Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of non-violence who is revered not only in India but all over the world, gave his life for the message of peace. He was a social reformer, a philosopher, a revolutionary, freedom fighter and a writer who provided inspiration to millions across the globe. He weakened the force of British colonial forces and impeded the British forces from continuing their Raj on Indian soil. His philosophy of non-violence is respected by revolutionaries in many different countries who used it to fight the evil oppressors.
Mahatma Gandhi was a fighter on many fronts. He was at his best on the battlefield, and he had many battlefields to watch. If the political battlefield was idle, there were other battles to fight. He gave a lot of time and energy to the nation-building activities which were dearer to him than politics—Harijan welfare, reconstruction of village economy, basic education for the masses, propagation of Hindi-Hindustani as the national language, experiments in nature cure, and the organization of a comprehensive scheme for the welfare and education of women and children, preferably in the rural areas, as part of Kasturba Memorial. His spectrum of social welfare initiatives was too broad to be completed in a lifetime.
Mahatma Gandhi devised the philosophy of Satyagraha as a life changing idea. In Indian opinion, he described Satyagraha as “firmness in a good cause”. In Young India, he pointed out that Satyagraha was just a new name for “the law of self suffering”. And in Hind Swaraj, he proclaimed that ‘Sacrifice of self is infinitely Superior to Sacrifice of others” and that a self sufferer does not make others suffer for his mistakes. Self-suffering brings the desired relief quicker and with greater certainty than does the imposition of suffering on the opponent.
Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead while walking to his prayer meeting by Nathuram Godse, a Brahmin Hindu from Pune. The assassin had fired three shots at point-blank range. Mahatma Gandhi was wounded in the chest and abdomen, and fell down on the spot . The murderer was immediately apprehended and saved from a lynching by the crowd. The pistol from which he had fired the shots was recovered from his possession. Gandhiji was carried to his room in a state of unconsciousness, and he succumbed to his injuries within a few moments.
After a long trial, Nathuram Godse was found guilty and he was sentenced to death. That the apostle of peace and non-violence met such a violent end is strangely disconcerting. Nathuram was not only the master of his own acts but he was also the lieutenant of Savarkar, and he is a representative of the Hindutva forces in whose hands he was a mere pawn. Nathuram is a symbol of terrorism, a preamble to a wider politics of Hindu domination, a harbinger of Hindutva terrorism in India.
On Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, the hashtag “Godse Amar Rahe” was trending on Twitter where thousands and thousands of people were writing in the favour of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse. This is worrisome that Nathuram Godse and Vinayak Savarkar might have died but their legacy lives on. Nathuram Godse was a worker and a part and parcel of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) though they tried to disown him multiple times.
Today, the same perpetrators of Mahatma Gandhi’s death are in power who everyday are killing his message of communal harmony and secularism. BJP ideologues like Sadhvi Pragya have many times upheld the name of Nathuram Godse and expressed her contempt for Mahatma Gandhi. This is a dangerous time for the country when the message of “Father of the Nation” is being forgotten while his assassins are being publicly celebrated.