By Hasan Ghias\n\n\n\n\n\n\nShortly\nafter 5 pm on Friday 30th January 1948, three bullets fired point blank from Godse\u2019s\npistol took Mahatma Gandhi\u2019s life. He was walking to his daily prayer meeting\nin the garden of Birla House in Delhi when Godse muscled his way through the\ncrowd, his weapon hidden between the palms of his folded hands. \u201cHey Ram\u201d, Bapu\nsaid as he collapsed. \n\n\n\nAn\nideology of hate killed him; the very same ideology gravely threatens the\nnation he fathered. We failed to save him from that deadly volley that flowed\nfrom Godse\u2019s gun; we must not fail to rescue his idea of India from the deadly\nvolleys that flow with sickening regularity from the words and acts of Godse\u2019s\nideologues who wish to destroy everything he stood for.\n\n\n\nAt\nhis assassination trial, Nathuram Godse declared defiantly \u201cI declare here\nbefore man and God that in putting an end to Gandhi\u2019s life I have removed one\nwho was a curse to India, a force of evil.....\u201d. Contrast this with what Albert\nEinstein wrote soon after this ghastly murder: \u201cThe veneration in which\nGandhi has been held throughout the world rests on the recognition that in our\nage of moral decay he was the only statesman who represented that higher\nconception of human relations in the political sphere to which we must aspire\nwith all our power.\u201d Godse was hanged, but his ideology is alive and well in\nthe hearts and minds of his followers, their thirst for blood yet unsatiated.\n\n\n\nNon-violence, truth, sacrifice and suffering were the arms he used to bring down the world\u2019s mightiest empire. Though he mesmerized and mobilized millions, he sought no position, no privileges, no glory for himself. Born in a well-to-do family, a bar-at-law from England, he could have led a life of comfort and wealth had he chosen to. Instead he chose to live life like a peasant, devoting it to serve the masses and struggling to liberate them from foreign rule. Traveling by foot or in third-class carriages, he lived in the spartan ashrams that he founded. He was a devout Hindu who preached the universal brotherhood of mankind; poles apart from the bigotry and violence that is being incited in the name of Hindutva. He described his concept of Ram Rajya in the following words: \u201cIt can be religiously translated as the Kingdom of God on Earth; politically translated, it is perfect democracy in which inequalities based on possession and non-possession, colour, race or creed, or sex vanish; in it land and State belong to the people, justice is prompt, perfect and cheap and, therefore, there is freedom of worship, speech, and the press- all this because of the reign of the self-imposed law of moral restraint.\u201d\n\n\n\nGandhi\u2019s\nanguish grew as the communal temperature kept rising dangerously in the\nsweltering summer of 1946. Communal passions boiled over into murderous\nviolence in Calcutta on August 16, the obvious provocation being Jinnah\u2019s call\nfor direct action. For four days and four nights, Calcutta was the scene of\nghastly killings as Hindus and Muslims went on the rampage. Not long after,\nNoakhali in East Bengal saw terrible times as the Hindu minority was\nmurderously targeted. This was soon followed by equally vicious attacks on\nMuslims in Bihar. Countless lives were lost in this senseless mayhem as the\nflames of hatred raged uncontrollably across the nation, teetering on the verge\nof a civil war as the departure of the British rulers and the division of the\ncountry seemed imminent realities. Mahatma Gandhi spent four months in\nNoakhali, trudging along dirt tracks from village to village, in an attempt to\ndouse the fires of hatred that kept the communal cauldrons boiling. To the\nMuslims he said: \u201cIf....you want the Hindus to stay in your midst, you should\ntell them that they need not look to the military for protection but to their\nMuslim brethren instead. Their daughters and sisters and mothers are your\ndaughters, sisters, and mothers, and you should protect them with your lives.\u201d\nHe left Noakhali for Bihar to try and pacify passions that were turning humans\ninto fiends. When told that the violence against Muslims in Bihar was in\nretaliation to events in East Bengal, his response was: \u201cThe best succour that\nBihar could have given to the Hindus of East Bengal would have been to\nguarantee with their own lives the absolute safety of the Muslim population\nliving in their midst. Their example would then have told.