Why I Killed the Mahatma: Understanding Godse’s Defence


  1. ISBN: 978-81-291-4997-8
  2. Pages: 240 pages
  3. Date: 20 January 2018


It is common knowledge that Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead in 1948 by a Hindu militant, shortly after India had both gained her independence and lost nearly a quarter of her territory to the new state of Pakistan. Lesser 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 defence speech during his trial. It didn’t save him from the hangman, but still contains substantive arguments 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 had dealings with him were less enthusiastic. Their sobering views would have become the received wisdom about the Mahatma if he hadn’t been martyred. Yet, the author also presents some new considerations in Gandhi’s defence from unexpected quarters.


Dr Koenraad Elst (°Leuven, Belgium 1959) has a master’s in Sinology, Indology and Philosophy, and a doctorate in Oriental Studies with a dissertation on Hindu Nationalism. While intermittently employed in political journalism and as foreign policy adviser in the Belgian Senate, his scholarly research findings earned him both laurels and ostracism. His numerous publications concern Asian philosophies, language policy, democracy, Indo–European origins, Vedic history, and the interface of religion and politics including the Ayodhya dispute.

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