Gaurav Tyagi, a new contributor to the Freethinker, reflects on the recent row over an Australian advertisement for meat.
India has lodged a diplomatic protest with Australia over the ad. The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) in India also raised objections to it and sought a boycott of Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and a ban on their products.
In August Raven Fightwear, an Australian fight wear firm based in Gosford, New South Wales, Australia was the target of Hindu groups for launching “Battle of the Gods- Hanuman V Ganesha” athletic shirts known as rash guards. They display images of Hindu deities of Lord Ganesha and Lord Hanuman in a battle mode.
President of the Universal Society of Hinduism said in a statement released from Nevada, USA that Raven Fightwear and its CEO should offer a formal apology in addition to withdrawing the merchandise from the company’s website and stockists.
Every Indian, whether living in India or abroad, knows about Bhagat Singh – but for non-Indian readers, as well as to refresh the memories of our domestic religious fanatics, it’s imperative to shed some light on the life of this great man.
Singh, above, was born in 1907 in India, when the country was still under British colonial rule. He refused an arranged marriage, left home and became a socialist revolutionary. He participated in numerous movements seeking to end the British imperial rule in India.
Influenced by Auguste Vaillant, a French anarchist, who bombed the chamber of Deputies in Paris, Singh along with his accomplice, Batukeshwar Dutt threw two bombs inside the Central legislative assembly on April 8, 1929.
The bombs were not designed to kill. The smoke from the bombs filled the assembly hall. Singh and Dutt could easily have escaped in the resulting confusion, but instead they stayed in the assembly premises and shouted slogans of “Long live the revolution” and threw leaflets, telling the British to leave India.
They both courted arrest without offering any resistance. Singh wanted his subsequent trial to draw national as well as international attention towards the exploitation of Indians by the British. He hoped to inspire millions of Indians to rise up and revolt against British rule through his defiant, bold action.
Singh, along with two of his accomplices, Rajguru and Sukhdev, were hanged by the British on March 23, 1931. He attained martyrdom at a young age of 23.
Singh was an avid reader and writer. He contributed articles to various publications of his time and studied the works of Bakunin, Lenin and Trotsky – all atheist revolutionaries.
Bhagat Singh also turned to atheism. One of his most important essays is titled “Why I am an atheist”.
He wrote in the 1931 essay that any person who challenges the existence of God is labeled as a renegade. Life can become quite tough for such people because they do not hold any false hopes of assistance from an imaginary god.
Singh asked if there is an almighty, why did he created a world full of inequality, misery and poverty?
Singh blasted the Hindu religion’s theory of “Karma”. He insisted that the belief that whosoever endures sufferings in this life must have been a sinner in a previous existence is sheer nonsense.
Also,it is illogical to say that those who are oppressors now were godly people in their previous births and for this reason alone, they hold power in their hands.
Singh wrote that ancestors of Hindus were very shrewd. They came up with all these hoaxes to snatch the power of reasoning from people. He quoted the writer, Upton Sinclair:
Only make a man firm believer in the immortality of soul, then rob him of all that he possesses. He will willingly help you in the process.
Singh said that the origins of this world and humans can be explained through scientific logic, as done by thinkers like Charles Darwin.
According to Singh, God was invented as a deterrent factor by humans and his furies as well as laws were repeatedly propagated to keep man from becoming a danger to the society because rebellion against any King has always been considered a sin in every religion.
It is my mode of thinking that has made me an atheist. I don’t think that by strengthening my belief in God and by offering prayers to him, I can bring improvement in my situation, nor can I further deteriorate it. I have read of many atheists facing all troubles boldly, so, I am trying to stand like a man with the head high and erect to the last, even on the gallows.
It’s highly regretful that this brilliant essay by Bhagat Singh is not given proper attention by a religiously obsessed Indian society. Reading it would encourage rationality and logic in youngsters from an early age.
I was born and raised in India and, as such, know that the majority of people in the country blindly follow religious beliefs because they were told so, since childhood, by their parents and grandparents.
Australia is one of the most liberal and free nation on this planet. Why should Australians listen to these nonsensical demands and convert their country into a theological state?
If Hindu and Catholic religious sentiments are so easily hurt by seeing Ganesha as well as other gods eat meat, and are upset by the rash guards of Raven Fightwear, then they should simply ignore the ads.
No-one is forcing these excessively religious people to buy the products. Why should Meat & Livestock Australia as well as Raven Fightwear apologise needlessly and suffer financial losses?
Thousands of animals are openly sacrificed in numerous Hindu temples across the world; where do the “sentiments” of these Hindus disappear at that time?
The sixth commandment, “Thou shall not kill” applies to Christian Catholics. Why then do they slaughter animals for meat?
It would broaden their mental horizons, thereby preventing them from wasting time, energy and resources in raising irrelevant issues.
If gods exist, let Ganesha, Hanuman and others sort out their hurt sentiments with the Aussies themselves.
As for Government of India, its priorities should be to solve the grave challenges of extreme poverty, corruption and overpopulation because there surely is no divine assistance forthcoming in India to solve these pressing issues.
• Gaurav Tyagi is an Indian national with a Masters Degree in International Tourism & Leisure Studies gained in the Netherlands. He currently lives in China.