History Sadly Repeats Itself
But History Will Remember Narendra Dabholkar With Respect
The history of the progress of humankind is replete with attacks, murders of humiliation of rationalists who have stood their ground in support of reason against all odds. It has also been marked by the progress of humankind from illusions, magic, irrationality and unquestioned obedience to growth on the strength of reasoned accumulation of knowledge that is being constantly challenged for authenticity, efficacy and sustainability. It harks back to Pluto, through Bruno to the present day Narendra Dabholkar. The core idea that links the thoughts and lives of these people has been an emphasis that we human beings have a brain and that we need to use it not just to memorize but to challenge and further proper understanding of the process based on accumulated storehouse of established knowledge. All that they have said is that people must be equal and therefore must have the right to challenge inequality, irrationality and unethical practices. But of course, inequality, irrationality and unethical practices are also the very same processes that have sustained the dominance of the mighty few over the billions. It is by using the irrationality and by diverting their mind from the appalling present to the concocted heaven and after-life pleasures that dictators and intolerant tyrants have resorted to this to silence opposition. But history educates us that the growth has been of rationality, slowly but inexorably. It is a pity that they are so ignorant of history that they repeat the same historical blunders. Rather than seeing the reason as supporting their own lives and freeing them from irrational fears, they consider such fears as the foundation of their lives – sadly.
Much have been made by every religious leaders of the wrath of god, lightning, flood and other natural devastation. Much worse have been made out of the power of devotion, mantras and incantations. The truth is no mantra and incantation has been powerful against us. The opponents; the intolerant people, the enemies of democracy, liberty, equality and fraternity, had to resort to weapons developed by the very science they were supposed to oppose because it is anti-god and anti-religion. The difference between religion and science is that that when life did not have science it had religion. Then science dawned on humanity and since then slowly but surely it has acquired power in fighting the so-called wrath of gods and diminished their power. From the will of god, it has identified viruses, chemicals, probability, and other causes and has taken steps to neutralise god’s armory. While individually everybody has gained from this, the unchallenged power of god and the user of such power, the clergy and the businessman who thrive from the feeling have always tried to promote a life based on faith. They also construct the stereotype of the other group as faithless; ie, themselves as ‘true’ believers and the other group as non-believers. One can always very easily replace those words with faith without reason and others as having faith with reason. When human being are becoming the centre of the universe and not some gods, we can always name the first group as non-humanists and the other group as humanists.
These so-called believers have served to perpetrate heinous crimes against those blamed for practicing ‘witchrcaft’. The torture, humiliation, and often sexual assault are in support of ‘powers’ that do not have any shred of evidence of existence. Promoters have used guns, not their supernatural powers to threaten rational beings. We, the rationalists and atheists, even our deaths show completely false these supernatural powers are against the reasoning of a person.
This fight will go on. As even in trying to eliminate the person who opposed the irrationality the irrational elements have had to resort to weapons of rationality (not a much-vaunted mantras and incantations of dark power but a bullet), it implies a victory: A resounding victory for rationalism. Every fighter of rationalism knows they carry this risk as it hurts the money, power and ascendancy acquired through corrupt means through crime against humanity. We are not afraid of that. What we are afraid of is leaving behind a world without the beacon of reason. Their ultimate sacrifice will give rise to more and more Narendra Dabholkars. We salute you and all that you have stood for in your active social life as a change agent and we unite ever so strongly to not to let your death go unrepented. The fight against irrationality will now be fought on more grounds and more fearlessly and fiercely than before.
We always knew these exploiters are cowards. They cannot reason, even if it is ultimately for their own good. It is for the good of humanity that rationalism fights. Through this murder, these characters have come out into the open in India and have shown themselves as pitiable weaklings. A rational thinker is a free human and a free human is always a threat to the despots. But look at the way they end. How easily the religious scriptures are willing to favour the powerful. Today, in the name of liberal Hindu traditions, they are willing to do dictatorial harms. But, the idea is far more powerful than a person. It gets etched when people face guns to support it. They do not diminish but acquire larger than life presence in the history of human progress. Even as life ends, the idea lives. Narendra – no end era, will be remembered, cherished and carried on in our hearts whenever we face these despots.
Postscript: Even as this is being written, we have news streaming in of the Maharashtra Government passing the ordnance on the anti-superstition bill that Dr. Dabholkar was so passionately fighting for.
Odisha Rationalist Society.