Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Flip Side #1 : Mi Nathuram Godse Boltoy

It’s natural to be influenced when we hear or read something — especially if it’s well presented, but it’s important to remember that you may not have the whole story. There are always  two sides to every story, and it benefits us to make sure we know and understand both sides before making a judgment or rendering an opinion. The Flip Side is an attempt to present you the less familiar aspect of some stories.

The Flip Side #1 : Mi Nathuram Godse Boltoy

Pradeep Dalvi's controversial play which ruffled feathers in 1989, when the playwright was denied permission by the Maharashtra government to stage the drama. After its brief resurrection nine years later, the state government banned the play. Read the play and judge for yourself if the ban was justified.

(The stage is dark save for one spotlight, which is focused on Nathuram, who is standing with his back to the audience. Suddenly he turns and starts looking at the faces in the audience, as if he is searching for someone. Ultimately, he jerks his neck indicating denial or negation and looks up. Now he is directly looking at the audience.)
Nathuram: No. All the faces are unknown. Actually 'unknown' is the wrong word to use in this ... All your faces are very fresh to me...fresh and new. They are, of course, new to me, but mind you, they are not unfamiliar.
The youngsters among you, were not even born at that time. You must have read about me as a Hindu fanatic in the history written by the government. The middle-aged amongst you must be very confused clinging to their parents, who in turn were running around to save themselves from the massacre of Brahmins as the outcome of the assassination -- asking: 'Who is the Nathuram? Why are our houses being burnt because of him?"
But the elders among you... You must remember me! You must have heard about me on the radio. Some of you might have read Agrani, the newspaper run by myself and Nana Apte. Some of you might have attended my meetings and heard my speeches. Some of you may be knowing me directly or might have met me, but must be refusing the acquaintance after January 30, 1948.
Do you know how old I am? eighty-eight, nearly 90! Do you think I am lying, because I look young? Do you know, the mystery behind my youth is my death. My was untimely, but it was heartily accepted!
I was born at the beginning of this century on May 19, 1910. My father Vinayakrao was in the postal service, my mother's name was Laxmi.
Vinayakrao was drawing a salary of Rs 15 per month. He used to spend Rs 10 on his family and send Rs 5 to his parents. Vinayakrao and his wife had three sons, none of them survived. They prayed to God, had their fourth son, Nathuram. Nathuram survived because they were destined to suffer for their young son's death and Gandhi was destined to be assassinated.
The rest of my life was very smooth.
I never stole in my childhood, so there was no question of apologising to my father. I never took a vow of celibacy as I was already practising celibacy. I was moving around the refugee camps and helping the destitute with food and clothes. But I did not wander half-naked because the refugees were naked. I never spun yarn, never cleaned my toilet, never observed silence till I was hanged. There was only one common factor in Gandhi's life and mine. We were both the cause of each other's death. He wanted to live for his principles and I was prepared to die for my principles.
But the interesting part of the biography of Nathuram Godse starts on January 30, 1948. After the assassination of Gandhi.
In a sense, I lived only for 655 days -- from January 30, 1948 to November 15, 1949. But January 30 was an outcome of January 13.
The central government had taken a decision -- Pakistan will not be given Rs 55 crores. On January 13 Gandhi started a fast unto death that Pakistan must be given the money. On January 13, the central government changed its earlier decision and announced that Pakistan would be given the amount. On January 13, I decided to assassinate Gandhi.

January 13, 1948
(The editorial room of Agrani. There is the normal chaos that exists in the editorial room of any newspaper. Nana Apte enters.)

