Godse (May 19, 1910 –
November 15, 1949) born at Baramati, Poona District, is best known as
the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, the principal leader of the Indian
Nathuram Godse was
born on May 19, 1910. He was a Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin. His father was
Vinayak Vaman Rao Godse, his mother Lakshmi (Godavari before marriage).
His father was a fifteen-rupee-a-month employee of the post office.
Nathuram attended the local school at
Baramati up through the fourth standard. Then he was sent to live with
an aunt in Pune so that he could study at an English-language school.
Nathuram's father was transferred to the town of Ratnagiri. While
staying with his parents at Ratnagiri, the young Nathuram first met Veer
Savarkar, a proponent of Hindutva.
Godse's political career
Godse dropped out of
high school and became an activist with the Hindu Mahasabha. They were
particularly opposed to the separatist politics of the All India Muslim
League. Godse started a Marathi newspaper for Hindu Mahasabha called
Agrani, some years later renamed Hindu Rashtra.
The Hindu Mahasabha had initially
backed Gandhi's campaigns of civil disobedience against the British
government. Godse himself had actively participated in the civil
disobedience movement; he had been imprisoned by the government on
charges of tree-felling.
and his mentors later rejected Gandhi. They felt that Gandhi was
sacrificing Hindu interests in an effort to appease minority groups.
They blamed Gandhi for the bloody Partition of India, in which hundreds
of thousands of people died.
The immediate motive
for the assassination is usually ascribed to Gandhi's January 13, 1948
decision to fast to the death, a term of which was that the Indian
central government reverse a decision to withhold the transfer of 55
crore (550 million) rupees to the government of Pakistan.
The transfer had been specified in
the partition agreement, but the Indian government had refused to
complete it, complaining of the Pakistani military occupation of part of
the disputed state of Kashmir.
The Indian government immediately
reversed its decision to withhold the funds, which infuriated Godse and
It is far from clear whether or not
the decision to assassinate Gandhi was taken by Godse alone, or whether
he had consulted with other Mahasabha members, or even received their
help in carrying out the assassination. Mahasabha resolutely denied all
complicity, and Godse took full responsibility. However, many critics
believe that Godse did not act alone.
assassinated Gandhi on January 30, 1948, approaching him during a public
appearance, bowing, and shooting him at close range. The gun used by
Godse was a Beretta M1934 semi-automatic pistol in .380 ACP caliber,
serial number 606824.
Trial and execution
Following the assassination of
Mohandas Gandhi, he was put on trial beginning May 27, 1948. During the
trial, he did not defend any charge and openly admitted that he killed
Gandhi after a long disposition on his reasons for killing Gandhi. When
Gandhi was shot by Nathuram Godse, Gandhi uttered the word 'uh' and not
'Hey Ram' it was confirmed by Nathuram Godse during his trial.
On November 8, 1949, Godse was sentenced to death.
Godse's legal team was savaged by critics for not introducing
considerable evidence that their client was mentally unbalanced and/or
manipulated by others. Among those calling for commutation of the death
sentence for the defendants were Jawaharlal Nehru, as well as Gandhi's
two sons, who felt that the two men on trial were pawns of RSS higher-ups,
and in any case, executing their father's killers would dishonour his
memory and legacy which included a staunch opposition to the death
Godse was hanged at Ambala Gaol on November 15, 1949,
along with Narayan Apte, the other conspirator. Savarkar was also
charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Gandhi, but was
acquitted and subsequently released. The last wish of Nathuram Godse
still remains unfulfilled. He wished that India and Pakistan should
reunite and to have his ashes immersed in the Indus river—now in
Pakistan—when it became part of India again.
Millions of Indians
mourned Gandhi's assassination. Some rioted and attacked Hindu
activists. The Hindu Mahasabha was vilified and the Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS, was temporarily banned. However, later
investigators could find no evidence that the RSS bureaucracy had
formally sponsored or even knew of Godse's plot. The RSS ban was lifted
by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1949.
The RSS to this day deny any
connection with Godse and dispute the claim that he was a member; they
say that Godse was definitively a member of the Congress Party, and that
if any party should be blamed, it should be the Congress, not the RSS.
Savarkar was also charged with
conspiracy in the assassination of Gandhi, but was acquitted and
Nine Hours to Rama, was
made in 1963 and was based on the events leading up to the
assassination, seen mainly from Godse's point-of-view.
