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Humanist Movements in India -2009
Humanist Movements in India -2009
Humanist , Rationalist,Atheist,Secularist,Skeptic movements in India
Membership of all the secular organizations in India is negligible among the population of one billion. It is surprising that the total membership does not exceed half million. Most of the organizations confine their activity to respective states,India being vast country with 14 official languages and 28 states.
All India organizations are few with limited resources and facilities. They are Indian Radical Humanist association, Indian secular society, rationalist Association, Renaissance Institute of India, Federation of rationalist, atheist, humanist and skeptic .
Radical Humanist Movement :
The Radical Humanist movement in India under the leadership of Manavendra Nath Roy ( 1887-1955) did pioneering work in spreading scientific outlook among intellectual, university professors, media persons and few scientists. M.N.Roy pleaded for scientific study of history since Indian history is full of myths and stories without any scientific evidence. He also stood for renaissance as well as scientific approach in politics. Thus his Radical Humanist movement commenced its task from 1948 onwords, immediately after India attaining Independence.
After the death of M N Roy in 1955, several intellectuals carried the spirit of inquiry through study camps, training classes, publications, seminars, and magazines. They diversified the activities into the fields of Human Rights ( V.M.Tarkunde), equality of women (Indumati Parikh, Malladi Subbamma, Gauri Malik), publications (Shib Narayan Ray,Prem Nath Bazaz, Philip Sprat, Ram Singh, R M Pal, R L Nigam, C R M Rao, Balraj Puri,Professor Niranjan Dhar(Vedanta and Bengal Renaissance), civil liberties (N.D. Pancholi, C T Daru, Jayant Patel),secular activity ( Avula Gopalakrishna Murthy).,M.A.Rane, W.S.Kane,D.B.Karnik,Manoj Datta, Sushil Mukherjee ( Minerva associates),Sunil Bhattacharya, N.Innaiah, Justice Raghavendra Jahagirdar, Saraswat Rekha, R.S.Yadav, Abburi Ramakrishna rao, Tripuraneni Gopichand, Guttikonda Narahari, M.Govindan,Vinod Jain, etc
V.B.Karnik and Maniben Kara concentrated their efforts among labor and humanist movement.
Indian Renaissance Institute.President: Mr B.D.Sharma
Indian Radical Humanist association:
President: Justice Raghavendhra Jahagirdar (2005 -07)
President: Ancha Baparao (2007-09)
Secretary: Bhaskar Sur
President: Vinod Jain (2009-11)
Addres : C-218,Suraya Nagar,
Radical Humanist association journal :Radical Humanist monthly
Radical Humanist, monthly, Editor:Rekha Saraswat
Indian Secular Movement:
Prof A B Shah (died 1982) founded the Indian Secular Society and tried to educate Muslims with the help of Hamid Dalwai. He also established Satya Shodak Mandal for bringing the Muslim youth into mainstream of secular society. His book “Muslim Politics” provoked much discussion.
A.B.Shah faced the wrath of many Hindus by questioning the ban on killing cows but he vigorously propagated the scientific method as a solution to several problems facing obscurantist India. His book Scientific Method made a rare breakthrough in Indian academia when it was prescribed as a text book in Bangalore University when H. Narasimhaiah was the vice chancellor. Shah started several publications, magazines (Humanist Review, New Quest, The Secularist) and educational reform campaigns for humanism and secularism.Now Mr V.K.Sinha edits The secularist, New Quest magazines from Mumbai
Indian Secular society was founded by Professor A.B.Shah ( died 1982) from Pune and Mumbai . He published number of books and a bimonthly : The Secularist. Shah`s scientific approach in religion and politics faced several difficulties, especially from fundamentalist hindus and muslims. He organized study camps, meetings, seminars,symposia with a dialogue from all sections of religious organizations. He challenged the cult Gurus and fanatic muslim Mullahs, opened debate about holy books and stood for human values and human rights. He tried to spread the ideas through scientific method and education.
The movement took strong roots in some states of India, especially Maharastra, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Kerala.
Indian Rationalist Movement
The Rationalist Association, which started in Bombay during 1930s slowly, picked up the momentum. Abraham Solomon, Lokhandawala, M N Roy, M .V.Ramamurhty, R.Venkatadri , Avula Gopalakrishna Murthy, Innaiah Narisetti were all active participants and advocates of the movement.
M.N.Roy gave philosophical and scientific outlook to rationalist movement at India level. He organized re-orientation study camps where scientific orientation was promoted for renaissance, scientific study of history and asserting sovereignty of the individual in political field. Roy also established Radical Humanist, Renaissance and Rationalist organizations and elevated them at international level, often questioning the prevailing Gandhian spiritual ideology
Federation of Rationalist, Atheist and Humanist organizations (FIRA)
This was started by Mr Basava Premanand, editor Indian Skeptic in 2004.He was reputed as magician who exposed the fraudulent spiritual gurus and toured entire India to spread the skeptic message.
