Author: Koenraad Elst
Publisher: Voice of India
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788185990927
What remains of Nathuram Godse is the statement he gave in his own defence during the trial, on 8 November 1948. After the statement was read in court, its publication was prohibited. However, after the release of Godse's accomplices from prison in the 1960s, translation in Indian languages started appearing, and in 1977, Nathuram's brother Gopal published the English original under the cautious title May it please your honor. A new edition, with a long epilogue by Gopal on the background and the events in prison, was published in 1993 under the more traveling title Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.
To the best of our knowledge, no serious discussion of Godse's speech has ever been published. For example, in spite of its title and project, B R Nanda's book Gandhi and His Critics does not even mention Godse, let alone his self-justification. There is no such thing as a rebuttal of Godse's argumentation against Gandhi, but there is no sympathizing commentary either. The Hindu Mahasabha has merely published the speech itself, and some eye-witness have laid down in writing their memories of the atmosphere in court when Godse spoke.
Justice Gopal Das Khosla, one of Godse's judges, and whose sympathies were certainly not with Hindu communalism, has left us this impression: The audience was visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men were coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs… I have, however, no doubt that had the audience on that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse's appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of 'not guilty' by an overwhelming majority.
Nathuram Godse's defence statement is a historical document, and it should be discussed fully and fairly, in its historical context.
1. The Murder of Mahatma Gandhi and its Consequences
2. Nathuram Godse's Background
3. Critique of Gandhi's policies
4. Ganchi's responsibility for partition
5. Godse's verdict on Gandhi
6. Other Hindu voices on Gandhi