Nathuram Godse

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Nathuram Vinayak Godse
Nathuram godse.jpg
Nathuram Godse at his trial for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi
Ramachandra Vinayak Godse

(1910-05-19)19 May 1910
Died15 November 1949(1949-11-15) (aged 39)
Ambala Prison, East Punjab, Dominion of India
(now in Haryana, India)
Cause of death Hanging
Nationality Indian
Organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Hindu Mahasabha
Criminal statusExecuted
Criminal charge Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi
Penalty Death

Nathuram Vinayak Godse (19 May 1910 – 15 November 1949) was a right-wing advocate of Hindu nationalism who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi on 30 January 1948. He shot Gandhi in the chest three times at point-blank range. [1] Godse was a member of the right-wing, Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS); [2] he believed that Gandhi favoured the political demands of India's Muslims during the partition of India.

Hindu nationalism has been collectively referred to as the expression of social and political thought, based on the native spiritual and cultural traditions of the Indian subcontinent. Defenders of Hindu nationalism have tried to avoid the label "nationalism" by arguing that the use of the term "Hindu nationalism" to refer to Hindū rāṣṭravāda is a simplistic translation and is better described by the term "Hindu polity".

Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi Assassination

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948 in the compound of Birla House, a large mansion. His assassin was Nathuram Vinayak Godse, advocate of hindu nationalism, a member of the political party the Hindu Mahasabha, and a past member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which he left in 1940 to form an armed organization. Godse had planned the assassination.

Mahatma Gandhi Pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism during British-ruled India

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahātmā was applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa and is now used worldwide. In India, he was also called Bapu, a term that he preferred, and Gandhi ji, and is known as the Father of the Nation.


He plotted the assassination with Narayan Apte and six others. After a trial that lasted more than a year, Godse was sentenced to death on 8 November 1949. Although pleas for commutation were made by Gandhi's two sons, Manilal Gandhi and Ramdas Gandhi, they were turned down by India's prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, deputy prime minister Vallabhbhai Patel, and the Governor-General C. Rajagopalachari. [3] Godse was hanged at Ambala Central Jail on 15 November 1949. [4]

Narayan Apte Hindu activist and entrepreneur

Narayan Dattatraya Apte was an Indian activist and entrepreneur who was executed for his role in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. He was born into a family of scholars.

In law, a commutation is the substitution of a lesser penalty for that given after a conviction for a crime. The penalty can be lessened in severity, in duration, or both. Unlike most pardons by government and overturnings by the court, a commutation does not affect the status of a defendant's underlying criminal conviction.

Manilal Mohandas Gandhi was the second son of Mohandas Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi.

Early life

Nathuram Vinayakrao Godse was born into a Maharashtrian Chitpavan Brahmin family. [5] His father, Vinayak Vamanrao Godse, was a postal employee; his mother was Lakshmi (née Godavari). At birth, he was named Ramachandra. [6] Nathuram was given his name because of an unfortunate incident. Before he was born, his parents had three sons and a daughter, with all three boys dying in their infancy. Fearing a curse that targeted male children, young Ramachandra was brought up as a girl for the first few years of his life, including having his nose pierced and being made to wear a nose-ring (nath in Marathi). It was then that he earned the nickname "Nathuram" (literally "Ram with a nose-ring"). After his younger brother was born, they switched to treating him as a boy. [7]

The Marathi people or Maharashtrians are an ethnolinguistic group who speak Marathi, an Indo-Aryan language as their native language. They inhabit the state of Maharashtra as well as districts bordering the state, such as Belgaum and Karwar of Karnataka and the state of Goa in western India. Their language, Marathi, is part of the Indo-Aryan language family. It is to be noted that the term 'Maratha' by historians, is at times used to refer to all Marathi speaking people, irrespective of caste and at times to a Maharashtrian caste called Maratha. The Marathi community came into political prominence in the 17th century when Maratha warriors, under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, established the Maratha Empire, which is credited to a large extent for ending the Mughal rule.