Nana: Pandit, where are you? Visu...
Visu: (Enters) Sir.
Nana: Have you composed and assembled the first page? Break the compose. This is a stop press news.
Visu: You want me to recompose the first page? There will not be any issue tomorrow.
Nana: Listen, we just have to reassemble the first page. This is a very important news. It was on the radio.
Visu: But Panditsaab is rewriting the editorial. I have to recompose and print that matter. How can we...
Nana: Where is Pandit?
Visu: He is sitting in the composing section. He is completing the pages and giving them for composing.
Nana: Call him.
Nathuram: Call? Whom?
Nana: I wanted to call you. We have to prepare the front page again.
Nathuram: No need. My new editorial is on the same subject. Visu just get us coffee. (Visu goes)
Nana: Do you know the news I am talking about?
Nathuram: Yes, of course. The Cabinet has changed its decision. It is giving Rs 55 crore to Pakistan. Gandhi has broken his fast.
Nana: You changed your editorial?
Nathuram: Yes. I thought that my previous editorial was nothing but a pack of lies.
Nana: Pack of lies? And written by you? Impossible!
Nathuram: Yes. Tomorrow is January 14, Makar Sankranti. I had written in the editorial, 'Don't celebrate Sankranti tomorrow, don't take sweets, don't behave in a sweet manner. Distribute rifles, bullets, weapons. Don't talk sweet, talk of war. Kill the enemies.''
Nana: It is true, what you had written.
Nathuram: You have not asked me about the title of my new editorial.
Nana: What is that?
Nathuram: Mere talk without actions is futile.
Nana: Meaning...?
Nathuram: It is time for protests in constitutional ways, processions, pickets to come to an end when the establishment resorts to mindless injustices. You can't just warn the government through editorials at such hours. Tell me Nana. What do you mean by people will not tolerate, people will revolt...and so on? Who are these people? Do you mean our readers or those who attend our meetings and listen to our speeches? No, Nana, people also mean you and me, us. If we forget what we write and what we talk then our editorials and brave speeches in the meetings and futile. A man addressing from the dais is also a part of the crowd sitting before him. When we say that the people should revolt, it means that we should revolt!
Nana: You have written all this?
Nathuram: Yes, I have written celebrate Dassera tomorrow, the festival on which war is proclaimed.
Nana: Pandit, we will be arrested.
Nathuram: I don't think, our Agrani is the mouthpiece of Hindu religion. When the government does not give importance to Hinduism, the question of being a mouthpiece does not arise. Our restraint is misinterpreted. Our massacre is neglected. They presume that we will bear everything with folded hands. Our anger has lost its fuel to burn, we know only the art of pardoning. They will torture us and massacre us and we will bear it coolly... it has become a law of nature. I don't think they will take cognisance of this mouthpiece of Hinduism. Yes, the government will think seriously while arguing the case in the court.
Nana: Which case?
Nathuram: IPC 302, the assassination of Gandhi.
Nana: Pandit, what are you talking?
Nathuram: Of course Nana, while writing the editorial, I was constantly telling myself -- these are not mere thoughts, they are a prelude to an action!
Nana: I have utmost confidence that Nathuram can never make a mistake, he is always right. But I want to ask you something because a blind follower cannot be a genuine friend...
Nathuram: Gandhi must be stopped at any cost.
Nana: I do agree with you.
Nathuram: And there is only one remedy to stop him. His assassination.
Nana: But don't you think it's a hasty decision?
Nathuram: You are wrong Nana. Assassination is never as easy as picking up a rifle and pulling the trigger, assassination is never an accident. Yes, murder could be an accident but not assassination. In this case of Gandhi, it could never be...
Nana: Are you convinced that it is inevitable?
Nathuram: Of course, it is not only inevitable, but is a delayed action.
Nana: Don't you feel that we would be tampering with an important era of history?
Nathuram: I differ with the word era. It could be a page, a leaf of history. Certainly not an era. Nana, if we don't turn this page today, the rest of the pages of the history of our nation will remain unwritten, blank...
Nana: Listen, Pandit...
Nathuram: Time is eternal, indestructible. You can turn its pages but never, never tear them out. Gandhi has acquired some position in history which nobody can deny, not even Nathuram. The page will be there forever in fact. Sometime in the future, in some storm, the pages will flutter and there will be that same Gandhi's page before the world. I don't refute Gandhi's theory of non-violence. He may be a saint but he is not a politician. His theory of non-violence denies self-defence and self-interest. The non-violence that defines the fight for survival as violence is a theory not of non-violence but of self-destruction.
Nana: I do agree with you Pandit, but don't you think that your decision is risky, dangerous?
Nathuram: But somebody has to do it! You can't afford to wait for somebody else to do it. It will be improper.
Nana: If we picket severely?
Nathuram: We have been doing it. Did it help? The division of the nation was an unnecessary decision. What was the percentage of the Muslim population as compared to the population of the nation? There was no need for a separate nation. Had it been a just demand, Maulana Azad would not have stayed back in India. But because Jinnah insisted and because Gandhi took his side, India was divided, in spite of opposition from the nation, the Cabinet. An individual is never greater than a nation, Nana. But Gandhi has stared considering himself greater than the nation.