He was succeeded by Dr Narendra Naik as president during 2007.The neww executive:
B.Premanand- Patron Narendra Nayak- President Balwinder Singh Barnala and Milind Deshmukh- vice presidents, U.Kalanathan- National Secretary, Dr.Dhaneshwar Sahoo, Prof, B.D.Desai, V.Nehru,Sukumaran D., Harish Deshmukh Harchand Singh Bhinder,Sarita Anand
This is umberella organization which consist of:
- Ananthapur Rationalist Association, Ananthapur, Andhra Pradesh
- Atheist Center, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh
- AT Kovoor Memorial Trust, Kozhikode, Kerala
- Bangalore Rational Humanist Association, Karnataka
- Baratia Bigyan O Yuktibadi Samity
- Bihar Buddhiwadi Samaj, Patna, Bihar
- Dakshina Kannada Rationalist Association, Mangalore, Karnataka
- Dravidar Kazhagam, Tamil Nadu
- Goa Science Forum
- Hyderabad Rationalist Forum, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
- Indian Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Paranormal, Podannur, Tamil Nadu
- Kerala Yukthivadi Sangham, Kerala
- Mandya Science Forum, Mandya, Karnataka
- Orissa Rationalist Association. Orissa
- People's Science Center, Jharkhand
- Tamil Nadu Rationalist Forum
- Tarksheel Society, Punjab
Periyar E.V.Ramasamy (17.9.1879 - 24.12.1973)
A great social revolutionary Periyar opposed caste hierarchy, hindu Brahmin domination on other castes,and sought equal rights in temple priesthood. Hitherto only Brahmin caste was allowed to become priests. Periyar wanted all castes including the down trodden castes to officiate in marriages, and perform religious ceremonies in temples.He wanted the abolition of untouchbility which was creation of Hinduism.
Periyar's vigorous and spirited role in the Vaikom Satyagraha (1924-25) contributed in no mean measure for the triumph of that first historic social struggle in the history of modern India. This paved the way for the "untouchables" to use public roads without any inhibition and for other prospective egalitarian social measures.He wanted reservation for lower castes until they achieve equality along with upper castes.
Self - respect Movement 1925- 39
, the Self-Respect Movement, founded in 1925, carried on' a vigorous and ceaseless propaganda, against ridiculous and harmful superstitions, traditions, customs and habits. He wanted to dispel the ignorance of the people and make them enlightened. He exhorted them to take steps to change the institutions and values that led to meaningless divisions and unjust discrimination. He advised them to change according to the requirements of the changing times and keep pace with the modern conditions.
Self-respecters performed marriages without Brahmin priests (prohits) and without religious rites. They insisted on equality between men and women in all walks of life. They encouraged inter-caste and widow marriages. Periyar propagated the need for birth control even from late 1920s. He gathered support for lawful abolition of Devadasi (temple prostitute) system and the practice of child marriage. It was mainly due to his consistent and energetic propaganda, the policy of reservations in job opportunities in government administration was put into practice in the then Madras Province (which included Tamilnadu) in 1928.
Periyar was elected while he was in prison, as the leader of the South Indian Liberal Federation, popularly known as Justice Party, in its Provincial Conference held in Madras (Chennai) on 29, 30 December 1938
The 15th State Conference of the Justice Party was held in Tiruvarur in August 1940. It was on this occasion, Chinnakancheepuram Natarajan Annadurai (C.N.A.), respectfully mentioned later as Arignar Anna, became the Joint Secretary of the Party. He fascinated the youth by his unique style of writing and oratory. He played a great role in popularising the principles, policies and programmes of Periyar through his essays, short stories, novels and plays.
As a result of Periyar's persistent demand, the degrading practice of serving separately the Brahmins and the 'others' in the restaurants in railway stations was abolished in March 1941.
The conservative section in the Justice Party disliked Periyar's radical social reform programme, his critical view of religious literature and the propagation of rationalist ideas. Unmindful of their opposition, he continued his onward march and gathered around him the youth and the common people. It was during this period in 1942-43 that Maniammai joined the movement and came to attend to the personal needs of Periyar. She was devoted to the leader and served him sincerely. They married later in 1949.
Dravidar Kazhagam - 1944 - 1973
The Justice Party's provincial conference held in Salem on 27th August 1944 marked a turning point in Periyar's movement. The name of the Party was changed as Dravidar Kazhagam. The members were asked to give up the posts, positions and titles conferred by the British rulers. They were also required to drop the caste suffix of their names. It was in the historic Salem conference, Periyar allowed Mr. K.Veeramani, the present President of Dravidar Kazhagam, who had not yet completed 11 years then, to stand on the table and address the gathering. Arignar Anna introduced him to the audience as the Thiru Gnanasambandar of the Self-respect movement. (Gnanasambandar was a precocious devotee and composer of hymns in Tamil in the Saivite lore).
. They were looking for an opportunity to part with Periyar. When he married Maniammai on 9th July 1948, they quit Dravidar Kazhagam stating that Periyar had set a bad example by marrying a young woman in his old age - he was 70 and she 30. Those who parted company with Periyar formed Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam - DMK, under the leadership of C.N.Annadurai (Arignar Anna).
On 1st August 1956, the Dravidar Kazhagam undertook an agitation of burning the portrait of Lord Rama as he symbolised the preservation of Varna dharma. Periyar was placed under preventive arrest on this occasion.
In those days, the board "Brahmins Hotel" was displayed, following the lead given by the Brahmins, to indicate that only vegetarian food was served there. Dravidar Kazhagam objected to the Varna dharma connotation and started an agitation symbolically in front of a hotel in Madras (Chennai) on 5th May 1957. Batches of volunteers agitated daily and 1010 of them courted arrest till 22nd March 1958 when it culminated in success.
In June 1960, Periyar asked people to burn the map of India as a protest against the Central Government using the Union of India for upholding and safeguarding caste system. About 4000 people were arrested for taking part in this agitation.
In 1962, Periyar wrote a special article in the Tamil Rationalist daily, Viduthalai", welcoming the present President of Dravidar Kazhagam, Thiru K.Veeramani who had offered to become a full time volunteer of the movement giving up his lucrative profession of a lawyer.
