Gopal Godse: ‘Nathuram did not leave the RSS’

One trait that seems common to rabid advocates of Hindutva – be it the demolishers of the Babri Masjid or the murderers of the Mahatma — is lack of remorse at what they do in furthering their cause, despite the sense of shock and anger their act sends across the nation, and beyond. Gopal Godse, younger brother of Nathuram Godse and one of those convicted in the Gandhi murder case, comes across as one such stereotype fundamentalist in this interview he gave Arvind Rajagopal, Frontline, January 1994. Excerpts:


Were you a part of the RSS?
All the brothers were in the RSS. Nathuram, Dattatreya, myself and Govind. You can say we grew up in the RSS rather than in our home. It was like a family to us.

Nathuram stayed in the RSS? He did not leave it?
Nathuram had become a baudhik karyavah (intellectual worker) in the RSS. He has said in his statement that he left the RSS. He said it because Golwalkar and the RSS were in a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But he did not leave the RSS.

Advani has recently said that Nathuram had nothing to do with the RSS.
I have countered him, saying it is cowardice to say that. You can say that RSS did not pass a resolution, saying that, ‘go and assassinate Gandhi.’ But you do not disown him (Nathuram). The Hindu Mahasabha did not disown him. In 1944 Nathuram started doing Hindu Mahasabha work when he had been a baudhik karyavah in the RSS.

When was the plan to kill Gandhi made?
Nathuram had a teleprinter, as editor of the Hindu Rashtra, a daily. On the teleprinter, he saw that Gandhi has decided to undertake a fast on the next day. (The fast was to demand that the amount of Rs. 55 crore not be withheld from Pakistan, against the Government’s decision to withhold payment until Pakistan’s aggression in Kashmir had been resolved. The Rs. 55 crore was part of the settling of post-Partition accounts between India and Pakistan). Immediately it must have struck Nathuram – now put a fullstop. So that was the turning point.

But there were many occasions on which people may have thought of killing Gandhi. In the refugee camps. That he is the person who brought us disaster, so why not kill him? It many times happens… that the clouds gather in the skies and we assume that in the next 15 minutes it will be a rainfall – and a heavy one. But the things are otherwise. Winds blow, don’t know from which side, and take away all the clouds… So what is required for that rainfall? That particular atmosphere, the particular degree of temperature to be connected with the particles of water in the cloud. And then they take the shape of water to drop on the earth… So there might have been conspiracies and conspiracies, and the wind might have come and blown them away. But when everything was just in order, this conspiracy proved to be fruitful. So far as the conspirators were concerned. Fruitful in the sense, materialised. Their aim was achieved.

What was your involvement with (VD) Savarkar?
No question – we were all taking him to be our guru – a political guru. We read all his writings. So if we say we have understood Savarkar to the fullest, it will be a folly on our part to ask him whether we should do it. A guru’s blessings are required for a weak-hearted person. Supposing the guru ties your hands (saying) – ‘You fools don’t do any such thing,’ and some third person of his own does it, can we say, ‘Oh, we would also have done the same thing, but the guru tied our hands?’ That would be shielding our own fear and defaming the guru.

What was Savarkar’s response to the murder?
The same as that of the general leaders. "I was aghast at the news of the communication which reached me here" and so on. That was his public response.

Many writers have argued that Gandhi was responsible for bringing Hindu culture into the national movement and thereby giving the movement a broader, more popular base. What do you think?
Had it really been the case, Gandhi should have helped our government to declare this a Hindu state. But he did not want it. And this story that Gandhi died saying He Ram is a fabrication of the Congress. He said no such thing. The story that Gandhi died saying He Ram is the first use of Ram by the Congress for political purposes.

One criticism some people have made of Gandhi is that his interpretation of Hinduism was "effeminate" and that he did not emphasise the "more manly, virile" aspect of Hinduism. What do you think about this criticism?
You see, this is very much an ambiguity. For instance, he sent telegrams to Roosevelt, Churchill, Hitler, all the warlords – to stop war. And when Pandit Nehru asked him, "Shall I send the army to defend the place?" he said yes, Why didn’t he send troops with charkhas? What is the sense then? You only teach others – you don’t adhere to your principles.

When Uma Bharati or Sadhvi Ritambara says that "we must be more aggressive," that Hindus have been cowards for too long, that ahimsa is actually weakening the Hindus…
I disagree. In my country I am never said to be aggressive. Let us take the case – I have been attacked by malaria. The doctor gives me some injections. The foreign attack of malaria has been diminished or wiped out. Should I say that I should be aggressive against malaria, that imposition of malaria is itself an aggression? So wiping it out can be a retaliation. In my country if I want to remove every germ of malaria from my body, I cannot be called aggressive.

In what ways do you find a continuity between the Hindu Mahasabha and the BJP?
All of them have to come to the way of a Hindu Rashtra. All of them. There is no alternative. There is going to be polarisation as Hindus and Muslims mingle. And the stage will come like Bosnia.

There will be a civil war?
It is bound to be. And these people only will bring it. Because of the appeasement and infiltration of the Muslims – for the sake of the votes. The BJP is not bold enough to play the Hindu card straightforwardly. They are not. Whatever you do, you cannot count on Muslim votes. One time you are doing this Ayodhya Ram Mandir. And then you are begging votes from the Muslims. These things will not do.

What do you think of the cultural background of the people involved in the social reform and nationalist movements? Many of them seem to have come from the Chitpavan Brahmin community.
This Brahminical class – Peshwas – right from the top, you will find the revolutionaries – the link is all Brahminical. Mangal Pandey, for instance, the first hero of the War of Independence, was a Brahmin. Then you go to Maharashtra, Vasudev Balwant Phadke, who led a revolt, and died after transportation to Aden in 1883. Then came the Chapekar brothers, who killed (Walter Charles) Rand (authoritarian chairman of the Plague Committee in Poona in 1897). Then Lokamanya Tilak was a Brahmin. Vishnu Shastri Chiplunkar, Ranade…

How do you explain that?
They were the thinkers and with a feeling of sacrifice to do something for the nation. So one who has integrity does it. Maharashtra was not directly affected by Partition and yet it was Maharashtra which had sympathy for the provinces that were cut and the atrocities that were going on… Why should a Maharashtrian go to a place 2,000 miles away? It is called national integrity. This tradition has moved with that spirit, that idea behind it. These papers – you can call it yellow journalism – they use the name Peshwai to defame, to put them in the class of Brahmins and Brahminism. That is the tradition because they want to appease the so-called weaker sections, or Bahujan Samaj as they call it.

You do not see any validity in those distinctions?
As I explained, at the time of Partition, no person was spared. All were slaughtered. Whoever comes as a target of the Muslim dagger is the proved definition of Hindu. So we come together in the graveyard. But while alive, we say, ‘No, I’m not a Hindu.’ The Muslim determines who is a Hindu. It so happens – to give a simile, one who gets some ancestral property without any trouble for himself just becomes spendthrift, goes in for some vices – because he does not know the value of it. Hindudom has come to these people like that.

Which people?
All these people who criticise Hindutva. And, therefore, they do not know the value of it.

(Frontline, January 28, 1994).

Archived from Communalism Combat, August 2004, Anniversary Issue (11th), Year 11    No.100, Cover Story 7



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