Assassination of Gandhi

Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948, approaching him during the evening prayer, bowing, and shooting him three times at close range with a Beretta semi-automatic pistol. After the incident, he did not run away but stood at the spot and voluntarily gave himself up to the police.

Trial and execution

Following his assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, he was put on trial beginning May 27, 1948. During the trial, he did not defend any charge and openly admitted that he killed Gandhi. On November 8, 1949 Godse was sentenced to death for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. Godse’s legal team was savaged by critics for not introducing considerable evidence that their client was mentally unbalanced and/or manipulated by others. Among those calling for commutation of the death sentence for the defendants were Jawaharlal Nehru, as well as Gandhi’s two sons who felt that the two men on trial were pawns of RSS higher-ups, and in any case, executing their father’s killers would dishonor his memory and legacy which included a staunch opposition to the death penalty. Godse was hanged at Ambala Jail on November 15, 1949 , along with Narayan Apte, the other conspirator. Savarkar was also charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Gandhi, but was acquitted and subsequently released. Godse stipulated that his ashes were not to be deposited in a body of water according to Hindu dictates, but rather were to be held in storage until they could be deposited in the Sindhu river after Pakistan had been reunited with India.


Millions of Indians mourned Gandhi’s assassination. Massive anti-Brahmin riots spread, especially across Maharashtra state, as Godse was a Brahmin. The Sangli and Miraj regions were hit harder. Houses of Brahmins were burned, looted and a number of people died. The Hindu Mahasabha was vilified and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS, was temporarily banned. However, later investigators could find no evidence that the RSS bureaucracy had formally sponsored or even knew of Godse’s plot[citation needed]. The RSS ban was lifted by Prime Minister Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1949.

The RSS to this day denies any connection with Godse and dispute the claim that he was a member.

After the assassination, many criticized the Indian government for not doing more to protect Gandhi who, earlier in the week, had been the target of a bomb plot by the same conspirators who later shot him. Of particular concern was the fact that a Bombay detective had wired the names and descriptions of the assassins along with the fact that they were known to be in Delhi stalking Gandhi. On the other hand, the Mahatma had repeatedly refused to cooperate with his own security and had resigned himself to a violent death which he accepted as an inevitable part of his destiny.

A film Nine Hours to Rama was made in 1963 and was based on the events leading up to the assassination, seen mainly from Godse’s point-of-view. The film Hey Ram made in 2000 also briefly touches the events related to the assassination. The popular Marathi language drama Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy Marathi: मी नथुराम गोदसे बोलतोय(“I am Nathuram Godse, Speaking”) was also made from Godse’s point of view.