Three ‘Nastiks’ hold stage in house of believers to assert Hindu identity

Kushal Mehra's Nastik Why I am Not an Atheist book launch at IIC in New Delhi

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Kushal Mehra’s ‘Nastik: Why I Am Not An Atheist’ spotlights argumentative India

By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, May 10: Three self-declared Nastiks (non-believers) fiercely argued on religion, faith, and belief for 90-minute on Thursday evening to concur in the end that ‘they all are staunch Hindus’. The book was launched at the India International Centre in New Delhi on Thursday evening.

Kushal Mehra, a podcaster, asserted that he holds an “I don’t care” attitude on matter of God. Television debater and scientist, Anand Ranganathan, argued with E-coli analogy to assert eminence of science before faith. Defence expert, Abhijit Iyer Mitra, said that he doesn’t believe in God, but he feels safe in land of Hindus because of prevalent culture of tolerance for diverse philosophical thoughts in India.

In the course of 90-minute discussion, the three ‘Nastiks’ argued against each other, disagreeing on most occasions, while concurring that they all are “staunch Hindus”. They also suggested that religion is inevitable. Mehra stressed on challenges in the western world due to “irreligious society”.

The three ‘non-believers’ got together for the launch of the book – Nastik: Why I am not an atheist. Mumbai-based podcaster Kushal Mehra is the author of the book, published by BluOne Ink.

“There is actually the difference between atheism and agnosticism. Even agnosticism is something that came up with…The term was invented by Huxley. The difference is not whether they don’t know there is a God or not. The difference between atheism and agnosticism is actually whether science can disprove a God as well as agnostics say science will not be able to disprove a God,” said Mehra.

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Ranganathan, who is a scientist in the field of micro-biologist, questioned the absence of religion among animals even while they also share “certain moral values such as protecting each other against threats”.

“Is it (religion) absent in other living forms?  Yeah. …why did religion tell you to work for a goal? Why did religion tell you that life has a purpose? If you think about being just these two facts and you think about how they are completely holy and utterly absent from all other life forms, you immediately get your answer,” asserted Ranganathan, who is a well-known prime time television debater.

The book discussion was moderated by podcaster Shambhav Sharma. The three ‘Nastik’ brought the audience at the Indian International Centre to laughter on several occasions as they laced their arguments with humour and also sharp comments on political actors.

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Mitra reasoned with dietary diversity in India during Hindu festivals. On lighter notes, he said, “Mutton is vegetarian in Bengal and Kashmir during religious festivals, but onions and garlics are non-vegetarian”.

Mitra and Mehra applauded the “audience of believers”, saying that despite them being Nastik they had all turned to listen to non-believers and they feel no threat to their lives. “This is possible because we all are Hindus,” said Mehra.

The author of the book said that Dawkins was the most militant atheist on planet Earth. “In his own book, Dawkins said, I’m a 6.8, where seven (in scale) is there is no God for the record,” Mehra said, adding that he was 6.91 on the scale.

The three ‘Nastiks’ examined ideas put forth by Albert Camus, Charles Darwin, Thomas Paine, Spinoza, and other western philosophers. They also referred to the Indian philosophical arguments.

The ‘Nastiks’ on stage applauded the Indian tolerance for diverse views on matters of faith and religion. “…skepticism is universal to every single Indian Darshan (philosophy), whether Astik or Nastik,” added Mehra.

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