Dravidar Kazhagam supported congress party in 1957, 1962 and 1967 general elections, and opposed DMK, which formed the government in the State in 1967. Soon after, Arignar Anna (C.N.Annadurai) went to Tiruchirappalli along with all his ministers and paid his homage to his mentor. Periyar was happy when the DMK regime renamed Madras State as Tamil Nadu and made Self-respect marriages legal. It was a non-religious mode of performing marriages introduced by Periyar in late 1920s. Though law till 1967 did not recognize such marriages, thousands of them were conducted due to the influence of the principles of Self-respect.
Dravidar Kazhagam decided in its Central Committee meeting in November to undertake an agitation demanding to put an end to the practice of appointing only Brahmins as Archakas in Agamic temples, as a way of removing one of the root causes of Varna-Jaathi.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) gave an Award to Periyar, and the Union Education Minister, Triguna Sen in Madras (Chennai) on 27th June 1970, presented it to him. The citation hailed Periyar as "the Prophet of the New Age, the Socrates of South East Asia, Father of Social Reform Movement, and Arch enemy of ignorance, superstitions, meaningless customs and base manners."
"Unmai", a Tamil monthly (now a fortnightly) and Modern Rationalist, an English monthly, were started by Periyar in 1970 and 1971 respectively to propagate the ideals of rational humanism more extensively. The Allahabad High Court lifted proscription of the Hindi version of Periyar's book on Ramayana in 1971. In the same year the proscription of "Ravana Kavyam" proscribed by the Congress Government of the Madras State was removed. On 12th January 1971, the DMK Government enacted a law giving equal opportunities to qualified persons to become the Archakas(priests) of Hindu Agamic temples irrespective of their birth in any Varna or Jaathi. Sabha.
In his last meeting at Thiagaraya Nagar. Chennai on 19th December 1973, Periyar gave an inspiring clarion call for action to gain social equality and dignified way of life. He fell ill on the next day and breathed his last on 24th December 1973.
Periyarists’, self-respectors, secularists etc.
They are enrolled members who are all atheists - more than two lakhs families. Membership procedure is after due examination, to see whether they are atheists and ratioinalists, whether they practise our atheist way of life.
Another good news.
For the first time a rationalist humanist university has been flowered named “Periyar Maniammai University” at Vallam, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, declared by Human Resource Development Ministry under Mr. ArjunSinghji., of Govt. of India with forward by the D.M.K. State Government of Tamil Nadu under the leadership of Dr. M.Karunanidhi. I have been elected as Chancellor, and Dr. N. Ramachandran has been appointed as Vice-Chancellor. Both are atheists and rationalists .
Atheist Centre is a social change institution founded by Gora (1902- 75) and Saraswathi Gora (1912 - 2006) in the year 1940 at Mudunur Village in Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, India. On the eve of Independence to the country, Atheist Centre was shifted to Vijayawada in 1947 and since then it has been the hub of activity for promotion of atheism, humanism and social change.
Atheist Centre carries on its multifarious activities with the cooperation and good will of the people. Since the demise of Gora, in 1975, Atheist Centre activities are undertaken under the able guidance of Mrs. Saraswathi Gora, the cofounder of the Centre. She is assisted by a dedicated team of people who are engaged in the promotion of atheism as a way of life. Atheist Centre is also actively engaged in Secular Social Work activities for comprehensive rural development and rendering assistance to the people to develop an alternate way of life on secular and humanist lines.
Removal of Untouchability and Caste:
Atheist Centre gives highest priority to fight the evil practices of untouchability and caste distinctions. In the teeth of severe opposition, Atheist Centre took up programmes of interdining and intercaste marriages to fight the heinous custom of untouchability. Gora made it a point to stay in an untouchable locality whenever he was invited to address a meeting at any village. Interdining programmes were also organised in villages on many occasions. It was a deliberate attempt to usher in social change in a traditional society.
Efforts for castelessness:
Atheist Centre is in the forefront of promoting intercaste and casteless marriages. More than five hundred such marriages took place at the Centre and other parts of the State. Members of Atheist Centre placed an example before others by marrying casteless and breaking the barriers of untouchability. It is the example that inspires others in the efforts for social equality. In addition to the casteless marriages, it also organises social mixipot programmes where food is cooked in different homes, but eaten together transcending the barriers of caste. It organises gatherings of the Inter-caste and casteless couple and honours them. It also encourages marriages under the Special Marriage Act, which is a secular method without reference to caste and religion. Inter-religion marriages between Hindu-Muslim, Hindu-Christian, Hindu-Sikh is held at the Centre strengthening secular values.
Fight against Superstitions:
Dispelling superstitions is an important aspect of the Atheist Centre. The miracle mind is a bane to Indian society and prevents its onward march. Hence, Gora and Saraswathi Gora started fighting superstitions right from 1920s and they viewed eclipse, defying the taboo that pregnant women should not do so. They lived in so called haunted houses and exploded the myth.
Atheist Centre takes up programmes to promote scientific outlook and rational thinking. Fire walking demonstrations are organised in the villages. Many so-called miracles are exposed. Godmen are challenged to prove their so-called supernatural abilities. When Sai Baba visited Vijayawada, Atheist Centre questioned him to prove his miracles. Scores of people were arrested in this connection. It also exposed the hoaxes of rebirth.
Combating Witchcraft and Sorcery:
In a traditional society where people are still steeped in superstitions, the belief in witchcraft and sorcery plays havoc in the lives of innocent people. It leads to feuds and even murders in the villages with the allegations and accusations of being sorcerers. In the erstwhile Hyderabad State, the belief in Witchcraft and Sorcery is still deeply entrenched in the minds of the people. Conceded with the loss of limbs and even lives of some innocent people, the District administration in Medak invited Atheist Centre in 1983 to dispel the superstition. A team of doctors, social workers, psychiatrists and scientists, headed by Dr. Samaram, visited Medak District to study the mass hysteria that reached epidemic proportions. Similar assignments were undertaken in Nalgonda district to educate the people about the nonexistence of witchcraft. ILL Health + Ignorance = Witchcraft. In exposing witchcraft and sorcery, Atheist Centre receives the cooperation of the Indian Medical Association, Police and the Government departments and other social organisations.
