Dr. Koenraad Elst was born in Leuven, Belgium, into a Flemish (i.e. Dutch-speaking Belgian) Catholic family. He graduated in Philosophy, Chinese Studies and Indo-Iranian Studies at the Catholic University of Leuven. During a stay at the Benares Hindu University, he discovered India's communal problem and wrote his first book about the budding Ayodhya conflict. While establishing himself as a columnist for a number of Belgian and Indian papers, he frequently returned to India to study various aspects of its ethno-religio-political configuration and interviewed Hindu and other leaders and thinkers. His research on the ideological development of Hindu revivalism earned him his Ph.D. in Leuven in 1998. He has also published about multiculturalism, language policy issues, ancient Chinese history and philosophy, comparative religion, and the Aryan invasion debate.2016 1-4955-04440-9
It is commonly known that Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead in 1948 by a Hindu militant, only half a year after India had both gained her independence and lost almost a quarter of her territory to the newly-founded Islamic state of Pakistan. Less well-known is assassin Nathuram Godse’s motive. Until now, no publication has dealt with this question except for the naked text of Godse’s own speech in his defense, pronounced during his trial. It didn’t save him from the hangman, but still contains a substantive argumentation against the facile glorification of the Mahatma.
Dr. Elst compares Godse’s case against Gandhi with criticisms voiced in wider circles, and with historical data known at the time or brought to light since. While the Mahatma was extolled by the Hindu masses, political leaders of divergent persuasions who had to deal with him tended to be less enthusiastic, and their views would have become the received wisdom if he hadn’t been assassinated. Yet, the author also presents some new arguments in Gandhi’s defense from unexpected quarters.