Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on this day 72 years ago by a man who lacked the brains to understand profundity. The killer, Nathuram Godse, justified his pernicious deed in an eloquent speech in the court. I would like to pick out three of his prominent arguments and show why he was utterly wrong.
1. Folly of non-violence
Godse’s first major argument is that the right answer to aggression is violence. “I would consider it a religious and moral duty to resist and, if possible, to overpower such an enemy [who uses force] by use of force.” He went on to argue that mankind is incapable of “scrupulous adherence to these lofty principles [of truth and non-violence] in its normal life from day to day.”
Godse obviously failed to understand the very “loftiness” (to use his own term) of the Mahatma’s vision. Gandhi wished to elevate mankind to a higher level of consciousness. Gandhi’s was a messianic vision. He was not fighting merely for liberating India from the British but also for liberating every Indian from normal human vices. His goal was to liberate the human soul from its “normal” (once again Godse’s word) bondages to various vices. Godse failed to understand that messianic vision. Godse was just a mediocre person who was guided by the “normal” human vices.
2. Gandhi’s autocracy
Godse’s next major problem was that Gandhi was an autocrat who imposed his will not only on the Congress but also on the nation. Gandhi imposed his “eccentricity, whimsicality, metaphysics and primitive vision” on the entire nation by making use of fasting as a weapon. Godse went on to say that “These childish insanities and obstinacies, coupled with a most severe austerity of life, ceaseless work and lofty character made Gandhi formidable and irresistible.”
Ironically, Godse is right here. Here Godse shows the only flash of brilliance in the whole of his final speech. Gandhi was an autocrat in a way. Every messiah is an autocrat. Every messiah believes in certain absolutes such as truth, justice and compassion. It is this obstinate clinging to the absolutes that makes the messiah look like a social misfit and hence the target of the hatred of people with vested interests. Godse was a man with a vested interest. His interest was to create a Hindu Rashtra where Muslims would have no rights, let alone the privileges that Gandhi extended to them again and again.
3. Appeasement of Muslims
It is Gandhi’s appeasement of Muslims that led eventually to the partition of India. “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,” said Godse. He makes it amply clear that his love was for the territory and not for the people. The Muslims could go to hell for all that Godse cared. Their land should remain with Akhand Bharat.
Godse’s was an extremely mean attitude, not unlike that of any invader who captured territories, which was driven by greed for land and a desire for conquests. This greed is coated with the sweet covering of national pride. He thought that decimating perceived enemies was a sign of macho national pride. Gandhi was an effeminate person in this regard; he surrendered meekly to a crafty conniver like Jinnah.
Gandhi wanted people to rise above their religions to the greater values of humanism. He wanted people to understand the real meaning and value of religion. The kind of religion that Godse preached was pernicious: it divided people, it made people hate one another. Gandhi wanted people to love one another.
People like Godse never understood Gandhi. They were incapable of rising to the required consciousness level. Godse’s followers today still remain at that undeveloped consciousness levels. Gandhi’s martyrdom was quite futile. Mediocrity rules the kingdom now, pathetically so.