Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Abolition of truth

Ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam ca // samanyam etat pasubhir naranam
dharmo hi tesam adhiko viseso // dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah
(Hunger, sleep, fear and sex are common to men and animals
What distinguishes men from animals is the knowledge of right and wrong)
(Bhagwadgita; Tr S. Radhakrishnan, 1948, 1971, p 79)

For the Hindi version of this essay click here: सत्य की हत्या

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan: He was the only ray of light to help us through these darkest days.

Ho Chi Minh: “I and others may be revolutionaries but we are disciples of Mahatma Gandhi, directly or indirectly, nothing more nothing less.”

Louis Fischer: Just an old man in a loin cloth in distant India. yet when he died, humanity wept.

General Douglas MacArthur: Nothing more revolting has occurred in the history of the modern world than the senseless assassination of this venerable man... Gandhiji, however, was one of those prophets who lived far ahead of the times.

Sarojini Naidu: Far greater than all warriors who led armies to battle was this little man, the bravest, the most tried friend of all. 

George Bernard Shaw: It shows how dangerous it is to be good... Impressions of Gandhi? You might well ask for someone's impression of the Himalayas.

Rev Martin Luther King: If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable

Earl Mountbatten: Mahatma Gandhi will go down in history on a par with Buddha and Jesus Christ.

Albert Einstein: Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari: I pray that the history of India might be written with the rhythm and tune of the grief that Bharatmata had felt when Mahatma Gandhi fell.

A.K. Fazlul Huq (ex-Premier of Bengal) The assassination of Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most tragic events since the great tragedy of Karbala. It is impossible to find words to express the feelings that are uppermost in our minds. May his soul rest in peace.

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'Civil war broke out in city after city, and in places where the violence occurred late, the knowledge of what had happened previously in other places caused still new extravagances of fanatical zeal, expressed in an elaboration in the methods of seizing power and by unheard-of atrocities in revenge. To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any act of moderation was just an atempt to disguise one's unmanly character... This neither side had any use for conscientious motives; more interest was shown in those who could produce attractive arguments to justify some disgraceful action. As for the citizens who held moderate views, they were destroyed by both the extreme parties...Society had become divided into two ideologically hostile camps, and each side viewed the other with suspicion.' Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Bk 3; written circa 431 BC

The Abolition of truth
सत्य की हत्या

The advent of the Modi-led BJP government has emboldened the ideologues of religion-based nationalism. They apparently feel that the whole country is now ready for the politics of Gandhi's murderers. Several members of the so-called 'Sangh Parivar' have been making statements of this nature, filled with lies and hateful propaganda. The courtroom speech of the assassin Nathuram Godse is now being widely circulated, with its mixture of self-justification, lies and half-truths. Godse appointed himself judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one - with lots of help from his mentor V.D. Savarkar, the presiding deity of the Hindutva version of nationalism. Many terrorists do likewise - they decide guilt and they carry out the punishment. I'm all for an open airing of political and religious beliefs. Will our rulers arrange for the writings of Charu Mazumdar, J.S. Bhindranwale, the Hizbul Mujahidin, ULFA and Prabhakaran to be sold in India's railway stations? Hitler's Mein Kampf already sells widely. Why not? We're a democracy after all. 

The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi: Inquiry Commission Report (1969)

Our polity is now faced with an assault on the mind. Our very sense of discrimination between right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood is under attack. We live in an ideological climate of nihilism, wherein human life is of no consequence, and conversation is fast evaporating. It is time thoughtful Indians of every political inclination asked themselves a simple question: Has the new-found status of the 'Parivar' made us take leave of our senses? A fanatical conspirator enters a prayer meeting open to all, and shoots dead a 79 year-old unarmed and unguarded man at point-blank range. For nearly seven decades, one section of our intelligentsia looked upon the murderer as a martyr and hailed his act as it were something admirable. Today these fans of Godse and Savarkar are thrusting their hate-filled ideas down our throats. 

What is this if not the brazen celebration of communal terrorism and murder?

Let us be clear about this - if Godse's preparedness for death signifies something virtuous to the 'parivar', the activities of all the jehadis, maoists, khalistanis and sundry insurgents across the sub-continent also become virtuous. Don't all terrorists have their admirers? How do we adjudge one brand of murder as virtue and another as evil? Why are MP's, MLA's and other persons close to the highest executives of the BJP government engaged in white-washing political assassination?

