(Excerpts from Vinod Mishra's introduction to the booklet containing Bhagat Singh's article “Why am I an atheist”)
Fifty years have passed since we achieved our freedom. Casting a glance over our surroundings, we find a putrefying scene around. Particularly the all-round degeneration of Congress party, that claims to have led the country in the freedom struggle, raises some basic questions. During the freedom struggle the revolutionaries had put up certain questions regarding Gandhi and Congress ideology. They even vent out an apprehension that the independence might mean transfer of power from white sahibs to the hands of black sahibs. Today that apprehension has come true. The most resolute representative of this revolutionary stream was Bhagat Singh, whose ideals and ideology have become quite relevant even in the present phase.
Ruthless British rulers thought it better to silence this brilliant brain whose popularity those days was touching the skies. And history stands testimony to the fact that rejecting the public opinion, Gandhi refused to pose cancellation of death sentence to Bhagat Singh as a precondition to Gandhi-Irwin Pact.
Bhagat Singh's popularity was one of the greatest challenges to Gandhi's leadership.... Still more important was the phenomenon of Bhagat Singh's transformation from revolutionary terrorist to a Marxist. This was the main foundation of the silent agreement between the British and the Congress leadership on hanging Bhagat Singh. According to Gandhi's own admission, cancellation of death sentence to Bhagat Singh was not made a precondition for his pact with Irwin, he only wanted the death sentence to be executed before the commencement of Karachi session of Congress. And it was duly done.
Bhagat Singh had deeply studied all the progressive ideologies coming from the West. He had expressed his opinion on almost all the problems of Indian society, be it Brahminical attitude towards untouchables, the tendency of communalism or the nature of Indian union. In those early days, deep influence of anarchist philosophy and its ace proponent Bakunin is well discernable in him.
In this phase he considers religion as a product of human lack of knowledge, fear and lack of confidence.... But in his article “Why I am an atheist” written on 5-6 October 1930, firm grasp of Marxism is discemable in his thinking on the questions of religion and god.
He writes, “About the origin of god, I think that after realising its limitations, weaknesses and shortcomings, mankind has contrived the virtual existence of god in order to bravely face in the moments of trial, to provide encouragement to itself, to bear all the perils with intrepidity and to bind the explosion of prosperity and exuberance whenever it occurs.”
Bhagat Singh proceeds, “When a man becomes self-dependent and a realist, he should cast away revering god and face all such trials and tribulations with boldness which the situation may land him into”, and it was because of this unwavering faith on materialist doctrine that he kissed the gallows with a smile on his face.
Bhagat Singh was not oblivious of the differences among communists on the question of state power. In his article on anarchism he mentions that the ultimate ideal of communism too is directed towards the anarchist idea of rejecting state power. “By revolution we mean ultimately the establishment of a social system where one would not have to encounter these fatal hazards, in which the hegemony of proletariat is accepted, and a world union could save the humanity from the shackles of capitalism and the ravages and predicaments arising out of imperialist wars.”
… Freeing himself of the anarchist concept of elimination of private property, he had begun to realise that only by way of proletarian revolution and socialism would the elimination of private property be really possible.
It is a fact that Bhagat Singh got the inspiration to hurl bombs in the Assembly from the anarchists... Here it must be kept in mind that Bhagat Singh had thrown bomb opposing the bills brought against the communists and the working class. The British government had tabled the two bills in the Assembly. As the speaker announced the passage of other bills, Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt sitting in the gallery hurled the bombs. Raising the slogans “Inquilab Zindabad” (Long live revolution), they distributed leaflets emphasizing their political aims.
Bhagat Singh advised the youth political activists to study Marx and Lenin, work among the working class and peasantry and impart class consciousness to them. He stood for the Leninist concept of party building taking professional revolutionaries, and wrote, “Party must begin its work by conducting propaganda among the masses.... This is very important in order to organise workers and peasants and obtain their sympathy. That party may be named as Communist Party.” This last call issued by Bhagat Singh to the youth is as relevant today as it was those days.
In independent India, the more the government institutions disdain Bhagat Singh and push him to the margins in the history of independence struggle, the more Bhagat Singh found his place in the hearts of the people. Even today, Bhagat Singh's portraits are the most hot sellers of all. His portraits are seen adorning the walls of common people's houses, and thousands of martyr's columns are found in all parts of the country erected at people's own initiative. If there is a single person who can be awarded the status of people's hero in the struggle for independence, it is only Bhagat Singh. Bhagat Singh is not only source of inspiration to the. revolutionary mindset of Indian youth, he is its light house too.