Skip to main content

Why not regard Godse, murderer of Gandhi, a devotee of Hindu nation?: Saffron 'historian'

Ramchandra Guha, Vishnu Pandya
Counterview Desk
Saffron ideologue-historian Vishnu Pandya, who chairs the Gujarat Sahitya Akademi, has justified his views on Nathuram Godse, that he was a patriot, and so was Gandhi, but added, it should be seen within a context. Pandya, in a message to Counterview, which carried the story “Now, top Gujarat ‘litterateur’ close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi” (republished in The Wire), has said, “Gandhi was born in Porbandar, just 60 km away from my hometown” to suggest how close he is to Gandhi.
Pandya's message, sent in Gujarati, read, “The person who killed Gandhiji was a murderer, which was also proved in the court…", but adds, "Godse’s final statement says that he believed in Hindu Rashtra (nation). Hence, should he not be regarded as a devotee of the Hindu nation?”
As for his defence of Sadhvi Pragya, an accused in the Malegaon terror attack, who won a massive mandate to become a member of Parliament from Bhopal, Pandya, known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said, “The verdict was a democratic slap on the face of those who talk of Hindu or saffron terror.”
Meanwhile, sharply reacting to an article published in the Hindustan Times by Ramchandra Guha, where the top historian of contemporary India has quoted Pandya’s view that both Godse and Gandhi were patriots, the saffron ideologue has written an open letter to Guha, titled “I am not Gandhi, Godse or Guha”, explaining his position.

Text of the letter:

I happened to read your article titled "Godse Worship goes Mainstream in India” where you have mentioned my name. And therefore, i believe it is your duty and my right that you listen to me. Believing that 'Hindustan Times' is an ethical newspaper and I insist that my letter should be published in toto so that the other side of the coin of your article can also be known to the readers.
1. Firstly, you have written this article on the base of a debate on a Gujarati television channel. Before writing, if you would have contacted me and asked, I would have clarified in which reference it was written.
2. A very important matter is that I am not an RSS Ideologue. I am not a spokesperson of the RSS, either. Yes, i was an editor of a magazine 'Sadhana' that is inspired by RSS ideology for 15 years (1967-76). And I actively opposed Emergency imposed in India (1975-76) and pre-censorship, wrote articles, went to the court (leader of People's Union of Civil Liberty, CT Daru, was my lawyer) and for a year was also imprisoned. I don't know whether that time you were writing the history of cricket or not.
3. I was convener of ‘Gujarat Biradari' and 'Abhinav Bharat' with Vimla Tai Thakar, an associate of Jayprakashji and social thinker. I penned her biography too. The preface of my imprisonment story was written by Durga Bhagwat. Lieutenant General SK Sinha has written a preface of my book. I was convenor of a Gujarat Sahitya Academy committee for the study of the borders of Gujarat with Babubhai Patel, Chief Minister and Gandhian political leader of Gujarat.
I am a writer of novels, essays, history and journalism and am recipient of Padmashri for it in 2017. I am Chairman of the Gujarati Sahitya Akademi. Various institutions have conferred me with awards including 'Gujarat Gaurav' and Hon DLit from Gujarat University.
4. The reason why I am writing this is, you have blamed such a person for having respect for not Gandhiji but Godse.
5. If you would have listened to or read my lecture 'Gandhiji and Partition' under the Gandhi Lecture Series at the Bhavnagar University, or you would have read my book 'Gandhi-Sardar-Subhash', you would have thought twice before blaming me in the article.
6. Without sharing the reference of the whole discussion you have quoted that, "If Gandhi was a patriot, so was Godse". What was the context to that reference? The murder of Gandhi is and will be forever a cruel and despicable incident for every citizen of not only India but all over the world. There cannot be any rescue or excuse for that. 
But from the complete statement of Nathuram Godse, one can at least come to the conclusion that he had the Hindu nation in his mind and for the nation he committed the deed. In such circumstances, can he be considered nationalist or patriot or nation lover of the 'nation' as per his definition or notion of 'nation' – true or false or not? Why is this not reviewed without partiality and prejudice?
7. Important matter in this to be paid attention is that efforts were done to prove involvement of RSS in the murder of Gandhiji. Though the court declared the Sangh to be innocent, the activity of revenge continued by some people or groups. Residence of so many in Akola and Pune were set to fire. In the opinion of many, around 8,000 people had lost their lives. And if the number is wrong, a documentary research should be done which will be the sign of justice, that too I had stated in the same discussion.
I had also quoted an important incident of Padmabhushan Shatayu Pandit Saatvalekarji who had earned the name and fame from his study and research of Vedas whose home was burnt turning his whole library into ashes. (Yes, Honourable Historian sir, his knowledge treasure was turned to ashes). The only reason was that he was from RSS. 
Saatvalekarji moved to Pardi of South Gujarat from Maharashtra and I confirmed the truth of all these detailed information during my personal meeting with him there. While condemning the murder of Gandhiji, such incidents also should be condemned, that what you have not done in the article.
8. You have mentioned in your article that I have considered Pragnaji to be Saint or Saadhvi. 
Yes, her right to be addressed or considered Saint or Saadhvi cannot be stripped off. As per Hindu philosophy she left her home and relatives and worked without any worldly bondage and so only she won the election with such majority mandate. Is it ordinary matter that a simple or common Saadhvi defeating the ex- Chief Minister?
9. The significant matter is that just for being accused of the Malegaon case, she was condemned by the Home Minister of the then Central Government and others with the phrases like 'Saffronized Terrorism' and 'Hindu Terrorism'. Not only that, but the imprisoned woman had to suffer awful oppression from the jail authority. 
In fact, this was double crime as it was oppression of a woman that too imprisoned. Police officer Karkare should be surely praised, but should one keep mum about the outrage against Sadhvi Pragnaji? There is no fanaticism or casteism in the questions above. They should be examined with pure historical vision beyond any partiality or prejudice.
Our Prime Minister is also from the RSS. He declared "Swacchata Abhiyan" following the steps of Mahatma Gandhi.
Sir, Your name is Ramachandra. Almighty Ram judged the case of a washerman without being partial for his wife Sita. If you read history of 1948, you will come across facts about Gandhiji visiting Sangh Shibir in Vardha, the planning of Sangh leaders to save Gandhi in Delhi, declaration of mourning of the death of Gandhi at all the office of Sangh, strong condemnation of murder of Gandhiji and humble statement by the then Sarsangh Sanchalak MS Golwalkar in the correspondence with personalities like Nehru- Sardar- Ambedkar- Shyamaprasad Mukherjee.
All these details one will find in chapter ten of the book 'Samagra Guruji'. I am a hardcore historian (hope you remember that Ramon Magsaysay winner Ela Bhatt had also drawn your attention on the fact of history of Gujarat). Fifty years of my life I have given to journalism, and being a person from literature, strongly supported by historical facts, I declare here that we'll examined facts , and fearless presentation of the same is my way of freedom of expression of thoughts.
***
(Letter slightly edited for style. Click HERE for original)

