In that leaflet, one full paragraph was devoted to the praises of God and His doings which we, human beings, cannot understand. This is sheer mysticism. What I want to point out is that the idea of denying the existence of God did not even occur to the Revolutionary Party. The famous Kakory martyrs, all four of them, passed their last day in prayers. Ram Parshad Bismal was a staunch Arya Samaji. In spite of his vast studies in Socialism and Communism, Rajan Lahiri could not suppress his desire to recite hymns from Upanishads and Gita.
There was but only one person among them who did not indulge in such activities. But he also never dared to deny the existence of God. Till that time I was only a romantic revolutionary, just a follower of our leaders. Then came the time to shoulder the whole responsibility. For some time, a strong opposition put the very existence of the party into danger.
Many leaders as well as many enthusiastic comrades began to uphold the party to ridicule. They jeered at us. I had an apprehension that some day I will also consider it a futile and hopeless task. It was a turning point in my revolutionary career.
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An incessant desire to study filled my heart. And I began to study in a serious manner. My previous beliefs and convictions underwent a radical change.
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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.
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All of them were atheists. His point of view was a sort of mystical atheism. I developed more interest in this subject. By the end of , 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.
What it meant will be discussed in the following lines. In May , I was arrested in Lahore. This arrest came as a big surprise for me. I had not the least idea that I was wanted by the police. I was passing through a garden and all of a sudden the police surrounded me. To my own surprise, I was very calm at that time.
I was in full control of myself.
I was taken into police custody. The next day I was taken to the Railway Police lockup where I spent a whole month. I felt they had some intelligence of my other activities in the revolutionary movement. They told me that I was in Lucknow during the Kakori Party Trial so that I might devise a scheme to rescue the culprits. They also said that after the plan had been approved, we procured some bombs and by way of test, one of those bombs was thrown into a crowd on the occasion of Dussehra in They offered to release me on condition that I gave a statement on the activities of the Revolutionary Party.
In this way I would be set free and even rewarded and I would not be produced as an approver in the court. I could not help laughing at their proposals. It was all humbug.
Why I am an Atheist
People who have ideas like ours do not throw bombs at their own innocent people. One day, Mr. Newman, the then senior Superintendent of CID, came to me. After a long talk which was full of sympathetic words, he imparted to me what he considered to be sad news, that if I did not give any statement as demanded by them, they would be forced to send me up for trial for conspiracy to wage war in connection with Kakori Case and also for brutal killings in Dussehra gathering.
After that he said that he had sufficient evidence to get me convicted and hanged. I was completely innocent, but I believed that the police had sufficient power to do it if they desired it to be so. The same day some police officers persuaded me to offer my prayers to God two times regularly.
Deathbed conversion? Never. Christopher Hitchens was defiant to the last
I was an atheist. I thought that I would settle it to myself whether I could brag only in days of peace and happiness that I was an atheist, or in those hard times I could be steadfast in my convictions. After a long debate with myself, I reached the conclusion that I could not even pretend to be a believer nor could I offer my prayers to God.
No, I never did it. It was time of trial and I would come out of it successful. These were my thoughts. Never for a moment did I desire to save my life. So I was a true atheist then and I am an atheist now.
It was not an easy task to face that ordeal. Beliefs make it easier to go through hardships, even make them pleasant. Man can find a strong support in God and an encouraging consolation in His Name.
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If you have no belief in Him, then there is no alternative but to depend upon yourself. In difficult times, vanity, if it remains, evaporates and man cannot find the courage to defy beliefs held in common esteem by the people.
If he really revolts against such beliefs, we must conclude that it is not sheer vanity; he has some kind of extraordinary strength. This is exactly the situation now. First of all we all know what the judgement will be. It is to be pronounced in a week or so. I am going to sacrifice my life for a cause.
What more consolation can there be! A God-believing Hindu may expect to be reborn a king; a Muslim or a Christian might dream of the luxuries he hopes to enjoy in paradise as a reward for his sufferings and sacrifices. What hope should I entertain? I know that will be the end when the rope is tightened round my neck and the rafters move from under my feet.
To use more precise religious terminology, that will be the moment of utter annihilation. My soul will come to nothing. Without any selfish motive of getting any reward here or in the hereafter, quite disinterestedly have I devoted my life to the cause of freedom. I could not act otherwise. The day shall usher in a new era of liberty when a large number of men and women, taking courage from the idea of serving humanity and liberating them from sufferings and distress, decide that there is no alternative before them except devoting their lives for this cause.