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 towards 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.


Glad to hear various ways of life..The other side of the same coin gives the same strength to people who follow it...:)..Nature / Supreme beings ...are on two different sides of the coin? yeah right! God help/bless one and all
మాగంటి వంశీ మోహన్ gaaru,
Well said. But, If the writer intention to go par with nature, should it require to criticise the other side? Apparently,Her vision is about women world and saying god is men and everything is for men. If god is women, would it still allowed in atheism then what's the link between woman and atheism, I wonder? later her angst outed with an immatured contradict statement saying
{In India upper caste (Brahmins) men created this god, heaven, hell and so on to suppress dalits and women.} Would the above statement really make any sense and onto including particular caste? Then who is GORA? Though he excommunicated later, but was belongs to so-called said caste.
So fun and If it really matters, she would chosen then foreign gods.
Why so atheism? I think she might want to leave such fancy statement just sake of argument polarisation which always fit for nothing. HENCE BROTHERS, PLs DONT GET ATTACH TO IT.

In a nutshell, I felt "ATHEISM IS A WAY OF LIFE" is somewhat a 5th class standard boy..oh.. sorry.. girl narrated a story which obviously perplexed with random thoughts.

And as so-called freedom-of-write, Satyavati ji always invited to ignore my comment as a 1st standard boy given imposition.
nenu sytham said…
Nice post..Appreciate your courage and struggle for Identity. Religion is just opposite to Reasoning and I think, any religion wont stand for practical analysis. I can relate myself to your post very much, as I was also very religious when I was a kid and came out of that Ideology as I grown up.I too fail to understand the concept of Heaven. One can feel Happyness only if he knows how 'sad' feels, which wont be available in the so called 'heaven'. Thinking differently is always a challenge and I wish you are strong enough to go ahead on your own path.. gud luck.. and Thanks..
Praveen Sarma said…
నేను నాస్తికుడినే. మా నాన్నగారు చనిపోయినప్పుడు నేను శ్రాద్ధకర్మ చెయ్యలేదు. మా బంధువులు నన్ను తిట్టి మా పెదనాన్న గారి చేత శ్రాద్ధకర్మ చెయ్యించారు. కర్మకాండలని త్యజించే ధైర్యం ఎంత మందికి ఉంది? మా జిల్లాలో ఆర్థికంగా ముందున్నవారి ఇళ్లలో ఎవరైనా చనిపోతే పురీ (ఒరిస్సా) వెళ్లి సముద్రంలో అస్తికలు కలపడం లేదా రాజమండ్రి వెళ్లి గోదావరిలో అస్తికలు కలపడం ఆచారం. నన్ను రాజమండ్రి వెళ్లి అస్తికలు కలపమన్నారు. అందుకు కూడా ఒప్పుకోలేదు. కర్మకాండల మీద నమ్మకం లేకపోయినా పది మంది ఏమనుకుంటారోనని వాటిని పాటించేవాళ్లే ఎక్కువ. స్త్రీవాదం లాగే నాస్తికత్వం కూడా కబుర్లు చెప్పడానికే పరిమితమైపోయింది.
Anonymous said…
Everyone can afford to say "There is no God" as along as one is endowed fairly enough physically and economically. Atheism is the rich man's prerogative just as feminism is the rich woman's luxury.
Praveen Sarma said…
I am not against atheism or feminism. Actually rich people spend more for religious rituals than poor people. తండ్రి చనిపోతే పురీ వెళ్లి సముద్రంలో లేదా రాజమండ్రి వెళ్లి గోదావరిలో అస్తికలు కలిపేది డబ్బున్నవాళ్లే కానీ పేదవాళ్లు కాదు. తద్దినం భోజనాలకని డబ్బులు బాగా ఖర్చు పెట్టేది కూడా డబ్బున్నవాళ్లే. డబ్బున్నవాళ్లు వ్యక్తిగత గొప్పతనం (personal prestige) కోసం ఈ ఖర్చులు పెడితే పేదవాళ్లు పది మంది ఏమనుకుంటారోనని సంకోచంతో అప్పు చేసి ఖర్చులు పెడతారు. Rituals are luxuries of rich people but not of poor people.
