Assassin. Nathuram Godse received world-wide recognition as the assassin of Mahatma Gandi, an Indian nationalist and one of the strongest symbols of non-violence in the 20th century. Born Shri Nathuram Godse, he was a Hindu Nationalist and the second son of Vinayak Vamanrao Godse and Lakshmi Godse. His father was a postal worker and his mother was a bride at the age of ten. There had been a total of nine siblings but with a high infant mortality rate, three of his brothers died before their first birthday. He did poorly in school, failing his matriculation examination to qualify for an entry-level government position. He left formal schooling, seeking a career as a carpenter. He failed at that, but established himself as a tailor. He had gained a new political passion joining with the right-wing, Hindu nationalist, all-male, paramilitary volunteer organization, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). By the age of thirty, he had settled into Hindutya, a devoted life-style of Indian culture, nationalism, and religious identity. He was not pleased with the Indian National Congress as they seemingly gave to the demands of the Muslim League. He believe that Gandhi's method of non-violence demonstrations was unrealistic and ineffective. He worked toward eliminating the caste system of India. Whereas Gandhi fasted, Godse vowed to remain celibate in protest. On June 3, 1947 India gained its independence from British rule, and with that a formal partition of the country's western territory became the Muslin state of Pakistan. Giving the Muslin population of India a homeland infuriated Godse. On January 13, 1948 Grandhi began his “fast until death” wanting more funding for Pakistan refugees and peace. Unhappy with Grandhi's support for the Muslim, he and four other men devised assassination plan, which included at first a bombing in a prayer meeting, but this was dismissed. One week later, he and another conspirator, Narayan Apte, purchased a pistol for the assassination. At 5:15 PM on January 30, 1948, Gandhi left his lodging, walking across the grounds with family members to a prayer meeting. At that point, Godse stepped in front of the 78-year-old spiritual leader of peace, Gandhi, firing the pistol three times into Gandhi's chest and killing him. His mission was successful. An angry crowd attacked him before he could escape the scene. After being arrested, a year-long trial began where he pleaded the justification for his actions. He professed a devotion to the Hindu people of his homeland in a long narrative. The speech had little effect on the outcome of the trial as he was found guilty, and on November 15, 1949, Godse and his partner in crime, Apte, were both hanged at Ambala prison. His remains were cremated. By the 21st century, his ashes are in the care of his grandnephew, who is planning to scatter Godse's ashes over the Indus River when Pakistan and India are reunited as one country. Godse's brother, Gopal Vinayak Godse, a co-conspirator, was found guilty and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Making sure others heard his narrative, his brother, Gopal, published the book in 1993 “Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.” Dying in 2005, his brother was the last living conspirator in Gandhi's assassination. Giving the assassin's as well as the police's viewpoints, Stanley Wolpert's 1962 book “Nine Hours To Rama” was adapted into a British film with the same name in 1963. Today, across India more than a dozen statues of Gandhi's assassin have been erected. Claiming Godse to be more than a patriot, several Hindu temples are being converted into Godse temples as Hindu nationalism swells in India. In some people's eyes, Godse is a martyr instead of an assassin.
Bio by: Linda Davis