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Why am I an Atheist – Bhagat Singh (1907-1931) – Part 1

Why am I an Atheist - Bhagat Singh (1907-1931)

There have been various articles, essays and speeches delivered by some of the most formidable men and women in the past; some of them were motivational, some of them were inspirational, but how many of them were just an expression of what they firmly believed in, especially when there was a probability of their belief being criticized and them being labelled with the worst of possible epithets. One such piece written from the gallows of prison was of the person worthy of being one of the most admired youth-icons of India, Bhagat Singh, or admirably known as Shaheed Bhagat Singh.  

The only possible information commonly known to all is that he was a young freedom fighter who died for throwing bombs at an assembly and for killing a police officer, atleast that’s what the history books of Indian education system could afford to let us know. Its atleast better than certain books of history of our very own education, labelling him a militant or a terrorist, then again that’s something the government has to look into. The commoners had to resort to movies to know more about him, and there 3-4 already made on him.

Apart from his freedom struggle heroics and his famous 114-day hunger strike in the prison, what is rarely known about him is that, he was an atheist, many of his colleagues and friends accused this mindset of his to his “vanity or pride” earned from his new found fame. Bhagat Singh being blunt honest as he has always been, replied with an essay months before his hanging to explain why he believed in having no belief in god, aptly titled “Why am I an atheist”

The beauty of this piece was that in spite of this being a personal opinion being expressed on a public platform, it shows the capacity to resonate with many minds. Reason leads to Resonation, is what this essay is an embodiment of. This piece forces many minds theists/atheists to reason, to question their beliefs as to why they believe what they believe in. It encourages to criticize everything that is orthodox and unreasonable anything that leads to developing blind faith.

To begin the essay with Bhagat Singh wastes no time in explaining the difference between vanity and pride and how possessing either cannot hinder one’s faith in god.  He narrates as to he too was a theist once, during his school and college days, although he could never really connect with the doctrines of the religion he was born into or the other religions for that matter, but he did believe in the concept of god.

Then when his journey began as a comrade of a Revolutionary Party, he came across people who were theists and religious, he came across people who didn’t really relate themselves to the concept of praying but none of them dared to question the existence of god.

Then came the time for him to take charge and have all the responsibility over his shoulders, it was a period of crisis, the only thing that helped him was studying, he studied about numerous revolutionaries to understand their ideas and how he had to strengthen his arguments and his capacity to reason. No blind faith, no more mysticism, was his new ideology, this was the period when he started accepting atheism as his new belief.

Having a disbelief of something in its own way is like having a belief, and like many beliefs this belief too was tested, when he was arrested on bombing case on false grounds he faced the test of whether he would pray for an escape from hanging or not, and eventually he came out successful which strengthened his belief further.

“’Belief’ softens the hardships, even can make them pleasant. In God man can find very strong consolation and support. Without Him, the man has to depend upon himself. To stand upon one’s own legs amid storms and hurricanes is not a child’s play. At such testing moments, vanity, if any, evaporates, and man cannot dare to defy the general beliefs, if he does, then we must conclude that he has got certain other strength than mere vanity. “

From the above excerpt and to how he has known to live his life, it does show that he was a man of exquisite strength.

To know the complete story, wait for the next post on SIBM Hyderabad Blog

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