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Shaheed-e-Aazam Bhagat Singh was probably right but I am still a theist because I am not a brave man
Satbir Singh Bedi | 23 Aug 2013

The morning after Shaheed-e-Aazam Bhagat Singh and his two comrades were
executed on March 23, 1931 in Central Jail, Lahore,
the chief prison warder, Charat Singh, went on his
round unlocking the prisoners' cells. He had witnessed
the hanging. A prisoner, Virendra, asked him how their
last moments had been. Charat Singh said that just
before Bhagat Singh ascended the scaffolding, he had
pleaded, "Son, it is a matter of just a few minutes
more. At least remember the Wahe-Guru now." The
condemned man had laughed, "Sardarji, I did not take
his name all my life. In fact, when I saw how the poor
and the oppressed were being treated, I even rebuked
him. Now if I pray to him when death stares me in the
face, he will say that this man is a hypocrite and a
coward."
 
Bhagat Singh had been raised in a Sikh-Arya Samajist
family, and had recited the Gayatri Mantra regularly
as a child. But soon his sensitive and inquisitive
mind began to doubt the very existence of God. Later,
in a tract Why I Am An Atheist, written a few months
before his death sentence, he asked, if there was a
God then why did he create a world so full of misery
and suffering? He did not buy the idea of
reincarnation, which explained present suffering in
terms of past sins. And he was unflinching about his
opinions: "A God-believing Hindu might expect to be
reborn as a king. A Muslim or a Christian might dream
of luxuries in paradise. But I know that the moment
the rope is fitted around my neck and the rafters
removed from under my feet - that will be the final
moment. I shall be finished there. Nothing further"
 
Awaiting execution, the revolutionary dismissed the
offering of prayer as a "most selfish and degraded
act". Instead he said, "l have read of atheists facing
all troubles quite boldly, so I am trying to stand
like a man with an erect head to the last; even on the
gallows."
 
Most probably Bhagat Singh was right.  Dr. Sir. Mohd.
Iqbal, the great Urdu Poet and Philosopher has also
said, "Bahadur Kab Dara Kartein Hain Afaate Hawadis
Se.  Woh Bujhdil Hain Bani Mushkil Pe Jo Fariyad
Kartein Hain"  (Brave people are never afraid of the
calamities of this world.  Those people are cowards
who pray when they are faced with a difficulty."
 
One can also face death quite calmly if one is in an
intoxicated State; whether because of taking opium or
drinking, etc.  A poet, Adam Abuwala says, "Nasha Ho
To Kya Khauf Marne Ka Adam Ke Ham Qabr Mein Bhi Gye
Pite Pite".  (If one is intoxicated then he has no
fear of death. (Therefore) I went to my grave
drinking." And by the way, is not it true that the
Military men are given whiskey, rum, etc. at a
discount so that they could face death bravely?
 
However, I am neither a brave man nor I take opium or
other drugs or drink.  So, I have to depend on
religion, the opium of the Mankind to face death.  I
am not particular about which religious prayer I would
do as I believe that all religions are more or less
the same.  I may recite the name of God like a
Christian or I may recite, "La Illaha Ill Allah, Mohd.
ur Rasool Allah" (There is no god but God and Mohd. is
his Prophet) or I may read that stanza from the Holy
Geeta which says that just as a person changes his
dirty clothes for a new one, similarly he changes his
old emaciated body for a new one. However, since from
my childhood, I have been told to recite "Satnaam,
Waheguru" (One whose name is truth, One who shows
light - the names of God), I would most probably
recite, "Satnaam, Waheguru" on my death bed.  My
father was a drunkard but he could not drink at the
time of his death. So, he also recited "Satnaam,
Waheguru".  So, I will also recite "Satnaam, Waheguru"
and follow my father.  "Dust thou art to Dust
Returnest was not spoken of the soul".  What is your
view?