When I look back into my past I can not but wonder at the changes that occurred in my life. Where have I started my journey and where have I reached! I did struggle a lot all these years to reach where I am today. In my struggle for existence my parents, friends and, later, my husband, helped me tremendously. I enjoyed the warmth of my friends throughout my life and I still do. The fragrance of friendship was with me at every major turn in my life. I love people and I have immense faith and trust in them. If I need any help of any kind, I look toward my fellow human beings.

I am an atheist. Atheism is a way of life for me. I don’t believe that a supernatural power rules this world. Nature is the prime caretaker of this world. If we protect nature it will protect us.

I said that atheism is a way of life for me. It has been so for the last thirty years. You may ask how I became an atheist and who influenced me. Nobody inspired me. Rahul Sankrutyayan’s “Olga to Ganga” made a tremendous impact on me. This book changed my whole attitude. After that I read a number of other books. Premchand’s “Godan” also inspired me. Before that I used to be very religious and believe in god. I had attended Bhajans and religious meetings. I remember participating in a religious function held in a temple and getting 1st prize for my performance on Gita. We were asked to read some Sanskrit slokas of our choice from Gita and explain their meaning. That too in front of thousands of people. I read some slokas and explained their meaning. Everybody appreciated my effort and I got the 1 st prize. That happened in the 70s and I was just 19 at the time. One reason for my prize-winning Gita performance was probably my training in Sanskrit. I was schooled in the Oriental system and consequently I had studied only Sanskrit from 6th to 10th standards, i.e., Sanskrit and nothing else, no math, no social studies, no science. My Sanskrit education included studying Meghasandesam, Kumarasambhavam, Kadambari, Raghuvamsham, Champu Ramayanam, Mrichakatikam, Amarakosam and other classical texts. This background must have helped me get the 1st prize in the Gita competition.

I should tell you about my family background. I was born in an agricultural family. My grandfather had seven sons and two daughters. My father was the second child. It was a big joint family. After my father married my mother, they remained with the joint family. My mother and the other women used to cook for nearly a hundred members of the joint family every day. The lives of these women, including my mother, were miserable. After the men ate, they would have the leftovers to eat, if at all. Occasionally, they would fill their stomachs with ganji (rice liquid) spiced with onions. In my childhood I noticed all these discriminations towards women in the joint family. At that time I was too young to understand the politics of the family. In our family my grandfather was king. He made all the decisions. My father had no voice. He worked in the fields all day. He didn’t even a have a shirt on his back. All seven of the brothers together had five, six shirts. My grandfather was miserly in the extreme. He expanded his holding to a hundred acres of land, but he would not spend money even on basic necessities. My education would cost money, but whom would I ask for it? My father was a frail man, almost naked with a small piece of cloth to cover his body, sleeping on the ground after a tedious day of work in the fields. How could I fight with that man for my education? I never approached him about my education, but he took the initiative on his own and tried to enroll me in a Christian school near my village. When my father escorted me to the school one day for admission, I declined to join. The Principal of the school told me during the interview that I should not wear “bottu” from that day on. I told him then and there that I would not remove my bottu and I would not join his school. I narrate this incident just to show that I was opinionated and traditional those days.

I joined the Oriental school when I was twelve years old. This school was 4 kms away from my village and I had to walk the 8 kms every day. The name of my village was Sitaramapuram. It was a small village and I loved it. My house was situated in the middle of fruit gardens that included mango, sapota, custard apple, and cashew nut groves. On one side of the village was Godavari and on the other the Bay of Bengal. I loved Godavari and boating on the river under the light of the full moon. I am still attached to my village and enjoy its warmth whenever I visit there.

Until 2005, my mother and I were together. When I migrated to Hyderabad my mother came with me. She was about 80-years old when she left me and this world at midnight on the 14th of May, 2005. I took her loss very naturally. Everybody dies one day. I served my mother wholeheartedly and cared for her myself. Though I had two brothers, one elder to me and the other younger, and two elder sisters, I took pride in taking care of my mother all by myself and making sure she was never wanting or unhappy. In the end, she passed away with ailments common to old age and I took every care to send her away with dignity and without any mental agony. When my mother was in the hospital in a very critical condition, I never prayed anyone to save my mother. I know her condition and the doctors told me that my mother was living her last days. I accepted the reality and I never propitiated any supernatural power for my mother. My mother had lived with dignity and went away with the same dignity. We took her body to our village and burned her remains in a family plot. My mother’s memory will remain with me till I die.

My parents never forced me to get married. They understood my ambitions, aims and desires. I made it clear to them that I wanted to live independently, on my own terms and conditions. I got a job in 1979, a year after my father passed away, and I started my independent life.

In 1980 I attended the International Atheist Conference held in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. A large number of atheists from all over the world came to that conference. It was organized by the renowned atheist from Andhra Pradesh Sri Goparaju Ramachandra Rao (GORA). I participated in all the programs. I walked on fire to prove that there are no miracles and no maya manthras. If you are bold enough you can walk even on fire. My romance also stated there. It was there that I met my life partner. When I was walking fast on hot coals, at the other end of the field a man extended his hand to me to keep me from falling. He praised my courage. We remained there at the atheist conference for four days and became good friends. A year after that, on Teachers’ day, the 5th of September 1981, we registered our marriage and started living together. I did not want to wear a Mangalasutra or other symbols of a married woman. I never wore bangles.

