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Why did we kill Gandhi?

Rukaiya Joshi

Author: Rukaiya Joshi

Date: Mon, 2017-01-30 16:19

“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”
-- Albert Einstein on Mahatma Gandhi.

In a global survey on the most effective leader of the 20th century, the one name that stood far ahead was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the leader we call “Bapuji” or “Mahatma”.  If such was the stature of Gandhi, why did we kill him?  He was killed not by any enemy but by his own countryman.

From time immemorial, mankind has co-existed with people of different ideologies, faiths, view points etc.  Probably, it is the nature of life on this planet which has created varieties and dichotomies of all kinds.  Did we kill Gandhi because of difference in ideology?  What is the similarity that we see in the killing of Christ, Socrates and Meerabai?

Well, all these personalities were killed by people who believed in ideologies strongly opposite to what they stood for.  In the case of Gandhi, let us not go into details of whether he was killed because he agreed on partition or making a payment to Pakistan.  These cannot be the reasons because from 1934 onwards, there were six attempts to kill Gandhi.  It was the ideology of fundamentalism which killed Gandhi.  Fundamentalism is a culmination of long term systematic brainwashing which makes people or communities believe that nothing other than what they think is right, a view that any free society would condemn -- as much then as it would now.

History has witnessed innumerable times when differences have been resolved over dialogue.  But when the mind is cluttered with only 'I', 'me' and 'mine', it is not open to receive, accept any other point of view, regardless of the power and merits of the other thought.

The person who goes through this long term systematic brainwashing is a helpless person.  It is inability to manage one’s thoughts, feelings and action together in the larger, global, social environment of coexistence. This results in intolerance, and intolerance breeds violence. Such violence in thought continues to breed itself, like Hitler saying, “People belonging to 'X' faith do not have the right to live.”






It is the attachment to our idea and aversion to any other idea that covers the mind and locks it. One cannot see clearly; at this time if the brainwashing continues, there is a trap, and the person cannot see the other’s point of view or the truth. As Swami Vivekanada puts it, “Anger clouds our thinking and leaves us ineffective and irrational.”

According to the Gita, when anger is aroused in a person, it deprives him of his power of discrimination. He is unable to weigh the pros and cons of a question or a situation. He will not heed the consequences of whatever he does in a fit of rage. This delusion grows, man forgets in what relationship he stands with those around him, what he should do and what he should not, how he had planned to do a thing, and what he is actually doing. When the mind is clouded, man loses his reasoning abilities and exhibits violence.

Vedanta gives ways of cleaning up the layers of mind, through antakaran shuddhi.

The power that Christ, Socrates, Meerabai and Gandhi stood for is in alignment with the law of nature and therefore has the strength to be universal, not limited to time and space.  Whenever a fundamentalist thought tried to kill it, it has gone out to strengthen it and made it perpetual.  

If Gandhi did not die of bullets, what would he have done with Nathuram Godse?  

Fully grounded in the Bhagvad Gita, he would have been compassionate with him as he did to people who inflicted violence on him at the South African shore. He would have thought along the lines of what Christ said, “God, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Today (Jan.30), on the occasion of Martyrs' Day, let us resolve not to be intolerant, and not to kill many more Gandhis.




So beautifully and clearly written and so true...the depth in our hearts needs to be more than the breadth of our heads.

It is really a well crafted piece. GAndhiji is something that every Indian can relate too. Coming from a professor of a B-School, it's really amazing who often talk about processes and systems.

What would we have done with Nathuram Godse, well we are building temples now. In these times of increasing fundamentalism we need more such write ups.thank you Professor for writing &a sharing the piece.

The conclusion of blog has really moved me. It is apt that Bapuji would have prayed for Godse for forgiveness. I accept that fundamentalism is culmination of long term systematic brainwash. One should avoid getting carried on with Anger it being dominating the minds. It has effected many relations in personal life. The though of 'I', 'Me' & 'Me' is required to be changed.