Secular and Humanist Education:
With a view to promote literacy and education on secular and humanist lines, Atheist Centre organises Education and Awareness programmes. Adult and women education is an important ingredient of the activities of the Atheist Centre. Substantial work has been done by Atheist Centre in the field of social and adult education. Gora’s books for adult literacy and scientific and social outlook are widely read.
Sex education and family planning:
In a traditional society like India, championing sex education is an uphill task. Undaunted by the hurdles, Atheist Centre is championing sex education. Dr Samaram of Atheist Centre has been writing on sex science in the most popular Telugu daily newspaper Eenadu for more than five years. His Five Volumes “Sex, Science” became very popular. So far, Dr Samaram published over 150 books on health education, family planning, popularising medical science. The books are widely read. For the last thirty years Dr Samaram has been contributing every week in the dailies and weeklies on various aspects of health and his column of questions and answers on sex problems is receiving wide attention. Dr. Samaram, is not only a medical science writer, but also a practicing doctor. He and Dr. Maru are helping in the Organisation of health camps and AIDS awareness programmes on a wider scale.
One of the shining lights of southern India's unbelief movement was Gora (died 1975), or Goparaju Ramachandrarao. He was a Brahmin who stood against the supremacy of Brahmins and hence excommunicated from the caste. He hailed from Andhra Pradesh and was closely associated with M.K.Gandhi in the freedom fight against the British.
Gora never compromised on the principle of atheism and established a hermit in Mudunur village where untouchables were living. His wife Saraswati,( died 2006) who also came from orthodox Brahmin family, was an active participant and together they led the atheist movement.
In 1940, Gora established an atheist center in Vijayawada, a coastal town in Andhra Pradesh and spread the ideas through magazines, literature and meetings. Gora toured many countries of the world and contacted world atheist leaders such as Madalya O`Hair. He make a point, Gora organized beef and pork dinners, targeting both Hindus and Muslims who considered both products as sacred or unclean. He wanted party-less democracy, simple living and the spread of positive atheism, which asserts ethical life. His entire family is still promoting his ideas.
Gora also officiated several inter-caste and inter-religious marriages and both his son and daughter married spouses who came from the untouchable castes, showing by example what their father preached.
The international atheist center established by Gora and managed by his family is well known throughout India as well in rationalist circles around the world for its path breaking activity.
Mr Lavanam, Dr Vijayam, Dr Samaram, Vikas Gora, Hemalatha Lavanam, late Saraswathi Gora,Maaru, Chennupati Vidya ( once elected to Parliament of India) and several family members are working hard to spread the atheist philosophy.They conduct science exhibitions,organize international conferences, publish books and monographs regularly. They run two monthly journals, Atheist ( in English), Naastika patrika in Telugu. Their social service to reform former criminal tribes, rehabilitation to the sunami affected people in coastal areas is well appreciated.Dr Samaram expose the fraudulent claims of alternative medicines, bogus godmen and their divine powers to safeguard the gullible public.
Andhra Pradesh's atheist movements spawned several splinter groups, often with their own magazines and literature. Jayagopal, Katti Padmarao, B.Sambasivarao, Ramakrishna.Gutta Radhakrishna Murthy, Saraiah,M.Subbarao, I.Muralidhar, CLN Gandhi, Siddarth Baksh,M.Basavapunnarao, M.Sharif, Pasala Bhimanna, Vikram and others continue to fly the flag of atheism, however small or localized their efforts might be.
Mr Ravipudi Venkatadri is editing monthly Telugu magazine Hetuvadi to spread rationalist theories. He published several books and monographs in Telugu. He heads the Rationalist movement in Andhra Pradesh.
Other Southern and Western Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka and Maharastra also saw a splurge in rationalist activity in the early 20th century with skeptical and agnostic ideas. Abraham Kovoor electrified the skeptics movement with his speeches and demonstrations, touring several states in India as well as Sri Lanka to spread the movement. His books--debunking astrologers, god men--were popular. Another active member of the rationalist movement in Kerala is Govindan, who edits the magazine, Sameeksha. The duo of Joseph and Sanal Edamaruku were also instrumental in challenging god men and exposing fraudulent “miracles,” touring intensively to demonstrate the falsehood of miracles.
Sanal Edamaruku shifted to Delhi where he started international rationalist organization with a web site, journals, books and ac active campaign.He exposed godmen constantly through demonstrations and media.
Sanal Edamaruku is the President of Rationalist International. He edits the internet publication of Rationalist International, which appears in English, French, German, Spanish and Finnish. He convened three International Rationalist Conferences in 1995, in 2000 and in 2002.
Sanal Edamaruku is also the President of Indian Rationalist Association.
Sanal Edamaruku is investigator of claims of miracles and paranormal, and has exposed hundreds of godmen and charlatans. His studies and exposures of powerful godmen like Satya Sai Baba, Pilot Baba, Balti Baba, Chandra Swami, Swami Sadachari, Mata Amritanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar etc. have significantly influenced the public perception. His dynamic anti-superstition campaign is bringing about a silent revolution in Indian villages. Hundreds of rationalist volunteers trained by Sanal Edamaruku are challenging claims of paranormal all over India and in several other countries. Sanal Edamaruku's campaigns have attracted wide national and international media attention, and have been featured by TV channels Discovery, BBC, Channel IV of UK, CNN and print media including New York Times, Washington post, The Independent, The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Time, Newsweek, Asia Week and all major Indian newspapers.
