Mahatma Gandhi is regarded as the man who defined the 20th century. He is also counted among the greatest human beings to walk the planet. Gandhi had inspired the likes of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela et al and has been applauded by people across the spectrum from mathematical genius Albert Einstein to the Dalai Lama.
The controversy surrounding the hailing of the Mahatma’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, as a patriot has not died down. There’s been a lot of hair-splitting about Godse being an assassin but not a terrorist; Godse being portrayed as a desh-bhakth and so on. We need to ask questions and find solutions to this festering problem.
What made Nathuram Godse kill the Mahatma?
Interestingly, the two men who were executed for killing Gandhi, assassin Nathuram Godse and fellow conspirator Narayan Apte, were both Brahmins; a peaceful Satvik community, which I was born into and, which had great influence in the culture of Hinduism and India.
Many of my friends in the left-liberal spectrum term Godse’s ideology as “Hindu Nationalism”. I think the BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur, Sadhvi Prachi and the three BJP lawmakers who supported the Godse comment made by Pragya Singh Thakur are just manifestations of a deeper problem. (Thakur had called Godse a patriot which she later retracted.)
Even though it might look like Hindu Nationalism, I would term it a psychological illness. The disease can be classified as: Forward Caste Brahminical Chauvinism (in the guise of aiding Hindu interests and then branding it as Indian Nationalism).
Most Brahmins are good and peaceful people. But like every other community, it too has its hardliners and extremists. Brahminical chauvinism is clearly exhibited by some of the hardliners in this forward community.
Hinduism and Brahminical Chauvinism is akin to Islam and Islamism. The former being peaceful spiritual discipline, the latter being political and aggressive hate-mongering.
I have been active in the social arena as a Hindu activist since 2006. Whenever I go to any Hindu spiritual gathering, I have observed this: There is no one grand unifying Hindu narrative that all castes and communities inside the Hindu fold accepts unanimously. There is always one or the other difference and a fight breaks out among them—may it be reservation or to do with rituals.
What people like Godse tried to do was to create a Muslim enemy, so that the Hindus are frightened into a sense of unity. They themselves have fallen for the victimhood syndrome that has been nurtured over centuries from the “Enemy Muslim” so much so that they started to hate anyone who talked about Hindu-Muslim unity.
Unlike our Christian brothers who congregate for the Sunday mass, and our Muslim brothers who have their Friday jumma, Hindus don’t have any such socio-spiritual gatherings. Godse and his numerous devotees arise from that deep socio- spiritual vacuum which exists in the Hindu soul. Gandhiji was always trying to fill that vacuum with harmony, peace and ahimsa.
Whether it be Godse or Sadhvi Pragya (or Sadhvi Prachi, against whom I have filed a case for her anti-Muslim comments), their mind-set is the same. When they give speeches, they don’t have a unifying Hindu narrative that cuts across castes and classes and, so they talk about Ali and Bajrangbali.
The Godse clones imagine that instigating riots is the easiest way to consolidate/polarize Hindus. That’s why people like G D Savarkar preached that Muslims, Christians and Communists were internal threats and enemies.
Maoism, extreme Wahabbism and imperialist-minded religious conversions may be a threat, but painting all Muslims as Wahabbis is just like denoting all Hindus as Godses.
I am a proud Hindu and Indian, I love India. But Godse followed a jingoistic model of nationalism in which he foolishly and unrealistically glorified Hindutva without any foresight of its shortcomings. Some people justify Godse’s actions by saying that Godse was pained by partition, hence is a patriot.
What was Godse’s contribution to the Freedom struggle? And if he was so pained by partition, shouldn’t he have targeted Jinnah who called for Direct Action and was more responsible for partition than Gandhi or anyone else?
Such arguments will not make sense to Godse bhakts, for they know there is no logic in Godse’s actions. He was guided by a false sense of nationalism which was Islamophobia masked as Hindu nationalism.
The solution to this emerging Godse-ism can be found in Gandhi. Godse tried to assassinate the Mahatma as early as 1944. After one attempt, Gandhi requested Godse to come and stay in his ashram so that the former could talk to the latter and learn his point of view. Godse refused that offer and ended up killing the light of India and the World.
That mission is up to us now; to talk to the Godse clones, reason with them, patiently. We have to engage with them and make them listen, before the next shot is fired at the soul of India.
Disclosure: I am a Hindu-Right Activist. I am a fan of PM Modi and vote for him.