The 'Parivar' is distinguished not only by its avowal of communal violence and revenge killings. The Home Ministry under 
Sardar Patel banned them on February 4, 1948. Patel also said that 'a fanatical wing of the Mahasabha directly under Savarkar' had hatched the conspiracy and seen it through. (Letter to Nehru on Feb 27, 1948, vol 6 of his correspondence, edited by Durga Das). However, Savarkar's 'parivar' is now in power, and still engages in shameless and systematic character-assassination. These days we may see this activity in the comments section of various news portals, where Gandhi is subject to vicious abuse on a daily basis. 

One big lie is that Gandhi was responsible for the partition of India, overlooking the fact that he referred to partition as a sin, and resisted it to the end of his days. He accepted it with sorrow only after the leadership of the Congress, most importantly Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru recommended it as the only way out of the political crisis of 1946-47. The truth is complex and it is a matter of shame that senior leaders of the so-called Sangh Parivar should be spreading falsehood and half-truths for narrow partisan ends. If the Two Nation Theory was false and evil, why did their hero V.D Savarkar support it? Here is what he said on August 15, 1943: "I have no quarrel with Mr Jinnah's two-nation theory. We Hindus are a nation by ourselves and it is a historical fact that Hindus and Muslims are two nations"  (Indian Annual Register 1943 vol.2 p.10). 

The other big lie is that Gandhi did not condemn Muslim fanaticism, was more concerned with the protection of Muslims and ignored the plight of Hindu victims of communal violence. This is utter nonsense, yet repeated day in and day out. In his speeches at his prayer meetings and in his writings Gandhi makes it clear time and again that good and bad people were to be found in all communities, that no community held a monopoly of good and evil. In November 1946 he spent several weeks walking in the areas around Noakhali, in Chittagong division of East Bengal, where Hindus had been the victims of communal violence. He stayed there and walked for 190 km; speaking of the need for repentance, harmony, and justice. This was in the face of the hostility of the Muslim League provincial government and the vicious behaviour of their cadre  towards him. Some of their tallest functionaries even accused him of instigating the massacres in Calcutta. They repeatedly called him the arch-enemy of Muslims. 

When Gandhi went to Bihar early in 1947 to calm the communal fires there (here, conversely, Muslims were targeted), he was accused of being partial to Muslims. The same accusations were hurled at him in August 1947, when he remained in Calcutta. In his speech in Delhi (January 18, 1948) calling off his last fast, he referred to a Muslim visitor in Patna who had given him a book by a cleric, in which he read that kafirs deserved to be exterminated. Gandhi denounced and despaired of such views (which were also condemned by Maulana Azad that same evening). The entire commentary may be read on page 446, vol 90 of the collected works here (in English); and page 426 (in Hindi), here. Such observations are indeed available throughout his writings and speeches. But both kinds of religious extremists relentlessly accused him of being partial to the other side. For them, nothing but total submission to their hateful world-view would suffice. 

Yet another lie is that his last fast was directed at forcing the Union Government to part with the 55 crores owed to Pakistan. Undoubtedly Gandhi wanted the Union Government to fulfil its obligation to hand over to Pakistan what was rightfully its property. But the facts show clearly that his fast was meant to calm the fires of communal hatred and violence then raging in Delhi and North India, and to secure the restoration of the tomb of Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Chisti in Mehrauli. Had he not staked his life for this cause, we would have had another Babri-type fabricated dispute on the edge of the capital. Gandhi's last fast, or yajna, as he called it, led to the Delhi Declaration of January 18, 1948, which was agreed to by all parties and groups, including the Hindu Mahasabha and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. This declaration was a solemn commitment to uphold communal harmony and friendship among all communities, to refrain from revenge attacks on innocent people, and to return all places of worship to their rightful owners. As Rajkumari Amrit Kaur said, "With his infinite love he was trying to quench the anger that raged in many breasts. He was the one thing that stood between us and disaster, for lawlessness and disorder and hate and violence can lead nowhere else."

Gandhi's words and speeches at his prayer meetings in the last weeks of his life are easily available in volume 90 of his Collected Works on the Gandhi Heritage Portal.