Did Naturam killed Gandhi !!! in worldly sense yes.... but can he ?? can anyone kill Christ, Socrates, Meerabai ?? They are AVATAR for specific purpose.... Gandhi delivered it and left for us to nurture it... "dil diya hain, jan bhi denge, aiye vatan tere liya" his killing has left immense imprint in youth and followers.. it has created many miniature Gandhi... now its our duty to live upto his expectation and teaching.. nainaṁ chindanti śastrāṇi nainaṁ dahati pāvakaḥ | na cainaṁ kledayantyāpo na śoṣyati mārutaḥ || 23 || "Atma can’t be cut by the weapons, fire can’t burn it, water can’t wet the Atma and the wind can’t dry the Atma."

Thoughts beautifully Put forward. A totally different view of total incidence & good learning from the article.Every individual needs to take control of his anger. Anger is perfectly normal human emotion but needs to dealt in a right manner. We all get angry from time to time , yet this feeling can lead us to say or do things which we regret later.

The ideology of Gandhi ji has been portrayed very nicely in this article. The way shown by this great personality is indeed the only way for sustainable survival of humanity. In today’s raging world, fundamentalism has created violence like never before. Millions are homeless, distressed, oppressed. Let us be his apostle to reinstate peace in our planet earth.

I never support the assassination of Gandhi Ji by Nathuram Godse. But where ideologies have different perceptions, conflict arises. In this case same might happen, Mahatma Gandhi used to see all issues on holistically, while other might not. None had dreamt independence at a cost of partition of the country and massive violence. Pakistan immersed as whole country while India lost a part of its body. Gandhi Ji always advocated for secularism and non-violence, but he supported the partition of India. Which created Pakistan, a country having one particular religion followed massive violence. It might disturbed many people that time. It is said that Nathuram Godse was one of the strongest supporters of Gandhi Ji during his youth days and even worshiped him for his ideologies related to life and nation. But during partition of country, he might found that ideology of Gandhi ji was different from his earlier ideology. It might heart him and as he was not in a position to oppose or challenge this ideology and therefore he could not control his nerves and did such sin. Therefore, I slightly differ from 'I', 'me' and 'mine' concept in terms of Nathuram Godse. It's completely my personal view and it is prone to be violated.

Gandhi was not only a human he was a thought, he is an ideology which is still alive, as said by Lord Krishna “The soul is unborn, eternal, never takes birth, and never dies. The soul is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.” It is not person who killed Gandhi, it is belief and over belief that killed Gandhi, in today’s world wherever an innocent human gets killed we kill Gandhi, every person who wants to live life peacefully and want to follow footsteps of Bapu is a reflection of Gandhi but in today’s world when everyone is restless and does not have true sense of direction it become very easy to misguide people, today there are many Nathuram Godse are roaming freely and killing Babu by misguiding people on the name of Cast, Creed and religion. There is great need of understanding what all region teach us and want us to follow, no religion tells that killing is right. Negative thoughts or hate should be dealt with utmost care and wisdom, it become important and critical to know and chose leader.

Nathuram Godse in his last statement before court said that his reasons for killing Gandhi were purely political. In my opinion, it was not politics that shaped his actions rather, it was his hatred of the secular ideology of Gandhi, the true Hindu spirit that he was finally opposed to. He tried to kill an ideology. But can an ideology be killed, I think no. The fact is that there is no action and no teaching of Gandhi that is exceptionable and this is why his global reputation as a politician has survived the decades intact.

If one’s going to read through each one’s biographies i.e. Bapu and Godse then for sure the conclusion shall be that both were true nationalist and sacrificed their lives for nation. There was a conflict of ideologies between them and eventually one became intolerant over the other. Godse’s last statement before court during his trial had made one of the judges to write ”I have, however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought a verdict of ‘not Guilty’ by an overwhelming majority”. The way Godse contested Bapu’s ideology shall have been more tolerant that is what I take from this sad incident.