\u201d At a joint\ngathering of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in Gurudwara Har Mandir in Patna, he\nsaid \u201cIndia today seems an inferno of madness and my heart weeps to see our\nhomes set on fire by ourselves. I find today darkness reigning over India and\nmy eyes vainly turn from one direction to another to see light.\u201d\n\n\n\nMahatma\nGandhi was implacably opposed to the idea of partition, which he called the\nvivisection of India. He desperately wanted to avoid it at all costs and was\nwilling to pay any price to keep India united. As the prospect of Independence\ncrystallized into a certainty and partition became an unavoidable reality,\nthose holding the reins of power and in positions of influence were less and\nless interested in his advice. At that momentous midnight hour, when huge\ncrowds thronged the streets of Delhi and Nehru spoke of India\u2019s tryst with\ndestiny, Mahatma Gandhi was asleep in Hydari Manzil, an abandoned mansion in\nCalcutta, unwilling to rejoice in this pyrrhic victory. He had moved into this\nransacked haveli along with the Muslim League leader Suhrawardi, who had pledged\nto support him in his bid to restore peace in Calcutta. Gandhiji\u2019s appeals had\na miraculous effect and for almost a fortnight violence abated, only to flare\nup again on the last day of August. The following night Gandhiji began a fast\nto be broken only if violence stopped. The next day Calcutta was quiet again.\nOn September 4 at 9.15 pm he broke his fast with a glass of diluted orange\njuice. He entrained for Delhi on September 7, intending to move on to the\nPunjab.\n\n\n\nThe\nsheer scale of violence in Delhi prevented him from going anywhere else. \u201cHave\nthe citizens of Delhi gone mad? Have they no humanity left in them? Have love\nof the country and its freedom no appeal for them?\u201d To Sardar Patel, he\nlamented \u201cWhat sin must I have committed that He should have kept me alive to\nwitness all these horrors.\u201d \n\n\n\nAlas,\nhe had only a few months to live, but was not destined to die before he\nlaunched his final fast \u201cThis time my fast is not only against Hindus and\nMuslims but also against the Judases who put on false appearances and betray\nthemselves, myself and society,\u201d he told his grandniece Manuben.\n\n\n\nThe\nIndian cabinet rushed to decide in three days what it had been dithering over\nfor months- payment of Pakistan\u2019s share of imperial cash balances. On January\n18, he broke his fast when he received a seven-point declaration signed by over\none hundred Hindu, Muslim and Sikh leaders promising to live in Delhi like\nbrothers and in perfect amity. But death still stalked, not from the strain of\nfasting but from the acts of conspiring assassins. On 20th January, a grenade\nwas thrown behind the platform where he was conducting his daily prayer\nmeeting. A young Punjabi refugee, Madanlal Pahwa, was arrested and found to\nhave another grenade in his possession that was intended to be hurled directly\nat Mahatma Gandhi. His accomplices, which included the would-be assassin,\nescaped in a waiting taxi. Godse struck again ten days later, and this time he\nwas successful in extinguishing the life of the man he so intensely hated, and\nIndia and the world so loved.\n\n\n\nGodse\u2019s\nghoul is striking again! And again! And again! M.M. Kalburgi, Narendra\nDabholkar, Govind Pansare, Gauri Lankesh, Mohammed Ikhlaq, Pehlu Khan, Umar\nMohammed, young Junaid, Afrazul, Tabriz and so many others have fallen victim\nto his evil spirit. His multiple incarnations in different garbs and guises are\nthreatening to tear the fabric of India to shreds. To exorcise his ghost from\nour midst, we must resurrect Mahatma Gandhi. We must re-dedicate ourselves to\nGandhiji\u2019s principles and values, re-discover the power of Ahimsa and\nSatyagrah, weigh ourselves on his moral scale, follow his path. Therein lies\nthe most powerful antidote that we can find to neutralize the deadly venom that\nhas been injected into the Nation\u2019s body politic by the most unscrupulous of\nour political class, their cronies and henchmen.\n\n\n\nHasan Ghias is a US-based Business & Organization Development Consultant who writes regularly, among other subjects, on the country of his origin, India.