List of Accused
List of people accused of involvement
in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi
Digambar Ramchandra Badge
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Dattatraya Sadashiv Parchure
Nathuram Godse — Why I assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, Surya Bharti,
Delhi, India, 2003. ISBN 1375099796.
Nathuram Godse — May it Please your Honor!, Surya Bharti, India,
Khosla, G. D. — Murder of the Mahatma and Other Cases from a Judge's
Notebook, Jaico Publishing House, 1968. ISBN 0882530518.
Koenraad Elst —
Gandhi and Godse - a Review and a Critique,
Voice of India, 2001. ISBN 8185990719
English translation of original F.I.R.
of Mahatma Gandhi Assassination case - 1948
First Information of a Cognizable Crime
Reported under Section 154, C.P.C.
Statement of Shri Nand Lal Mehta, son of Shri
Natha Lal Mehta, Indian, resident of Connaught Circus Building Lala
Today I was present at Birla
House. Around ten minutes past five in the evening, Mahatma Gandhi left
his room in Birla House for the Prayer Ground. Sister Abha Gandhi and
sister Sanno Gandhi were accompanying him. Mahatma was walking with his
hands on the shoulders of the two sisters. Two more girls were there in
the group. I alongwith Lala Brij Kishan, a silver merchant, resident of
No. 1, Narendra Place, Parliament Street and Sardar Gurbachan Singh,
resident of Timar Pur, Delhi were also there. Apart from us, women from
the Birla household and two-three members of the staff were also present.
Having crossed the garden, Mahatma climbed the concrete steps towards
the prayer place. People were standing on both the sides and
approximately three feet of vacant space was left for the Mahatma to
pass through. As per the custom the Mahatma greeted the people with
folded hands. He had barely covered six or seven steps when a person
whose name I learnt later as Narayan Vinayak Godse, resident of Poona,
stepped closer and fired three shots from a pistol at the Mahatma from
barely 2 / 3 feet distance which hit the Mahatma in his stomach and
chest and blood started flowing. Mahatma ji fell backwards, uttering "Raam
- Raam". The assailant was apprehended on the spot with the weapon.
The Mahatma was carried away in an unconscious state towards the
residential unit of the Birla House where he passed away instantly and
the police took away the assailant.
Having received the information I rushed to
the Birla House to find the dead body of the Mahatma at room No. 3. Met
Shri Nand Lal Mehta, his statement recorded and got confirmed after
reading it out to him. Copy of the statement handed over to him. Came
to know that the assailant was whisked away by the Assistant Sub-Inspector.
It was a case of Section 302 Indian Penal Code. All the case papers
were sent to the Police Station Tughlak Road and I got engaged in
conducting investigations. A special report may be forwarded through
the police station.
defense in the court
Born in a devotional Brahmin family, I instinctively
came to revere Hindu religion, Hindu history and Hindu culture. I had,
therefore, been intensely proud of Hinduism as a whole. As I grew up I
developed a tendency to free thinking unfettered by any superstitious
allegiance to any isms, political or religious. That is why I worked
actively for the eradication of untouchability and the caste system
based on birth alone. I openly joined anti-caste movements and
maintained that all Hindus were of equal status as to rights, social and
religious and should be considered high or low on merit alone and not
through the accident of birth in a particular caste or profession. I
used publicly to take part in organized anti-caste dinners in which
thousands of Hindus, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Chamars and Bhangis
participated. We broke the caste rules and dined in the company of each
I have read the speeches and writings of Dadabhai
Naoroji, Vivekanand, Gokhale, Tilak, along with the books of ancient and
modern history of India and some prominent countries like England,
France, America and' Russia. Moreover I studied the tenets of Socialism
and Marxism. But above all I studied very closely whatever Veer Savarkar
and Gandhiji had written and spoken, as to my mind these two ideologies
have contributed more to the moulding of the thought and action of the
Indian people during the last thirty years or so, than any other single
factor has done.
All this reading and thinking led me to believe it
was my first duty to serve Hindudom and Hindus both as a patriot and as
a world citizen. To secure the freedom and to safeguard the just
interests of some thirty crores (300 million) of Hindus would
automatically constitute the freedom and the well-being of all India,
one fifth of human race. This conviction led me naturally to devote
myself to the Hindu Sanghtanist ideology and programme, which
alone, I came to believe, could win and preserve the national
independence of Hindustan, my Motherland, and enable her to render true
service to humanity as well.
