Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #139 - Was Shaheed Bhagat Singh an Atheist? Let's analyze.

(Photo by Levi Williams on Unsplash)

“Let craft, ambition, spite, Be quenched in Reason's night, Till weakness turn to might, Till what is dark be light, Till what is wrong be right!” ― A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions


If we have to be aligned to move from Point A to Point B, then we have to take both your feet off of Point A and put them on Point B. If one foot of yours is on Point A and another on Point B, then you are not interested in moving to Point B. You are only interested in the deception of such a move.

When we chant:

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।

We are saying that we want to move from असत्य Untruth to सत्य Truth. That happens when everything about you is aligned to seeking the Truth. When you want to move from मृत्यु (death) to अमृत्यं (deathlessness) - then it can only happen when you are aligned to the latter and have taken your foot off of Point A.

Belief is not सत्य. It is make-believe. It is a delusion when you do not have the honesty to seek. Seeking the सत्य is what will take you to the state of अमृत्यं.

Whatever legacy, heritage, and knowing we have is not because of beliefs, but because of ruthless and relentless seekers called Yogis. Even today they walk the deep ravines and highest of the planet’s mountains and work against all odds to be one with the Truth.

How have we reduced their work to a few slogans, misinterpretations, and fallacies! With both feet on Point A, we have merely been conjecturing about Point B. That is not Dharma. That is deception. We would be better off watching a movie or walking on the beach or eating an ice-cream than indulging in such quackery in the name of the highest of all seekings - Truth and Freedom!


was Bhagat Singh an atheist?

Shaheed Bhagat Singh

September 28th was Bhagat Singh’s birthday. While everyone was paying tributes to the selfless freedom fighter who knowingly gave his life for India, the leftists were doing what they always do - spread Hinduphobia.

These three tweets from Javed Akhtar’s wall are quite symptomatic of how they were busy using even Bhagat Singh to further their agenda. Now do notice that they all have only referred to him in the context of Hinduism, not in terms of Christianity or Islam. Which should give them away.

It should be remembered that the said article “मैं नास्तिक क्यों हूँ?“ was written as a reply to Bhai Randhir Singh, a Ghadarite, who was imprisoned in Lahore jail in 1930-31. In Punjabi, and not English. All the English translations are leftist distortions of what Bhagat Singh actually said.

Bhai Randhir Singh had charged that Bhagat Singh’s atheism was because of his ego. And, that is the question that Bhagat Singh wanted to really address. The article can be accessed here - मैं नास्तिक क्यों हूँ?

After looking at the bastardization by Islamic-within and Atheis-outside bigots of Bhagat Singh’s article, let us dispassionately analyze it.

analyzing Bhagat Singh’s work

Here are a few facts:

  1. Bhagat Singh was a revolutionary who was very focused on one thing - India’s freedom. For that, he had given up all the comforts and also anything that could provide succor. If you read his article, you will find that sentiment very clearly mentioned.

  1. Communists had done the unthinkable. A force of ordinary workers led by “intellectuals” like Lenin and others had overthrown the royalty like the terrible Tsars. The romance of Lenin and his comrades was still fresh. Only very few who knew what had happened in reality understood Lenin for who he was. Read this edition of our newsletter for more details - Issue #135 - Whither Indian Gorky. Leninism and Communism with its attendance ruthless focus on “revolution” were obviously very romantic. It isn’t easy to knowingly give up your life. Camaraderie based on the goal (of freedom) and looking at things logically with complete reasoning and not leaving the future of India to some unknown “god” seemed like a great idea. And, it was.

  2. Bhagat Singh’s questions were based on his own seeking. His frustration and problems with God were also reflective of his own answers that he received based on the material he had access to. Arya Samaj was in vogue those days. From Swami Shradhanand to Dayanand Saraswati to Lala Lajpat Rai, there were a lot of luminaries in the freedom struggle who were adherents of those beliefs. Arya Samaj was one of the interpretations of Sanatan Dharma, not necessarily the correct or even the most enlightened one. Socially useful movement but spiritually deficient in many ways.

  3. Lastly, Bhagat Singh’s questions - whether with respect to the importance of Reason over Belief or Faith or Lack of interventionist “power”, or question of “पाप / पुण्य” and rebirth - were all genuine. Just that his assumptions on how Sanatan Dharma looked at them, in reality, was not correct. Let us understand why?

Discrimination or Belief?

When Shri Krishna was taking Arjun through the process of Gita, Arjun asks a fundamental question

अपरं भवतो जन्म परं जन्म विवस्वत: |
कथमेतद्विजानीयां त्वमादौ प्रोक्तवानिति || 4||

You were born much after Vivasvan (Sun). How am I to understand that in the beginning, you instructed this science to him?

Basically, saying - how do I even know what you are saying is the truth?

