Atheism makes one discard delusions; helps pave own way; keeps free from belief in divine parents.
Before dealing with the advantages of atheism, I would like to share my thoughts about, what many would mean by atheism.
In the recent book by Richard Dawkins, “Outgrowing God: A Beginners’ Guide” – infact it is a beginner’s guide, he explains how many people interpret the word, ‘Atheism’.
“We can’t know for sure we are atheists with respect to those old gods (Greeks and Romans) (a ‘theist’ – is somebody who believes in god (s) and an atheist – atheist, the ‘a’ meaning ‘not’ – is someone who does not) Romans at one time said the early Christians were atheists, because they did not believe in Jupiter, Neptune or any of the crowd. Nowadays we use the word for people who don’t believe in any gods at all”.
In India, atheism – denying the existence of god, was older than Buddhism. In the Kabila philosophy, a materialist philosophy, there was no place for the belief in god – Buddha’s birth place was named as Kabilavastu in Nepal which clearly shows Kapila was more popular, otherwise the city would not have been named after him.
The Charvakas was the earliest atheist – humanist school. The word ‘Charvaka’ means soft-spoken people who used their reasoning power as a tool of their life.
Charvaka, the greatest of the Nathikas and materialistic philosophers of India and one of the greatest sceptics in the history of philosophy.
They reject in its entirety the concept of spiritual universe; believing that the whole world process including thought itself is the result of the activity of ‘matter’. The ultimate principles are earth, water, fire and air, (the fifth principle of Hindu philosophy, ether is rejected).
It is very important to understand, Charvaka philosophy to know about ‘Svabhava’, selfness or one’s own nature. It is this nature of a thing and the apparent cause and the consequence that determines the ‘niathi’ or ‘destiny’.
The Charvaka school rejected the idea of God and regarded religions as an aberration and a disease. There is no retribution, no reward or punishment, no heaven, no hell.
There is no soul, and no other world and the doctrines of transmigration and sacrifice are only suited to the intelligence of fools. The Charvakas reserve their special scorn for Vedas, the priests, and religious ceremonials.
Caste was denounced as a monstrous invention of the priesthood, and asceticism and self-mortification condemned as downright folly. The Charvakas advocated a life of sensible enjoyment, for which nature provided man with reward of happiness.
The other religions like Christianity or Islam never allow atheism, but as per Hinduism or Sanatan religion, the atheism is not a process. You may jump to a hasty-conclusion, how liberal it is; it will be only a paradox!
There is no definite order and definition possible when Hindu religion became a conglomeration of various thoughts and school with no set policies. The word, ‘Hindu’ itself originates in a very different range-it is not even a Sanskrit word. They want to appropriate Buddhism which says atheism is not a disqualification to be a Hindu.
Chandrasekara, the late Sankaracharya of Kanchi Mutt in his book ‘Voice of the God’ clearly says, atheism (in our notion) is not denying of God but denying or questioning the authority of Vedas!
The perception differs very radically here.
But generally atheist is being understood as a person who never has belief in the existence of god.
It is simply the blind faith and unquestioned acceptance of the sanctions of the religions, without bothering about evidence.
We are heading towards a new era of Science and Technology. The people’s way of life has been completely changed because of the wonderful technical progress. Reasoning power of human being has brought him many laurels, labour and time saving methods.
The kind of atheism, Thanthai Periyar E.V. Ramasamy and Gora preached and practised is to enhance a better life of equality and happiness with an empathy.
A believer thinks it is due to his karmas and strict compliance of Dharma, as ordained in Dharma shastras that he is suffering; others in the society need not take note of it. Let them undergo the ordeal but it is their destiny; no human effort could or should change it. Is not this kind of fatalistic belief the ‘most unkindest cut of all’?
But our atheism is not a negative philosophy; it is nothing but positive humanism.
Thanthai Periyar observed –
Forget god and
Think of humans!
the second part clearly expounds the atheists are more or less for caring of and sharing in our society. Homo sapiens with their wonderful reasoning power, are bound to help each other and share their happiness and care for them whenever they are in distress.
There was a time when medical practitioners were attacked because they dared to cure the diseases sent as a punishment to human beings. It was very primitive. Now the religious group itself has no other choice but starting hospitals for their own services rather than for others’ services; anyhow the beneficiary is humanity. We, the atheists, rationalists and humanists welcome such good things.
Most of the gullible people detest the word, ‘atheism’ as it is anti-human or anti social but the truth is vice-versa! Let me have the pleasure of quoting a few passages from a thought provoking article by Periyar ‘Why am I an atheist?’
“I confess that I am an atheist in a manner in which I am spoken of.
Those who are afraid of atheism cannot achieve anything. Equality, for example, cannot be propagated and maintained unless you are an atheist. Atheism is analogous to equality. That is why Russia (Soviet) was dubbed atheistic. Even Buddha was called an atheist simply because of the fact that he was intent on preaching equality among humanity” – with no caste bias and no gender bias.
