Mahatma- Mahan Atma? – By his killers

Mahatma Gandhi is the most revered person in India. Its been more than 60 years since we got independence from the British. Everybody knows who killed Gandhi, but how many of us know what the motive was behind it. Read on to know why Gandhi was assassinated and the real motive behind it.

Gopal Godse, co-conspirator in Gandhi’s assassination and brother of the assassin, looks back in anger–and without regret

Fifty-two years ago, on Jan. 30, 1948, Mohandas Gandhi was shot dead by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist. Godse believed that the Mahatma, or great soul, was responsible for the 1947 partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. Godse and his friend Narayan Apte were hanged. His brother Gopal and two others were sentenced to life imprisonment for their part in the conspiracy. Gopal Godse remained in jail for 18 years and now, at 80, lives with his wife in a small apartment in Pune. He is still proud of his role in the murder. Although Godse is largely ignored in India and rarely talks to journalists, he agreed to speak with TIME Delhi correspondent Meenakshi Ganguly.

TIME: What happened in January 1948?
Godse: On Jan. 20, Madanlal Pahwa exploded a bomb at Gandhi’s prayer meeting in Delhi. It was 50 m away from Gandhi. [The other conspirators] all ran away from the place. Madanlal was caught there. Then there was a tension in our minds that we had to finish the task before the police caught us. Then Nathuram [Gopal’s brother] took it on himself to do the thing. We only wanted destiny to help us — meaning we should not be caught on the spot before he acted.
TIME: Why did you want to kill Gandhi?
Godse: Gandhi was a hypocrite. Even after the massacre of the Hindus by the Muslims, he was happy. The more the massacres of the Hindus, the taller his flag of secularism.

TIME: Did you ever see Gandhi?
Godse: Yes.

TIME: Did you attend his meetings?
Godse: Yes.

TIME: Can you explain how he created his mass following?
Godse: The credit goes to him for maneuvering the media. He captured the press. That was essential. How Gandhi walked, when he smiled, how he waved — all these minor details that the people did not require were imposed upon them to create an atmosphere around Gandhi. And the more ignorant the masses, the more popular was Gandhi. So they always tried to keep the masses ignorant.

TIME: But surely it takes more than good publicity to create a Gandhi?
Godse: There is another thing. Generally in the Indian masses, people are attracted toward saintism. Gandhi was shrewd to use his saintdom for politics. After his death the government used him. The government knew that he was an enemy of Hindus, but they wanted to show that he was a staunch Hindu. So the first act they did was to put “Hey Ram” into Gandhi’s dead mouth.

TIME: You mean that he did not say “Hey Ram” as he died?
Godse: No, he did not say it. You see, it was an automatic pistol. It had a magazine for nine bullets but there were actually seven at that time. And once you pull the trigger, within a second, all the seven bullets had passed. When these bullets pass through crucial points like the heart, consciousness is finished. You have no strength.

When Nathuram saw Gandhi was coming, he took out the pistol and folded his hands with the pistol inside it. There was one girl very close to Gandhi. He feared that he would hurt the girl. So he went forward and with his left hand pushed her aside and shot. It happened within one second. You see, there was a film and some Kingsley fellow had acted as Gandhi. Someone asked me whether Gandhi said, “Hey Ram.” I said Kingsley did say it. But Gandhi did not. Because that was not a drama.

TIME: Many people think Gandhi deserved to be nominated TIME’s Person of the Century. [He was one of two runners-up, after Albert Einstein.]
Godse: I name him the most cruel person for Hindus in India. The most cruel person! That is how I term him.

TIME: Is that why Gandhi had to die?
Godse: Yes. For months he was advising Hindus that they must never be angry with the Muslims. What sort of ahimsa (non-violence) is this? His principle of peace was bogus. In any free country, a person like him would be shot dead officially because he was encouraging the Muslims to kill Hindus.

TIME: But his philosophy was of turning the other cheek. He felt one person had to stop the cycle of violence…
Godse: The world does not work that way.

TIME: Is there anything that you admire about Gandhi?
Godse: Firstly, the mass awakening that Gandhi did. In our school days Gandhi was our idol. Secondly, he removed the fear of prison. He said it is different to go into prison for a theft and different to go in for satyagraha (civil disobedience). As youngsters, we had our enthusiasm, but we needed some channel. We took Gandhi to be our channel. We don’t repent for that.

TIME: Did you not admire his principles of non-violence?
Godse: Non-violence is not a principle at all. He did not follow it. In politics you cannot follow non-violence. You cannot follow honesty. Every moment, you have to give a lie. Every moment you have to take a bullet in hand and kill someone. Why was he proved to be a hypocrite? Because he was in politics with his so-called principles. Is his non-violence followed anywhere? Not in the least. Nowhere.

TIME: What was the most difficult thing about killing Gandhi?
Godse: The greatest hurdle before us was not that of giving up our lives or going to the gallows. It was that we would be condemned both by the government and by the public. Because the public had been kept in the dark about what harm Gandhi had done to the nation. How he had fooled them!

TIME: Did the people condemn you?
Godse: Yes. People in general did. Because they had been kept ignorant.

