At a Glance...



1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Modi, the Mahatama, and Mendacity

*Gambling on Gandhi

*Gandhi's 'Relevance': One More Round of Humbug

*Obama's Dinner with Gandhi

*Obama, Gandhi, and a Few Morsels of Food

*Framing Gandhi, Framing His Photograph

*Gandhi's Sexuality Society

*Gandhi, Citizenship, and the Idea of a Good Civil Society

*The Gandhi Everyone Loves to Hate

*The Gandhi of Tavistock Square

*Kasturba Gandi

Dandi March
Quit India
Father of the Nation?
Hind Swaraj
"Hey Ram"
* "Man of Action"?
*Gambling on Gandhi
Gandhian Ecology
*Gandhi, the Law Student
*Gandhi and the Nobel Peace Prize
*Gandhi: A Select Bibliography
*Gandhi's Not History

Longer research articles
*Gandhi... and the Future of Dissent
* "Gandhi's Last Fast"
* Review of Richard Fox, Gandhian Utopia










Mahatma Gandhi

[Last of five pages]

The last few months of Gandhi's life were to be spent mainly in the capital city of Delhi. There he divided his time between the 'Bhangi colony', where the sweepers and the lowest of the low stayed, and Birla House, the residence of one of the wealthiest men in India and one of the benefactors of Gandhi's ashrams. Hindu and Sikh refugees had streamed into the capital from what had become Pakistan, and there was much resentment, which easily translated into violence, against Muslims. It was partly in an attempt to put an end to the killings in Delhi, and more generally to the bloodshed following the partition, which may have taken the lives of as many as 1 million people, besides causing the dislocation of no fewer than 11 million, that Gandhi was to commence the last fast unto death of his life. The fast was terminated when representatives of all the communities signed a statement that they were prepared to live in "perfect amity", and that the lives, property, and faith of the Muslims would be safeguarded. A few days later, a bomb exploded in Birla House where Gandhi was holding his evening prayers, but it caused no injuries. However, his assassin, a Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin by the name of Nathuram Godse, was not so easily deterred. Gandhi, quite characteristically, refused additional security, and no one could defy his wish to be allowed to move around unhindered. In the early evening hours of 30 January 1948, Gandhi met with India's Deputy Prime Minister and his close associate in the freedom struggle, Vallabhai Patel, and then proceeded to his prayers.

Copyright: Siddharth Gondia/ GandhiServe

That evening, as Gandhi's time-piece, which hung from one of the folds of his dhoti [loin-cloth], was to reveal to him, he was uncharacteristically late to his prayers, and he fretted about his inability to be punctual. At 10 minutes past 5 o'clock, with one hand each on the shoulders of Abha and Manu, who were known as his 'walking sticks', Gandhi commenced his walk towards the garden where the prayer meeting was held. As he was about to mount the steps of the podium, Gandhi folded his hands and greeted his audience with a namaskar; at that moment, a young man came up to him and roughly pushed aside Manu. Nathuram Godse bent down in the gesture of an obeisance, took a revolver out of his pocket, and shot Gandhi three times in his chest. Bloodstains appeared over Gandhi's white woolen shawl; his hands still folded in a greeting, Gandhi blessed his assassin: He Ram! He Ram!

As Gandhi fell, his faithful time-piece struck the ground, and the hands of the watch came to a standstill. They showed, as they had done before, the precise time: 5:12 P.M.

Copyright: Vithalbhai Jhaveri/ GandhiServe


Gandhi [Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

See also the paper by Vinay Lal, "The Mother in the 'Father of the Nation'"