Nathuram Godse, the man who killed Mahatma Gandhi, was raised by his parents as a girl in his childhood and was believed to have oracular powers, says a book.
“As a child, his (Nathuram’s) parents and brothers believed that he possessed oracular powers. He would sit before the family goddess, staring fixedly at a spot of soot smeared in the exact centre of a copper tray, and soon fall into a trance,” writes Manohar Malgaonkar in The Men Who Killed Gandhi.
“While in the trance, he would see some figures or writing in the black spot before him, much as a crystal-gazer sees in his glass ball. Then one or other member of the family would ask him questions, his answers were those believed to be those of the goddess, who spoke through his mouth,” writes 94-year-old Malgaonkar.
The new edition of the book, first published in 1978, carries hitherto unpublished photographs and documents related to Gandhi’s assassination.
Mulgaonkar says that psychologists may find some explanation for Nathuram’s warped mental processes in the fact that he was brought up as a girl. His left nostril was pierced to take a nose ring, he writes.
Nathuram was born into an orthodox Brahmin family which came from Uksan, a nondescript village located near the Bombay-Poona railway line. His father, Vinayak Godse, worked in the Postal Department. Vinayak’s first child was a boy and the second a girl.
The son died before he was two years old. Two more sons died in their infancy. This was regarded as a warning: “their male children bore a curse”, the book says. “One remedy, which had often proved effective, lay in offering to bring up the next boy as though he was a girl. That might appease the Fates.”
Vinayak and his wife decided that the next child, if it were a boy, would be brought up as though he was a girl.
Incidentally, the next child was a boy, born on May 19, 1910. His parents began to call him Nathuram or ‘Ram who wears a nose ring’ and the name stuck,” Malgaonkar writes.