Birthday: May 19, 1910
Died At Age: 39
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Nathuram Vinayak Godse, Ramachandra Vinayak Godse, Ramachandra
Born Country: India
Born in: Maharashtra
Notorious As: Assassin of Mahatma Gandhi
father: Vinayak Vamanrao Godse
mother: Lakshmi Godse
siblings: Gopal Godse
Died on: November 15, 1949
place of death: Ambala
Who was Nathuram Godse?
Nathuram Godse was an extremist Hindu nationalist, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, by shooting him in the chest three times at point blank range on January 30, 1948, in New Delhi. Godse, who once considered Gandhi as his idol, blamed him for favoring the political demands of India's Muslims during the partition of India. He was also against Gandhi’s support of Hindustani, a language combining Hindi and Urdu, as the national language of India. He was so convinced that Gandhi's ideals were sabotaging the interests of millions of Hindus, that he plotted the assassination with Narayan Apte and six others. Following a lengthy trial, Godse was hanged in the Ambala Central Jail on November 15, 1949, despite attempts at commutation by Gandhi's two sons.
Childhood & Early Life
Nathuram Godse was born as Ramachandra Vinayak Godse on May 19, 1910, in an orthodox Brahmin family in Baramati, Pune district, Bombay Presidency, British Raj, now in Maharashtra, India. He was the fifth child of his parents Vinayak Vamanrao Godse, a postal employee, and Lakshmi.
He initially attended the local school at Baramati before enrolling into an English-language school in Pune, where he was sent to live with an aunt. He, however, failed his matriculation exam and dropped out of school.
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Nathuram Godse, who was an avid follower of Mahatma Gandhi while in school, came under the influence of independence activist and Hindu nationalist Vinayak Damodar Savarkar after his family moved to Ratnagiri in 1929.
He became a member of the extremist Hindu nationalist party, Hindu Mahasabha, presided by Savarkar, and later in 1932, joined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Sangli as a 'boudhik karyawah' (ground worker).
He started the Marathi language newspaper 'Agrani' for the Hindu Mahasabha and ran it with Narayan Apte. Along with M. S. Golwalkar, he also translated Babarao Savarkar's book 'Rashtra Mimansa' into English, but they had a falling out after Golwalkar took credit for the translation.
He formed his own organization, 'Hindu Rashtra Dal', on the Vijayadashami day of 1942, but remained a member of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha. He eventually distanced himself from the RSS as he felt that it was softening in its stance on the formation of a separate Muslim-majority nation-state, Pakistan.
He had once supported Gandhi in eliminating the caste system and untouchability, but thought that Gandhi's idea of non-violence was ineffective and blamed him for appeasing Muslims, which led to the partition.
Following independence, after Gandhi threatened to go on hunger strike if the Government withheld payment to Pakistan due to aggression on Kashmir, he felt that Gandhi's ideals hampered the country’s progress.
Assassination of Gandhi & Trial
On January 30, 1948, Nathuram Godse approached Mahatma Gandhi and bowed in front of him as he was walking through the Birla House in New Delhi with his two grandnieces, Manuben and Abha. After being told that Gandhi was already late for the evening prayers, he pushed Manuben aside and shot Gandhi in the chest three times at point-blank range with a Beretta M1934 semi-automatic pistol.
Gandhi died a few moments later in his room in Birla House, while Godse, based on conflicting reports, either surrendered or was beaten up by the swarming crowd before being rescued by the police. He confessed to his crimes and was put on trial at the Punjab High Court, at Peterhoff, Shimla.
The court awarded him death sentence on November 8, 1949, which prompted Gandhi's two sons, Manilal and Ramdas, to plead for commutation because it went against their father’s beliefs. However, India's Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Deputy Prime Minister Vallabhbhai Patel and Governor-General Chakravarti Rajagopalachari rejected the plea, following which Godse was hanged at Ambala Jail on November 15, 1949.
In the wake of Nathuram Godse's assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS were blamed for sponsoring the plot, and Brahmins in Maharashtra became targets of violence. The RSS was also temporarily banned, which was finally lifted in 1949 as no connection was found between the RSS and Godse, who they claimed had left the organization in the mid-1930s.
Throughout the past decades, several attempts have been made to glorify Godse's actions by portraying him as a patriot in plays, books and a documentary film, most of which faced ban.
Nathuram Godse, whose three elder brothers had died in infancy, was initially raised as a girl by his family to break the 'curse' until his younger brother was born. Following traditional feminine style, his nose was pierced for rings, or 'nath', which earned him the nickname 'Nathuram'.