An avowal of political assassination

Her are some of the recent utterance of members of the 'Parivar'
Hindu Mahasabha head speaks to FP: Godse was a 'martyr' and 'patriot'

These utterances are an avowal of political murder. They undermine the ethic of lawful government and they corrode the authority and legitimacy of the Indian Union. Those who have been trained in communal half-truths and deceit for decades will not be able to see what is dangerous about this new-found bravado of the Godse-brigade. But responsible citizens hope that judges, IAS and IPS officers and other constitutional officials can see the Parivar undermining the integrity of the state. The portents are not good. When India's Chief Justice makes a gushing statement about the 'goodness' of Narendra Modi, it gives rise to concern about his impartiality. (See Professor Upendra Baxi's opinion). 

If state officials - including elected representatives - forget that they are servants of the Constitution, not of the government of the day; if they let fear and timidity affect their official performance, let them understand that they are contributing to the subversion of the Constitution. In which case, they should refrain from talking about Maoist subversion in future. They are worse, because they are sworn to uphold the law of the land.

Do Prime Minister Modi, his party colleagues, and their RSS mentors believe in and support vigilante violence and political assassination? If they do not, they should come out and say so. If they do, on what grounds can they ask insurgent groups to give up violence? The Kesari article demonstrates yet again the Sangh Parivar's contempt for law. There's no point saying this is not the official position of the BJP, or that these are 'fringe elements'. The RSS is not a fringe of the BJP. The BJP is a front of the RSS. So are the VHP, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini, ABVP, BMS and a host of other organisations. Is there any doubt that most cadre and followers of the RSS political family hold these beliefs? Have the the leaders of the RSS distanced themselves from such ideas? It is all very well to be clever and dodgy, but cleverness cannot forever substitute for truthful speech.

Beyond good and evil?
The editor of a prominent news portal has written an opinion piece where he argues that the debate about Gandhi's assassination requires us to go 'beyond the binary of good and evil'. His argument shifts imperceptibly towards matters of public perception and relativism: "If someone has a right to eulogise Gandhi, surely others have a right to criticise him or praise his nemesis? If we can today write books giving imaginary versions of Ravana’s side of the story (and not Ram’s), surely we can live with the ideas of those who think Godse was not pure evil?". Well put. Of course we can live (and die) with the murderous ideas floating around us. We have been doing so for decades. Even when such ideas are aired by the highest in the land, as in 'when a great tree falls, the earth shakes'; and 'every action has an equal and opposite reaction' - etc. 

But who has questioned anyones' right to an opinion? 

The editor continues: "The only thing absolutely wrong about what Godse did was putting bullets through the Mahatma instead of debating him and converting the Indian public to his cause. But, at that time, the public was besotted with Gandhi and unwilling to listen to others. Godse’s ideas were checkmated by Gandhi's popularity, and this frustration drove him to murder.."


What does it mean to say "The only thing wrong about what Godse did"? As far as public debate is concerned, what else did he 'do' aside from killing Gandhi? The murder is precisely the point at issue. Would this debate be taking place at all if Gandhi had not been killed? Or if Hindutva ideologues were not defending political assassination? Incidentally, it is also incorrect to say 'the public was besotted with Gandhi'. He was immensely popular, but there were also people who hated him, and during his last upavas, there were demonstrations of large numbers of refugees from Pakistan who shouted 'let Gandhi die'.

Well before January 1948, the Mahasabha and Savarkar had attacked Gandhi in speech and print. The editor fails to note that (aside from several physical assaults and attempts at inflicting serious injury on him, right from his days in South Africa) there was a bomb attack in 1934, an attempted train derailment in 1946, another such in 1947, and two more attacks in January 1948, the last of which killed him. All these involved persons and groups that objected to his ideal of composite nationhood, and of Hindu-Muslim unity. 


But it is not the ideas of Hindutva that are being discussed, noxious though they were (and remain). It is the fact that the men around Savarkar were hell-bent on murder. The editor may well deflect the discussion into an argument about the respective merits of Savarkar's ideas and the right of people to hold such ideas. But he ought not to trivialise the murder by saying "the only thing absolutely wrong about what Godse did was putting bullets through the Mahatma", because the assassination is the central issue that has been highlighted by the admirers of Godse themselves. His brother Gopal Godse is on record stating his pride in the deed. One opinion piece in an RSS journal has even stated that Godse should have killed Nehru, and many others have spoken admiringly of Godse's deed. 

