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By stroke of luck, I started reading about Mahatma Gandhi when I was 5 years' old. When I was 10 years' old, my teacher Sri. Bernard who was a great admirer of Gandhi, helped me to understand Mahatma Gandhi better. Then on, his autobiography, Pyarelal's biography and Lois Fischer's works made me adore Mahatma Gandhi very much. Father A.C. Abraham, my guide to Christianity was quoting Mahatma Gandhi frequently, much to the chagrin of other worshippers. My grandfather refused Freedom Fighters' Pension for a different reason. He was arrested when he had picked up a quarrel with freedom fighters! Police mistook him to be a freedom fighter. His question was, " When the British leave the country, how do you manage, what are your policies and principles?" In the frenzy, people had not thought of this. He posed this question to Mahatma Gandhi when he had come to Bangalore. Mahatma Gandhi said, " Wait, everything will fall into the place, there is no room for disappointment". Unfortunately, everything fell out of place and disintegrated into two parts! Till his last days my grandfather believed that Independence movement was mismanaged, many times by Mahatma Gandhi. Yet, he used to say, "Gandhiji was a great man!". So, I belong to a clan of anti-freedom fighters! Elsewhere Mahatma Gandhi has said, "The means are equally important as achievements". Did not Krishna, the great Geetacharya behave like mortals by prompting Arjuna to kill Karna, against the principles of war, when the latter had fallen to the ground? Should God break the prevailing rules ? Was it impossible for the creator to kill Karna in some other way and some other time? In this regard, Gandhi is truly a Mahatma. He is better than the cheap politician, called Krisha. Such high principles can not be seen in any one except in Mahatma Gandhi.
HOLY SEE DID NOT SEE!
"If I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling. There must be no anger within me. God must be in my heart and on my lips", Mahatma Gandhi said two days prior to his assassination. Mahatma Gandhi was leaving for Bombay to hold talks with Mohammad Ali Jinnah on 9 September 1944, Hindu activists stopped him. The leader of the group Nathuram Godse, was found in possession of a dagger. The policeman who found the dagger joked, "Why do you want to kill Gandhi? Let's leave it to the leaders themselves... perhaps (Veer) Savarkar will finish off the job!" Godse retorted, "Gandhi does not require such an honour. Even the jamadar (peon) is enough for that!" [Dr. Sushila Nayyar's testimony before Kapoor Commission].
On January 30, 1948, at around 17:10, Nathuram Godse with his accomplices, Madanlal Pahwa, Shankar Kistaiya, Digambar Badge, Vishnu Karkare, Gopal Godse and Narayan Apte assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. Gopal Godse writes in his book 'Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi?': " He has said in his statement that he left the RSS, because Golwalker and the RSS were in a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But he did not leave the RSS.” Some argue that Veer Savarkar was out of Hindu Mahasabha and Nathuram Godse was not a member of RSS any more, when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.
Mahatma Gandhi says, " I know that I have not in me as yet that triple purity, in spite of constant ceaseless striving for it. That is why the world's praise fails to move me, indeed it very often stings me. To conquer the subtle passions to me to be harder far than the physical conquest of the world by the force of arms. Ever since my return to India I have had experience of the dormant passions lying hidden with in me. The knowledge of them has made me feel humiliated though not defeated. The experiences and experiments have sustained me and given me great joy. But I know that I have still before me a difficult path to traverse. I must reduce myself to zero. So long as a man does not of his own free will put himself last among his fellow creatures, there is no salvation for him". It is hard to say whether Gandhi's non-violent means of agitation brought the independence to the country or the bankruptcy of British after the Second World War. I had an opportunity to go through day by day account of Independent struggle during the period 1944-1947 in Samyukta Karnataka (Kannada daily), thanks to my grandfather's rare collection. Along non-violence movement the violence also was going on. It is merely glorification of of non-violence in the history books. Some were violent and many were silent spectators. One should not let down Mahatma's contribution. Bose or Bhagat Singh or any other advocates of violence did not enjoy such great popularity as Mahatma Gandhi did. Gandhi was a force that brought freedom.
Standing (L to R): Shankar Kistaiya, Gopal Godse, Madan Lal Pahwa, Digambar Ramchandra Badge. Seated (L to R): Narayan Apte, Vinayak D. Savarkar, Nathuram Godse, Vishnu Karkare
Mahatma Gandhi was neither a great orator. He says "Dr. Oldfield once said to me, 'You talk to me quite all right, but why is it that you never open your lips at a committee meeting?' Not that I never felt tempted to speak. But I was at a loss to know how to express myself. All the rest of the members appeared to me to be better informed than I. My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now a pleasure. Its greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of words. I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. And I can now give myself the certificate that a thoughtless word hardly ever escapes my tongue or pen. I do not recollect ever having had to regret anything in my speech or writing. I have thus been spared many a mishap and waste of time. A man of few words will rarely be thoughtless in his speech; he will measure every word. My shyness has allowed me to grow." [My Experiments with Truth].
Earlier, criticism of Mahatma Gandhi and his principles was dubbed to be favourite topics of Communists and Hindutva organisations. There is more freedom in the air now and the patriotism of my grandfather is no longer questioned! Gopal Godse has brought out a book "Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi?". We should not belittle the person and ignore his charismatic and adorable personality. I should have truthfulness and courage to say that my father was truly a great person yet he smoked cigarettes.