M N Roy the humanist philosopher could correctly assess the personality of Gandhi when he was assasinated by Nathuram Godse, a hindu fanatic.Roy wrote his reaction thus:
THE MESSAGE OF THE MARTYR
Leaders of aggrieved India have professed unswerving loyalty to the sacred memory of the martyred Mahatma and
pledgcd themselves solemnly to be guided by his message. If the pledge is implemented, then death at the assassin's
hand may still accomplish what a dedicated life could not. There is no doubt about the sincerity of sentiments fait in an
atmosphere of poignant anguish and expressed spontaneously from the bottom of hearts moved by a dreadful experience. At
the same time, it cannot be denied that, had nationalist India grasped the Mahatma's message and been guided by it without
reservation, today she would not be mourning his death at the hands of an assassin. Therefore, having recovered from the
initial impact of the stunning blow, the country should even now try to understand the meaning of the Mahatma's message,
if his martyrdom is not to be in vain.
Evan during his lifetime, the Mahatma was hailed as the Father of the Nation. Nationalist India's homage to his sacred
memory will be to canonise him as such. He was the patron saint of nationalism, which triumphed during his lifetime.
Yet he fell a victim to the very cult he preached. That is the implication of the terrible tragedy which stupefied the entire
civilized world. But few seem to have learned the lesson. The patron saint of nationalism has been sacrificed at the altar
of the geographical goddess of Akhand Hindtrsum, and all Indian nationalists, who today reaffirm undying loyalty to the
Mahatma, also worship at the shrine of that goddess. Since that fanatical cult logically goes to the incredible extent of
demanding the blood of its own patron saint, the Mahatma's message must have been greater than a mere call for suffering
and sacrifice for the country. Essentially, it is a moral, humanist, cosmopolitan appeal, although the Mahatma himself
allowed it to be heavily coloured by the narrow cult of nationalism. The lesson of the mart yrdom of the Mahatma is that
the noblest core of his message could not be reconciled with the intolerant cult of nationalism, which he also preached.
Unfortunately this contradiction in his ideas and ideals was not realised by the Mahatma himself until the last days of
his life. During that period, he was. a disillusioned soul, full of sorrow, struggling bravely against the growing feeling of
frustration with an apparently stout optimism based on the sand of an archaic faith.
The doctrine of non-violence represented an effort to introduce morality in political practice. But iii the Mahatma,
the politician often got the better of the moralist. Personally he may never have deviated from his principles, or faith, as
he preferred to call it. Yet, he allowed, or condoned, compromise in the political practice and personal conduct of his
followers. Even that he did not do willingly. His codes of morality appeared so very dogmatic to others that they often could
not observe them without surrendering judgment. Except in some quaint details, the moral codes preached by the Mahatma
are unobjectionable. As a moralist, be followed the footprints of the religious preachers of the past; and therefore his codes
were bound to appear dogmatic in the rationalist atmosphere of our time. Instead of rejecting them on the specious plea of
practical political pragmatism, one should provide them with a secular and rationalist sanction. Utilitarianism is not the only
alternative to intuitional or transcendental morality.
The implication of the doctrine of non-violence is the moral dictum that the end does not justify the means. That is
the core of the Mahatma's message—which is not compatible with power-politics. The Mahatma wanted to purify politics;
that can be done only by raising political practice above the vulgar level of a scramble for power. But for this, nationalist
India today would not be intoxicated with the idea of having a strong army—an idea which logically spells the danger of
war. in the atmosphere of this intoxication, it is blasphemous to pledge unswerving loyalty to the message of non-violence
and peace preached by the Mahatma.
Nationalism, heavily tainted by Hindu orthodoxy, bred Muslim communalism. Therefore, the ideal of Hindu-Muslim
unity, placed before the country by the Mahatma. could not be attained. The failure in this respect must have been the
greatest blow for the Mahatma. During his last days, he staked his life for restoring communal harmony. lie failed. he failed,
smaller men with less lofty motive will not succeed. Nationalism is beading towards its nemesis. The cosmopolitan (non-
communal) and humanist message of the Mahatma was never so urgently needed by India as today. Caught in the vicious
circle of the contradiction of his ideas and ideals, the Mahatma could not sec the limitation of nationalism before it was too
late. Will his martyr-doom open the eyes of his followers? Will they know how to honour his sacred memory? That can be
done by acting according to his message, more boldly than he dared himself.
The Mahatma's place of honour in history will not be that of a patron-saint of nationalism which, in power, is bound
to go against the moral and humanist essence of his message. He will be remembered for having vaguely visualized a
humanist idea, while still groping in the twilight of mediaevalism. Primarily a religious man he set before his followers
high ideals which could not possibly be attained unless the human spirit broke out of the charmed circle of the religious
mode of thought. Therefore, like all other religious prophets of morality, peace and human brotherhood, the Mahatma was
destined to fail in his mission. Communal harmony is not possible in the mediaeval atmosphere of religious orthodoxy
and fanaticism. The ideal of individual liberty is precluded by nationalism, which is a to tahtarian cult. In the absence of
individual freedom, humanism is an unattainable idea, The inspiring vision of a peaceful human brotherhood is bound to
be eclipsed by the ambition of making the nation great, prosperous and powerful. It would be idle to pledge loyalty to the
message of the Mahatma unless it meant realization of its contradictions and an intelligent resolve to place the moral and
humanist core of his teachings above the carnal cult of nationalism and power-politics. Otherwise, the Mahatma will have
—Independent India February 8, 1948