And Bhagat Singh is also asking a very similar question. He is saying that विवेक (Vivek) - which primarily is discrimination, and not mere reasoning, between Untruth and Truth - should be the primary tool for functioning in this world. Philosophizing is not needed.

And no one could have put the fundamental ethos of Dharma better than that. For, Dharma is not about philosophy or romanticizing or beliefs. It is about using the power of discrimination or vivek to a point of experiencing the One Universal Truth.

Not once in the entire Gita does Arjun even say once - that I believe in what you say - to Krishna. He keeps questioning.

Then what was the issue here?

The same issue that has engulfed the entire Hindu community for many centuries now.

The original seeking of Truth via Spiritual path was contaminated by the creation of pretenders and imposters who had created a belief of god in a bid to get power over people.

Pretense and belief are the easy way out and great for delusions of comfort and safety. Even mental help. But it has nothing to do with Truth.

Search for Truth is a tough task. It takes leaving the comfort of easy beliefs and venturing into the terrain of seeking in a very ruthless way. That is how the Yogis had attained to the Truths.

They took their learnings of how one could advance him or herself towards the Truth at every step and in every aspect of life and intertwined it with the social life. That created what we now know as the Hindu society.

How to eat, what to eat, how to sit, how to handle water, the sun, the sleep, the marriages, the death, and everything in between was intertwined in our lives as rituals. No, not because they were supposed to be hard-coded as beliefs, but because those things pushed one towards an awakening within. That is why someone like Nanak or Kabir would suddenly emerge out of the most unlikely of situations. That kind of awareness and awakening required a lot of work and sadhana. Sadhana that was many times in-built in every life event. But predominantly approached via a Guru.

Karma and the Truth

Now, here is the extract of the writing which has been bastardized while translating in the first tweet that Javed Akhtar has re-tweeted.

One, Bhagat Singh’s understanding of what Karma is, was informed by a faulty and misinterpreted translation by those who were stuck in Abrahamic belief theologies of Christianity and Islam.

Karma has nothing to do with ‘Sow and you shall reap’. (pls read ‘Karma has nothing to do with ‘sow and you shall reap’) Also read this edition on Karma, self effort and belief

It is not a retaliatory regime.

In fact, god - any god is strictly non-interventionist. In fact, Dharmic traditions were the only ones in the world that clearly said that whatever happened to you was your doing. Your Karma!

That is why we were blessed by elders with the word तथास्तु - which means may what you want (and work for) happen to you. [As opposed to the popular Islamic word - Inshallah, which puts the onus of what happens to one on an imaginary god that no one has seen]

Our future was NOT “God-willing”, but “Our Doing”.

Divine and Dharma

Understanding of the divine or Ishwar in Sanatan Dharma is not of a being - Devas and divine-like beings are revered - but the Divine has always been understood in terms of one Universal Immanent Consciousness.

Krishna explains to Arjun in Bhagwad Gita about the nature of the Divine

सर्वेन्द्रियगुणाभासं सर्वेन्द्रियविवर्जितम् |
असक्तं सर्वभृच्चैव निर्गुणं गुणभोक्तृ च 

(Though He perceives all sense-objects, yet He is devoid of the senses. He is unattached to anything, and yet He is the sustainer of all. Although He is without attributes, yet He is the enjoyer of the three modes of material nature.)

In Yoga Vasistha, Rishi Vasistha explains to Ram about the true nature of the Divine in this way.

Consciousness is akin to something like Gravity. When you go against it, it is adharma or misaligned and so naturally seemingly ‘negative results’ come forth.

Gravity does not kill or hurt anyone. Those who don’t understand the impact of Gravity and jump from a 14 story building, will die. On the other hand, some who understand Gravity have used it to propel their rockets to Mars!

Consciousness or the Quantum world’s rules and ways are also more nuanced than the Newtonian rules. Quantum does not negate the Newtonian physical rules, just underlies them with its own Truth.

So, no - पाप (Paap) or पुण्य (Punya) - are not sins or virtues. But misalignment or alignment with the consciousness, even though many upstarts have defined it in those terms.

When misery happens or when wealth comes, can we really say it is always what it seems to signify? Imagine a Michael Jackson who couldn’t sleep without being administered anesthesia. Versus a rural labor in Bihar who eats little and sleeps soundly. I am not romanticizing poverty. But simply saying that things that really matter in the end may not be what we think they are.

Rajiv Malhotra discusses the two cosmologies prevalent in the world - Dharmic and Judeo-Christian. And that is the correct way to approach things. The rules and the interpretations of the latter cannot be and should not be applied to the former, for they are in different realms. One (Judeo-Christian-Islamic) is firmly grounded in the physical/Newtonian world. The other (Dharmic) straddles both, the Newtonian and the Quantum. What is true in the Quantum world may even run counter to the Newtonian laws.

That is why it has been so hard for the scientists of the 20th century to come to terms with the Quantum world. And, that is also precisely the reason why the pioneers of the Quantum world - from Eugene Wigner to Schrodinger to Einstein - everyone had sought their inspiration from the Vedanta.