Nana: Jinnah wanted to be the prime minister...
Nathuram: But we never opposed a Muslim prime minister. In a democracy you cannot put forward your demands at knife-point. Jinnah did it and Gandhi stabbed the nation with the same knife. He dissected the land and gave a piece to Pakistan. We did picket that time but in vain. The Father of our Nation went to perform his paternal duties for Pakistan.
Nana: The Cabinet consented to that...
Nathuram: The Cabinet also consented to the demand of Rs 55 crores today...
Nana: They are also equally responsible.
Nathuram: Of course, they are responsible! Gandhi blackmailed them with his fast unto death. His body, his threats to die are causing the destruction -- geographical as well as economical -- of the nation. Today, Muslims have taken a part of the nation, tomorrow Sikhs may ask for Punjab. The religions are again dividend into castes, they will demand sub-divisions of the divisions. What remains of the concept of one nation, national integration? Why did we fight the British in unison for independence? Why not separately? Bhagat Singh did not ask only for an independent Punjab or Subhash Chandra Bose for an independent Bengal?
Nana: Pandit, if you will write this, people will get agitated, the government will get agitated, the government will have to bow down.
Nathuram: I had written this before. At the time of Partition, when Suharawady surrendered only due to political pressure, but only Suharawady, not his followers...they went on with the massacre. Gandhi started his fast, the Hindus put their weapons down. I still remember that day. A poor Hindu told Gandhi, 'I am putting down my weapons because I don't want your death on my conscience but I am staying alone with my family in the Muslim area. That night, before leaving Hyderabad I visited his home. The whole household was screaming, weeping, his only eight-year-old son had been killed by the Muslims. He had no weapon to defend himself. He threw his son's body on my lap and said, "Take his blood to your Mahatma. Tell him, if he goes on fast again, he can finish it by drinking not orange-juice but my son's blood." I could not say anything. Gandhi was the Father of my Nation. For a moment, I was tempted to pull out the Muslims from their homes and chop them down. But I controlled myself. Violence for self-defence is justified, otherwise it is an ill-cultured act. I returned to where Gandhi was staying but he had already left by car. Of course, there would have been no point in meeting him... he would only have prayed for both the killer and the victim.
Nana: Pandit, I sincerely feel that we should seek the advice of Tatyarao.
Nathuram: No. Because I am going to assassinate Gandhi even if Tatyarao tells me not to. Then why involve him unnecessarily? I, neither want Tatyarao's involvement nor participation. He has suffered a lot for the nation. Now it is our turn. Tatyarao had once sad, if Gandhi is a political saint, then he should follow in the footsteps of Ramdas Swami. Ramdas Swami was always there to advise Shivaji whenever the need arose, but he never interfered.
Nana: Pandit, if you are firm, then I promise you...
Nathuram: I want two promises ...
Nana: I promise!
Nathuram: You didn't ask me what promises?
Nana: A shadow has not to ask the body as to where it is going and why it is going? A shadow has just to be with the body, that's all. When I walk, you become my shadow Pandit, now you are walking... I will be your shadow.
Nathuram: This is the first promise I want from you... This time I walk alone...mind you, alone...
Nana: You have trapped me.
Nathuram: But you promised me..! I am going to assassinate him in the open, before the public, because I am going to do it as my duty. If I do it surreptitiously, it becomes a crime in my own eyes. I will not try to escape, I will surrender and naturally I will be hanged.
Nana: Pandit!
Nathuram: One assassination, one hanging. I don't want two executions for one assassination and I don't want your involvement, participation or company.
Nana: Pandit, you want to end our friendship of so many years?
Nathuram: Of course not. At the time of hanging. I will remember my motherland, my parents and my friend -- you, Nana...
Nana: But if I won't be with you, won't you feel lonely at the gallows?
Nathuram: You promised me.
Nana: What is the second promise?
Nathuram: Today I wrote two editorials. I have not put any date on the second editorial as only God knows the date. I want you to print the second editorial in Agrani, the day after Gandhi's assassination.
Nana: I promise you my friend. The first promise accidentally but the second promise out of necessity. (Nathuram is alone on the stage)
Nathuram: I was convinced that though Gandhi is called the Father of the Nation, he delivers his paternal duties not towards India but towards Pakistan. I came to the decision that as a son of the soil, it was my first, foremost and divine duty to assassinate Gandhi.
On January 30, I reached Birla Bhavan at 12 pm. Gandhi was sitting outside on a cot enjoying the sunshine. Vallabhbhai Patel's granddaughter was sitting at his feet. I had the revolver with me. I could have assassinated him easily then, but I was convinced that his assassination was to be a punishment and a sentence against him, and I would execute him. I wanted witnesses for the execution but there were none. I did not want to escape after the execution as there was not an iota of guilt in my mind. I wanted to surrender, but surrender to whom? There was a good crowd to collect for the evening prayers. I decided on the evening of January 30 as the date for Gandhi's execution.