These days, India's Prime Minister invokes Gandhi at every available opportunity. As journalist Sandipan Sharma says, "the PM’s efforts to eulogise, emulate and hardsell the Mahatma should have by now triggered a Munnabhai-type revival of the Gandhian ideals in India. And yet, ironically, the exact opposite is happening: it is Godse’s cult that appears set for a cultural renaissance." He goes on: "There are many pitfalls of turning Godse into a hero... once you defend Godse’s action, the same logic can be extended to every terrorist who kills for his ideology - political or religious - making it impossible to differentiate between the assassins of Gandhi, the butchers of Peshawar and the perpetrators of 9/11 or 26/11. None of these were seeking personal vendetta; all were promoting their political ideologies through violent means. The people who valourise Godse are, at the core, firm believers in Hindutva, in the two-nation theory. For them, Indian secularism is their biggest enemy and Godse is a hero for having killed one of its biggest proponents. For them, Gandhi is not the man who helped Indian win freedom and the world discover the merits of ahimsa over violence; he is the person who helped create Pakistan..."

The question of violence
What is wrong about the manner in which the apologists of the 'parivar' discuss this issue? It is the fact that the act of murder is lost sight of, and we prefer to keep our attention focused on the stated motives of the murderers. The same may be said for protests against this or that film, book, cartoon, etc. Note the current campaign by the Savarkarites to bring in the pain of partition as the justification for the murder of Gandhi. Who can deny the pain of partition? But what does that have to do with murdering Gandhi? How does it justify political assassination? 

There's no doubt that the world is complex, as are the motives of human beings. We wish good and evil to be clearly demarcated, but unfortunately they often come in mixtures. Gandhi  was well aware of this. For him, the fact that in the Mahabharata the wrong-doers had good men like Bhishma and Drona on their side was a sign that, "evil cannot by itself flourish in this world. It can do so only if it is allied with some good". He wrote this in 1926 and remained consistent in his belief. In 1940, he said, "Goondas do not drop from the sky, nor do they spring from the earth like evil spirits. They are the product of social disorganization, and society is therefore responsible for their existence... they should be looked upon as a symbol of corruption in our body-politic". Confronted by riots in 1946 he said, "I deprecate the habit of procuring a moral alibi for ourselves by blaming it all on the goondas. We always put the blame on goondas. But it is we who are responsible for their creation as well as encouragement". At the height of the violence of 1947 he said, "it is time for peace-loving citizens to assert themselves and isolate goondaism. Non-violent non-cooperation is the universal remedy. Good is self-existent, evil is not. It is like a parasite living in and around good. It will die of itself when the support that good gives it is withdrawn." 

However, complexity does not abolish the distinction between right and wrong, good and evil. To arrive at that point would be to leave behind the capacity that makes us humans. Goodness is indeed a first principle - we can't define it in simpler terms. Disagreement between people about what is good or bad would be impossible if they did not first agree that there is a difference between good and bad. 

The central question of our time is violence, not the multifarious justifications produced by those who practice violence. Violence feeds on itself, it has always done and will always do. Those who still cannot see this are doomed to remain in an endless cycle of argumentation & intimidation. This is why Gandhi remains relevant. Above all, he was an advocate of friendship and dialogue. He stood for atma-bal, or soul-force and satya-bal (truth force) as against sharir-bal, or physical force. He read all the religious scriptures and asked his fellow Indians to do the same. He concentrated on what was common to them, rather than on dogma and doctrine. He drew sustenance from the fact that there were good persons among all communities, and that was proof enough that their faith must have provided them with an impulse toward goodness. In the worst of circumstances, in the midst of utter barbarity, in Noakhali, Patna, Delhi and wherever he went in those last weeks of his life, he appealed to the wrong-doers to look inwards, to remember their common humanity, to recognise the evil they had wrought, to repent (prayaschit) and change their ways.

