The book “Why I Am An Atheist” is actually an essay by the legendary Bhagat Singh (the fortunate, yet the most unfortunate revolutionary)

Bhagat Singh was born in 1907 in erstwhile Punjab province (undivided India). His parents were also a part of the freedom struggle, so Bhagat Singh was exposed to these ideas quite early in life and was totally gripped by patriotic fervor. As his Grandfather was an Arya Samajist, he completed his schooling at DAV High School and then joined National College in Lahore (at just the age of 15) for further studies. He was inclined towards socialism and founded the Naujawan Bharat Sabha in March 1926 on the pattern of youth organizations in Italy inspired by Mazzini and Garibaldi. He was also a part of the Hindustan Republican Association along with Chandrashekhar Azad, Ramprasad Bismil, and others. He was arrested for the first time in 1927 in a framed case. He joined Lala Lajpat Rai in the protest against Simon Commission in 1928, after which Lala Ji succumbed to the injuries of Lathi’s strokes by the British. This angered Bhagat and his comrades, who assassinated Saunders in a fit of rage and vendetta.

Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt threw harmless bombs and pamphlets inside the Central Legislative Assembly in protest against Public Safety Bill and Trade Disputes Act. Their intent was not to harm anyone but to make the deaf hear as Bhagat believed that ‘It takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear. The British used this opportunity to frame charges against him, Sukhdev, and Rajguru in the Saunders murder case. Thus ended the life of the most extraordinary revolutionary, who ever walked on Indian soil, on 23rd March 1931 when he was hanged till death by the Britishers.

Summary of the Essay:-

Bhagat Singh penned this essay in Lahore Central Jail in 1930, in response to his friends who presumed that he had turned atheist due to his vanity (undue pride in oneself).

He claimed to be a believer in his childhood days as his family influence was such. His Grandfather was an Arya Samajist and an Arya Samajist can be anything but an atheist. So he joined the DAV School (Lahore) where his mornings would start via the chanting of the various mantras including the Gayatri Mantra. His father too was a devotee although a liberal one.

In the days of the Non-Cooperation Movement, he joined the National College from where he
began to think rationally and was inclined toward Marxist socialism. He also read books of several revolutionaries like Sachindra Nath Sanyal’s Bandi Jeevan and the like, who vehemently praised the Lord. Other comrades in his party (HRA) were also theists. But after reading the books and philosophies of various foreign / Indian socialist thinkers, by 1926 he began refuting the existence of an omnipotent and omnipresent almighty who controlled all the strings of life on earth. So his question to his religious friends and the like was that how could a believer turn into an atheist just out of vanity?

He figured 2 possibilities – Firstly, a man deems himself to have been bestowed with Godly
qualities, and secondly, he declares himself to be God. But in both cases, he is a believer.

Bhagat Singh recalls his days in jail in 1927 and the police officials insisted he offers prayers to the Almighty to which he refused, as he was already an atheist. It wasn’t an easy task to stand up to the test. He accepted the fact that belief softens hardships as one finds a place to get solace. To stand upon one’s own feet amidst storms and hurricanes ought to be tough but Bhagat stood the test of time. He argues that in such testing times, vanity, if any, shall evaporate and one needs some other inner strength to defy general faith. Bhagat knew that anyone who dares to question the already set faith of our forefathers ought to be treated as a renegade and shall be decried as vainglorious. But being a revolutionary, criticism of old beliefs and independent thinking were 2 indispensable qualities ingrained in him. He believed that any man who stands up for progress and emancipation of human suffering has to be critical and challenge every item of the old faith and build his belief on the bedrock of rationalism and considerable reasoning. Bhagat said – “mere faith and blind faith is dangerous, it dulls the brain and makes a man reactionary.”

But such realist philosophy needs to stand the onslaught of reason, or else it crumbles down. Bhagat refuted the ideas of birth and rebirth. Not only this, but he also didn’t believe that all living creations of nature are the creations of the Almighty. He supported his refusal by quitting scientifically proven theories of evolution by Charles Darwin and others.

He believed that it was mankind who created the presence of an omnipresent and omnipotent Almighty in human brains to serve their own purpose. Having realized that a man has limitations, weaknesses, and shortcomings, God was brought into imaginary existence to encourage him to face situations boldly, find solace in times of distress and loneliness and restrain him from becoming a danger to society. Bhagat, convinced by his reasons and belief, didn’t pray even in his last days, as he thought that to be an act of degradation, demoralization, and cowardice on his part to pray for selfish motives.

Such extraordinary and unshaken belief in one’s own reasons and rationalism can be anything but vanity.

Old orders should change, always and ever, yielding place to new, so that one good order may not corrupt the world.

~Bhagat Singh

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