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “A man will fight harder for his interest, than for his rights”. Godse did what he perceived was paramount to protect the nation, not from any external forces but from the weakness that could arise from within. There existed a weakness of lack of practical perspective, given the political conditions in pre-independence Hindustan. History is testimony to the fact that those who worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi in non-violence movement during freedom struggle were involved in orchestrating the two wars that happened on Indian borders in 1962 & 1965. It does not mean that the Gandhian ideology got diluted soon after independence. However, their decisions were guided by time and circumstances. Gandhian philosophy undoubtedly stands for alignment with law of nature but I beg to differ these can be limited with respect to time and space. In exceptional conditions, even Maryada Purshottam killed Ravana. Gandhi ji was a charismatic leader, the country needed after the aggressive revolts by freedom fighters since 1857. He was the face of all peace loving Indians, who were torn by the injustice levied upon them and wanted to retaliate but in their own peaceful ways. If leaders like Azad, Bhagat Singh etc. were Yin, than Gandhi, Nehru etc. were Yang. The philosophies behind both these kinds of leadership in India’s freedom struggle though were opposite but still complementary to each other in achieving freedom for the country. Even Godse and his companions were a part of Gandhi ji’s non violence movements. But, after the country became free, they saw the entire nation moving in single path of ahimsa, which in my opinion at that time was alarming enough (given the consequences of partition). Was it the really intolerance due to fundamentalism, or it was intolerance due to injustice that guided Nathuram Godse to kill Gandhi ji?

Hello Mam, I couldn’t agree anymore with you; I idea that someone else thinks or acts in way which does not align with my beliefs, breeds resentment which ultimately leads to violence. As granular as it may seem, I object to the very use of the word “tolerant”. Going by the definition of tolerance, google says: “allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference”; important word here to notice is “allow”. Who are we to allow? No one asked for our approval! Tolerance lights up an idea which would say ‘the other person’s action/thinking is different than mine, but I will let him be’ Like I have a choice! And when this idea lingers in the heads of so called fundamentalist, they develop resentment. “Acceptance”, in my opinion is the correct word that we should be using; be it religious “acceptance” or political “acceptance”. The other person is different than I am and I must ACCEPT it.

“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” In less than six decades since the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, not just his ideals but also the world has seen drastic changes. As Einstein rightly summed up, it is hard to believe for today’s generation that such a leader walked on earth in flesh and blood. People like Gandhi, Mandela are no lesser than messiahs like Prophet or Jesus. While some cultures saw them as demi-gods while others did not, they all had one common ideology and that was to unite humanity. History has shown that Individuals who changed history for the bad were often used as a pawn in the hands of someone with ulterior motives. Though it is debatable, it was one of the religious factions that were behind the indoctrination of Nathuram Godse’s ideals that provoked him to commit the murder. While details are debatable, the fact of the matter remains that it is the vulnerability of one’s ideals that makes him a prey for others to exploit. I would like to quote another example from our Hindu mythology. The great warrior, Karna was one of the pivotal characters in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. His joining with Duryodhana was one of the defining moments of the plot and had far reaching outcomes. Though Karna was a King of high morals, he was exploited by Duryodhana for his fight against the Pandavas. Duryodhana, though he honored his friendship with Karna and treated him as an equal, used the latter as a pawn to kill Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra. Many such Godses, Karnas are merely being exploited by powerful people who are elected leaders of countries and corporates to not just get their work done but also to pass the buck onto others to keep their hands clean.