January 30, 5.00 PM
(Birla Bhavan. DCP Arjundas and a servant appear on the stage.)

Servant: No. Bapuji cannot spare any time now. He will be late for his evening prayers.
Arjun: I know. But I have come because the work is important. In fact it is to do with Bapuji's prayers.
Gandhi: (Enters) Who is it, Mahadevbhai?
Servant: Somebody to see you. I told him, you are getting late.
Gandhi: Who are you?
Arjun: (Salutes) I am DCP Arjundas, Bapuji...
Gandhi: We have met before... Wait a minute, don't tell me ... let me recollect. Yes, when Jawahar had come to Hyderabad, you were with him.
Arjun: (Smiles) Your memory is fantastic. You were very weak at that time.
Gandhi: It is the body that becomes weak. But fasting sharpens of the mind. Why have you come today? For prayers?
Arjun: Yes. I want to request you to let me accompany you for the prayers...
Gandhi: Anybody can attend my evening prayers. How can I refuse you?
Arjun: Okay then. I will be with some of my ...
Gandhi: But not in these uniforms. Not with the revolver in your waistband.
Arjun: But Bapu ...
Gandhi: Why do you need the revolver?
Arjun: For your protection.
Gandhi: If somebody attacks me, you will shoot him with this revolver. Kill at the time of prayers?
Arjun: But Bapuji, if somebody attacks you ...
Gandhi: He is welcome. I don't mind my own killing, but I don't want anybody to die just for saving my skin.
Arjun: Panditji sent me. I am his bodyguard.
Gandhi: Then what are you doing here? Go, guard his body.
Arjun: Panditji said he had spoken to you, Sardar Patel also talked to you, but you are adamant in this matter. Today the intelligence bureau sent this file to Panditji. He has asked me to show it to you. Bapuji, you need protection.
Gandhi: I don't need protection.
Arjun: Bapuji... How can I convince you? Can you see the crowd gathered outside? One of them might be a killer, your killer. All the people attending the prayers are not devotees.
Gandhi: No. Only devotees attend the prayers.
Arjun: But those who threw a bomb here on January 20 were not devotees. The bureau has cracked down on them. Madanlal and Shankar Kistaiyya. They are talking. They are workers of the Hindu Mahasabha. Bapu, that bomb blast was not an accident. It was sabotage, it was an attempt on your life.
Gandhi: The Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League ... I don't differentiate between them.
Arjun: They don't understand it.
Gandhi: You are wrong Arjun: When I started the fast, both Hindus and Muslims put their weapons down.
Arjun: Bapu, a bullet does not differentiate between a commoner and a saint.
Gandhi: But the trigger-puller knows the difference.
Arjun: The refugees are furious. They hold you responsible for their massacre. The Hindu Mahasabha claims you are responsible for Partition. These handful of people are conspiring to assassinate you. It is dangerous to move around among the people at the time of prayers. Can you stop the prayers for a few days?
Gandhi: You want me to stop my prayers? It has never happened before. I did not let it happen. Be it imprisonment, detention, fasting or sickness ... I never let anything stand between me and the prayers. Kasturba was serious when prayer-time approached. I started getting up from her bedside. She held my hand, pressed it. I waited ... Ba slowly slipped into death. I got up and went for my prayers first, and then I mourned for my Ba. And today you want me to discontinue the prayers... for my life?
Arjun: But your life we need Bapuji.. all of us. That day you waited for some time for Kasturba, now for the sake of all of us wait for some days. If you want, let us pray here... You, Mahadevbhai myself, Panditji, we all will join the prayers... here.
Gandhi: And what about the people gathered outside? There could be one killer outside among them. But what about the others? They are not killers. I don't want to disappoint them for one Gandhi!
Arjun: But Bapuji...
Gandhi: Jawahar is childish, and Arjundas... you also. You are banking on the revolver that is in your waistband. My killer also has confidence in his revolver. I don't want to participate in your gun war. My weaponless confidence is much mightier than your gun-worn confidence.
Arjun: Maybe the weapons are small, but they do great harm.
Gandhi: That is the misplaced confidence of you gun-toting people. I was in South Africa, where Jawahar was not with me to protect me, the police hit me, imprisoned me. I didn't have a revolver, I had my confidence. Ultimately. I won the war.
Arjun: Bapuji, I am not talking about canes, I am talking about bullets.
Gandhi: I am talking about non-violence, a powerful weapon like non-violence.
Arjun: It is a question of a few days...
Gandhi: It is a question of principle. I am not immortal. I have to die one day. If my blood is going to cool down their anger, if it is going to stop riots and arson, if it is going to satisfy them that they have penalised a criminal named Mohandas Gandhi. I am prepared to give them my blood.
Arjun: Bapu...
Gandhi: I don't differentiate between Ram and Rahim or Krishna or Karim. I am not overwhelmed about the fact that I am a Hindu and I don't repent because I was not born a Muslim. I am I. And I am honest to my principles and to the truth. Arjundas you want me to discontinue the prayers for a few days... but I say, even today, if the killer is waiting outside for me. I am prepared to welcome him with folded hands. He can kill Gandhi, not Gandhism.
Servant: Bapuji...
Gandhi: Aah! Today I am late for the prayers. Arjundas, feel like joining me?
Arjun: But of course!
Gandhi: Come on. Excuse me, please. Keep your revolver here... beside my charkha.

