India : Nathuram Godse, murderer of Gandhi

Nathuram Godse, the murderer of the Mahatma Gandhi, was a sensitive man. Born in 1910 in a small town in south India, he was a “chitpawan” brahman ( an high caste in the hindu hierarchical system), a devot hindu educated in a traditional way. He used to perform scrupulously all the rituals, to pray assiduously. According to the vipassana meditation technique, he never did two things at once. He used to eat only vegetarian food in copper dishes cleaned with ashes; he ate with the three fingers of the right hand only. Once his meal finished, he gave a small piece of food for the birds or for the poor. At the age of 28, he was a virgin and willing to remain like that : he was what hindus call a “brahmacharya”, someone who impose himself strict celibacy for spiritual reasons.

He couldn’t bear the sight of blood : it made him ill but he admired Shivaji, the Marathi king who fought the Mughals in the XVII° century, an hero for the orthodox hindus who are opposed to the islamization ( and westernization) of India.

During the 1940’s, he disapproved the actions of the Mahatma Gandhi ( Godse respected him as a religious man not as a politician) and Muhammad Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan : the two nation theory, their line to tear apart the country was unacceptable for him. He considered it was a plot, a step backward. India as a cultural and political entity had to remain united. Passionate about politics, he belonged to the hindu organization “Mahasabha” whose leader was Veer Savarkar, an hindu nationalist politician who considered Gandhi as an anti-national because of the attention he gave to the muslims. After having tried many low paid jobs, Godse had become the publisher of a nationalist newspaper whose editor was Savarkar. And after the partition of India and Pakistan, he worked with the hindu refugees fleeing Pakistan : he knew the atrocities that had been committed on them.

With other hindu activists, he prepared to assassinate Gandhi with the utmost care. But the first attempt ( a bomb plot) failed. Godse friends abandoned but not him. He was the more ascetic of all, he was the more determined also : the job had to be finished, it was his duty to kill Gandhi. Godse had never touched a firearm but he fulfilled his mission…without remorses or emotions.

He was arrested by surrendering himself. During his trial, he never apologized; he refused the services of a lawyer, he prepared his own defence that was written on one and a half pages. He was sentenced to death by hanging. Executed one year later.

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