“It is necessary for every person who stands for progress to criticize every tenet of old beliefs.”
These are the words from the great revolutionary and freedom fighter of India Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
Indian has got the heritage of freedom fighters which make us proud whenever we talk about India’s legacy. Many freedom fighters sacrificed their lives in order get the freedom and martyr Bhagat Singh is one of them. Bhagat is one of the sons of Indian soil who fought till his last breath.
Popularly referred as Shaheed-e-Azam, Bhagat Singh was born on 28 September 1907 in Banga village, Lyallpur district(now in Pakistan).
Let’s go through what led Bhagat Singh changing from a strong believer in God into an atheist. Here are some thoughts of Bhagat from his book ‘Why I Am an Atheist’
In the Non-cooperation days, I got admission to the National College. During my stay in this college, I began thinking over all the religious polemics such that I grew skeptical about the existence of God. In spite of this fact I can say that my belief in God was firm and strong. I grew a beard and ‘Kais’ (long head of hair as a Sikh religious custom). In spite of this, I could not convince myself of the efficacy of the Sikh religion or any religion at all, for that matter. But I had an unswerving, unwavering belief in God.
An incessant desire to study filled my heart. ‘Study more and more’, said I to myself so that I might be able to face the arguments of my opponents. ‘Study’ to support your point of view with convincing arguments. And I began to study in a serious manner. My previous beliefs and convictions underwent a radical change. The romance of militancy dominated our predecessors; now serious ideas ousted this way of thinking. No more mysticism! No more blind faith! Now realism was our mode of thinking. At times of terrible necessity, we can resort to extreme methods, but violence produces opposite results in mass movements. I have talked much about our methods.
The most important thing was a clear conception of our ideology for which we were waging a long struggle. As there was no election activity going on, I got ample opportunity to study various ideas propounded by various writers. I studied Bakunin, the anarchist leader. I read a few books of Marx, the father of Communism. I also read Lenin and Trotsky and many other writers who successfully carried out revolutions in their countries. All of them were atheists. The ideas contained in Bakunin’s ‘God and State’ seem inconclusive, but it is an interesting book. After that, I came across a book ‘Common Sense’ by Nirlamba Swami. His point of view was a sort of mystical atheism. I developed more interest in this subject. By the end of 1926, I was convinced that the belief in an Almighty, Supreme Being who created, guided and controlled the universe had no sound foundations. I began discussions on this subject with my friends. I had openly declared myself an atheist.
I think that any man who has some reasoning power always tries to understand the life and people around him with the help of this faculty. Where concrete proofs are lacking, [mystical] philosophy creeps in. As I have indicated, one of my revolutionary friends used to say that “philosophy is the outcome of human weakness.” Our ancestors had the leisure to solve 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. Hence we find wide differences in the fundamentals of various religious creeds. Sometimes they take very antagonistic and conflicting forms. We find differences in Oriental and Occidental philosophies.
There are differences even amongst various schools of thoughts in each hemisphere. In Asian religions, the Muslim religion is completely incompatible with the Hindu faith. In India itself, Buddhism and Jainism are sometimes quite separate from Brahmanism. Then in Brahmanism itself, we find two conflicting sects: Aarya Samaj and Snatan Dheram. Charwak is yet another independent thinker of the past ages. He challenged the Authority of God. All these faiths differ on many fundamental questions, but each of them claims to be the only true religion. This is the root of the evil. Instead of developing the ideas and experiments of ancient thinkers, thus providing ourselves with the ideological weapon for the future struggle, – lethargic, idle, fanatical as we are – we cling to orthodox religion and in this way reduce human awakening to a stagnant pool.
It is necessary for every person who stands for progress to criticise every tenet of old beliefs. Item by item he has to challenge the efficacy of old faith. He has to analyze and understand all the details. If after rigorous reasoning, one is led to believe in any theory of philosophy, his faith is appreciated. His reasoning may be mistaken and even fallacious. But there is a chance that he will be corrected because Reason is the guiding principle of his life. But belief, I should say blind belief is disastrous. It deprives a man of his understanding of power and makes him reactionary.
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. God, with his whimsical laws and parental generosity, was painted with variegated colors of imagination. He was used as a deterrent factor when his fury and his laws were repeatedly propagated so that man might not become a danger to society. He was the cry of the distressed soul for he was believed to stand as father and mother, sister and brother, brother and friend when in time of distress a man was left alone and helpless. He was Almighty and could do anything. The idea of God is helpful to a man in distress.