Pune: Sixty years ago, Nathuram Godse shot dead Mahatma Gandhi. The killer's legacy, however, continues to live on.
Today, the Godse cult is limited to a few family members who believe that Nathuram has never been properly understood.
Nathuram Godse was a zealot, a deeply religious ‘chitpavan brahmin’ from Maharashtra.
Godse was a close associate of V D Savarkar of the Hindu Mahasabha and author of Hindutva, and always claimed that in shooting Gandhi, he had acted out of love for ‘akhand Bharat’ or undivided India. Godse hated the Congress and hated the Partition of India. Above all, he detested Gandhi - the so-called saint who had let his country be divided.
On January 30, at 5.17 pm in Birla House in Delhi, Nathuram Godse pulled the trigger on Gandhi. He was arrested almost immediately and subsequently hanged.
Nathuram's ideology lives today only among a small group of family and friends who gather every year, to sit around an urn of his ashes and pay homage to modern India's most reviled assassin.
Nana Godse is Nathuram's nephew and Himani Savarkar his niece. One is a small-time builder in Pune, the other tried her hand at a political career without success, although she plans to contest elections in 2009.
They say they are conscious that they are outsiders, always treated with suspicion, afraid to speak their minds and living in the constant shadow of being related to modern India's greatest villain.
Nana Godse read out from his uncle’s will:
"Till the day the Indus does not flow in Hindustan, my ashes shall remain like this and the day the Indus flows in Hindustan again, that day my ashes will be submerged in its waters".
In 1998, the Marathi play Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy apparently ran to packed houses when it was staged in Mumbai but was closed down after protests.
The Maharashtra and Kerala governments have even banned the book. The Congress said the play was a terrible attempt to paint Godse as a hero.
After January 30, 1948, the killer became so repugnant that mainstream Indians today think of Godse as evil incarnate.
Yet in some familiar chants, particularly those of the Shiv Sena, and in certain political slogans (as in those of the VHP), one can still hear the voice of Nathuram Godse.