The Chitpavan Brahmin or Kokanastha Brahmin is a Hindu Maharashtrian Brahmin community inhabiting Konkan, the coastal region of the state of Maharashtra in India. The community came into prominence during the 18th century when the heirs of Peshwa from the Bhat family of Balaji Vishwanath became the de facto rulers of the Maratha empire. Under the British Raj, they were the one of the Hindu communities in Maharashtra to flock to western education and they provided the bulk of social reformers, educationalists and nationalists of the late 19th century. Until the 18th century, the Chitpavans were held in low esteem by the Deshastha, the older established Brahmin community of Maharashtra region.

Brahmin is a varna (class) in Hinduism specialising as priests, teachers (acharya) and protectors of sacred learning across generations.

Godse attended the local school at Baramati through the fifth standard, after which he was sent to live with an aunt in Pune so that he could study at an English-language school.[ citation needed ] During his school days, he highly respected Gandhi. [8]

Baramati City in Maharashtra, India

Baramatipronunciation is a city and a municipal council in Pune district in the state of Maharashtra, India. It is also the home town of famous marathi Poet Kavi Moropant.

Pune Metropolis in Maharashtra, India

Pune, is the second largest city in the Indian state of Maharashtra, after Mumbai. It is the ninth most populous city in the country with an estimated population of 3.13 million. Along with it’s extended city limits Pimpri Chinchwad and the three cantonment towns of Pune, Khadki and Dehu Road, Pune forms the urban core of the eponymous Pune Metropolitan Region (PMR). According to the 2011 census, the urban area has a combined population of 5.05 million while the population of the metropolitan region is estimated at 7.27 million.

Political career and beliefs

Group photo of people accused in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. Standing (L to R): Shankar Kistaiya, Gopal Godse, Madan Lal Pahwa, Digambar Ramchandra Badge. Seated (L to R): Narayan Apte, Vinayak D. Savarkar, Nathuram Godse, Vishnu Karkare Nathuram.jpg
Group photo of people accused in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. Standing (L to R): Shankar Kistaiya, Gopal Godse, Madan Lal Pahwa, Digambar Ramchandra Badge. Seated (L to R): Narayan Apte, Vinayak D. Savarkar, Nathuram Godse, Vishnu Karkare

Godse dropped out of high school and became an activist with Hindu nationalist organizations Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Organisation) and Hindu Mahasabha, although the exact dates of his membership are uncertain. [9] [10]

Hindu Mahasabha Indian political party

The Hindu Mahasabha is a right wing Hindu nationalist political party in India.

Godse started a Marathi language newspaper for the Hindu Mahasabha called Agrani, which some years later was renamed Hindu Rashtra.[ citation needed ] Godse rejected Gandhi's philosophy, believing Gandhi repeatedly sabotaged the interests of Hindus by using the "fasting unto death" tactic on many issues. In Godse's view, Gandhi was giving in to interests that seemed to him anti-national. [11] [12]

Marathi language Indo-Aryan language

Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken predominantly by around 83 million Marathi people of Maharashtra, India. It is the official language and co-official language in the Maharashtra and Goa states of Western India, respectively, and is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India. At 83 million speakers in 2011, Marathi ranks 19th in the list of most spoken languages in the world. Marathi has the third largest number of native speakers in India, after Hindi and Bengali. The language has some of the oldest literature of all modern Indian languages, dating back to around 900 AD. The major dialects of Marathi are Standard Marathi and the Varhadi dialect. Koli and Malvani Konkani have been heavily influenced by Marathi varieties.

RSS membership

Godse joined RSS in Sangli (Maharashtra) in 1932 as a boudhik karyawah (ground worker), and simultaneously remained a member of the Hindu Mahasabha, both right wing organizations. He often wrote articles in newspapers to publicise his thoughts. During this time, Godse and M. S. Golwalkar, later RSS chief, often worked together, and they translated Babarao Savarkar's book "Rashtra Mimansa" into English. They had a falling out when Golwalkar took the entire credit for this translation.[ citation needed ] In the early 1940s, Godse formed his own organization, "Hindu Rashtra Dal" [13] on the Vijayadashami day of 1942, though he continued to remain a member of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha. [2]

In 1946, Godse claimed to have left the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha over the issue of the partition of India. His relations with many members of the RSS soured, and he felt that the RSS was softening in its stance. [14] [15]

Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi

Godse approached Gandhi on 30 January 1948 during the evening prayer at 17:17. When Godse bowed, one of the girls flanking and supporting Gandhi, said to Godse, "Brother, Bapu ("Father", a nickname for Gandhi) is already late" and tried to put him off, but he pushed her aside and shot Gandhi in the chest three times at point-blank range with a Beretta M1934 semi-automatic pistol. Herbert Reiner Jr., a young vice-consul at the new American embassy in Delhi, was the first to rush forward and grasp Godse by the shoulders, spinning him into the arms of some military personnel, who disarmed him. [16] [17] Reiner then held Godse by the neck and shoulders until he was taken away by the military and police. [18] [19] Gandhi was taken back to his room in Birla House, where he died soon thereafter. [20]

Trial and execution

Godse was put on trial at the Punjab High Court, at Peterhoff, Shimla. On 8 November 1949, he was sentenced to death. Although pleas for commutation were made by Gandhi's two sons, Manilal Gandhi and Ramdas Gandhi, they were turned down by India's prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, deputy prime minister Vallabhbhai Patel and the Governor-General Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, [3] and Godse was hanged at Ambala Jail on 15 November 1949. [4]

Ideological and Political Criticism of Gandhi

In his court trial speech Godse provides a detailed critique of Gandhian politics. The speech was banned but later became available in a book titled May it Please Your Honour [21] co-written by Nathuram's brother Gopal Godse.


Millions of Indians mourned Gandhi's assassination; the Hindu Mahasabha was vilified and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was temporarily banned. However, investigators could find no evidence that the RSS bureaucracy had formally sponsored or even knew of Godse's plot. The ban on the RSS was lifted in 1949.

To this day RSS denies any connection with Godse and disputes the claim that he was a member. [10] Godse's brother Gopal Godse claimed that all the Godse brothers were members of the RSS at the time of the assassination. [22] The nephew of Godse, Satyaki Savarkar, confirmed Godse resigned from his position in Hindu Mahasabha in 1946, and while he was very critical of RSS and discontinued ties with RSS, there is no official procedure to be excluded from RSS. [2]

Brahmins in Maharashtra became targets of violence after the assassination, mostly by elements from the Maratha, Jain and Lingayat communities. [23] [24] [25]

Attempts at rehabilitation

In 2014, following the Bharatiya Janata Party's rise to power, the Hindu Mahasabha began attempts to rehabilitate Godse and portray him as a patriot. It requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to install the bust of Godse. It created a documentary film Desh Bhakt Nathuram Godse (Patriot Nathuram Godse) for release on the death anniversary of Gandhi on 30 January 2015. [26] There were attempts to build a temple for Godse and to celebrate 30 January as a Shaurya Diwas ("Bravery Day"). [27] A civil suit was filed in Pune Court asking for a ban on the documentary film. [28]

In May 2019, in the lead up to the final phase of Indian elections, BJP's candidate from Bhopal, Pragya Thakur, called Godse a "patriot". [29] Facing intense backlash, she apologized later. [30]

