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Mahatma Gandhi and His Assassin
Mahatma Gandhi and His Assassin

Mahatma Gandhi and His Assassin

by Koenraad Elst

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Product ID:34379




Voice of India


9789385485077 - Year: 2015 - Pages: 255



Koenraad Elst
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Author: Koenraad Elst
Foreword/Introduction: Gautam Sen
Publisher: Voice of India
Year: 2015
Language: English
Pages: 255
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9789385485077


It is commonly known that Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead in 1948 by a Hindu militant, only half a year after India had both gained her independence and lost almost a quarter of her territory to the newly-founded Islamic state of Pakistan.

Less well-known is assassin Nathuram Godse's motive. Until now, no publication has dealt with this question except for the naked text of Godse's own speech in his defence, pronounced during his trial. It didn't save him from the hangman, but still contains a substantive argumentation against the facile glorification of the Mahatma.

Dr. Koenraad Elst compares Godse's case against Gandhi with criticisms voiced in wider circles, and with historical data known at the time or brought to light since. While the Mahatma was extolled by the Hindu masses, political leaders of divergent persuasions who had to deal with him tended to be less enthusiastic, and their views would have become the received wisdom if he hadn't been assassinated. Yet, the author also presents some new arguments in Gandhi's defence from unexpected quarters.


Historical writing and political purposes are usually inseparable, but a measure of institutional plurality can allow some genuine space for alternative perspectives. Unfortunately, post-independence Indian historical writing came to be dominated by a monolithic political project of progressivism that eventually lost sight of verifiable basic truths. This genre of Indian history and the social sciences more generally reached a nadir when even its own Leftist protagonists ceased to believe in their own apparent goal of promoting social and economic justice. It descended into crass, self-serving political activism and a determination to censor dissenting views challenging their own institutional privileges and intellectual exclusivity. One of the ideological certainties embraced by this coterie of historians has been the imputation of mythical status to an alleged threat of Hindu extremism and its unforgivable complicity in assassinating Mahatma Gandhi.

Historian Dr. Koenraad Elst has entered this crucial debate on the murder of the Mahatma with a skilful commentary on the speech of his assassin, Nathuram Godse, to the court that sentenced him to death, the verdict he preferred to imprisonment. Dr. Elst takes seriously Nathuram Godse's extensive critique of India's independence struggle, particularly Mahatma Gandhi's role in it and its aftermath, but he points out factual errors and exaggerations. He begins with a felicitous excursion into the antecedent context of the Chitpavan community to which Nathuram Godse belonged and its important role in the history of Maharashtra as well as modern India.



Foreword by Gautam Sen
Author's Preface

Chapter 1: The Murder of Mahatma Gandhi and its Consequences
Chronicle of the Mahatma murder
The verdict
Political consequences
A tabooed document
Facts of the murder plot

Chapter 2: Nathuram Godse's Background
Nathuram Godse's caste
Revenge on Godse's caste
Godse the Swayamsevak
The Godse brothers' testimony on the RSS
Inspired by Savarkar Disappointed with Savarkar
A rumor about Godse and Savarkar
Godse the Gandhian
Punishing his own kind
Godse the secularist

Chapter 3: Critique of Gandhi's Policies
Genesis of Muslim separatism
Encouragement of Muslim separatism
Gandhi's non-violence
Hindutva and Gandhian non-cowardice
Gandhi vs. Krishna
Gandhi vs. the HMS
Gandhi and World War 2
Why Hindu-Muslim Unity had to fail
Gandhi's role in the failure
Gandhi and the Khilafat
Gandhi and Jinnah
The Quit India movement

Chapter 4: Gandhi's Responsibility for Partition
Gandhi's Khilafat campaign
The Moplah rebellion
Call for an Afghan invasion
Gandhi's attack on the Arya Samaj
Gandhi and the separation of Sindh
The Round Table Conference
Congress greed for office
Gandhi concedes Partition
Failure of Quit India
Gandhi's Hindustani
Gandhi on the national symbols
Gandhi on cow slaughter
Gandhi's friendship with Suhrawardy
Hindu and Muslim princes
Intermediate steps toward Partition
The Cabinet Mission Plan
Gandhi on the Partition

Chapter 5: Godse's Verdict on Gandhi
Gandhi's character
Other voices on Gandhi's character
Gandhi and the Leader Principle
Did Gandhi win India's independence?
Gandhi vs. Bose
Credit to the Revolutionaries
Credit to the Moderates
The international context
Gandhi's irrationality
Gandhi's non-violence revisited
Ineffectiveness of non-violence
Inconsistency of Gandhi's non-violence
The liberation of Hyderabad
Because I loved India more
Godse's farewell

Chapter 6: Other Hindu Voices on Gandhi
Aurobindo on Gandhi
Godse's act as a strategic mistake
Hindutva and Gandhism non-violence
Ambedkar's support to Godse's critique
Ram Gopal on the death of Gandhism
Gandhi, killer of Gandhism
Sita Ram Goel on Gandhi's merits
Gandhi's 'failure, Hindu society's failure
Gandhi and the Hindutva leadership
Gandhi vs. secularism
Gandhi's failure vis-a-vis Christianity

Appendix 1: Sangh Parivar, the last Gandhians
Appendix 2: Gandhi in World War 2
Appendix 3: Mahatma Gandhi's letters to Hitler
Appendix 4: Learning from Mahatma Gandhi's mistakes
Appendix 5: Questioning the Mahatma
Appendix 6: Gandhi and Mandela
Appendix 7: Gandhi the Englishman

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