Gandhi was an optimist of the soul. We need him as much today as we needed him in 1948. Even those who hate him need him, an old horse upon whose tired back we can off-load all our remorse and anger and pain. Well may the 'Parivar' hail his assassins (there were more than one). They seek to kill him yet again, to wipe out the last sweet traces of his memory from our minds. But to do that, they would have to abolish the very human capacity to love, smile and befriend people. As Gandhi said, The force of love is the same as the force of the soul or truth. We have evidence of its working at every step. As long as we retain those capacities, they will fail.

On January 31, 1948, as India and indeed the whole world was plunged in grief (barring those whom Sardar Patel accused of distributing sweets), the Hindusthan Standard published a black front page, with three simple sentences:

Gandhiji has been killed by his own people for whose redemption he lived. This second crucifixion in the history of the world has been enacted on a Friday - the same day Jesus was done to death one thousand nine hundred and fifteen years ago. Father forgive us.

The Indian people need to stand up and fight against the propaganda directed against Mahatma Gandhi, and the celebration of his murder by people whose minds are crazed by hatred, ignorance and spite. It is a crying shame that this campaign is being led by people who are close to or indeed, members of the ruling dispensation. It will bring them nothing but disgrace. Gandhi belongs to humanity. The Reverend Martin Luther King said: “If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought, and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore him at our own risk.” 

Ishwar Allah Tere Nam
Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan

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Tributes to Mahatma Gandhi

C. Rajagopalachari, Governor-General
Bharatmata is writhing in anguish and pain over the loss. No man loved Bharatmata and Indians more than Mahatma Gandhi. Let the tragedy that was enacted in Delhi give the people of India the tune, reason, rhyme and melody for the history of their future. I pray that the history of India might be written with the rhythm and tune of the grief that Bharatmata had felt when Mahatma Gandhi fell. No one could die a more glorious death than Mahatma Gandhi. He was going to the seat of his prayer to speak to his Rama. He did not die in a bed calling for hot water, doctors or nurses. He did not die after mumbling incoherent words in the sick bed. He died standing, not even sitting down. Rama was too eager to take him even before he could reach the seat of his prayer. When Socrates died for his views and Christ for his faith, they believed that they would not get another example like that.

Jawaharlal Nehru: Great men and eminent men have monuments in bronze and marble set up for them, but this man of divine fire managed in his life-time to become enmeshed in millions and millions of hearts so that all of us became somewhat of the stuff that he was made of, though to an infinitely lesser degree. He spread out over India not in palaces only, or in select places, or in assemblies, but in every hamlet and hut of the lowly and those who suffer. He lives in the hearts of millions and he will live for immemorial ages....He has gone, and all over India there is a feeling of having been left desolate and forlorn. All of us sense that feeling, and I do not know when we shall be able to get rid of it, id yet together with that feeling there is also a feeling of proud thanksgiving that it has been given to us of this generation to be associated with this mighty person. In ages to come, centuries and may be millenniums after us, people will think of this generation when this man of God trod the earth and will think of us who, however small, could also follow his path and probably tread on that holy ground where his feet had been. Let us be worthy of him. Let us always be so.

Sardar Patel:  His supreme sacrifice will quicken our conscience. For even though his mortal frame will turn into ashes tomorrow, at 4 p.m., Gandhiji's imperishable teachings will abide with us. I even feel that Gandhiji's immortal spirit is still hovering over us and will continue to watch over the nation's destiny in future also. The mad youth who killed him was wrong if he thought thereby he was destroying his noble mission. Perhaps God wanted Gandhiji's mission to fulfil and prosper through his death. I am sure Gandhiji's supreme sacrifice will wake up the conscience of our countrymen and evoke a higher response in the heart of every Indian. I hope and pray that it may be given to us to complete Gandhiji's mission. At this solemn moment, no one of us can afford to waver or lose his or her heart. Let us all stand united and bravely face the national disaster that has overtaken us. Let us all solemnly pledge ourselves afresh to Gandhiji's teachings and ideals.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Mahatma Gandhi has carried on his frail shoulders a great deal of the burden of humanity and now it was for them to stand together and share it. If millions of Indians could divide that burden and carry it successfully, it would be nothing short of a miracle.