In art


  1. Noorani, A.G. (8 February 2013). "The BJP and Nathuram Godse". Frontline. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 Venugopal, Vasudha (8 September 2016). "Nathuram Godse never left RSS, says his family". Economic times. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  3. 1 2 Gandhi, Rajmohan (2006), Gandhi: The Man, His People, and the Empire, University of California Press, p. 660, ISBN   978-0-520-25570-8
  4. 1 2 Bandyopadhyay, Sekhar (2009), Decolonization in South Asia: Meanings of Freedom in Post-independence West Bengal, 1947–52, Routledge, p. 146, ISBN   978-1-134-01824-6
  5. Devare, Aparna. History and the Making of a Modern Hindu Self . Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  6. "Early life | Nathuram Godse". Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  7. Jeffrey, Robin (1990). India, Rebellion to Republic: Selected Writings, 1857–1990. Sterling Publishers. p. 105.
  8. Time (14 February 2000) "His Principle of Peace Was Bogus". Retrieved 3 July 2007
  9. The Hindu (18 August 2004). "RSS releases 'proof' of its innocence". Retrieved 26 June 2007
  10. 1 2 Zee News (IANS) (30 December 2010). "RSS denies Godse was its member, rebuts Cong claim". Retrieved 1 November 2011
  11. "The Book on Trial".
  12. Bharat Bhankal. "Bha Bha Blogship: Nathuram Godse – His Last Speech".
  13. Hansen, Thomas Blom (1999). The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India. Princeton University Press. p. 249. ISBN   1-4008-2305-6.
  14. Venugopal, Vasudha (8 September 2016). "Nathuram Godse never left RSS, says his family" via The Economic Times.
  15. Karawan, Ibrahim A.; McCormack, Wayne; Reynolds, Stephen E. (2008). Values and Violence: Intangible Aspects of Terrorism. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 87. ISBN   978-1-4020-8660-1.
  16. Obituary, May 26 (26 May 2000), "Herbert Reiner Jr.; Captured Gandhi's killer", Los Angeles Times, retrieved 27 January 2017
  17. Pronko, N. H.; Bowles, J. W. (2013), Empirical Foundations Of Psychology, Taylor & Francis, p. 343, ISBN   978-1-136-32708-7
  18. Obituary, May 21 (21 May 2000), "Herbert Reiner Jr., Diplomat, 83; Captured Gandhi's killer in 1948", The Boston Globe
  19. Trumbull, Robert (31 January 1948), "Gandhi is killed by a Hindu; India shaken; World mourns; 15 die in rioting in Bombay", The New York Times
  20. "Controversy over "Hey Ram"". Archived from the original on 1 February 2008. Retrieved 9 October 2013.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  21. May it Please Your Honour.
  22. A.G. Noorani. "The BJP and Nathuram Godse". Frontline.
  23. Ullekh N P (2018). The Untold Vajpayee: Politician and Paradox. Random House India. p. 39. ISBN   9789385990816.
  24. Mariam Dossal; Ruby Malon, eds. (1999). State Intervention and Popular Response: Western India in the Nineteenth Century. p. 11. ISBN   9788171548552.
  25. Koenraad Elst (2001). Gandhi and Godse:A review and Critique. pp. 12, 13, 14. (pg 13,14)Destruction was even larger in kolhapur...(pg14)Shahu Maharaj had actively collaborated with the British against the freedom movement, which was locally identified with Chitpawan Brahmins like B.G.Tilak...(pg14) The biggest violence took place in the seven Patwardhan (Chitpawan) princely states such as Sangli, where the remarkably advanced factories owned by Chitpawans were largely destroyed/ Here, Jains and Lingayats joined the Marathas in the attacks. The events hastened the integration of Patwardhan states (by march 1948) into the Bombay province, an integration opposed by the Brahmins - fearing Maratha predominance in the integrated province.
  26. Ghose, Debobrat (21 December 2014). "Hindu Mahasabha head speaks to FP: Godse was a `martyr' and `patriot'". Firstpost. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  27. "Hindu Mahasabha announces Godse temple". Deccan Chronicle.
  28. PTI. "Pune court to hear suit against Godse film". The Hindu.
  29. "'Nathuram Godse was a patriot,' says BJP's Pragya Thakur; sparks outrage". 16 May 2019. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  30. "Under fire, BJP's Pragya Thakur apologises for calling Godse a 'deshbhakt'". The Indian Express. 16 May 2019. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  31. Rediff on the NeT. "Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy – The Transcript"
  32. Nathuram Vinayak Godse; Gopal Vinayak Godse (1993). Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi?. Surya Bharti Parkashan. p. 176. My friends had greeted me, and arranged a small ceremony. Late Shri ... On completion he published the series in a book form titled 'Gandhi Hatya Ani Mee' (Gandhi assassination and I) in October 1967. The Government being allergic to the truth which exposed their falsehood, banned the book two months later
  33. Girja Kumar (1 January 1997). The Book on Trial: Fundamentalism and Censorship in India. Har-Anand Publications. p. 443. ISBN   978-81-241-0525-2. The axe was to fall on the Marathi memoirs of Gopal Godse. ... and "spurned", he decided to publish his memoirs. It was immediately banned in several parts of India and copies of the book forefeited to the State
  34. Frontline - Google Boeken. May 1998. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  35. Charisma and Commitment in South Asian History: Essays Presented to Stanley ... - Google Books. 2004. ISBN   9788125026419 . Retrieved 30 January 2014.

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