Gandhi was a human and not a saint. And like all other people, he had his fair share of flaws. Our father of nation, Mahatma Gandhi was the most famous leader of all time. For various reasons, people may have pointed at him for the things that went wrong. There have been certain instances in the history which might refer to the injustice caused to certain element of Indian society of pre-independence era. However, all that is trumped by his biggest achievement - he is responsible for India as a nation that we know it today. Without Mahatma Gandhi, India would have fallen apart after being granted freedom. He envisioned a tolerant nation which respects every individual. In the hindsight, there have been deviations in our society which do not adhere to what Mahatma Gandhi had dreamed off. However, his principles about 'Ahimsa' are universal which cannot be confined in the space of time. Today, India’s recognition in the sphere of philosophy is led by the examples of non violence set in the history. The UN peace keeping notion began after witnessing the Indian freedom fight based on non violence. Many great leaders failed to attend the place in the hearts of their enemy but Mahatma Gandhi could. Thus, let's not repeat the history of intolerant India; let's be a proud citizen of tolerant India. They say “When writers die they become books, but when leaders like Mahatma Gandhi die, they become philosophy”

Great article in evaluating the reasons that makes a person to commit wrongdoings of highest order. Few reasons which are mentioned in the article are as follows: (1) Difference in ideology (2) Ideology of fundamentalism (3) Self-centeredness (4) Intolerance (5) Attachment to our ideas and aversion to any other idea (6) Anger The reason of killing Gandhi Ji could be anyone of them or all, but one thing is sure the outcome of that event was great loss to country. Gandhi ji was not a person, he was an ideology. We didn’t stop there, we kept on killing many Gandhi ji on daily basis and we don’t even realize it because of that what losses we are occurring as society, as a nation and as a world, we don’t have faintest estimate of that. In business school, mention of corporate is as important as it should be. The question here is, are we guilty of killing Gandhi ji in corporate or not? In corporate, good people either leave or find it difficult to work or choose some other professions because of the above-mentioned reasons. And irony is that those killings are unnoticeable, nobody is held accountable. The implication of which, corporate don’t have any idea how much they loosing. The question is here what has made this tradition of kept on going. Was the ideology flawed itself? Or our values have diminished so much that we can’t see beyond our self-interest? When the tradition of killing of Gandhi will stop?

I agree with the viewpoint that fundamentalism leads to intolerance and that in turn leads to violence. However, according to me fundamentalism is just an effect of another larger issue which has plagued the society. Every human being wants his voice to be heard and his opinion to be valued. People were never born fundamentalists; perhaps it is the systematic long term oppression of their thoughts, feelings, opinions and their right to self-determination that makes them fundamentalist in nature. The people pelting stones in the streets of Srinagar and fighters blowing bombs in the Jungles of Jharkhand are prime examples of people who after years of ignorance want their voices to be heard and their presence to be felt, they want their right to self-determination, come or not they are ready to fight and shed blood for it. Therefore it is important for a society to understand that fundamentalism is not the devil’s advocate, it is the systematic ‘ignorance’ of the divergent opinion over and above the mainstream school of thought that leads to fundamentalism and violence. I think the assassination of Gandhi was an extreme manifestation of fundamentalism and violence due to ‘Ignorance’ of a divergent opinion standing in a pool of mainstream thought for his hand to be counted. Governments around the world should focus on creating a platform where every individual voice is heard and valued, and where decisions are made through mutual reconciliation. Only then we would be able to stem the tide of fundamentalism spreading round the world. Let us resolve to lend more ears to the voices that we hear, let’s value the guy with a different opinion who is waiting for his hand to be counted.

Taking beautiful words from Dalai Lama XIV “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”, We see preachers around the world in sync with Gandhiji’s believe to heal the world conflicts through peace. It is the mere understanding that could have stopped the World Wars. If only during India Pakistan Partition the leaders had peace agenda in mind, the uncountable deaths could have been saved. This hostile environment is the primary cause of fundamentalism which has been detrimental to not only ideologies but also to overall peace of world. With growing wars, technology and communication the fundamentalist thought is spreading like an epidemic and as we know basic human tendency is to choose to adapt to wrongs instead of rights. As this ideology is growing, innumerous unknown Gandhi’s are being killed before they could spread their wise thoughts to the world. Today’s era is in urgent need of people who can balance violence with peace. As the situation demands we should be ready with self-defence but the basic mind-set should focus on prosperity rather than destruction. Peace initiatives should not be mistaken as a weakness, rather it should strengthen our position to spread peace all over world. As very rightly mentioned in Bhagwad Gita, we shouldn’t bear atrocities but stand against it to save our basic interests. But as we see across, such situations are the cause of fundamentalist thoughts, which urges one to be an extremist. We require leaders who can merge Gandhiji’s thought to Bhagat Singh’s charisma to set the right example. A leader who can protect us while instilling positive thoughts and helping the world to prosper. Its high time we give up the theory of “Survival of fittest” and take up peace as the guiding path.