. He has built up Indian Atheist Publishers, Asia's largest freethought publishing house.
Mr. Sreeni Pattathanam is a Malayalam writer who has ten books and many investigative reports to his credit. He was born in Kollam, Kerala State. He began his career in Police Department, which helped him to find the unjustifiable alliance between the State and Religion. Mr. Sreeni Pattathanam was instrumental, among others, several years ago in exposing the `miracle' of the divine Makarajyoti light, which appears during the annual Ayyappa pilgrimage in Kerala on a remote hill. Having resigned from the Police
service Mr. Pattathanam joined as a teacher in a Government school.
The investigative mind of a police officer and the analytical mind of a school teacher gave Mr. Pattathanam a charming presentation of his topic which reflected in his writings as well. He traveled a lot in the nook and corner of Kerala. He had been the Editor of `Ranarekha', rationalist monthly, published in Malayalam. He was also the State General Secretary of Indian Rationalist Association (IRA) of which Mr. Sanal Edamaruku as its National General Secretary. Currently he is the Chief Editor of `Yukthirajyam', Malayalam rationalist monthly; and, the General Secretary of Bharatiya Rationalist
In Maharastra, a big campaign was organized to convert the Hindus into Buddhists so that they get rid of inequality, untouchability and attain human rights with dignity. B.R. Ambedkar led the movement though without much success.
Meanwhile, skeptics groups began working in states such as West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Punjab, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. B. Premanand arranged for a Federation of all the groups and conducted several meetings at the national level, personally training several people in magic so that faith healers and god men and women could be easily exposed. State level federation in Andhra Pradesh (FARA) actively fought against fraudulent claims of god men, alternative medicines, supernatural claims under the coordinator N.Innaiah.
The Rationalist Association, which started in Bombay during 1930s slowly, picked up the momentum. Abraham Solomon, Lokhandawala, M N Roy, M .V.Ramamurhty, R.Venkatadri , Avula Gopalakrishna Murthy, Innaiah Narisetti were all active participants and advocates of the movement.
M.N.Roy gave philosophical and scientific outlook to unbelief movements at India level. He organized re-orientation study camps where scientific orientation was promoted for renaissance, scientific study of history and asserting sovereignty of the individual in political field. Roy also established Radical Humanist, Renaissance and Rationalist organizations and elevated them at international level, often questioning the prevailing Gandhian spiritual ideology.
Secular activity in Independent India
communist parties won power in three states--West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura--raising hopes that rational and scientific thought will take root. But in all the states, the communists compromised with the religious sentiments of people and never encouraged the efforts of rationalists, humanists and skeptics.
Communist leaders encourage popular religious festivals such as Durga Puja in West Bengal, Ayyappa festival in Kerala so that they get pilgrims and tourist revenue, not counting votes in elections. The fundamental Marxian principle that “Religion is opium to the people” was not implemented during communist rule in India.
The Bihar Buddhiwadi Samaj (Bihar Rationalist Society- BRS) was founded by Ms Kawaljeet, and Dr Ramendra in 1985, as a non-party, non-profit, educational society for promoting rationalism. Kiran Nath Datt, Shivendra and Manavendra, and Ramanand Mandal and Rahul Prasad were the other founder members of the organization. In the beginning they used the name "Bihar Buddhiwadi Samaj" but gradually they have started using "Bihar Rationalist Society" . According to the BRS, blind faith in god and organized religions is a big hurdle obstructing the growth of human knowledge and a rational morality..
Bihar is a major Hindi speaking state of India. It has always been in forefront of social and political movements, in spite of its poverty. Since we decided to concentrate on Bihar, and Bihar is a Hindi speaking state, Hindi was our natural choice of language. We decided to work and to publish rationalist literature -- books, booklets, pamphlets, folders, leaflets, etc. -- mainly in Hindi.
In 1985 Kya Ishwar Mar Chuka Hai? (Is god dead?)was published.. In 1986 Buddhiwadi Ghoshna-patra (Rationalist Manifesto) and Roy ka Nav Manavatavad (M.N.Roy's New Humanism)were published. In 1992 we published Dr. Ambedkar ne Hindu Dharma ka tyag kyon kiya? (Why Dr. Ambedkar renounced Hinduism?) and Sampoorna Kranti aur Buddhiwad (Total Revolution and Rationalism). In 1995 when the BRS completed a decade of its existence the second edition of Kya Ishwar Mar Chuka Hai?was published. In 1996 it published Hindutva, Sangh Pariwar aur Fascism in co-operation with the Indian Renaissance Institute. In February 1997 the second edition of Buddhiwadi Ghoshna-patra was published with a new title Andhavishwas ke Virudh (Against Superstitions). , In the month of September 1997, they have published Dhramnirpeksha Manavtavadi Ghoshna-patra, Hindi translation of Professor Paul Kurtz's A Secular Humanist Declaration. Buddhiwad aur Manavtavadi Dristikone, Hindi translation of A. Solomon's Rationalist and Humanist Outlook has been published in December 1997 along with the second edition of Dr. Ambedkar ne Hindu Dharma ka tyag kyon kiya?
Buddhiwadi (Rationalist), the Hindi journal of Bihar Buddhiwadi Samaj, is being published since January 1987. From 1987 to 1992 thirteen issues of Buddhiwadi were published. Since January 1993 it is being published as a quarterly. Buddhiwadi is sent free to the members of the BRS.
