Varun Grover on atheism, God and spirituality

Indian society has seen a change in the behavior of atheists. They are more organised. More defiant. Is it any wonder? Believers enjoy a majority. In a country of over a billion people with hundreds of millions of gods, alliances between religions and political parties marginalise secular views. Atheists blame both for the rise of extremism, intolerance, and social fracking.

Varun Grover, stand-up comedian and award-winning lyricist known for his clever mind and incisive views speaks his mind on extreme atheism in the following brief interview.

Q: Do you think extreme atheists exist in India?

VG: “No, I don’t think so. For anything to be called extreme, there has to be some kind of regular violence attached to it for a period of time. Indian atheists, in my opinion, are in too small a minority to be able to inflict any violence even if they wanted to.”

Q: What has made people think atheists are turning extreme these days?

VG: “That’s for you to answer that why you think extreme atheism exists in India. All I can say is atheism is a Western construct that doesn’t fit nicely in the Indian context. Atheism works with Abrahamic religions as they are the ones tied to one God, one book, and ideas of blasphemy. In the Indian context, Gods or a book is not ruling our functioning and it has mostly been a voluntary belief. Like the holiest book of Hindus is Srimad Bhagwat Geeta which is just a set of instructions that are so flexible that from a school to a shopkeeper, it can be interpreted as per space. So I don’t really understand who these atheists are in India. I guess a lot of them are inspired by Amitabh Bachchan in Deewaar, just a cool thing to do.”

Q: Would you like to add anything more, perhaps a new angle to the topic?

VG: “For me, any -ism, including atheism is a kind of belief in some system while religion and spirituality are supposed to be the most personal understanding of life, nature, and death. If it runs through a set of codes (believing in a book and NOT believing in a book – both are codes), the purpose is defeated. Negating a religion is not atheism – atheism in its purest sense should be “I am my own God”.”