Bhagat Singh

Jacob Levich jlevich at
Wed Jul 10 20:44:05 MDT 2002

No less than five Indian popular films have been released this year about
the Marxist revolutionary Bhagat Singh, hanged as a terrorist by the
British in 1932. At least two of them, I'm informed, are reasonably true to
his life and thought.

While researching the films I came across an extraordinary essay, "Why I am
an Atheist," written by Singh in his jail cell some months before his
death. Here's an excerpt:

"I ask why your omnipotent God, does not stop every man when he is
committing any sin or offence ? He can do it quite easily. Why did he not
kill war lords or kill the fury of war in them and thus avoid the
catastrophe hurled down on the head of humanity by the Great War? Why does
he not just produce a certain sentiment in the mind of the British people
to liberate India? Why does he not infuse the althuistic enthusiasm in the
hearts of all capitalists to forgo their rights of personal possessions of
means of production and thus redeem the whole labouring community-nay the
whole human society from the bondage of Capitalism. You want to reason out
the practicability of socialist theory, I leave it for your almighty to
enforce it. People recognize the merits of socialism in as much as the
general welfare is concerned. They oppose it under the pretext of its being
impracticable. Let the Almighty step in and arrange everything in an
orderly fashion. Now don't try to advance round about arguments, they are
out of order. Let me tell you, British rule is here not because God wills
it but because they possess power and we do not dare to oppose them. Not
that it is with the help of God that they are keeping us under their
subjection but it is with the help of guns and rifles, bomb and bullets,
police and millitia and our apathy that they are successfully committing
the most deplorable sin against society- the outrageous exploitation of one
nation by another. Where is God ? What is he doing ? Is he enjoying all I
these woes of human race ? A Nero; A change (changez): Down with him."

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