had read the available religious texts narrating the tales of Ram’s victory over Ravana or Arjun picking up a weapon against his family as a keeper of Dharma. It has made him accept that violence is countered only with violence.
He was sent to Pune for completing his education by his parents, but he dropped high school to join Rashtriya Swamsevak (RSS). While in RSS, he continued to make his effort to forge religious equality, as per his speech. According to him, Indian National Congress should be banned or closed after independence, something that even Gandhi wanted. But instead, it went to become one of the most powerful parties of India.
Nathuram Godse explained his killing of Mahatma Gandhi with his belief that “dubbing Rama, Krishna, and Arjuna as guilty of violence, the Mahatma betrayed a total ignorance of the springs of human action.” “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 his own way….,” he said in his speech.
Was the execution of Nathuram Godse needed even when Gandhi’s son appeal against it?
Before writing about this, we should know one thing in particular – Mahatma Gandhi was against capital punishment. Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi based on his perception of Hinduism valour. Specifically, he had assassinated Mohandas only and submitted himself to the court of law without much defence. The reason behind his act drew inspiration from a religion that has a plural origin.
Importantly, two of Gandhi’s son, Ramdas and Manilal Gandhi has written letters to the government, requesting Godse’s clemency. Ramdas even wanted to meet Mahatma Gandhi’s killer in jail. However, the then rulers of India denied the request. As per the Sardar Patel’s Correspondence, Vol 8, (Page 267-268), Patel wrote to Nehru, “There is every likelihood of an attempt being made to treat him as a martyr. The discussion which Ramdas proposes to have would invest the last days of Godse with a certain amount of glory. To me, it appears somewhat quixotic that any attempt should be made to convince a man who has done such a dastardly crime and takes pride in it.”
The question that purported the act is the definition of patriotism. According to history, if patriotism associates with non-violent methods, then what’s the point in constructing war memorials across the world? Based on the same, the soldier’s patriotism is highly questionable.
The final act of inflicting capital punishment was a matter of emotion associated with Mahatma Gandhi and his contribution. The essence of this can be found in the book titled ‘India’s struggle for freedom’ by historian Bipan Chandra. He referred to all top leaders by name… Nehru, Patel, etc. except Gandhi, who was referred to as Mahatma Gandhiji.
The act of not-knowing Nathuram Godse
The popularity of Gandhi did shadow his critiques. RSS has constantly denied any associations with Godse beyond the 1930s. The statement was later proven false by an investigative piece published in the reputed magazine. Alternatively, his family had also claimed his association with the RSS till his death.
In May 2019, during the final phase of Indian elections, BJP’s candidate, Pragya Thakur, called Godse a “patriot” for which she later apologized. It culminates from the meaning of patriotism painted by Mahatma Gandhi. (While writing this, the writer wants to mention that she is not endorsing Godse as a patriot but stating some facts in bold.)
Though, I do not support the culture of renaming cities and places on anybody. But running to the court for banning a docu-movie on Godse has forced people to resonate the death of their Father of the Nation with diluted reasons due to unknown history. As an Indian, even this writer wants to know the reason for this immense loss.