On January 30, 1948 Gandhi was assasinated by Nathura Vinayak Godse. The assassin was a 36 year old Hindu of the Mahratta tribes in Poona. The tribes were known for possessing a core group of some who opposed Gandhi’s teachings.
Three shots sounded out in the Biria House gardens. The gardens were sacred, the place where Gandhi, as he was that evening, gave a daily prayer meeting message.Within 25 minutes of being shot his heart stopped forever.
In his 78 years of life he had become India’s “Mahatma” (Great Teacher) known as a peacemaker espousing a nonviolent lifestyle and belief sytem even in the face of oppression by those advocating violence.
India, which had a population of 300,000,000 in 1948, was thrown into a state of turmoil upon losing their great leader of peace. The country had only recently gained its independence through the Indian Independence Act 1947. Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru made a radio appeal,in his speech announcing the death of Gandhi, for a path of nonviolence to prevail in honor of the great leader’s memory.
Excerpt from The Light Has Gone Out – Jawaharalal Nehru
“The first thing to remember now is that none of us dare misbehave because he is angry. We have to behave like strong and determined people, determined to face all the perils that surround us, determined to carry out the mandate that our great teacher and our great leader has given us, remembering always that if, as I believe, his spirit looks upon us and sees us, nothing would displease his soul so much as to see that we have indulged in any small behaviour or any violence.”
Mr. Gandhi had requested while living, that he wanted in death, to follow the orthodox Hindu practice of cremation, which was followed despite many leaders’ wishes for his body to be embalmed and exhibited in state.
You can read an article published upon his death in the New York Times’ archives.
by Research History editor