Since the year 1920, that is, after the demise of
Lokamanya Tilak, Gandhiji's influence in the Congress first increased
and then became supreme. His activities for public awakening were
phenomenal in their intensity and were reinforced by the slogan of truth
and non-violence which he paraded ostentatiously before the country. No
sensible or enlightened person could object to those slogans. In fact
there is nothing new or original in them. They are implicit in every
constitutional public movement. But it is nothing but a mere dream if
you imagine that the bulk of mankind is, or can ever become, capable of
scrupulous adherence to these lofty principles in its normal life from
day to day.
In fact, hunour, duty and love of one's own kith and
kin and country might often compel us to disregard non-violence and to
use force. I could never conceive that an armed resistance to an
aggression is unjust. I would consider it a religious and moral duty to
resist and, if possible, to overpower such an enemy by use of force. [In
the Ramayana] Rama killed Ravana in a tumultuous fight and relieved
Sita. [In the Mahabharata], Krishna killed Kansa to end his wickedness;
and Arjuna had to fight and slay quite a number of his friends and
relations including the revered Bhishma because the latter was on the
side of the aggressor. It is my firm belief that in dubbing Rama,
Krishna and Arjuna as guilty of violence, the Mahatma betrayed a total
ignorance of the springs of human action.
In more recent history, it was the heroic fight put
up by Chhatrapati Shivaji that first checked and eventually destroyed
the Muslim tyranny in India. It was absolutely essentially for Shivaji
to overpower and kill an aggressive Afzal Khan, failing which he would
have lost his own life. In condemning history's towering warriors like
Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Guru Gobind Singh as misguided patriots,
Gandhiji has merely exposed his self-conceit. He was, paradoxical as it
may appear, a violent pacifist who brought untold calamities on the
country in the name of truth and non-violence, while Rana Pratap,
Shivaji and the Guru will remain enshrined in the hearts of their
countrymen for ever for the freedom they brought to them.
The accumulating provocation of thirty-two years,
culminating in his last pro-Muslim fast, at last goaded me to the
conclusion that the existence of Gandhi should be brought to an end
immediately. Gandhi had done very good in South Africa to uphold the
rights and well-being of the Indian community there. 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.
Against such an attitude there can be no halfway house. Either Congress
had to surrender its will to his and had to be content with playing
second fiddle to all his eccentricity, whimsicality, metaphysics and
primitive vision, or it had to carry on without him. He alone was the
Judge of everyone and every thing; he was the master brain guiding the
civil disobedience movement; no other could know the technique of that
movement. He alone knew when to begin and when to withdraw it. The
movement might succeed or fail, it might bring untold disaster and
political reverses but that could make no difference to the Mahatma's
infallibility. 'A Satyagrahi can never fail' was his formula for
declaring his own infallibility and nobody except himself knew what a
Thus, the Mahatma became the judge and jury in his
own cause. These childish insanities and obstinacies, coupled with a
most severe austerity of life, ceaseless work and lofty character made
Gandhi formidable and irresistible. Many people thought that his
politics were irrational but they had either to withdraw from the
Congress or place their intelligence at his feet to do with as he liked.
In a position of such absolute irresponsibility Gandhi was guilty of
blunder after blunder, failure after failure, disaster after disaster.
Gandhi's pro-Muslim policy is blatantly in his
perverse attitude on the question of the national language of India. It
is quite obvious that Hindi has the most prior claim to be accepted as
the premier language. In the beginning of his career in India, Gandhi
gave a great impetus to Hindi but as he found that the Muslims did not
like it, he became a champion of what is called Hindustani. Everybody in
India knows that there is no language called Hindustani; it has no
grammar; it has no vocabulary. It is a mere dialect, it is spoken, but
not written. It is a bastard tongue and cross-breed between Hindi and
Urdu, and not even the Mahatma's sophistry could make it popular. But in
his desire to please the Muslims he insisted that Hindustani alone
should be the national language of India. His blind followers, of course,
supported him and the so-called hybrid language began to be used. The
charm and purity of the Hindi language was to be prostituted to please
the Muslims. All his experiments were at the expense of the Hindus.
From August 1946 onwards the private armies of the
Muslim League began a massacre of the Hindus. The then Viceroy, Lord
Wavell, though distressed at what was happening, would not use his
powers under the Government of India Act of 1935 to prevent the rape,
murder and arson. The Hindu blood began to flow from Bengal to Karachi
with some retaliation by the Hindus. The Interim Government formed in
September was sabotaged by its Muslim League members right from its
inception, but the more they became disloyal and treasonable to the
government of which they were a part, the greater was Gandhi's
infatuation for them. Lord Wavell had to resign as he could not bring
about a settlement and he was succeeded by Lord Mountbatten. King Log
was followed by King Stork.
