In his introductory notes to a new collection of writings by the revolutionary freedom-fighter and political thinker Bhagat Singh, the historian S Irfan Habib, who edited the book, writes that Singh has always been a “passionate ideological presence in my life.” Habib says that though Singh went to the gallows as a revolutionary nationalist, most historic records of Singh’s life have ignored his legacy as a socio-political thinker.
“Bhagat Singh was ... a prolific writer, an insightful thinker and a sensitive young nationalist,” Habib writes. “It is significant to read what Bhagat Singh wrote ... particularly in the midst of seething university campuses and the spread of exclusivist politics today.” The following is an extract from an essay included in the book, titled, “Why I Am an Athiest,” which Singh wrote in October 1930. In it, he directs several questions towards Hindu believers, in particular on reincarnation and karma.
You Hindus, you say all the present sufferers belong to the class of sinners of the previous births. Good. You say the present oppressors were saintly people in their previous births, hence they enjoy power. Let me admit that your ancestors were very shrewd people, they tried to construct theories strong enough to hammer down all efforts of reason and disbelief. But let us analyse how far this argument can really stand.