The snapshot of this interview has been taken from the TIME Magazine’s Website

7 thoughts on “Mahatma- Mahan Atma? – By his killers

  1. Beautiful! I would have done the same thing If I was in 1940s.
    I am sure this post is gonna have flared up emotions now. It would be nice if Sandhya also gives her opinion on the same 🙂

  2. @ Vivek: This is a very sensitive topic to be actually discussed in our country where every Indian’s role model is the Mahatma.. I knew the reason for Mahatma’s death loong back. It was told to me by one person ( i dunno who 😦 ) in a very crude way which goes like this. Naturam Ghodse had to see the female members of his family gang raped and killed by the Muslims during the partition of India. He was determined to kill Mahatma because he not doing anything to stop these unjust behavior instead was asking the Hindus to follow ahimsa which never did any good. I may not be interpreting this in the exact manner because I heard this story in my early teens, so I might even miss certain facts. But still, to survive in this world we need to follow Eye for an eye philosophy. Else our country will be in total shambles which already is. We were so cordial with every country that we forgot that they were actually taking advantage of us. Now, Pakistan wants Kashmir.. next they ll demand HP.. And down south its the LTTE problem.. And theres this Orissa Riots.. Adding to the woe, blasts take place everywhere. Whos the scapegoat here. Only us.. We read about the blasts in the paper and just frown.. WHo knows maybe tomoro u and me maybe victims of blasts. According to me, there is no concrete solution to this problem. . It was started By the Mahatma.. And now he must come back again to solve this.. (which is totally impossible)!!!!

  3. eye for an eye? brilliant. let’s start with your left eye.

    India is thriving only because of ahimsa and tolerance. the day we let loose of those ideals as a country, there will only be bloodshed and gore. angry and impatient youth of India is already beginning to indulge in acts of violence, and when a generation starts to put the blame on a dead soul and embark on the path of violence, the doomsday won’t be far. but thankfully, a majority are still ensuing the path of non-violence and tolerance, thus safeguarding our motherland from the evil of war the way Gandhi and many other proponents of ahimsa have been doing throughout the history of India.

    Hail non-violence. Hail the Mahatma. Hail India.

  4. @Ram: I agree with u.. India is a peace loving country and all those.. But if it really is, then why are there more innocent people dying everyday to communal riots? Can u do the same thing in Pakistan? Or can u go and do the same in Saudi?? Can u build a temple in Pakistan or Saudi? No right??? Barath maatha has always been compassionate on every soul on this earth. Nothing can beat Her kindness.. But I am asserting that, if they follow a rule, why cant we follow the same. Why cant they go ask for a Kashmor from Saudi or afghanistan or UAE?? Why its only INDIA?? Are we that stupid??? Cos they know that we are emotionaly weak.. They know that India follows the forget and forgive policy.. Thats wer we have to be strong. I am not against Ahimsa myself. But whats the use of following ahimsa against people who dont even know wat Ahimsa is?? Hun???

  5. Interesting.. was reminded of this movie called “Hey Ram” which explored the psyche of a man who was desperate to assassinate Gandhi.
    Though he never propagated the 2 Nation Theory.. he did abet in the creation of the state.Gandhi was definitely intelligent and shrewd .. He had the foresight to realize that without partition this single mega-country would have imploded with communal differences.

  6. Well,

    All of you seem to be right somewhere or the other.
    Its only words, and words are all we have.

    I never knew all this. I always thought positive about Gandhiji. But now I’m on both ends. hmm.

    The basic q? which comes to my mind after reading the above interview is that if Mahatma preached ahimsa to Hindus then why the hell he did not stop the muslims from creating violence. They did and he stopped us. What the crap was this?

    Anyways, lets leave all this. Why awaken some dead soul. Isn’t it.

    So we were on Kashmir and all. Isn’t it Sandy??

    Friends, countrymen & every earthling. Give me a chance to proclaim, declare & announce that one fine day you will wake up just to know that the paradise of earth – Kashmir is no more a part of India.

    Trust me. This is gonna happen like the Nuclear deal & like the OBC in institutions. The whole country will cry, bleed & burn only to get tired and never being heard by these ufo alien politician who do not know what is public and what is country. Some one among these crooks will sell this country for some another unrequired & self-meaningful thing.

    This blog will remain here,
    even this post will,
    & might be even i be still alive.

    Mark my words and bookmark this post.
    This will happen. Perhaps during the duration of our lives.

    Take care,
    B well,
    Yogesh

  7. Gandhi died. Gandhi’s ideas live on. Both are indisputable.

    But also is indisputable is the legend of Naturam.

    Why did he kill him ? What happened to him and his family ? What happend to his nation.

    Imagine a nation of muslims with no hindus around ? That was what Gandhi’s life would have made India. Away from a multicultural cosomopolitan society to a shariat state. Imagine wearing a black burqa in the hot summer sun.

    Imagine the sacrifice of four young men. These four men not just sacrificed their lives but also their reputation. More than 50 years of constant insult and derision, just so that we stay plural.

    Hindus were wiped out in Pakistan and were being wiped out in India. These four men, put a stop to that.

    Jai Hind.

    Jai Naturam

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