Mrs. Sarojini Naidu: Mahatma Gandhi, whose frail body was committed to the flames yesterday, is not dead. It was right that the cremation took place in the midst of the dead kings who were buried in Delhi, for he was the kingliest of all kings. It is right also that he who was the Apostle of Peace should have been taken to the cremation ground with all the honours of a great warrior. Far greater than all warriors who led armies to battle was this little man, the bravest, the most tried friend of all. Delhi has become the centre and the sanctuary of the great revolutionary who emancipated his enslaved country from foreign bondage and gave to it its freedom and its flag.

M. A. Jinnah: I associate myself with the tributes that have been paid to this great man. He died in the discharge of the duty in which he believed. His tragic death, however much we may deplore it and however much we may condemn the murderer, was a noble death, for he died in the discharge of his duty.

H.S. Suhrawardy (ex-Premier of Bengal) To him we had learnt to turn for guidance and for advice in all our difficulties, and he never failed us. Weep India, weep until thy heart breaks, for extinguished is the light that shed truth and justice, a deep love for humanity and transcendental sympathy for the forlorn and the friendless. I am sure he sees what we do; let us try to fulfil his cherished dream of Hindu-Muslim unity and oneness of mind and spirit in the common service of humanity.

Albert Einstein: Everyone concerned in the better future of mankind must be deeply moved by the tragic death of Mahatma Gandhi. He died as the victim of his own principles, the principle of non-violence. He died because in time of disorder and general irritation in his country, he refused armed protection for himself. It was his unshakable belief that the use of force is an evil in itself, that therefore it must be avoided by those who are striving for supreme justice to his belief. With his belief in his heart and mind, he has led a great nation on to its liberation. He has demonstrated that a powerful human following can be assembled not only through the cunning game of the usual political manoeuvres and trickeries but through the cogent example of a morally superior conduct of life. The admiration for Mahatma Gandhi in all countries of the world rests on recognition, mostly sub-conscious, recognition of the fact that in our time of utter moral decadence, he was the only statesman to stand for a higher level of human relationship in the political sphere. This level we must, with all our forces, attempt to reach. We must learn the difficult lesson that an endurable future of humanity will be possible only if also in international relations decisions are based on law and justice and not on self-righteous power, as they have been up to now..

A leader of his people, unsupported by only outward authority; a politician whose success rests not upon craft nor mastery of technical devices, but simply on the convincing power of his personality; a victorious fighter who has always scorned the use of force; a man of wisdom and humility, armed with resolve and inflexible consistency, who has devoted all his strength to the uplifting of his people and the betterment of their lot; a man who has confronted the brutality of Europe with the dignity of the simple human being, and thus at all times risen superior. Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.

Mian Iftikharuddin (President, West Punjab Muslim League): Mahatma Gandhi's death ends an epoch of Indian history of which he was the originator ... Each one of us who has raised his hand against innocent men, women and children during the past months, who has publicly or secretly entertained sympathy for such acts is a collaborator in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.

Resolution passed by the Working Committee of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Hind: It was Mahatma Gandhi who, practising truth, patience, perseverance, forbearance and tolerance conducted the nation's peaceful and non-violent struggle for freedom to success. He was an ardent supporter and upholder of democracy, fraternity and Hindu- Muslim unity, and staked his life several times for his high ideals and at last sacrificed his life for these. The Working Committee fully appreciates the grand and unparalleled services of the Mahatma to the country as a whole and regards him as the greatest benefactor of India.

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan: He was the only ray of light to help us through these darkest days.

Ho Chi Minh: “I and others may be revolutionaries but we are disciples of Mahatma Gandhi, directly or indirectly, nothing more nothing less.”

General Douglas MacArthur: Nothing more revolting has occurred in history of modern world than the senseless assassination of this venerable man. That he should die by violence is one of those bitter anachronisms that seems to refute all logic. In the evolution of civilization, if it is to survive, all men can not fail eventually to adopt his belief that the process of mass application of force to resolve contentious issues is fundamentally not only wrong but contains within itself the germs of self-destruction. Gandhiji, however, was one of those prophets who lived far ahead of the times.


