Why are you an Atheist?
This is a question that I have encountered more than once in my life. Sometimes from my dearest friends, at times, colleagues and most of the times from family members. It kept me thinking for almost months. What changed my attitude from a deeply religious practicing believer, who had shades of Hindu fundamentalism to a present stage of “Utter disbelief”? When I dig into my past, I remember avoiding beef in my college days, reciting Hanuman chalisa in the early mornings after taking bath and even to an extent of avoiding masturbation and “sinful” (sexual fantasies) thoughts on Tuesdays and Saturdays, which I used to consider as Holy days for my personal deity “Hanuman” (the monkey god).
So was it Darwin’s “Theory of Evolution”, was it Richard Dawkins “The God delusion”, was it Sam Harris “End of Faith”. Without an iota of doubt I would say “No”. All these books and theories came in a later part of my life which were ancillary supporting data helping me argue bigots and annoying creationists.
As a teenager I used to be an obese child, if we are to say in a mild way a “Healthier Child”, if I am to say in an aggressive way a “Fat fuck” (Fuck being a synonym for fellow in this context). Removing my shirt was the most insulting thing I could ever imagine of in those days. Most of the fat fucks reading this would share my feelings. It was not a personal attachment to my shirt but the horrendous feeling of mental pain on showing my man boobs and pot belly to the general public. It is at this time my mother used to compel me to go temple and in Kerala (my native place) it was a mandatory custom for men to remove their shirt and footwear as a sign of showing respect to the deities sitting inside. This is when I first started showing hostility against religious superstitions. Why does god have something against my shirt? Foot wear was acceptable however shirt, most certainly “not”.
In later days when I enrolled into college and hostel in Bangalore where in I had to share my room with mates from different states and religions all around India. Even though we seldom used to study, late night conversations and discussions used to take place within the confined rooms of hostel. I got firsthand experience of different religions, religious views, ideologies and aspirations by involving myself in those discussions.
It was at this time when the Godhra riots took place (2001). Even today I wouldn’t call it a communal violence or riots between two fundamentalist belief groups. What happened in Gujarat was ethnic cleansing of fellow muslims by fundamentalist Hindus. We were to see and read about this new face of Hindu Fascism, everyday on Newspapers and Tele-news. A rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan, who were active in the west and is still in some parts of Northern America and Great Britain. The government and judiciary did nothing and were standing as mere scare crows witnessing the horrendous crimes happening around them.
There were discussions about this in our hostel, some time heated debates. I was generally on the neutral part and at a state of confusion which earned me anger and intolerance from my fellow Hindu counterparts. I asked myself, what kind of Goddamn godly plan is this? “Karma” the cause and effect logic that I used to believe in until then was questioned within me. Here again I invoked agnosticism in my life, may be for the last time.
Further to this, till today there had been no turning back. I started gaining knowledge and started “thinking outside the box”, mainly from books. If I am to say, arrival of atheism in me was peaceful, I would be lying. I had to deal with a great deal of pain and fear. There was no more secret chanting and religious ritual in my life. The realization that there was no personal entity or supervision was painful and in a later part joyous.
The day I read “Why I am an Atheist” by Bhagat singh, I realized “I am an Atheist”.