Indian history is poised to take some interesting diversions. One of the many rewritings will be the deification of Nathuram Godse, the killer of Mahatma Gandhi. The Hindu Mahasabha has been threatening (or promising, depending on which side you are) to construct a temple with Godse as the deity. As India is going to celebrate the 65th anniversary of its secular Constitution in a function solemnised by none other than the President of a country which exported secularism whenever it found it opportunistic to do so, it may be worthwhile to take a look at the contribution of the new god being added to the country's overcrowded pantheon.
Poona, 15 August 1947 – a flashback adapted from Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
Independence from British rule is being celebrated. The flag slowly moving up the staff in the centre of the 500 men assembled is not the flag of the independent India. It is a saffron triangle with the swastika emblazoned on it.
The swastika was on the saffron flag for the same reason as it had been on the banners of Hitler’s Third Reich. The men gathered about it in Poona were all members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS]. Though India had extricated itself from a protracted alien rule, the men around the fascist flag in Poona cherished another historic dream, to reconstitute a Hindu Empire that stretched from the Indus River to Burma (Myanmar), from Tibet to Kanyakumari. They despised Gandhi and his vision founded on religious tolerance, love of truth and nonviolence. They held that the Hindus were the descendants of the Aryans, the people for whom Hitler committed unforgettable and unforgivable atrocities. The Hindu Empire should only have those Aryans and not the descendants of the Mughals or the British colonisers.
The man standing in front of the gathering in Poona was Nathuram Godse, a man who would soon commit national parricide and then wait for over six decades in the tomb of history to be resurrected as nothing less than a god. He was then just 37 years old. With pads of baby fat still clinging to his cheeks, he looked innocent if not divine. He delivered a moving rhetoric to the 500 listeners. He told them that India was not yet free. It contained people who were still alien. All because of that man called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
The RSS had made no significant contribution to the freedom struggle. In fact, at times it colluded with the British government. Now when the British had left, Godse felt like a great leader.
“All his life, from his school examinations through half a dozen trades, Nathuram Godse had been a failure at everything he’d undertaken.” [Quoted verbatim from Freedom at Midnight] Religion, particularly religious extremism, is a handy tool for such people. Godse plunged into his religion, delved deep, swam in it and emerged as a polemicist. Now he saw for himself a new role which he would carry out with vengefulness. Not only that, he would also make sure that his soul would transmigrate into the very air of India and remain there for six and a half decades... and then transmute into a god, yet another god in the country of infinite gods.