I never lived in the home of my in-laws. Instead, my husband came to live with me. Those days we managed to live in a two-room house rented for Rs 125/ per month. In fact, we lived in that house for several years. At the time my husband was a junior lawyer earning only 500 Rupees a month. I had a government job and we managed quite well. At present I am living in a big bungalow with a beautiful garden. My husband became a Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High court. I resigned from my job to work full time on Bhumika.. Today Bhumika is a well known feminist magazine. I can say proudly that Bhumika is the best known feminist magazine not only in Andhra Pradesh but in all of South India. All these years I dedicated my whole time to Bhumika, leaving little time for anything else, though I do manage to steal a little time now and then to write a short story. But I don’t have any regrets. I fulfilled my ambition to run a serious magazine for women with a feminist point of view.

All these years I struggled for my Identity. I never changed my surname. I never added my husband’s name or his family name to mine. I am a self-made woman. I never prayed or bowed before anybody or any god for this or that. Whatever I achieved, it was entirely through my determination and hard work. That’s all. I never studied science but I developed a scientific way of living. I respect all religions and I developed a secular way of living. I don’t believe in heaven or hell. I believe there is no hell like war. I hate wars. What is there in heaven? Rambha, Urvashi and Menaka? For whom? For men to enjoy? There is nothing for women even in heaven? It is all man made. He created it for himself. We have to serve these men in heaven too? What kind of heaven is it? In India upper caste (Brahmins) men created this god, heaven, hell and so on to suppress dalits and women. Well, that is a different discussion. Ok

I tried to narrate my story and my achievements as an atheist. I never beg anybody for anything. If I have a dream, I try to fulfill it with my own effort. If I fail the whole responsibility lies with me and me only. If I succeed the sweetness of that success also belongs only to me. Yes, I am the creator of my own “destiny”. I will accept failure and success in the same way. I am always prepared to accept whatever happens to me anywhere, anytime. This is my Philosophy. Atheism gave me this courage and strength. That’s all.


Madam ! You said "In India upper caste (Brahmins) men created this god, heaven, hell and so on to suppress dalits and women."

So it follows that the Brahmins of yore themselves did not believe in God, heaven or hell, but preached these things to dalits and women and oppressed them. How shallow and hollow your atheism is ! You became an atheist because you hate Brahmins. I raise a toast to millions of Indian atheists like you. All of them became atheists because they hate the Brahmins just like you. ha ha ha !!!
S said…
I am not an atheist. Yet, I totally agree with your statement - "Atheism is way of life". Even Religion is a way of life, IMHO. Being a theist or atheist is ur choice, to lead a way of life .... I feel.
Satyavati said…
తాడేపల్లి బాలసుబ్రహ్మణ్యం గారూ నా వ్యాసం మీద స్పందించినందుకు ధన్యవాదాలు.
మీరు రాసినట్టు నేను బ్రాహ్మణుల మీద కోపంతో నాస్తికురాలను కాలేదు.నేను దాదాపు 35 సంవత్సరాలుగా నాస్తికత్వాన్ని నా జీవన విధానంగా మలుచుకున్నను.ఎవరి మీదో కోపంతో చేసుకున్న నిర్ణయం కాదు.బ్రాహ్మణుల మీద నాకేమి కోపం లేదు.నాకు చాలా మంచి మిత్రులు వున్నారు.ఇటీవలే నాకు సంస్ర్కుతం బోధించిన మాస్టారు గురించి కౌముది వెబ్ మాగజైన్ రాసాను. మార్చ్ 2007 సంచిక చూడండి. ఆయన బ్రాహ్మణుడే.
చాలా చాలా ఆశక్తికరమైన టపా.
మీ అనుభవాలు నా అనుభవలాకు మొత్తం వ్యతిరేకంలా ఉన్నాయి. నేను చాలా చిన్నవాడినిలెండి. మీతో పోల్చుకునే అర్హత లేదు :)

నేను చిన్నప్పటినుండి లెక్కలు, భౌతిక శాస్త్రం మీదే ధ్యాస ఉంచాను. చాలా చాలా మంచి డిగ్రీలు సంపాదించా..కాని ఎంత ఎక్కువ చదివితే అంత భక్తి పెరిగిపోయింది :)

ఐదేళ్ళగా సంస్కృతం నేర్చుకోవడానికి ప్రయత్నిస్తున్నా.
పొరుగింటి పుల్లకూరలా...
ఈ లెక్కలు, logic ఎంత limited అన్నది గ్రహించి, ఇంకా ఇంకా ఫిలసాఫికల్ అవుతున్నా..

ఎవరో అన్నట్టు కోందరికి ఈశ్వరుడు దైవం కొందరికి న్యూటన్ దైవం. లెక్కలు లెక్కల ప్రకారమే రైటు.
అన్నట్టు మా నాన్నగారు నాస్తికులు. :)

మీరు ఎంతో సాధించి, భావి తరాల ఆడవారికి స్ఫూర్తి నిచ్చినందుకు అభినందనలు.

ఒక పక్క గోదావరి, ఒక పక్క సముద్రం?
ఇంకేమి కావాలండి జీవితంలో? :)