“I shall be content to be written down an impostor if my lips utter a word of anger or abuse against my assailant at the last moment.”—Mahatma Gandhi.
Between 5.10 and 5.30 p.m. on January 30, 1948, as Mahatma Gandhi was heading for the daily public prayer session at Birla House, his path was blocked by a young man who greeted the Mahatma “Namaste Bapu” with folded hands, then pushed his aid Manu out of his way and before anybody in the crowd could realize what was happening, fired 3 shots at Gandhiji at point-blank range. Bapu, the messiah of non-violence succumbed to gunshots immediately. India sunk into a time of mourning and the tributes poured in from around the world. Let’s see how the world paid tributes to this apostle of peace and non-violence.
A leader of his people, unsupported by only outward authority; a politician whose success rests not upon craft nor mastery of technical devices, but simply on the convincing power of his personality; a victorious fighter who has always scorned the use of force; a man of wisdom and humility, armed with resolve and inflexible consistency, who has devoted all his strength to the uplifting of his people and the betterment of their lot; a man who has confronted the brutality of Europe with the dignity of the simple human being, and thus at all times risen superior.
Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.
George Bernard Shaw*
It shows how dangerous it is to be too good.
Pearl S. Buck, Pulitzer prize winning writer
He was right, he knew he was right. We all knew that he was right. The man who killed him knew he was right.
Just an old man in a loin cloth in distant India. Yet when he died, humanity wept.
Earl Mountbatten, the first Governor-General of independent India
Gandhiji’s death is truly a loss to mankind which sorely needs the living light of those ideals of love and tolerance for which he strove and died. In her hour of deep sorrow India is proud to have given to the world a man of his imperishable renown and is confident that his example will be a source of inspiration and strength in the fulfilment of her destiny…
India, indeed the world, will not see the like of him again, perhaps, for centuries.
Our one consolation in this hour of unparalleled grief is that his life of truth, tolerance and love towards his fellows may inspire our troubled world to save itself by following his noble example. Mahatma Gandhi will go down in history on par with Buddha and Jesus Christ.
M. A. Jinnah, Father of Pakistan
Gandhi died in the discharge of the duty in which he believed. His tragic death, however much we may deplore it and however much we may condemn the murderer, was a noble death, for he died in the discharge of his duty.
Liaquat Ali Khan, the fist Prime Minister of Pakistan
His removal from the stage of Indian politics at this juncture is an irreparable loss. His great effort for the restoration of communal harmony will be remembered with gratitude by all lovers of peace and goodwill. We earnestly hope that his efforts for communal harmony – which he had foremost in his heart just before his tragic death – will be crowned with success.
General Douglas Macarthur, C-in-C, Allied forces in Japan
Nothing more revolting has occurred in history of modern world than the senseless assassination of this venerable man. That he should die by violence is one of those bitter anachronisms that seem to refute all logic. Gandhiji was one of those prophets who lived far ahead of the times.
President Truman, USA
Gandhi was great Indian nationalist, but at the same time he was a leader of international stature. His teachings and actions have left a deep impression on millions of people. As a teacher and leader, his influence made itself felt not only in India, but everywhere in the world and his death brings great sorrow to all peace loving people. Another giant among men has fallen in the cause of brotherhood and peace. I know that the people of Asia will be inspired by his tragic death to strive with increased determination to achieve the goals of cooperation and mutual trust for which the Mahatma has now given his life.
Frans Van Cauwelaert, President of the Belgian Chamber of Deputies
His death has plunged in a personal mourning all men who have not ceased to believe in the power of the spirit and the radiance of godliness. Let this tragic death continue to serve his noble dream of human fraternity.
His Majesty, the King
The Queen and I are deeply shocked by the death of Mr. Gandhi. Will you please convey to the people of India our sincere sympathy in the irreparable loss which they, and indeed mankind, have sufferred.
Resolution of the Council of Republic of France
May the memory of the Apostle of India inspire men of all races in their march towards liberty and justice and may the idea of mutual understanding prevail over violence and fatalism.
C. Rajagopalachari, the last Governor General of India
Bharatmata is writhing in anguish and pain over the loss. No man loved Bharatmata and Indians more than Mahatma Gandhi. Let the tragedy give the people of India the tune, reason, rhyme and melody for the history of their future. I pray that the history of India might be written with the rhythm and tune of the grief that Bharatmata had felt when Mahatma Gandhi fell.
No one could die a more glorious death than Mahatma Gandhi. He was going to the seat of his prayer to speak to his Rama. He did not die in the bed calling for hot water, doctors or nurses. He did not die after mumbling incoherent words in the sick bed. He died standing, not even sitting down, Rama was too eager to take him even before he could reach the seat of his prayer.