Guha replies

Thank you for your letter. Except for the semantic question of whether you are an  RSS ideologue or merely a person impressed by RSS ideology there is nothing in your letter that changes or challenges anything I had said in my article.
Incidentally, in my Gandhi biography I quote from a speech of Golwalkar in December 1947 where he expressed his wish to have the Mahatma 'immediately silenced'. The Organiser poured abuse on Gandhi as well, What you say or claim now about the matter is neither here or there; the historical record is absolutely clear that the RSS absolutely detested Gandhi in the last year of his life. 
I would love to come and have a  conversation with you in Ahmedabad, and had your ideological kinsmen not stopped me from taking a job in Gandhi's city that might indeed have been possible.

Pandya disagrees

Thank you, but your are wrong. Golwalkar never said or wish "Gandhi  immediately silenced". I don't know why you mention this falsehood. 

Comments

TRENDING

Nirma varsity demand for higher fees 'illegal', violates Article 14: Letter to Gujarat HC

Counterview Desk
Students of Gujarat’s top private institute, Nirma University, situated in the outskirts of Ahmedabad, in a letter to the Chief Justice the state High Court, have complained that the authorities are demanding “full fees” from students, without taking into account the “disproportionate impact” the lockdown has on the livelihood of students and families.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Vulnerable to Covid-19, sharp rise in murder of Indian journalists during pandemic

By Nava Thakuria*
Vulnerability of working journalists in India is no way an alien issue as the populous country loses a number of working journalists to assailants as also medical emergencies. Even though there was only one casualty in the Indian media fraternity during the first half of 2020, who was targeted for journalistic work, India has begun witnessing an alarming number of media casualties during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Govt 'assures' Gujarat HC no action against MBBS students defying corona sahayak order

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government has assured the High Court that no action would be taken against Part-I and Part-II MBBS students of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC)-controlled NHL Medical College and LG Hospital and Medical College. The assurance follows the direction by Justice SH Vora to the State government not to prosecute or initiate action against the students who were defying the college authorities’ order to work as corona sahayaks (helpers).

Renounced US citizenship to serve workers, tribals, Sudha Bharadwaj 'odiously' in jail

By Atul, Sandeep Pandey*
Professor Sudha Bharadwaj has been in jail since August 2018. She was taken into police custody on August 26, 2018 on suspicion of being involved in Maoist terror activities after Republic TV claimed that she had allegedly written a letter to Maoists and was conspiring to create public disorder and unrest in India.

Cruel legacy of Green Revolution? Covid-19 underscores 'risky, fragile' food system

By Moin Qazi*  The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the risks of an unhealthy diet and the extreme fragility of food systems. The economic reconstruction that will follow the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to provide better nutrition and health to all. The pandemic should spur us to redefine how we feed ourselves, and agricultural research can play a vital role in making our food systems more sustainable and resilient.

Plant organic, eat fresh: Emlen Bage's journey from migrant labour to agri-entrepreneur

By Chandrashekar and Kriti*
Who is a farmer? Type this question in the google search and check out the images? You can see men thronging the screen. This is the popular perception around the globe. Well one can understand how difficult it would be for a woman to defy this perception.

High youth unemployment: India 'fails' to take advantage of demographic dividend

By Varun Kumar
As coronavirus pandemic continues amplifying challenges among youth with regard to employment opportunities, government policies have further resulted in economic slowdown, leading to mass unemployment and loss jobs. According to the International Labour Organisation report “Covid-19 and the World of Work” (May 27, 2020), around 94 percent of the world’s workers are living in countries with some sort of workplace closure measures in place.

Dichotomy? US Hindutva groups oppose racism, mum on Modi's 'anti-minority' stance

By Our Representative
The Hindus for Human Rights (HHR), a US-based advocacy group, has noticed a major dichotomy between the stance taken by RSS’ US arm, Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh (HSS), expressing “shock” at the “painful killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others”, all of which suggest “the tragic tale of racial injustice” in US, and HSS’ “hatred” for India’s religious minorities and Dalits.