When studying in India most of the Hindus I encountered seemed to be friendly, welcoming people. Sure, there were a few exceptions but on the whole, I found Hindus to be decent, tolerant people who knew what mattered most in life. But a disturbing trend has been brewing, perhaps catalyzed by the 1948 assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Gandhi is up next for discussion at Think Free, and it’s ironic that while refreshing myself on the topic, I came across this:
Ironic because I had just read at ChatGPT that
Nathuram Godse was a Hindu nationalist who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, a leader of the Indian independence movement, on January 30, 1948. Godse, along with his accomplice Narayan Apte, shot Gandhi multiple times at a prayer meeting in New Delhi. Godse believed that Gandhi’s policies, which he viewed as appeasing India’s Muslim minority, were weakening the nation.
Hindu nationalism is a political ideology that seeks to establish India as a Hindu-only state and promote Hindu culture and values. This movement has been around for over a century and it’s rooted in the idea that India is a Hindu-only nation, and that Muslims and other minorities are either recent invaders or converts. This ideology has been associated with violence against minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, and has been criticized for promoting discrimination and intolerance.
And at Wikipedia:
As Hindu nationalism becomes more widespread in India, statues and temples are being raised in Godse’s honour.
From scanning the news over the past few years it’s clear that Hindu intolerance is on the rise and that non-Hindus are being brutalized and killed like never before. But probably few outside India have linked it to the man who murdered Gandhi.
So who was Gandhi?
Well, for the younger crowd who might not know, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was an Indian political and spiritual leader who played a key role in India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule. His honorary title, Mahatma, means “great soul.” He was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India, and was assassinated on January 30, 1948, in New Delhi, India.
Gandhi studied law in London and moved to South Africa in 1893. He fought unjust laws against Indians in Africa for 21 years before returning to India in 1914.
Through his teachings and personal example, Gandhi advocated non-violent resistance through mass civil disobedience. Working tirelessly towards Indian independence, Gandhi sometimes fasted as a means of protest and purification.
His non-violent civil disobedience was used to great effect in the Indian independence movement which ultimately led to India’s freedom in 1947. He was a strong advocate for ahimsa (universal non-violence), civil rights, and religious tolerance. He was also a leader in the Indian National Congress and later in the All India Congress Committee.
Controversial in more than one way
More recently it’s come out that Gandhi apparently slept in the same bed with young girls, including his great-niece, to prove that he had conquered the temptations of the flesh. Needless to say, some find this detail controversial.
In 1922, he was imprisoned in a dingy Indian cell for conspiracy and detained there for two years. In 1930 he undertook a 200-mile trek to the sea to make salt—a clear statement defying government restrictions.
Jailed again until 1931, Gandhi then sat at the London Round Table Conference on Indian constitutional reform.
In 1946 he negotiated with the Cabinet Mission that drafted an independent Indian constitution. Shortly after Indian independence in 1947, he was assassinated while trying to quell Hindu-Muslim conflicts in Bengal.
Concerning his views on the ongoing Arab-Jewish tensions, Gandhi initially favored the Muslims, which some say he did to gain political favor with Muslims in India. The Jewish thinker Martin Buber wrote an open letter to Gandhi, decrying his position. Gradually, Gandhi warmed to the Jewish side and he had some close Jewish friends.
Among his many achievements, Gandhi decried the miserable oppression of the untouchables who at that time, were the undisputed social outcastes in India. Calling them Harijans, Gandhi essentially described them as “the children of God.”¹
Clearly a great man, Gandhi wasn’t ‘god’ as some seem to say. By the same token, his woeful assassination by an early Hindu nationalist seems to support the idea that many outstanding figures are persecuted for being ahead of their time.
In short, the ugly, violent and warped just can’t stand the peaceful and beautiful among us. So they try to stamp them out.
¹ The practice of untouchability was made illegal by the Constitution of India in 1950 and the former untouchables, being a mixed population, now call themselves Dalit. But the caste system continues to be practiced in parts of India.