Showing posts with label Bhagat Singh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bhagat Singh. Show all posts

Thursday, October 5, 2023


If you are from India, you will know Bihar Government released the Caste Census Report last Sunday (2nd October). Before I lose my readers who are disinterested in politics, let me quickly tell them this Blog is not a commentary on the census report. Thanks for not scrolling away.

In this report, there was interesting data on ATHEISTS. The census report mentions a very small number of 2,146 atheists in a state of 137 million people.

This drew my attention to Shaheed Bhagat Singh's famous essay WHY I AM AN ATHEIST? which he wrote in a jail in Lahore, during his last days while waiting for the execution of his death sentence. So, I picked up the book from my bookshelf and indulged myself in reading it.

Once again if you are from India, Bhagat Singh needs no introduction. For the wider audience, Bhagat Singh is one of the most adored and loved Indian revolutionary and Freedom Fighter, a Youth Icon (in fact with time, his ideas grow more relevant). He was martyred at the young age of just 23 years but his inspired a whole new generation of freedom fighters and Indian freedom movement against the British Raj.

Coming back to Bhagat Singh's writing WHY I AM AN ATHEIST?

His writing is divided into two parts:

In the first part, he puts forth his arguments and reasons against those who attribute his Atheism to arrogance, pride, and vanity.

In the second part, he puts forth his arguments and reasons Why he became an Atheist.

Part 1:

Bhagat Singh was accused of becoming proud, arrogant, and full of vanity after he was shot to fame in the Delhi bombing and Lahore conspiracy cases. So he writes, that's not true. He was raised as a believer, offering morning and evening prayers and reciting mantras, by his father who was an Arya Samaji. He practiced Sikhism all through his elementary education and at D.A.V. College in Lahore.

He had started to think deeply about religion, about God during his college days overlapping the Non-Cooperation movement, much before the Delhi bombing and Lahore conspiracy cases.

Even when he joined the Revolutionary Party, he met a leader comrade Sachindara Nath Sanyal (he later served life imprisonment in connection with the Karachi conspiracy case). He was a Believer and his book Bandi Jivan has chapters in the Glory of God.

The Kakory martyrs Ram Prashad Bismal was an Arya Samaji and Rajan Lahiri recited hymns from Upanishads and Bhagwat Gita.

There was only one person he met in the revolutionary party who was Anti-religious (against organized religion) but did not deny the existence of GOD.

Bhagat Singh concludes by saying his Atheism is not due to arrogance or vanity. This is a development over a while after thinking long and deep on this matter. He grew skeptical by seeing the degraded values of society and eventually, he rejected the belief in the existence of an Omnipresent, all-powerful, all-knowing God.


Bhagat Singh mentions his early days when he joined the Revolutionary Party. He says, during those early days I was just a follower. Our party faced a lot of opposition pressure and we were not growing into a mass movement. These experiences seeded in him, a strong desire to study (read). He had a paradigm shift from Romance of Militancy to Realism in Thinking. He had a growing realization violence produces opposite results in a mass movement and that violence is to be practiced only in extreme situations. So he emerged himself into developing a clear conception and Ideology.

He studied Bakunin's God and State, Nirlamba Swami's Common Sense, and books written by Karl Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky. In the year 1926, he publicly declared to be an Atheist (just a small digress, Bhagat Singh's martyrdom day is 23rd March 1931 at the age of 23 years).

He does acknowledge that belief makes it easier to go through hardships. A man finds support, encouragement, and consolation in God.

He mentions being an Atheist is not an easy choice, because If no belief, there is no alternative but to be Self-dependant (self-reliant). He elaborates on his situation, now that his death sentence is confirmed and he is waiting for its execution in jail, he is missing out on finding Solace in God and he has no Hopes to entertain himself of a rebirth into a better life or an afterlife spent in heaven.

Despite this mental agony, he is firm in his conviction and he says, "A short life of struggle with no such magnificent end shall itself be my reward. I sacrificed my life for the cause of Freedom."

He calls himself a Realistic man, who can overpower circumstantial pain with Reason. Merciless criticism and Independent Thinking are the two necessary traits of Revolutionary Thinking. As Mahatma Gandhiji is great, he is above criticism, as he has risen above, all that he says in the field of politics, religion, and Ethics is right. You agree or not, it is binding upon you to take it as truth. This is not constructive thinking. We do not leap forward, we go many steps back.

Bhagat Singh makes a commentary on religion. He says, our human ancestors spent time solving the mysteries of the world, its past, its present, and its future, its whys, and its wherefores, but having been terribly short of direct proofs, every one of them tried to solve the problem in his own way. He mentions this lack of proof and reliance on philosophy makes our religions antagonistic and conflicting with each other. The claim of only one true religion is the root of all evil.

Instead of developing the ideas and experiments of ancient thinkers, we are making ideological weapons for future struggle. We are being lethargic, idle, and fanatical as we cling to orthodox religion and in this way, we are reducing human awakening to a stagnant pool.

He calls for action to every person who stands for Progress to Reason, because reason is the guiding principle of life and blind belief deprives one of understanding. He clarifies he is not advocating countering beliefs with beliefs, but rather challenging the efficacy of old beliefs with sound arguments and upholding the time-tested old beliefs which pass the litmus test of reasoning and build upon them further with new ideas to construct a new philosophy.

He ends his thought-provoking essay with questions for the Theists:

Why an Almighty, Omnipresent, Omniscient God create a world of woe, grief, and countless miseries and not of peace?

Nero burnt Rome, Genghis Khan killed thousands, and millions of people dying of hunger in slums. Can you say, "All is well in God's Kingdom?" Why so?

Why the Omnipotent God does not hold a man back when he is about to commit a sin or offense? After all, it's a child's play for God. Why does he have to wait to punish them in their afterlife or next birth and why do the poor and unfortunate have to suffer in their existence today?

Why does God not infuse humanistic sentiments into the minds of the Britishers so that they may willingly leave India? Why he does not fill the hearts of all capitalist classes with altruistic humanism which will free the whole laboring humanity from the shackles of money?

Bhagat Singh concludes by writing, as regards the origin of God, my thought is that man created God in his imagination when he realized his weaknesses, limitations, and shortcomings. In this way he got the courage to face all the trying circumstances and to meet all dangers that might occur in his life and also to restrain his outbursts in prosperity and affluence.

Being realistic comes at a cost, he has to throw his faith aside and face all adversaries with courage and valour. This is exactly my state of mind. As Bhagat Singh waits for his capital punishment, he writes "I don't think that by strengthening my belief in God and by offering prayers to Him, I can bring improvement in my situation, not can I further deteriorate it."

One of my friends asked me to pray during these last days of my life. I said, "No, dear sir, Never shall it happen. I consider it to be an act of degradation and demoralisation. For such petty selfish motives, I shall never pray." Readers and friends, is it vanity? If it is, I stand for it.” – Yours, Bhagat Singh