But the religious-believers were not for equality or fraternity. According to the religious orthodoxy, caste is created not by humans but by gods and religious sanction from shastras. Only redeeming feature is atheism which is nothing but humans-par-excellence.
The progress of the humanity is due to scientific inventions.
What is the basis for science? Questioning and asking for sufficient proof and evidence. Change is the law of life. Any change or innovation could be possible only by changing the existing order of things.
Scientific temper and the spirit of enquiry is the bedrock on which science tries to create a new world!
Are atheists bad people and anti-socials?
Atheism gives intellect and honesty to atheists. We seek the truth. We speak the truth. We are not living a life of double standards-no diabolical appearance or show. If we make mistakes we correct them; If we commit crimes we are prepared to face proper punishment!
Some people pray to god to give more longevity. Is there any truth in it? It is mere superstition that supernatural god will be extending our life if we bribe god through our prayers and offerings.
Let us prove that truth is contrary to this belief. The atheists live longer life for they live a life of honesty and take care of their health also. They have no blind faith in anything whereas the believers leave everything to the sweet will and pleasure of gods and goddesses.
All our human lives’ health is maintained and nourished due to our heredity cell and care for the body, and the immunity level. This makes it clear that prayer and belief in god is not at all an issue against longevity. It is due to so many other physical and medical factors. Piety or Bhakthi never assures longevity. It is evident by looking back at the past that atheists have had a longer span of life compared to pious personalities.
At this juncture, it would be amusing to note how short the lives of some popular religious leaders, sages, saints and holy men were:
Entities – Their Life Span (in years)
- Thirugnana Sambandar – 18
- Adi Sankarar – 32
- Jesus Christ – 34
- Vivekananda – 39
- Ramanujar – 80
- Ramakrishna – 50
- Nabhigal Nayagam – 51
- Ramana Rishi – 60
- Gurunanak – 70
- Mahavir – 72
- Buddha – 80
- Thanthai Periyar – 95
Note how Periyar’s life was not only bigger but also longer than that of others.
Thirugnana Sambandar is believed by theists to have been fed with goddess Parvathi’s breast-milk but alas, his life span has been only 18 years! Periyar’s meaningful life for 95 years is proof enough for the fact that atheists live longer than theists.
Another historic event needs a proud recall at this stage. University of Miami established ‘Chair for the Study of Atheism’ in 2016. It was the Nation’s first Academic Chair for the study of atheism, humanism and secular ethics. It was hailed as a step to make atheism legitimate. The event proved that an increasing number of Americans have discarded religion and belief in god.
The Chair was established after many years of discussion. A retired business man Louis J. Appignani donated 2.2 million dollars for the establishment of this prestigious Chair. He remarked, “I am trying to eliminate the discrimination against atheists.” It was a very bold step of the University of Miami. It proved that atheism is emerging as an accepted academic field.
Recall how atheist Bhagat Singh sacrificed his youth and life for the nation at the young age of 23 only!
Can you show a parallel to him? He was a paragon of sacrifice and a young rebel.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, but for him our country would still be primitive, shaped country to prepare for scientific achievements.
Thanthai Periyar has endowed all his wealth only to the public by creating a public charitable trust which runs many colleges and schools and hospital including one in the capital – New Delhi.
“Non-believers can also be generous. The top three philanthropists in the world, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and George Soros are all non-believers. Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, rushed to start a special charity which is called Non-Believers Giving Aid (NBGA).
Self Respective Humanism is being called as Positive Atheism.
Atheism is the throwing off of childish illusions and acceptance that we have to make our own way in the world. We have no divine parents who always protect us and who are unquestionably good.
Unless we lose our childhood innocence we cannot become proper adults. In the same way, unless we cast off the innocence of supernatural views, we cannot live in a way that does Justice to our nature as mortal creatures. Atheism is about moving on and taking the opportunities that life affords and that carries with it risks of failure and the rejection of reassuring illusions.
It is this realism that means atheism can never be presented as an undiluted positive joy. Real life is about accepting ups and downs, the good and bad, the possibility of failure as well as the ambition to succeed.
Usually whenever believers pray to god on most of the occasions demand longevity of their life. But there are instances, atheists, who do not believe in the existence of god and do not need to pray, lived longer and still have been living longer comparatively. It is the meticulous care taken by individuals to control their food habits and adhering the medical advice of doctors that facilitate atheists live longer. No supreme power is responsible for life longevity of humans. The longevity of any person depends mainly on the self care taken by the respective person. It is highly hypocratic on the part of believers to pray to god and simultaneously taking medical advice and treatments, required. Based on the medical attention and care, the longevity of believers may prolong as humanist we welcome it but it is highly ridiculous on their part-to justify the longevity as the divine deed of the so called ‘god’.