When Socrates died for his views and Christ for his faith, they believed that they would not get another example like that.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India
The light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere.
Great men and eminent men have monuments in bronze and marble set up for them, but this man of divine fire managed in his life-time to become enmeshed in millions and millions of hearts so that all of us became somewhat of the stuff that he was made of, though to an infinitely lesser degree. He spread out over India not in places only, or in select places, or in assemblies, but in every hamlet and hurt of the lowly and those who suffer. He lives in the hearts of millions of and he will live for immortal ages.
…He has gone, an all over India there is a feeling of having been left desolate and forlorn. All of sense that feeling, and I do not know when we shall be able to get rid of it, and yet together with that feeling there is also a feeling of proud thanksgiving that it has been given to us of this generation to be associated with this mighty person. In ages to come, centuries and many millenniums after us, people will think of this generation when this man of God trod the earth and will think of is who, however small, could also follow his path and probably tread on that holy ground where his feet had been. Let us be worthy of him. Let us always be so.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Deputy first Prime Minister of India
For even though his mortal frame will turn into ashes tomorrow, at 4.00 pm, Gandhiji’s imperishable teachings will abide with us. I even feel that Gandhiji’s immortal spirit is still hovering over us and will continue to watch over the nation’s destiny in future also. The mad youth who killed him was wrong if he thought thereby he was destroying his noble mission. Perhaps God wanted Gandhiji’s mission to fulfill and prosper through his death.
I am sure Gandhiji’s supreme sacrifice will wake up the conscience of our countrymen and evoke a higher response in the heart of every Indian. I hope and pray that it may be given to us to complete Gandhiji’s mission. At this solemn moment, no one of us can afford to waver or lose his or her heart. Let us all stand united and bravely face the national disaster that has overtaken us. Let us all solemnly pledge ourselves afresh to Gandhiji’s teachings and ideals.
Mrs Sarojini Naidu, a veteran Freedom Fighter
Far greater than all the warriors who led the armies to battle was this little man, the bravest, the most tried friend of all
Dr.Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India
Can we ever dream that Gandhiji was bringing harm to the Hindus or to their religion? Was it ever possible that this liberator of the Hindu community and emancipator of the low and downtrodden could even think of doing so? But men with narrow minds and limited vision who do not understand the core of Hindu Dharma thought it otherwise and the present calamity is a direct result of such an outlook.
Dr. S Radhakrishnan, the first Vice-President of India
I am shocked beyond words at this fatal attack on Gandhiji. The incredible, the inconceivable, has happened. That this purest, most elevating, most inspiring man of our age should have suffered by a madman’s anger shows that we have not improved since the days of Socrates, who had to drink hemlock, of Jesus, who was put on the cross.
Mahatma Gandhi, the lonely symbol of vanishing past, is no more. We have killed his body but the light in him, which is from the divine flame of Truth and Love, cannot be put out.
Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherji, the Minister for Industry and Supply
The light that illuminated our motherland and indeed the world amidst darkness and sorrow has suddenly gone out. The passing away of Mahatma Gandhi is the most stunning blow to that could fall on India. That he who made India free and self-reliant, a friend of and enemy of none, loved and respected by millions, should fall at the hands of an assassin, one of his own community and countrymen, is a matter of deepest shame and tragedy. He is of those whose influence never dies and indeed shines more and more with the passage of time.
Jayprakash Narayan, hero of Quit India Movement
It is not the time to speak as it is an occasion of mourning. Let us weep. Let the nation weep and wipe off from its soul the stain of the innocent blood of the greatest man the world has ever produced.
G. D. Birla, the leading Indian businessman
Seldom, I think, human history records of one individual was at once a warrior, a prophet and a saint and yet deeply humble and intensely human.
Devdas Gandhi, the youngest son of Gandhiji
During the past few months that he was in Delhi it was the privilege of my three year old boy to be lovingly fondled by Bapu. I was a complete back number and once recently had told me that he missed Bapu more than me whenever he failed to turn up at Birla house. The little urchin now draws renewed tears from our eyes when he pouts his lips in imitation of the way his grandfather greeted him. And yet Gandhiji’s interest in the narrow domestic circle was of the meagerest, and I had long ceased to look upon him as my father in any possessive sense. He was to me a saint as much as to any of you and I feel and see the void exactly as you do.
I, therefore, view the disaster with the detachment of one living in the North Pole and having ties neither of blood nor of race with the Great One of whose loss we are as yet but dimly aware.
*On being asked the impression of Gandhi, Shaw replied, “Impressions of Gandhi? You might well ask for someone’s impression of the Himalayas!”