One of core essence of Vedic civilization had been ‘Shastrartha’-an arrangement where people use to debate about their interpretation of the scriptures, and the one who lost the argument had to respectfully accept the other party’s point of view. Killing Gandhi points out to hypocrisy in application of those Vedic values. I personally did not agree with a lot of Gandhi’s ideologies; however I am open enough to understand his point of view and non violence is among one of those beliefs. But when you start believing that only your belief system is correct and everything else is wrong you lose the sense of differentiating between right and wrong, and Nathuram did the same. In current times also the things have not changed much, with the advent of social media and cheap internet we have entered into an era where the right to speech of democracy in not only misused it is abused to its fullest. If a person makes a point of view and if it is against the popular belief, that person would be abused with racial slurs and would be ridiculed to the maximum possible extent by the so called ‘arm chair judges’ of social media, and the main stream media makes the situation worse by adding fuel to fire. Instead of using logic and judgment in analyzing the situation people have started taking sides based on the popular opinion, and this is very dangerous for any democracy. This not only creates a feeling of hatred among people but also makes them vulnerable to be exploited by the opportunist politicians. The only solution to make the situation better is providing right education to children right from the elementary level, making them question the set rules and then helping them develop the right values which in turn shapes the right future of our nation.

“If Gandhi did not die of bullets, what would he have done with Nathuram Godse”? This is a completely new perspective to read. We have read and heard enough about the reasons why Godse killed Gandhi or what bad did Gandhi do to deserve this. But to imagine for once the possible actions of the Mahatma towards Nathuram Godse, brings a completely new perspective to the concept of forgiveness and non-violence. Was Gandhi perhaps an extremist of non-violence? Though it is said that Gandhi’s stick of non-violence won us our independence from the British, we need assess the relevance of such a stick in today’s times. Can we truly imagine any country in today’s times wielding such a stick only? Is the policy of non-violence and the other cheek forward a pragmatic approach to resolving disputes in today’s society? Maybe not. If India for instance were to adopt a Gandhian philosophy in practice, countries hostile to India would lap up the first available opportunities to advance their military agenda again India. Hence, in today’s times, the right approach is to hold a non-violent stick in hand, but carry a weapon of defence in your back pocket. Having said that, one should not defend the rise of fundamentalism across India and the world. It should be understood that if we as a country have progress this far after independence, it has been due to the moderate character of our society. Any attempt to change that moderate character into a fundamentalist one will only work negatively towards the future growth prospects of our country. We should continue to be the tolerant reservoir of all faiths and beliefs exhibited in a single land. It is the only way to show to the world that this type of society can exist in reality.

While I was reading this blog, little did I know that my college mate was getting beaten at IIT Madras. The reason behind this action was strange –my friend had conveyed that he eats beef!!! Leave aside the ideologies for the time being, to physically manhandle a person on the basis of his dietary preferences, by another fellow student and that too at a premier institute, left me perturbed. It was surprising for me to see that many people started to justify the act and some even went to the extent of suggesting harsher punishments for the victim. What was more horrifying was that these comments came from the educated /affluent/upper strata of the society. Through the trolls and the thoughts, this news spread like a fire in the social media, where people vented out at each other These kind of incidents leads us to most misunderstood, out of control and inconclusive debates we have had in recent times is that on tolerance in India. If we dwell deeply on what is tolerant behaviour –we can see its provenance in spiritual, even poetic, experience, we encounter. Now this is somewhere connected to the way we have been brought up and the culture which was inculcated to us. We have all learnt white is good and black is bad, there are devas and there are asuras. So somewhere we bring in the sense of hatred while growing up. All are taught to participate in a mindless race, where we need to move ahead of the others and prove our superiority. Here is where Gandhiji makes relevance. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong” Gandhi once said. Gandhiji was a compromiser par excellence. He would always consider other party’s point of view and come up with solutions acceptable to all parties. Both in his legal and political work he brought in parties together for resolution of their problems. The president of India reminded us that Swachh Bharat starts in the mind; the real dirt, he said, is not on our streets, but in the minds of some of us. He is right,let’s identify the Gandhis residing in each of us and make this world a better world.