Rajkumari Amrit Kaur: It is impossible to estimate his loss at this critical juncture in our history. I am sure that we shall miss his wise counsel more and more as the days pass by. He has led us faultlessly to our goal of political independence. The communal strife that started almost immediately after August 15 wounded him to the depths. An India wedded to violence he could not tolerate. He saw the moral deterioration in us and, as a loving father, he again unwearyingly pointed out to us the right way. With his infinite love he was trying to quench the anger that raged in many breasts. He was the one thing that stood between us and disaster, for lawlessness and disorder and hate and violence can lead nowhere else.

Rev Martin Luther King: "Like most people, I had heard of Gandhi, but I had never studied him seriously. As I read I became deeply fascinated by his campaigns of nonviolent resistance.... The whole concept of Satyagraha was profoundly significant to me."... “Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale. The intellectual and moral satisfaction that I failed to gain from the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill, the revolutionary methods of Marx and Lenin, the social contract theory of Hobbes, the 'back to nature' optimism of Rousseau, and the superman philosophy of Nietzsche, I found in the non-violent resistance philosophy of Gandhi.”

“If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought, and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore him at our own risk.” “Gandhi resisted evil with as much vigor and power as the violent resister, but he resisted with love instead of hate. True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to evil power. It is rather a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love.”

Romain Rolland: “Gandhi is not only for India a hero of national history, whose legendary memory will be enshrined in the millennial epoch. Gandhi has renewed, for all the peoples of the West, the message of their Christ, forgotten or betrayed.” ..“For many, he was like a return of Christ. For others, for independent thinkers, Gandhi was a new incarnation of Jean-Jaques Rosseau and of Tolstoy, denouncing the illusions and the crimes of civilization, and preaching to men the return to nature, to the simple life, to health.”.. “I have seen here, in Switzerland, the pious love that he [Gandhi] inspired in humble peasants of the country side and the mountains.”


Will Durant: “Not since Buddha has India so revered any man. Not since St. Francis of Assissi has any life known to history been so marked by gentleness, disinterestedness, simplicity of soul and forgiveness of enemies. We have the astonishing phenomenon of a revolution led by a saint.”


A.K. Fazlul Huq (ex-Premier of Bengal) The assassination of Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most tragic events since the great tragedy of Karbala. It is impossible to find words to express the feelings that are uppermost in our minds. May his soul rest in peace.


Sheikh Abdullah: Although Gandhiji is no more, Kashmir will follow him for ever. Kashmiris are laying down their lives for Gandhiji's ideals. As long as a single Kashmiri is alive, the torch of truth and unity lit by Gandhiji will burn brightly.


Sri Sankaracharya of Sri Kamakoti Peetah: A more perfect ideal of ahimsa and love cannot be conceived. Gandhiji utilised every evil happening to test his inner purity. Whether in the form of judicial punishment while dealing with internal crime or in the form of war while dealing with foreign aggression, himsa is inevitable in political life. But our apostle of ahimsa tried to transform even that unavoidable himsa into ahimsa by completely eschewing hatred from it.

For more tributes to Gandhi, click here
For the Hindi version of this essay click here: सत्य की हत्या

See also
Inder Malhotra 'with Godse at the centre'
Modi wants them all: Godse and Gandhi together under BJP's 'big tent'
Gopalkrishna Gandhi: At point blank range - The killing of plural Hindustan
Apoorvanand: The retrial of Godse: Forgetting the facts
The music of humanity

हरिशंकर परसाई - महात्मा गाँधी को चिट्ठी पहुँचे

Abha Gandhi talks about Mahatma Gandhi's assassination

Godse pushed Manu forcefully aside with his left hand, momentarily exposing the gun in his right. The items in her hands fell to the ground. For a few moments she continued arguing with the unknown assailant. But when the rosary dropped she bent down to pick it up. At this precise moment, a burst of deafening blasts ripped apart the peaceful atmosphere as Godse fired three bullets into Gandhi's abdomen and chest. As the third shot was fired Gandhi was still standing, his palms still joined. He was heard to gasp, "He Ram, He Ram". Then he slowly sank to the ground, palms joined still, possibly in a final ultimate act of ahimsa. Smoke filled the air. Confusion and panic reigned. The Mahatma was slumped on the ground, his head resting in the laps of both girls. His face turned pale, his white shawl of Australian wool was turning crimson with blood. Within seconds Mahatma Gandhi was dead. It was 5.17 pm
The Broken Middle - my essay on the 30th anniversary of 1984