Vedanta is not about philosophy, as Bhagat Singh would remark in his article. But about the raw, ruthless but subtle Truth. A Truth that transcended the material. When one dug deeper, one would find that Vedanta's rules were valid.

who was Bhagat Singh really?

He may have called himself an Atheist because the gods he was fighting were made up by the narrative of half learned men and women. The Truth, however, was that he was a Seeker. A sharp and focused Seeker. He was devoted to only one - India. And, he saw nothing else to be aligned to his reason. And, that is the way of Devotion. His devotion was as high and pure as that of the panj pyaaras who knowingly walked to their Guru - Guru Gobind Singh - when he asked for those who were willing to die at his sword. When your fear of death is overcome by the devotion to your Guru, then you transcend Death. That was the journey that Guru Gobind Singh was creating for his devotees.

And, that is the path that Shaheed Bhagat Singh walked. Of Devotion. To not a person or idea. But Devotion to Freedom.

Ironically, that is precisely the path of Dharma. Walk relentless, fearless, unwavering, ruthlessly to the Liberation and Freedom. From all bondages.

To understand that Javed Akhtar and Irfan Habib will need to look at Bhagat Singh from the Dharmic cosmology and not the Islamic cosmology. You see, the quanta makes no sense to those who have only read quacks guide to earthly phenomena!

living bridges of Meghalaya

War-Khasi tribe of Meghalaya uses a combination of Bamboo tree and Banyan trees on both ends of the banks to construct what are called “Living Bridges”.  These bridges take one – or even two generations to build.  Some of these bridges have been around for over 500 years.

One generation tends to the trees so their children can cross the river.  They have to care for the roots carefully and make sure no one cuts them or hurts them, for the tree to take strength and the roots to cross over – prodded by the caretaker – to complete a union between roots of two banyan trees!  In some places, the tribe is able to even build “double-decker bridges”

living bridge 1File:The Living root bridge in Dawki, Meghalaya.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

nota bene

COVID vaccine could come by early 2021: As the world races to develop a potential vaccine against coronavirus (Covid-19), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday said that the first vaccine in India will most likely be available by early 2021. The health ministry said the research to develop a Covid-19 vaccine is being “done expeditiously”. (Source)

Brahmos aimed at China: The 500 km-range Brahmos cruise missile, 800 km-range Nirbhay cruise missiles along with Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) with a capability to target aerial threats 40 km away are at the core of India’s stand-off weapon deterrence to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) missile deployment in Xinjiang and Tibet regions. (Source)

Pakistan delisted 4000 international terrorists: In a strong statement highlighting Pakistan's role in supporting terrorism, India has told the United Nations Human Rights Council that Islamabad has de-listed 4000 international terrorists and continues to be a safe haven for militants. "Full-scale training camps and launchpads of terrorists are being escalated in Pakistan Occupied parts of Indian Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh at great expense for sustaining cross border terrorism against India," India's first secretary to United Nations in Geneva, Pawan Badhe said. (Source)

Swiss allow EU citizens to live and work in Switzerland: Voters in Switzerland on Sunday strongly defeated a nationalist party’s proposal to limit the number of European Union citizens allowed to live and work in their country. Swiss public broadcaster SRF reported that the measure was rejected by 61.7% of voters, with 38.3% in favor. All but four of the country’s 26 cantons, or states, likewise opposed the plan —- proposed by the Swiss People’s Party — to give preferential access to jobs, social protection, and benefits to people from Switzerland over those from the 27-nation bloc that surrounds it. (Source)

Half a Million Sharks could be killed for COVID Vaccine: According to environmentalists, half a million sharks could be killed for their natural oil to produce coronavirus vaccines. One ingredient used in some COVID-19 vaccine candidates is squalene, natural oil made in the liver of sharks. Squalene is currently used as an adjuvant in medicine - an ingredient that increases the effectiveness of a vaccine by creating a stronger immune response. British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline currently uses shark squalene in flu vaccines. The company said it would manufacture a billion doses of this adjuvant for potential use in coronavirus vaccines in May. (Source)

Dharma in Indonesia

Many incidents occurred throughout history that have changed the way we have become and the way we see things. It is also a history that has changed our geographical boundaries. This has led many to be uprooted from their origins. However, one thing remained Sanatana Dharma. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, yet Sanatana Dharma still gives color to their everyday lives, notably amongst the natives. India and Indonesia are siblings deriving from the same Sindhu-Sunda-Saraswati civilization.

Acharya Mā Archanā, or known as Maya Safira Muchtar, who is the Director of L’Ayurveda (center for wellness), has dedicated her life to Journey into Self and dissemination of promoting health and inner beauty through Ayurveda and Yoga for the last 16 years. Here she presents Dharma as it is practiced in Indonesia.

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