Why I am not a Hindu, the only English publication of the BRS was published in 1993. Its second edition titled Why I am not a Hindu and Why I do not want Ramrajya was published in 1995. This book was well received in the non-Hindi speaking areas of India, particularly in the South. This has enabled us to increase our reach in non-Hindi speaking states. Out of two hundred and five persons associated formally with us, eighty five are from Bihar. The rest of the members and subscribes are from , U.P., M.P., Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh (all Hindi speaking states), Punjab, Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujrat, Andhra Pradesh, Karanataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu and Goa. We also have one life member from U.K. and New Zealand, and one life subscriber from U.A.E. Some of our members are eminent rationalist-humanist and founders or leaders of their own organizations. Some of our members have a radical humanist background, while some others are associated with the Arjak Sangh.
Besides publishing literature, BRS has also organized meetings, seminars and letter-writing campaigns. It has organized and supported miracle-busting campaigns, inter-dining and inter-marriages. One of the highlights of the activities of the BRS has been the establishment of contact and co-operation with organization having broadly similar or complementary aims. Co-operation with friendly organizations has included exchange of articles, journals and literature as well as help in publicizing one another's literature. The BRS has also been publishing introductory articles on friendly organizations in Buddhiwadi along with information regarding literature published by them.
In June 1996 Dr Ramendra, Kawaljeet and Kiran Nath, established Buddhiwadi Foundation, which is a registered, educational, public charitable trust for promoting rationalism-humanism and for eradicating blind faith and superstition. Dr. Kawaljeet is the managing trustee of the organization. Buddhiwadi Foundation and the Bihar Buddhiwadi Samaj are two independent organizations. Buddhiwadi Foundation is a trust, whereas the BRS is a membership-organization. However, it is envisaged friendly and co-operative relationship between these two organizations. As a first step Buddhiwadi Foundation had set up the Buddhiwadi Study and Research Centre in co-operation with the BRS. The Foundation also started bringing out Buddhiwadi Newsletter (English) as an occasional publication. Its first issue was published in May 1997. From January 1998 the publication of the Buddhiwadi has been taken over by the Buddhiwadi Foundation. In last six years the Buddhiwadi Foundation has published five titles in Hindi and three titles in English. Besides, it has taken up the distribution of titles published earlier by the BRS. At present thirteen Hindi and five English titles are being distributed by the Foundation. The Foundation has also been maintaining a website since 1998.
Buddhiwadi Study and Research Centre, a reference library of rationalist-humanist literature was formally inaugurated on 23 February 1997 by Prof. A.K. Verma, former head, Dept. of Philosophy, Patna University. The Centre is situated in Buddhiwadi Seminar Hall, S. K. Puri, Patna. Rationalist and Humanist literature -- books, booklets and journals in Hindi and English, published by various rationalist, humanist, atheist and secular organizations -- are available at the centre for study and reference.
A research-project titled "Rationalism, Humanism and Atheism in Twentieth Century Indian Thought" has been major preoccupation for last six years. .
In 1983 Dabholkar started working in the field of superstition eradication. After helping form MANS in 1989, he helped it grow to more than 170 branches in nearly all districts of Maharashtra. He has been the Executive President (Karyadhyaksha) of MANS since its founding.
He has written 11 books on various aspects of superstitions and their eradication. In the past decades he has confronted many Babas, Buas, Tantrics, and Mantrics, among others, and has led many agitations against various forms of superstitions, water pollution, animal sacrifice etc.
He is also a founder of an addiction treatment institute named Parivartan. Based in Satara, it is the only Institute of its kind in the districts of Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, and Konkan.
At present Dabholkar is also the editor of the weekly Sadhana, which was started by Sane Gurujee. He is the Executive President of the Vivekavahini, an organization of College Teachers and Students of Maharashtra. He is also a trustee of Sakruni, which gives monitory
Scientific Attitude Promotion Van or ‘Vidnyan Bodh Vahini’
Inculcation of Scientific Outlook is one of the main functions of MANS, a mobile Van named ‘Scientific Attitude Promotion Van’ or ‘Vidnyan Bodh Vahini’ has been
built to inculcate a scientific attitude in school children, especially in rural areas. Since its inception MANS has carried out more than 1200 programs in different schools all over Maharashtra.
MANS workers travel in this well equipped van visiting schools and presenting a four hours program In this program they teach basic principals of science by using scientific toys and other aids. There is also a program for imparting sex education wherein films made for adolescent boys and girls are shown separately. Posters about astronomy are displayed to develop interest in students about the universe. Books promoting scientific and moral ethical outlook are displayed and sold at affordable prices. A mini science festival like atmosphere is created whenever this van the ‘Vidnyan Bodh Vahini’ conducts a four-hour program in any school.
The vehicle is equipped with a small kitchen, toilet, bath and boarding accommodation for five people. Three sides of the rear portion of the van can be opened and can be used as a book shop as well as a stage. It is also provided with a big screen and a projector to show educational films to many people at a time. The new custom-made van providing for the stay of MANS workers will surely help us further our mission- Promotion of Scientific Attitude.
Discovering Science Examinations or ‘Vidnyan Shodh’ Examinations
Tests have been developed with the view to inculcate attitude of enquiry and search for knowledge amongst the students. Students are expected to read relevant books and consult their friends and parents to solve the questions set for them in the test paper. Nearly 15000 Students have appeared for this examination this year the project has proved quite effective and useful for the students.
Moral Rational Movement or ‘Vivek Vahini’
It is a movement initiated by MANS for teachers and students of colleges. It aims at making students into Thoughtful, Discerning, Judicious, Ethical, Principled, Civilized, Honourable, Rational, Wise and Cultured Citizens, enabling them to put their rational thinking into practice through concrete programmes for the betterment of themselves and society. This organization has gained accreditation from the Education Department of the Government of Maharashtra State and works under the chairmanship of the lecturers / professors of the respective colleges. Study Circle and some novel programmes are a few of its activities.