Black out.
(Birla Bhavan. The prayer place is visible: It is a square cement block with greenery in the middle. A small lake is on the left and an arch-shaped, small, wooden bridge on it. Gandhi's sitting place is situated exactly opposite the lake.)

Nathuram: It was 4.45 pm when I reached the gate of Birla Bhavan. The security staff at the gate was scrutinising the crowd entering and I was a little worried about them. I mingled with a small gorup of people and sneaked inside.
It was 5.10 pm when I saw Gandhi and his close associates coming to the prayer place from his room inside. I approached the passage from where he was likely to climb the steps of the lawn, in such a way that I was covered by a few people.
Gandhi climbed the steps and came forward. He had kept his hands on the shoulders of the two girls.
The revolver was in my pocket, I released the safety catch. Though Gandhi was surrounded by people I was looking for an opening.
I wanted just three seconds more. I moved two steps forward and faced Gandhi. Now I wanted to take out the revolver and salute him for whatever sacrifice and service he had made for the nation. One of the two girls was dangerously close to Gandhi and I was afraid that she might be injured in the course of firing. As a precautionary measure I went one more step ahead, bowed before him and gently pushed the girl away from the firing line.
The next moment I fired at Gandhi. Gandhi was very weak, there was a feeble sound like 'aah' from him and he fell down.
Those who were close to me saw the weapon in my hand. They rushed away from the spot. Gandhi had fallen to the ground, I was standing and the crowd had formed a ring around us.
After the firing I raised my hand holding the revolver and shouted, 'Police, police'. For 30 seconds nobody came forward and I scanned the crowd. I saw a police officer. I signalled to him to come forward and arrest me. He came and caught my wrist, then a second man came and touched the revolver... I let it go...

(Black out... Sounds of wireless, Hullo, Victor calling. Victor calling... Gandhi killed in firing. IGP and home minister rushing to Birla Bhavan. Inform the PM).


  1. Interesting. What is the source? I once read Nathuram's speech "Why I killed Gandhi". Looks like this one is also derived from it.

  2. @Priyam - aisa hai kya :P
    @jindal - The author of this play did an intensive research.

  3. Hey Ankit! Congratulations on winning a Liebster award for your blog! :)

    Keep writing and spreading the joy! :)

    Look at my link on the same!



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