Periyar-Rationalists Above 90 Honoured
Twenty-four veterans of Periyar rationalist army of above 90 years were felicitated on Periyar’s 140th birthday, 17th September 2018, in a grand function which moved every one seated in the audience to tears. The function, conceived, was unique because no political party or organization had even thought of the functionaries of yesteryears, remarked
Com. R Nallakannu of The Communist Party of India, who himself was a nonagenarian who had been invited as chief guest. The other distinguished Chief Guest was Perasiriyar K. Anbalagan, General Secretary, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Those who could attend the function on that day were only a fraction of the elders of the organization. There were many who were too frail to undertake a journey and those who were suddenly indisposed.
They had all been swimming against current in their youth, when they decided to join Periyar’s movement, knowing fully well that they were subjecting themselves to a life of hardship, prepared to traverse a bumpy road, facing the wrath of everyone around them including their immediate family.
If even now there are people who want to hurl footwear at Periyar’s statue, we can easily imagine what it would have been like sixty or seventy years ago. Hurling stones and footwear at Periyar was a common occurrence then. Even faeces have been thrown on him. Yet, Periyar bore everything with indomitable courage and marched on. And along with him marched an army of black shirt cadres, infused with his courage and conviction.
What they sought to accomplish was unthinkable, sacrilegious, and capable of incurring the wrath of celestial powers. ‘He is a suna mana (an abbreviated from of the Tamil phrase Suya Mariyathai-Self Respect, freely used in those days in a derogatory sense’, one who derided god, one who denied religion, one who cared two hoots for his caste, one who had said good bye to tradition; and so on and so on.
These veterans behaved with extreme patience and extraordinary forbearance, yet undeterred from their path, remaining symbols of sacrifice. Usually those who renounce worldly life hoped to reach heavenly abode at the end, Periyar used to remark that these people were not assured of any reward for their sacrifice.
They were jailed again and again. They had been instructed by Periyar to subject themselves to the sentence of the court and not to oppose it. They knew that they would get nothing in return. These people had been strictly told by Periyar to subject themselves to any brutality and indignity so that their fellow citizens and posterity would live in dignity. Their love for truth, rationalist approach, and desire to seek public good enabled them to march on the thorny path chosen by them and take up the thankless job. Their only reward was their own mental satisfaction of having done a good job, and having traveled along with Periyar in whom they found a savior of the downtrodden, and the exploited lot of the society.
Under these circumstances, can you expect people in dozens to come forward to take up this service? Only one or two per village would come out in those days. And they were considered black sheep of the village and got ostracised. Many of them, forsaken by their own kith and kin, found kinship in each other.
It was these symbols of sacrifice, who won over others through their sacrifice and patient dissemination of their philosophy and brought about a visible change in the society, until this part of India came to be known as ‘Periyar Munn’ the Land of Periyar.
And as a fitting finale to the grand function, the entire audience honoured them with a resounding standing ovation.
The felicitated Periyar – Rationalists – Above 90
- Prof. K. Anbalagan (1922) 96 Years
- Com. N. Sankaraiah (1922) 96 Years
- Com. R. Nallakannu (1925) 93 Years
- Gnana. Sebastian (1919) 101 Years
- V.M. Velu (1920) 98 Years
- M. Gandhiammal (1920) 98 Years
- K. Ramasamy (1920) 98 Years
- Ney Kannan (1920) 98 Years
- Pothanur K. Shanmugam(1923) 95 Years
- Kudanthai AR. Ranganathan(1922) 96 Years
- P. Chinnappa (1922) 96 Years
- A.V. Thangavel (1923) 95 Years
- A. Govindan (1923) 95 Years
- C. Thavamani (1923) 95 Years
- Rajagiri G. Thangarasu (1925) 94 Years
- D. Periyasamy (1924) 94 Years
- S. Samiyappan (1925) 94 Years
- S.D. Kuppusamy (1924) 94 Years
- Savithiri (1924) 94 Years
- R. Govindasamy (1926) 93 Years
- Vasantham K. Ramachandran (1925) 93 Years
- M. Kunjubabu (1925) 93 Years
- V. Viswanathan (1924) 93 Years
- G. Arangasamy (1925) 93 Years
- V. Kanagaraj (1927) 92 Years
- M. Murugaiyan (1927) 92 Years
- M. Raja (1926) 92 Years
- R. Krishnasamy (1929) 91 Years
- A. Mavadiyan (1929) 91 Years
- Dhana. Thirumalai (1928) 91 Years
- Renganayaki (1927) 91 Years
- K. Kannusamy (1928) 91 Years
- S. Rajaratnam (1928) 91 Years
- P. Kaliappan (1928) 91 Years
- A. Thangasamy (1928) 91 Years
- P.S. Ahmed Bai (1928) 90 Years
- R. Nagarajan (1928) 90 Years
- M. Vasudevan (1928) 90 Years
- C.P. Kannu (1928) 90 Years
- T.R.M. Krishnan (1928) 90 Years
- M.S. Jagadeesan (1928) 90 Years
- P. Sivagnanam (1928) 90 Years
- G. Arangasamy (1928) 90 Years
Long Live Periyar!
Long Live Gora!
Long Live Self Respective Humanism!
Long Live Positive Atheism!