Blog Post

My Early Encounters With Atheism

A Blog Post

When I was a child, I knew a few atheists from Hindu families, who believed in Communism and took active part in social movements and in castigating superstition, blind faith and other problems. They considered themselves rational people, admired Soviet communism, and gave chemical or neutral names to their children, such as lavanam, meaning salt, svarajyam, meaning freedom, viplav meaning revolution, or udayam, meaning dawn. Despite their names, loudness or their loquaciousness, I did not think they were not Hindus. Their arguments amused me, but I believed that someday they would open their eyes and return to their faith.

I also had a few close friends in my class, who one day in the middle of the school playground vehemently argued with me that God never existed, and I was a fool to believe in him. I tried my best to counter their arguments, suggesting that they could not simply go by what they saw. I used the analogy of air and electricity, but they were unconvinced. They were adamant and stuck to their argument. In the end, as a final gesture of defiance, they threw their notebooks on the ground, which had the images of Hindu gods and goddess on the covers, and walked over them, daring God to stop them if he could or prove his existence by doing something in response.

Nothing happened that day. We went back to our homes, after playing in the same playground and forgetting all that. The next day, I saw two of my friends returning to school with bandages to their feet. They told me that they went for swimming that evening and jumped from a bridge into the water. There were some broken glass pieces in the canal bed, which cut them badly. They thought they were punished by God for what they did that day. They were convinced that they had paid the price for trampling on the images of the gods.

I did not know whether God really punished them for what they did. I do not think he would punish anyone for such frivolous reasons. More serious crimes are committed by people, but nothing happens to them. However, the incident ensured that at least a few of my friends never broached the subject again with me. I believe they are now happily married with children and might still be going to temples and celebrating Hindu festivals.

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