This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Mayurpankhi Choudhury. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Godse May Have Killed Gandhi, But Forbidding His Temple Is Against People’s Fundamental Rights

More from Mayurpankhi Choudhury

By Mayurpankhi Choudhury:

My penchant for books like “Why I Assassinated Gandhi” and similar others on Nathuram Godse has often been misinterpreted as an act of aggression against the father of the nation or sometimes even against Muslims. When people see me walking around with the book in my hand, they cringe and ask begrudgingly “Why are you reading that thing?” I simply answer that I’m a curious cat.

Nathuram Godse. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Nathuram Godse. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

What drove a man to assassinate the most “non-violent” man in the world at that time? The simple answer: he was afraid. As Martin Luther King once said “You can’t fight fear with more fear”. The communal tensions tearing the country apart during the pre-independence era is hardly a secret. As Noakhali, Calcutta and Bihar burned and with it both Hindus and Muslims; Gandhi decided he needed to put an end to this. He travelled the country praying for religious harmony, beseeching the Hindus not to slaughter their Muslim brothers. It was commendable, but Godse saw this as a one-sided venture. The fact that Gandhi insisted on the reading of the Quran in the temple but not the Geeta in the mosque, led fanatics like him to believe that his religion was on the brink of annihilation. He believed Gandhi was trying to appease the Muslims. And I believe the Muslims saw through this. While Gandhi tried to assuage the Muslims through inadequate provisions, he staunchly opposed their most important demand- separate electorates. His idea of a “Ram Rajya” was based on the whimsical notion of a united India where people irrespective of their religious and ethnic differences would be given equal opportunities and respect by their fellow Indians out of sheer good will. The Muslims had lost all faith in Gandhi; didn’t see him as their common leader anymore. The creation of Pakistan is a testimony to this.

It’s interesting to analyse how fear was a catalyst for partition and still is, for all communal riots, especially between Hindus and Muslims. Fear that his faith was in danger drove a man to assassinate the father of a nation. Fear of oppression by the Hindu majority compelled the Muslims to demand a separate State. Gandhi’s action to read the Quran in a temple didn’t reassure the Muslims; only made the Hindus insecure.

This brings me to my dilemma. A few months ago I came across an article that stated that the Hindu Mahasabha planned to install a Godse temple in Sitapur district in Lucknow. Initial reactions of the people were understandably horror and disgust at the blasphemy of worshiping a terrorist. Twitter and media were set ablaze with condescending comments by academics and students, condemning this act and demanding that the government put an end to this. Some blamed it on the new government. But to me, things didn’t look quite that simple.

The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS are notoriously infamous for their overtly Hindu policies and their whole propaganda surrounding “Akhand Bharat”. The hypocrisy of Akhand Bharat or “United India” which stands on the idea of a homogenous group- the Hindus, is profane. But this was different. This was the simple act of setting up a temple in honour of a man they thought was a martyr on the personal property of one Kamlesh Tiwari . This was no official declaration by the state or the government.

The Constitution of India offers all its citizens the freedom of religion and expression. If someone, even as fanatical as the Hindu Mahasabha tries to install a temple in the name of someone, does the state give them the freedom to do so? Questioning and condemning their actions is the right of every citizen. But can the government stop an organisation (who has its fair share of support in the country, I remind you) to worship someone? How do we define a terrorist? One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Ideally the state gives everyone the freedom to hold their own beliefs and popularize their ideologies. If the temple construction is forcefully stopped, can this be classified as an infringement of right to freedom of expression? Because either way, the government risks displeasing a large group of people whether it stops this temple construction or not.

Godse has been one of the most intriguing persons in Indian history and a lot of mystery surrounds him. Why did an editor of a known newspaper assassinate “the most non-violent man in history”? Was he brainwashed and then disowned by higher members of the party? Perhaps. But Godse in his statement had justified that his actions were driven by political motives and that he had revered Gandhi and didn’t have any personal enmity with him. He was
concerned that it would be detrimental for India if Gandhi was allowed to influence the decisions of the government. He was aware that history would defame him but he professed that his actions were led by nothing but love for his country. And many agree to this. I wonder if Godse hadn’t assassinated Gandhi whether he would’ve been celebrated as a freedom fighter irrespective of his religious inclinations.

When you’re building a temple you’re sending out a very strong statement. You’re not simply worshiping the person, you’re worshiping his ideologies. But the decision to whether or not stop the temple construction isn’t as simple as one would think. Godse still enjoys a fair share of support in the country. Could it be possible that stopping this temple construction instils more fear and apprehension into the hearts and minds of the Hindus? Is that why they outrageously claim that the state has aligned with the Muslim minority and are denying their right to worship whoever they want? If so happens, then the government will find itself in a difficult position like Gandhi.

You must be to comment.
  1. Monica I.

    Hi,

    I liked reading this. It was a fresh perspective and topic. I do have some questions for you. Please note that my questions are solely based on your article. I have not researched this issue or this person Godse, beyond what I have read from your article here.

    “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Ideally the state gives everyone the freedom to hold their own beliefs and popularize their ideologies.” [6th paragraph]

    “Godse still enjoys a fair share of support in the country.” [Last paragraph]

    Based on public support, would it be okay if a mosque venerating Osama Bin Laden (or insert any other Muslim fanatic’s name) was built in India? Would it be okay if a temple venerating Ashin Wirathu (a Buddhist extremist) was built in a Muslim-majority province in India? Why should a temple for Godse be any different, if he not only assassinated Gandhi, but also held extreme religious views?

    “But Godse in his statement had justified that his actions were driven by political motives and that he had revered Gandhi and didn’t have any personal enmity with him.” [7th/second-last paragraph]

    It’s good to draw a line between personal and professional lives. But it’s also worthwhile to understand that sometimes both the lives can overlap. We cannot just hurt someone professionally/at work, and then say “Oh, it’s nothing personal.”

More from Mayurpankhi Choudhury

Similar Posts

By Bidisha Bhatacharya

By Nandini Sharma

By Tabish Khan

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below