Gandhi blog series #9
January 30, 2020, marks the 72nd anniversary of Gandhi’s martyrdom. It was on the same day in the year 1948 that he was shot thrice at point-blank. Gandhi died for his ideologies of equality and non-violence and secular spirituality. After 72 years, it is worth thinking about whether we keep the values that he died for sacred.
Many try to justify his assassination by twisting facts to incriminate Gandhi. Gandhi, who resented the sobriquet of Mahatma, always admitted the flaws and imperfections within himself. But while studying the biography of the frail old man, one cannot help but marvel the strength of character and moral rectitude he upheld throughout his life.
What did Gandhi die for?
Gandhi’s philosophy of ahimsa (non-violence) and his uncompromising affliction to truth was not understood fully by his contemporaries. Even his closest followers failed to see what was obvious for Gandhi. Though he constantly tried to clarify his views, most could not achieve the level of high thinking it demanded and hence there were always differences.
The reasons the assassin Nathuram Godse pointed out during his one-year-long trial for the murder were:
Godse held the view that Gandhi’s idea of non-violence was impractical. He blamed Gandhi for not taking an aggressive stand against the oppressors. War, according to him, was the moral duty (dharma) of a hindu.
The fact is that violence was never encouraged by the religion. Hindu scriptures proclaimed ahimsa as the greatest human value.
Gandhi Supported Muslims in India
Everyone has equal rights according to Gandhian ideology. He respected and studied every religion and took the good out of everything. His altruism which resulted in him supporting the Muslim League and its causes like the Khilafat movement enraged the Hindu extremist groups who expected his favoritism .
Partition and subsequent problems
Godse blamed Gandhi for allowing Muslims to form a separate country called Pakistan after independence. The fact is that Gandhi was against partition and pleaded with Mohammed Ali Jinnah to refrain from vivisection. When he refused, and India became a ground for communal violence, the Indian National Congress under pressure decided to agree to partition.
While partitioning British India, the same extremists groups demanded that India should choose to become a Hindu nation. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru considered and rejected the proposition and choose to remain a secular country. This increased their resentment towards Gandhi.
The last straw was Gandhi’s advocacy for giving the rightful share of the money (about 550 million rupees) to Pakistan after partition. He fasted for 3 days and ultimately Indian union agreed to his demand. This enraged the Hindutwa leaders.
The greatest irony in Godse’s argument was that the radical Hindu groups had plotted Gandhi’s assassination since the 1930’s. The first attempt on his life was in 1934, second and third during the months of July and September 1944, others in September 1946 and on 20th January 1948. Godse was involved in two previous attempts. But the issues of partition were nonexistent at the time.
Nathuram Vinayak Godse
The sad fact is that Godse was not a dumb assassin who took up a contract to kill Gandhi. Not only was he born to an aristocratic Brahmin family, but he was also educated and cultured. But his views on racial supremacy and radical Hinduism made him insensitive to human values.
Godse joined radical Hindu groups and spread their ideas through all possible means. But he refused to show up when Gandhi invited him to debate over the differences in opinion. He would rather silence the voice which questioned his blind beliefs.
The capital punishment given to Godse, against the plea of the two sons of Gandhi, Harilal and Manilal, did not mitigate the spread of his vile ideas. Extreme rightwing ideologists still at large and try to glorify the assassin as a nationalist and hero.
Like never before, ethnic and religious terrorist groups find a way to propagate their ideas in India. They direly need to reinstate Godse. Only then can they crush the spirit of secular India.
Unfortunately, the ruling government who is supposed to protect the heritage ends up attacking it with Unconstitutional Laws like Citizen Amendment Act and National Registry of Citizenship (read more). Even UN Human Rights Commission has remarked on the law as ‘Fundamentally discriminatory’. But the pro-Hindutva government and activists try to sell their slow poison under the guise of national security.
India is slowly pushing Gandhi into oblivion. With him, the ideologies of non-violence and truth are also forgotten. The repercussions of such a pitfall can be unpredictable.
Gandhi’s life, which is a moral saga that inspired great minds around the globe, should be revisited to curb such a catastrophe. We have to learn to be immune to the raging radical ideas. Gandhism is surely a shield which can protect us from it.
Let us take a moment to think about what Gandhi died for. Isn’t it our responsibility to prove that his martyrdom was not in vain? Can we escape from the chains of hatred and work towards a world of love and non-violence as he envisioned?
Thank you for reading. Please post your opinions in the comment box below
Dr Koenraad Elst, Why I Killed the Mahatma, pg 60
 Dr Koenraad Elst, Why I Killed the Mahatma, pg 85