It is a sister organization of the MANS.
Truth Seekers Marriage Ceremony or ‘Satya Shodhak’ Marriage Ceremony
Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti helps and propagates the ‘Satya Shodak’ marriage ceremony to prevent huge amount of money being wasted by many people in unnecessary pomp and show in conventional marriages. Many people from all strata of society get entrapped in debt leading to untold hardship.
Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the great social reformer from Maharashtra, of the 20th century, propagated this marriage ceremony that was simple, inexpensive and making the Brahmin Priest’s services redundant. Mahatma Phule started ‘Satyashodhak Samaj’ – The Society of ‘Truth Seekers’. Hence the marriage ceremony adopted by this society is called 'Satyashodhak Marriage’.
In West Bengal, for instance,Prafulla Kumar Naik under local humanists and rationalists have questioned the claims of miracles by Mother Theresa. Over in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, focus has been against god men and women who claim to provide miracle cures. Andhra rationalists opposed unscientific alternative medicines (Homeopathy), exposing the bogus claims of Alex Orbito (psychic surgery), the swallowing of live fish for asthma cures, the hugging of Matha Amrithananda Mayi in order to obtain prosperity, Geomancy (Vaastu).
Mr Manoj Datta, Mr Subhankar Ray, Mr Ajit Bhattacharya, Bhaskar Sur and others are continuing to spread Humanist message. Prof Amlan Datta, former vice chancellor of Viswabharati and Prof Shib Narayan ray are the veterans in West Bengal who constantly inspire the humanists through their writings and speeches.
Several books have been published with documentation about fraudulent god men such as Satya Sai baba (Murders in Sai Baba Ashram by Premanand), Jillellamudi Amma (by M.V.Ramamurthy); The Truth about Bible ( N.V.Brahmam), The falsehood of Geomancy( R.Venkatadri),Lie hunting (N.Innaiah) the Unscientific Nature of Astrology ( Dr Narasimhaiah), Why I Am Not A Hindu (Ramendra.),Be gone Godmen(Abraham Kovoor).Books exposing the holy scriptures (Critique of Hinduism by Laxman Sastri Joshi, The Truth about the Gita by V.R.Narla, Gita by Premnath Bazaz, Critique on Ramayana by P.H.Gupta,Ochre Robe by Agehananda Bharati,writings of Kushwant Singh) also helped spread of skeptical thinking.
Basava Premanand, Sanal Edamaruku, Innaiah Narisetti,Ramanamurthy (editor Vijaya Viharam telugu magazine) and G R R Babu continue to question the authenticity of holy persons and have taken their message to an international level, drawing considerable media attention to what is going on inside India.Charvaka ,a telugu magazine edited by Mr Thotakura Venkateswarlu from Vijayawada had great impact on youth in early 1970s.
Increasingly, the movement is also getting help from Indians who are now living abroad, people such as Aramalla Purnachandra, Nirmal Mishra,Jyothi Sankar(died in 1998) in U.S.A who are providing key intellectual backing to India's small number of humanists, skeptics and rationalists.
Despite their efforts, these miracle cures continue to draw thousands of believers, many of whom are conned into making financial donations in the hope of curing their ills.
Punjab rationalist activity
Founded in the year 1984 under the leadership of Megh Raj Mitter Tarksheel Society aims to disseminate rationalist ideas and scientific temper among the Indian people in order to eradicate religious fanaticism, communalism, caste system, untouchability and superstitions. Affiliated to Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Tarksheel Society advocates the separation of religion and education. The society has units in almost all the villages and towns of Punjab.
It is mainly confined to the state of Punjab.
To accomplish its mission, the society organizes public meetings, conferences, study camps, seminars and publishes rationalist literature. The society undertakes campaigns to expose the so-called miracles and charlatanry of godmen who claim supernatural powers. Towards this the Society has announced a cash award of rupees two lakh (US$5,000) for anybody who demonstrates supernatural powers or miracles under fraud-proof conditions. The Society has so far published about 50 books in Punjabi and Hindi on rationalism and science to inculcate scientific temper among people.
The society publishes its owns journals in Punjabi and Hindi. Tarak Bodh (Logical Cognition) and Vigayan Jyoti (Scientific Enlightenment) are brought out in Punjabi and Tarak Jyoti (Logical Enlightenment)
Orissa rationalist activity
Orissa Rationalist Society (ORS) is functioning under the leadership of inaugural session Prof. D.N. Padhi.and. Prof. D.Sahoo. Md Sukur. Dr. A.K.Patra, a scientist of the Orissa University of agriculture and Technology extends his help and cooperation. Dr. N.Patel, A.D.M.O, Kalahandi , Dr. B.C. Panda a noted gynaecologist extend their help in secular activity . Dr. A.K.Patra gave some action programme to dispel superstitions from masses..
,Andhra Pradesh has the Atheist Society of India, the Radical Humanist Centre, Inkollu, Chirala, Renaissance Institute, two Rationalist Associations of Andhra Pradesh, the Humanist and Ethical Association of Hyderabad, and the Institute for Advancement of Women, to name a few. They publish 10 journals in Telugu and English, including Hetuvadi, Rationalist Voice, Nastika Margam, and The Atheist.. A recent catalogue showed nearly 450 Humanist book titles available for sale in the Telugu language. Several universities include M.N. Roy’s Humanist philosophy as part of their Philosophy and Political Science curriculum. The Atheist Centre, an Associate Member and recipient of IHEU’s International Humanist Award for pioneering social reform activities, and in memory of whose founder, Gora, the Government of India issued a commemorative stamp in 2002, is based in Vijayawada. The Atheist Centre’s activities stand as an internationally recognized monument to atheist and Humanist social action. Not very far from Vijayawada is the independent Charvaka School run by B. Ramakrishna( died in 2007) in Nidamarru, with its own textbooks on atheist morality for children..
