Was Gandhi's killer a terrorist?

by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

(August 31, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) On 29 August 2011, Sri Lanka Guardian published the statements of Confession by Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s Killer. The article says ‘Such was the power and eloquence of this statement that one of the judges, G. D. Khosla, later wrote, “I have, however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought a verdict of ‘not Guilty’ by an overwhelming majority”’

Godse said ‘In fact, honour, duty and love of one’s own kith and kin and country might often compel us to disregard non-violence and to use force. I could never conceive that an armed resistance to an aggression is unjust. I would consider it a religious and moral duty to resist and, if possible, to overpower such an enemy by use of force. [In the Ramayana] Rama killed Ravana in a tumultuous fight and relieved Sita.. [In the Mahabharata], Krishna killed Kansa to end his wickedness; and Arjuna had to fight and slay quite a number of his friends and relations including the revered Bhishma because the latter was on the side of the aggressor. It is my firm belief that in dubbing Rama, Krishna and Arjuna as guilty of violence, the Mahatma betrayed a total ignorance of the springs of human action.’

The path taken by Gandhi seems different to the path taken by Arjuna under the Guidance of Krishna Himself. But to me in essence they, like different religions, led to the same goal. This is an important issue in deciding whether or not a person is a rebel or a terrorist? As per today’s Bigpond News – Wikileaks has revealed that six women living in Australia were on the ‘terror list’. I was immediately concerned for the safety of some Women Tamil Activists close to the Tamil Tigers. To me – if they were Terrorists – I would feel concerned about being infected by them through our common belief. I have NOT felt that way with these women.

If indeed the Government of Australia suspected these women of Terrorism, why did it not take official action against them – at least through their Community leaders? I ask Godse the same question – ‘why did the Indian or British Governments not take action against Gandhi as if he were a Terrorist – which you made him out to be and hence deserving the death sentence?’ One has to have majority vote to have the body of Government; One has to be conscious of leading all people in common to have the mind of Government.
Rama as well as Krishna were born into the ruling class. Likewise Arjuna. They were apparently groomed to be kings whose duty it was to fight physically to protect their people. Gandhi’s parallel was the Law and Gandhi did use the Law as a Civilian to fight against his Opponents – sometimes by consciously acting in breach of the law he considered to be inappropriate for his people. But Gandhi assessed and judged himself before anyone else did. That was the strongest indicator of his sense of Independence.

Gandhi’s family extended far beyond his biological family due to this self-assessment, transparency and accountability. Gandhi was first accountable to himself. At the end of the day – that is the only one that counts once we step out of official positions.

Godse stated ‘Gandhi is being referred to as the Father of the Nation. But if that is so, he had failed his paternal duty inasmuch as he has acted very treacherously to the nation by his consenting to the partitioning of it. I stoutly maintain that Gandhi has failed in his duty. He has proved to be the Father of Pakistan. His inner-voice, his spiritual power and his doctrine of non-violence of which so much is made of, all crumbled before Jinnah’s iron will and proved to be powerless.’

We go through different stages vertically and at the highest level we reach, we are naturally affected by all below that level, affected by our actions. It’s like the Natural CEO position. Gandhi would have gone through not only Godse’s level but also the level of the Judge G. D. Khosla who identified with Godse’s interpretation of Gandhi’s actions which seemed to him to favor Muslims above Hindus. To me, this is not different to me acting to support Sri Lankan Administrators who are largely Sinhalese. Given that I am naturally Sri Lankan, I would naturally go with another Sri Lankan. In Administration, where many are Sinhalese, I could be seen by a Tamil – especially a pro-LTTE Tamil – to be on the side of the enemy/opposition. In fact, this is the dilemma faced by Sinhalese politicians who form Government in Sri Lanka. Just and Fair allocations of Resources to Tamil areas are likely to be seen as being ‘pro-Tamil’ and anti-Sinhalese by the ordinary voter.

Gandhi’s strongest virtue was his sense of independence. Hence he assessed and judged himself. His discipline in daily life was his punishment which helped him accept the legal sentences against him as accumulated confirmations of his own discipline. One who assesses and judges her/himself is an independent person and v.v.

At his level Godse was also independent. But his development ceased at his Hindu Community level – similar to today’s Muslim and Tamil rebels. Gandhi’s was Global and hence he included Muslims in Pakistan as part of his world. Recently, I wrote to the Sri Lankan High Commissioner for Australia as follows to highlight the need to express beliefs from within our boundaries – including Government Boundaries:

‘The adjectives ‘fearless and ruthless’ describing respectively the President (your boss) and the Tamil Tigers (your opposition) confirm that you seek to get credits for your side, subjectively. Majority members of Tamil Diaspora would not identify with the above descriptions and in fact would use it in reverse order. If we are to therefore work towards harmony, we need to express from within our respective borders.

I submit that Belief and Conscious Merit are the legitimate bases for allocating rights and wrongs. Under the belief system – as in family - we feel that we/our leader are/is ‘right’ for us. We have every right to defend ourselves on the basis of belief but do so within the borders of the group/community that generated/facilitated the development of that belief. Only the net outcome of the group/community after offsetting positives against negatives needs to be published for the use of wider world. A community that does that about itself irrespective of whether it would be seen as positive or negative by outsiders – is a truly democratic community. All others have to have earned a higher position than the community to publish the outcome without showing the merits of it or consciously show the merit based assessment.

Under merit basis, our statements in this particular context need to be measured through Global Standards and not even Sri Lankan standards, leave alone Sri Lankan Government Standards.

As an Australian of Sri Lankan origin said recently – the Government is not the only avenue through which we can serve Sri Lanka and the world through this issue. Hence it is important to use Global Measures to take credit or give debit.’

Gandhi was a citizen who grew taller than any Government Official of his day. Not so Godse. Yet, due to an active mind that worked faster than his belief Godse seems to have related through the visible outcomes instead of identifying with the root. To my mind, unlike Gandhi, Godse failed to discipline himself enough to reach the Indian level; instead stagnated at Hindu level but carried the name Indian. This is similar to many Sinhalese leaders carrying and using Sri Lankan name even though they stagnate at Sinhalese level. Likewise Tamils.

Godse to my mind, is a terrorist because he killed ‘outside/beyond’ his circle of belief, while claiming to be Indian and therefore claiming to be deserving to be physically close to Gandhi. Likewise every Tamil and every Sinhalese who killed Sri Lankans outside/beyond merit basis, or whose actions resulted in the death of even One Sri Lankan.

My advice to those who seek to rebel is to ‘ensure that from day one – your actions are transparent and you either believe that they are right for you and your society, and you have accumulated enough discipline to accept without agitation, any punishment by the law enforcement authorities’. If those who claim to be rebels act outside their circles of belief but without consciously using merit basis – they carry the risk of their actions damaging others and hence carry the risk of returns that cannot be managed by them to complete the experience. Completing the experience helps us develop to the next stage.

Helping Muslims was well within Gandhi’s circle of Belief. It was not Godse’s.

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