Nathuram Godse

Born on 19 May 1910

Vinayak Vamanrao Godse was a postal employee in Baramati, Pune district. He was married to Lakshmi and had three sons and a daughter. All the three sons had died during infancy and Vinayak feared that his lineage had been cursed. Vinayak had a fourth son and named him Ramachandra. Fearing the curse on his family’s male children, Ramachandra was raised as a girl child. His nose was pierced and he was made to wear a nose ring, as is the tradition in most Hindu families.

Ramachandra posed as a girl for his first few years of life. A nose-ring is translated as ‘nath’ and it was because of this fact that he earned his name, Nathuram which literally means Ram with a nose-ring. Soon, Nathuram had a younger brother and that is when he stopped posing as a girl. 

Growing up, he was sent to live with his aunt in Pune so that he could study in an English-medium school. Growing up, he was highly influenced by the teachings of Gandhi and respected him genuinely. Soon, Nathuram dropped out of High School and joined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to become an activist. He went on to start a Marathi newspaper for Hindu Mahasabha[2] which was titled Agrani and later renamed as Hindu Rashtra.

By this time, his inclination towards Gandhi had started to flutter. he had started believing that Gandhi was not concerned about the Hindus and most of his interests were anti-national in nature. He started working with M.S. Golwalkar, who later became the RSS chief. Both of them translated the book “Rashtra Mimansa” into English. However, Golwalkar took the entire credit for the translation and both of them fell apart. He went on to form his organization called Hindu Rashtra Dal.

In between, he was arrested a few times for political crimes and served a prison sentence. Once he came out of prison, he started reporting crimes on Hindus as a journalist during the riots of the 1940s. A year before Independence in 1946, he had a fallout again with most of the leaders of RSS, as he felt that they softened their stance on the partition. He was particularly not happy with the outcomes of the partition of India.

Post Independence, when war broke out between India and Pakistan, Indian leaders had withheld a payment supposed to be given to Pakistan. The leaders did not want to finance a country which was waging war at them.

Gandhi opposed the decision and went on fast-unto-death until the Indian leaders decided not to withhold the payment to Pakistan. The government soon reversed the decision and this irked Godse and his colleagues.

Godse believed Gandhi was clearly hurting India’s policies and was controlling the government indirectly. In a desperate measure to avert Gandhi’s further interference, Godse and his accomplice, Narayan Apte started tracking Gandhi’s movements and purchased a Beretta M1934.

20 January 1948

Godse attempted to assassinate Gandhi in Birla House, Delhi. A grenade was thrown at Gandhi from the crowd creating chaos amongst the crowd. The plan was to throw a second grenade at Gandhi on the speaker platform but Godse’s accomplice, Digambar Badge lost courage and ran away with the crowd. Godse and his accomplices escaped but for one, Madanlal Pahwa.

30 January 1948

Godse shot Gandhi three times in the chest with his Beretta. Herbert Reiner Jr., a young consul at the American embassy was the first to grasp hold of Godse by the neck and later got him arrested.

Godse was put on a trial in Punjab Court. Although there were pleas from Gandhi’s two sons to forgive him, it was rejected by the government. He was hung in Ambala jail soon after.

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