voleti said…
మేడమ్ గార్కి నమస్తే..పోలీస్,న్యాయ వ్యవస్థ కన్నా చచ్చిపోయిన తర్వాత నేను చేసిన పాపాలే నన్ను ఏ స్థితిలో వుంచుతాయో నన్న భయమే చాలా మందిని తప్పులు చేయకుండా చేస్తొంది.. అవునా కాదా? అప్పుడూ .. ఇప్పుడూ కూడా.. జీవితమంతా ఇలాటి వాదాల్నే వినిపించిన చలం ఆఖర్న అరుణాచలంలో ఎందుకు గడిపాడు.. శాస్త్రమే గట్టిదని నమ్మిన ఆధునిక బౌతిక శాస్త్ర వేత్తలెందరో ఆఖర్న"గాడ్ ఈజ్ గ్రేట్" అనలేదా?దేవుడు ఎక్కడో లేడు.. మన లోనూ..ఎదుటి మనిషి లోనూ వున్నాడు.. అయినా ఎవరి ఇష్టాలు, నమ్మకాలు వాళ్ళవి..ఇన్నేళ్ళయినా జనాల్ని "గుడుల్లోకి..మసీదులోకి, చర్చిల్లోకి" వెళ్ళకుండా ఎవరైనా ఆపగలుగు తున్నారా.. మనం చేసే పనిలో.. కష్టంతో బాటు.. ధైర్యం, ఆత్మ విశ్వాసం పెరగాలంటే ఎవరైనా దైవాన్ని ఆశ్రయిస్తారు.. అది ఏ రూపమైనా.. దాంతో ఎంతటి విషమ పరీక్షనైనా ఎదుర్కొని విజయాన్ని సాధిస్తాడు.. మనం నమ్మిన సిద్ధాంతం ఏదైనా పరనింద.. అత్మస్తుతి పనికి రాదని చెప్తాయి..దైవభక్తి మంచిది.. కాని మూఢ భక్తి మంచిది కాదు..ఈ నామాటలతో ఎవరినైనా నొప్పిస్తే క్షమించ ప్రార్ధన..
Praveen Sarma said…
ఒకప్పుడు సైంటిస్టులు జాతకాలని కూడా నమ్మేవాళ్లు. టోలెమీ జ్యోతిష్యాన్ని నమ్మాడని ఇప్పటి సైంటిస్టులు జ్యోతిష్యాన్ని నమ్ముతారా? కనుక సైంటిస్టుల వ్యక్తిగత విశ్వాసాల గురించి ప్రస్తావనలు అనవసరం.
Praveen Sarma said…
సైంటిస్ట్ కూడా సమాజంలోని ఒక వ్యక్తే. అతను ప్రత్యేకమైనవాడు కాదు. అందుకే సమాజంలోని నమ్మకాల ప్రభావం సైంటిస్టుల మీద ఉంటుంది. సున్నపు రాయిని వేడి చేస్తే కరుగుతుంది, కర్రని వేడి చేస్తే బూడిద అవుతుంది. సున్నపు రాయి బూడిద అవ్వడం, కర్ర కరగడం సాధ్యం కాదు. వస్తువు యొక్క భౌతిక ధర్మానికి విరుద్ధంగా ఏమీ జరగదు అని అంగీకరిస్తే భౌతికతతో సంబంధం లేని దైవ శక్తులు లేవని అంగీకరించాలి. దైవం లేదు అని అంగీకరించే ధైర్యం సమాజంలో ఎంత మందికి ఉంటుంది? ఒక వ్యక్తి సైంటిస్ట్ అయినా సరే ఆ ధైర్యం అతనికి అంత సులభంగా రాదు. అయినా సైంటిస్టుల వ్యక్తిగత నమ్మకాలు పేరు చెప్పి ఆ నమ్మకాలే ఎటర్నల్ గా ఉంటాయని అనుకోలేము.
voleti said…
ఈ వాదనలు ఇప్పుడు కొత్తగా వచ్చినవేం కాదు.. హిరణ్యకశిపునికి ప్రహ్లాదుడు చెప్పినది..(ఇందు గలడిందులేడని).. అప్పట్నుంచి..క్రీస్తు దాకా అందరూ ఈ వాదనలని ఎదుర్కోన్న వారే.. దీనికి మనం లాబ్ ల్లోనూ..సైన్స్ పరంగా ప్రూఫ్ చూపించక్కర్లేదు.. ఆ అవసరం కూడా లేదు..ఏదైనా ఒక పని (అది మంచైనా, చెడైనా) ముందుగా ప్రతి మనిషికి అంతరాత్మ ప్రభొధిస్తుంది.. (ఇది తప్పు లేదా ఒప్పు అని).. ఈ విషయంలో ఏకీభవిస్తారా? మరి దాన్నే దైవానికి ప్రమాణికంగా తీసుకోవచ్చుగా..నీ అంతరాత్మ కి ఆదేశం ఇస్తున్నదెవరు.. అసలు ఈ మనస్సు అనేది లేకుండా ఒట్టి రోబోలుగా ప్రతి జీవి లేదుగా.. ఇన్ని రకాల ఆకారాలు, విభిన్న మనస్తత్వాలు వున్న జీవరాసుల్ని సృష్టించి.. వాటికి నిరంతరంగా జీవ పదార్ధాలని పైసా డబ్బు తీసుకోకుండా అందజేస్తున్న.. సైంటిస్టు ఎవరు?
Praveen Sarma said…
Spending thousands or lakhs of rupees for the sake of unknown god is futile. The money wasted for arranging biryani meals in marriage and sraddhakarma functions can be rather used to feed many poor people.
WitReal said…
@ చంద్రచూడ్ సాండిలియా

you nailed it.
Malakpet Rowdy said…
In India upper caste (Brahmins) men created this god, heaven, hell and so on to suppress dalits and women

So, do you mean to say that the concept of God did not exist before Manu?
Praveen Sarma said…
Non-existent god cannot create caste. It is the existent human being who created the caste system.
snkr said…
"The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank. "
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882)

So Praveen, are you leading a 'thankless life'!? :)) :P

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