Many individuals, too, have tried to support Humanism and rationalism in their own way. Volunteers run rationalist book stalls in Nellore and Nalgonda. Gurajala Seetharamayya has created a rationalist lodge in Tenali town – guests at the Naveena Lodge will find literature by rationalists like Tripuraneni in their desks, not Gideon Bibles. Some have added “Nastik” (meaning “atheist”) to their names to reflect their way of life. A carpenter by profession, D. Peralingam has named his bicycle “Vehicle for Rationalist Consciousness”, painted rationalist slogans on it, fixed a microphone to it, and plays Humanist songs and speeches as he travels.
Bringing together many of these diverse Humanist activities to create a strong and powerful profile and unified identity for Humanism in the state is FARA – the Federation of Rationalist, Atheist and Humanist organizations of Andhra Pradesh. It is headed by veteran journalist and Humanist, and Chair of IHEU Committee on Religious Abuse of Children, Dr. Innaiah. Under Dr. Innaiah’s leadership Humanism and rationalism have received prominent publicity in the media. Jana Vigyana Vedika, a science popularization organization, is a close collaborator. The rationalist and Humanist movement has the active support of Dr. P.M. Bhargava, a distinguished biochemist, and Professor Balasubramanyam, the 1997 winner of UNESCO’s Kalinga Award for Popularization of Science. Justice Sambasiva Rao, a respected ombudsman, and the feminist Malladi Subbamma are both closely associated with Humanism. With such support and leadership, but also facing the growth of Hindu nationalism, the movement has great strengths but many challenges as well.
Center for Inquiry India
In 2005 center for Inquiry India commenced its work with Hyderabad as head quarters. The activities include publications of books by Paul Kurtz, M.N.Roy, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris ( all translations in Indian languages), writings of Dr N.Innaiah, translations of Venigalla Komala.
Research projects undertaken are: survey of scientists on their belief systems in collaboration with Trinity college secular organization and Child abuse project with the cooperation of New Zealand center for Inquiry.
National seminars on population problem, child abuse by religions, Women and equality problems which were addressed by eminent scholars and foreign delegates.
Media exposure on various problems like alternative medicines, superstitions that eat the vitality of the people.
Dr N.Innaiah is the chairman of the center with directors from various walks of life.It spread its activities throughout the country including Delhi, Pune,Mumbai.
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Address: Rajghat, KURUKSHETRA-136118, Haryana, India
Country or region: India
Objects and purpose
To spread secular and rational education and develop scientific tempre among global people so that a sane, healthy, war-free, nonviolent and just social order can be evolved.
Nature of operations
- Arrange seminars, symposiums and exhibitions
- Educating cate taking and rehabilitating street beggar children, orphans and destituted women
- Imparting services and relief during natural calamaties, genocide, riots etc
- Fighting against caste system, human rights, women's rights and children's rights violations
- Working for upliftment of Dalts and Adivasis (Aboriginals)
- Fighting, supporting and educating the deprived section of men, women and children about their rights and duties in a democratic state
- We are non-stop though persecuted and not helped.
- Global Fraternity
- Vaijnanik Manavatavad
Social Development Foundation (SDF) held a Humanist workshop at Ghazipur, India with the Dalit community on 15 and 16 of August 2007. SDF's project in Ghazipur has provided education and training for over 60 girls who would otherwise have been condemned to a lifetime of demeaning manual scavenging. SDF's director, V B Rawat writes: "The issues we discussed included inculcating the spirit of critical analysis in our life, Humanism, rationalism and how we can use these practices in improving our life. We honoured the girls who were part of our scholarship scheme as well as learning computer skills and sewing at our centre."
It was an emotional occasion for some of the participants. One of them was Vibha, whose father had wanted to stop her education but was persuaded by SDF to continue with it. Deepmala had once needed jeans and a shirt but felt deeply discouraged by her father's apprehension of what society might think
Mr Prakash Narayan actively associated with humanist programs in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. He edited Humanist outlook magazine and published books.
Goa Science Forum is a well known group of science and rationalist activists based in Goa, India. Affiliated to The Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA), it conducts workshops on various issues with a view to spread Scientific Temper, Humanism, Rationalism, spirit of inquiry and reforms.
The Forum also encourages the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a the scientific point of view.
Its current President is R. G. Rao
Radical Humanist magazine, monthly, managing editor Rekha Saraswat, Meerut,UP
The Secularist magazine, bimonthlyl edited by V.K.Sinha, Mumbai
Modern Rationalist, monthly editor K.Veeramani
The Atheist, monthly Vijayawada, A.P editor Dr Vijayam
Dr Ramendra Buddhiwadi Samaj website
Vidya Bhushan Rawat website
V.B.Karnik:Life of M.N.Roy, Strikes in India, Indian Trade Unions
Shib Narayan Ray: Selected writings of M N Roy (Oxford publication in 4 volumes)
Biography of M N Roy
Samaren Roy: The Restless Brahmin
The Humanist Outlook is a quarterly magazine published by the Indian Humanist Union.
The internet-based news bulletin of Rationalist International edited by Sanal Edamaruku
GORA – His Life & Work – Dr. (Mrs.) Sunanda Shet
Why I am not a Hindu by Dr. Ramendra
Indian Skeptic montly,Podanur, Tamil Nadu, India. Founded by Basava Premanand