Gandhi is not the name but an era for India and the world. When world was fighting world wars and was trying to capture or concure the countries this man alone was fighting to get reedom without any wapons or violance........ This was the unthinkable act from Gandhi and only a person having strong convictions can lead this movement. This indicates how strong he was having his self belief. History says that he has done

Gandhi is not the name but an era for India and the world. When world was fighting world wars and was trying to capture or concur the countries this man alone was fighting to get freedom without any weapons or violence........ This was the unthinkable act from Gandhi and only a person having strong convictions can lead this movement. This indicates how strong he was having his self belief. History says that he has taken extreme steps to make it happen what he was believing including congress election or agreement on partition of the country or a clash with Netaji Subhshchandra bose…… On the other hand the parallel ideology was in existence just opposite to the Gandhiyan philosophy who believes that “Laton ke bhut baton se Nahi Mante “ and they must be treated with fitting reply with violence…….. This ideology might have developed in people’s mind due to years of suffering and pain. At some given point of time this will come out with anger, super power, or an act like killing of a national leaders….. This was not the only case we had witness last be even in Indian politics we have seen killing of Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi later on. There are always extremist exist in society and they act at a time but truth will last longer. Today we read that Gandhi was killed but thousands of Gandhi is born but a few Nathuram can be found. Gandhi … Gandhi philosophy can not be killed and world will remember Gandhi not the Nathuram…

Thank you professor for writing such a strong message in very concise manner. It specifically talks about how extremists’ i.e. “Ideology of fundamentalism” brainstorm their followers and become closed minded to accept any other or opposite view. In current times we see this through “Terrorism”. Ideology of fundamentalism especially in current times, as I feel, is product of some selfish people who brainstorm people for self-benefit/interest. In this case defence companies might be one of the culprits. You have also mentioned about the intolerance and nonviolence. But wanted to bring in another angle to it. That angle is about violence against enemies especially when filled with patriotism. Some people call them as self-defense and is natural. Answers to the questions like • why did Chanakya destroyed and captured “Nand Empire”, • why did Shivaji Maharaj killed Mughals • why did Lord Rama killed Ravana can very well explain this. If we see other side of example of Shivaji, then Shivaji was also a so called “Anti Mughals” from Mughal’s point of view. He too was driven by ideology of fundamentalism and was brainstormed by his mother against Mughals. The point here I want to me is Nathuram also found Gandhi as enemy of the country and this view was right from his own point of view. Even, Gita which talks about nonviolence also talks about destructions of evil powers by god himself. Below para from Gita explains it in Sanskrit. So does this mean intolerance accompanied by violence is natural? On a lighter note only god can answer this through Gita II. Yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati bharata Abhythanamadharmasya tadatmanam srijamyaham Paritranaya sadhunang vinashay cha dushkritam Dharmasangsthapanarthay sambhabami yuge yuge But Professor, I do agree on your point of intolerance. I am a follower of non-violence (to some extent) and hence could imagine about how this Indian Subcontinent would had prospered had Shivaji (great strategist) and Mughals (Full of power & energy) have had ventured together. This could have had happened only through tolerance and nonviolence. I also sometimes feel that we should be well balanced in terms of intolerance & nonviolence and our conscience should decide when to tolerate and when to give it back.

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