The Congress which had boasted of its nationalism and
socialism secretly accepted Pakistan literally at the point of the
bayonet and abjectly surrendered to Jinnah. India was vivisected and one-third
of the Indian territory became foreign land to us from August 15, 1947.
Lord Mountbatten came to be described in Congress circles as the
greatest Viceroy and Governor-General this country ever had. The
official date for handing over power was fixed for June 30, 1948, but
Mountbatten with his ruthless surgery gave us a gift of vivisected India
ten months in advance. This is what Gandhi had achieved after thirty
years of undisputed dictatorship and this is what Congress party calls 'freedom'
and 'peaceful transfer of power'. The Hindu-Muslim unity bubble was
finally burst and a theocratic state was established with the consent of
Nehru and his crowd and they have called 'freedom won by them with
sacrifice' - whose sacrifice? When top leaders of Congress, with the
consent of Gandhi, divided and tore the country - which we consider a
deity of worship - my mind was filled with direful anger.
One of the conditions imposed by Gandhi for his
breaking of the fast unto death related to the mosques in Delhi occupied
by the Hindu refugees. But when Hindus in Pakistan were subjected to
violent attacks he did not so much as utter a single word to protest and
censure the Pakistan Government or the Muslims concerned. Gandhi was
shrewd enough to know that while undertaking a fast unto death, had he
imposed for its break some condition on the Muslims in Pakistan, there
would have been found hardly any Muslims who could have shown some grief
if the fast had ended in his death. It was for this reason that he
purposely avoided imposing any condition on the Muslims. He was fully
aware of from the experience that Jinnah was not at all perturbed or
influenced by his fast and the Muslim League hardly attached any value
to the inner voice of Gandhi.
Gandhi is being referred to as the Father of the
Nation. But if that is so, he had failed his paternal duty inasmuch as
he has acted very treacherously to the nation by his consenting to
the partitioning of it. I stoutly maintain that Gandhi has failed in his
duty. He has proved to be the Father of Pakistan. His inner-voice, his
spiritual power and his doctrine of non-violence of which so much is
made of, all crumbled before Jinnah's iron will and proved to be
Briefly speaking, I thought to myself and foresaw I
shall be totally ruined, and the only thing I could expect from the
people would be nothing but hatred and that I shall have lost all my
honour, even more valuable than my life, if I were to kill Gandhiji. But
at the same time I felt that the Indian politics in the absence of
Gandhiji would surely be proved practical, able to retaliate, and would
be powerful with armed forces. No doubt, my own future would be totally
ruined, but the nation would be saved from the inroads of Pakistan.
People may even call me and dub me as devoid of any sense or foolish,
but the nation would be free to follow the course founded on the reason
which I consider to be necessary for sound nation-building. After having
fully considered the question, I took the final decision in the matter,
but I did not speak about it to anyone whatsoever. I took courage in
both my hands and I did fire the shots at Gandhiji on 30th January 1948,
on the prayer-grounds of Birla House.
I do say that my shots were fired at the person whose
policy and action had brought rack and ruin and destruction to millions
of Hindus. There was no legal machinery by which such an offender could
be brought to book and for this reason I fired those fatal shots.
I bear no ill will towards anyone individually but I
do say that I had no respect for the present government owing to their
policy which was unfairly favourable towards the Muslims. But at the
same time I could clearly see that the policy was entirely due to the
presence of Gandhi. I have to say with great regret that Prime Minister
Nehru quite forgets that his preachings and deeds are at times at
variances with each other when he talks about India as a secular state
in season and out of season, because it is significant to note that
Nehru has played a leading role in the establishment of the theocratic
state of Pakistan, and his job was made easier by Gandhi's persistent
appeasement towards the Muslims.
I now stand before the court to accept the full share
of my responsibility for what I have done and the judge would, of course,
pass against me such orders of sentence as may be considered proper. But
I would like to add that I do not desire any mercy to be shown to me,
nor do I wish that anyone else should beg for mercy on my behalf. My
confidence about the moral side of my action has not been shaken even by
the criticism levelled against it on all sides. I have no doubt that
honest writers of history will weigh my act and find the true value
thereof some day in future.