The life of Nathuram Godse, the man who shot Gandhi
Dhirendra Jha's deeply researched history places Nathuram Godse's life as the juncture of the dangerous fault lines in contemporary India: the quest for independence and the rise of Hindu nationalism.
On a wintry Delhi evening on 30 January 1948, Nathuram Godse shot Gandhi at point-blank range, forever silencing the man who had delivered independence to his nation. Godse’s journey to this moment of international notoriety from small towns in western India is, by turns, both riveting and wrenching. Drawing from previously unpublished archival material, Jha challenges the standard account of Gandhi’s assassination, and offers a stunning view on the making of independent India.
Born to Brahmin parents, Godse started off as a child mystic. However, success eluded him. The caste system placed him at the top of society but the turbulent times meant that he soon became a disaffected youth, desperately seeking a position in the infant nation.
In such confusing times, Godse was one of hundreds, and later thousands, of young Indian men to be steered into the sheltering fold of early Hindutva, Indian nationalism. His association with early formations of the RSS and far-right thinkers such as Sarvakar proves that he was not working alone. Today he is considered to be a patriotic hero by many for his act of bravery, despite being found guilty in court and executed in 1949.
About the Author
Dhirendra K. Jha is a Delhi-based journalist. He is the author of a number of books on India’s politics including Shadow Armies: Fringe Organizations and Foot Soldiers of Hindutva.
"Dhirendra K. Jha has anatomized, with calm resourcefulness, the politics and psychology of a fanatic. He has also written a secret and sinister history of modern India-the one we need to understand our ruinous present" —Pankaj Mishra
"This book goes beyond the plot that resulted in Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, which the author meticulously analyses. It is indeed highly revealing of the omnipresence of the RSS on the Indian political scene in the 1940s. If the organization did not fight British colonialism and did not contest elections, it was intimately related to Savarkar's Hindu Mahasabha, the first Hindutva party, and, more importantly, organically linked to the Hindu Rashtra Dal, a militant body co-founded by Nathuram Godse - a man who, as Dhirendra K. Jha shows, never left the RSS" —Christophe Jaffrelot, author of Modi's India
"Not just a very readable and credible account of the plot and the people behind Gandhi's murder, including a psychological analysis of his assassin, but a comprehensive study of the wider politics of the Hindu Mahasabha, the RSS and their leaders, including Savarkar, which makes it a must-read and highly relevant in today's context" —Mridula Mukherjee
"Although the biography of Godse is a biography of an assassin whose psychological profile might indicate his tendency towards extreme actions like political murder, it is also a story of a nation whose identity was forever mutated by the fact of British colonialism and the multiple atrocities that colonialism involved." —Ron Jacobs, Counterpunch
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