Sunday, November 23, 2014

Atheism and India (Part-2 )

Freedom of speech is the greatest enemy of orthodoxy. In many countries it is restricted including India. In fact the first amendment in the constitution diluted the freedom of speech on the contrary in US; the first amendment in way gave absolute freedom of speech! Freedom of speech should not be diluted just because someone’s feeling is hurt. It is under this camouflage the religious institution tries to supress free thoughts.

But moving on, this blog is about atheism and in a way tries to look at dharmic and abrahamic religions. In many ways I feel that ‘’atheism’’ as such in India, is more or less a borrowed word from the west. In US in spite of having greater freedom of speech, you will find being a non-believer will not let you attain great heights except in the field of science. On the contrary in India being a non-believer will create so much fuss. Pt Nehru was an agnostic. Even today you can find a number of agnostic or atheist politicians in India. This may not be so in US or many European countries. (List of famous atheists or agnostic Indians is provided at the end of this blog). Religion can be broadly categorized into Dharmic (i.e Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism) and Abrahamic (i.e. Islam, Christianity and Judaism). All the religion fundamentally differs from each other.

In his book ‘’The God delusion’’ Richard Dawkins puts forward different forms of belief. There are basically two kinds of believers; one is who believes that God interferes in their day to day activities and by praying to God they can alter God’s decision. I strongly feel that if this is the case then it would generate praying inflation as more and more people are praying to God for limited resource! (You can read here
The second category of people is those who feel that the God created the world but usually don’t mess with its own rules and regulation. The second category people sometimes contain even scientists. The Human Genome project in US was headed by scientist who believed that earth was just 10000 years old and God created it while the ISRO chairman prefers to visit temple to pray for the success of mission. Now, it is totally correct that every individual has the right to his belief. But the question here arises why do they feel so? I mean a scientist heading the Human Genome project is very versed in the theory of evolution and would have certainly read about the Big Bang Theory, and then what makes him belief so? Similarly, the ISRO chief knows the probability of success of his mission depends how well they have predicted the various stages of their mission, I think praying can certainly cannot alter the probability of the success of the mission.

Like I said earlier, in India being non-believers didn’t raise any eyebrow. Even the word ‘’nastik’’ in hindi means ‘those who don’t believe in Ved’. Here also you will find that there is no question of God. Rishi ‘Charvak’ questioned the very existence of God (6th century BCE), yet he was respected and his teachings still continued. Gautam Buddh was agnostic. He questioned the religious practices. Irony is that he was made God and his disciples even formed two different sects namely Hinayay and Mahanay! Mahavir Jain too was considered agnostic.

The famous scientist Carl Sagan in a documentary that he hosted showed that the various God in Hinduism namely Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh actually depicts the cosmic cycle. By using human symbols these story is being told since many generation. (Link is provided at the end of this blog). I personally tried to find out how Carl Sagan concluded it but I couldn’t find it. I would be happy if anyone reading this post posts the link or book in the comment section. Even the great epic of Ramanyan and Mahabharat has different versions. The counterpart of Ved is Avesta of Iran. Even the importance of some God and Goddesses have decreased and increased based on the then political scenario. You can call it an irony that the President of Hindu Mahasabha (Vinayak Damodar Savarkar) was an atheist yet his disciples fight in the name of religion!

Consumerism and the necessity to find shortcut to success has created a room to market various God men. Santa Claus was not present in todays until late 19th century! Battles have shaped the world and of course winners write history. Had Ashok lost the Kaling war history would have been different. If Constantine (Roman king) had lost the battle then our present would have been different. Certainly, Christianity has taken a great change since the renaissance and Hinduism too has done its share of changes to end the barbaric practice of Sati. Yet some religion has yet to do its share of renaissance. In fact these renaissances should be treated as kaizen!  

I think the world can learn a lot from Indian atheism which is in way more tolerant and yet retaining its core value of being a ‘non-believer’.  J

Please go through following links to learn more.
1. (Rishi Carvak)
3.  (Carl Sagan)
4. (Constantine)
6. (List of prominent Indian atheists)

8. (Irreligion in India)