Atheist Centre 50+ Golden Jubilee (1940-1990)
International Conference on
"Future of Atheism -- Humanism"
Vijayawada, December 29-31, 1990
[OCR, HTML, editing, Cliff Walker]
Goraji -- As I See Him
It was dawn. The sun beams peeped through the window. It was time for me to come out to my office room. The northest corner had attracted my eye. It was an angles corner. I saw an individual clad in khadi with a bag on his shoulders. Simple as he was, he introduced himself as Gora.
I heard of him. He is a convinced Atheist and a great man. He drew me into conversation. He did not speak of God or falsity of God. He spoke of the politics of the day and his conviction in partyless democracy. The moment he uttered this, ignorant as I was, I laughed and said, a group of these people are again a party by themselves. If so how can there be a partyless democracy? I thought my laughter would irritate him but contrary to this with all calmness he smiled at my laugh and said what he meant was "the individual must be free from the evils and compulsions of a committed political party". I reciprocated, that what you mean is one must be an ideal citizen and identify himself with the Nation. "There you are," he said with assertion and great satisfaction, "that is partyless democracy". Dr. Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution, wished to see the day when the majority would merge into the minority and minority into majority, would come true. This is the day the people would then reap the full benefits of the Constitution and the citizen would be above all parties and true to the Constitution and to the soil that gave birth to him. Thus Dr. Ambedkar and Gora, though from different angles, look alike in their ultimate goal.
Goraji could not be a mere theoretician. He gave it a full shape to give the benefits to the people under the Constitution. He gave a clarion call for the people to participate directly in the governance. He was mobilising public opinion in favour of small Constituencies with emphasis on social and economic equality. He believed and advocated that partyless democracy was realism. He was convinced that checks and counter checks between people and Government were only affective when the Constituencies were small and the ruled and the ruler were face to face in administering and receiving the benefits of power under Law. He envisaged a partyless house with Legislators of all views electing a leader. In the absence of any party, partyless democracy becomes a style of functioning of its own and an instinct just like ideal democracy. With these notions in view he contested the elections in the year 1967 on the plank of partyless democracy. He had thus utilised the occasion for propagating his principles and conviction regarding partyless democracy. He stood before the Courts and told the public that the Constitution of India does not find a place for various parties in election. He left no stone unturned to sow the fruitful seeds of partyless democracy into the human mind both in India and abroad.
After all partyless democracy is nothing but an attitude and approach to a human problem by adhering to the principle of "live and let live". This is Goraji as I understood, a man from his Vijayawada cottage to the universal cottage with bright vision and hope of one world.
Goraji likewise had some fantastic notions about food, caste, creed etc. But it was his "luck" that he was never misunderstood when he extended his persuasive logic. His sincerity always came to his rescue when he differed with the mass customs and conventions. It was Panditji (Jawaharlal Nehru) who once said in the Hyderabad Legislative party that people were bound to excuse any mistake or any differences by any Leader if only his sincerity did not become questionable. In this aspect Goraji and Panditji stand as outstanding examples.
Goraji was a convinced atheist. He was dynamic. He did not believe in God, and laid his entire faith in "realism". Motivated as he was he came to Sevagram to convince Gandhiji of his atheist philosophy. Myself and Prabhakarji were fortunate to be in Gandhiji's Ashram at Sevagram on that occasion. We witnessed the entire atmosphere being surcharged with the air of atheist echoes in Gandhi's Ashram on the day when Goraji arrived. It was on the lips of everybody that Goraji had come to throw a challenge to Bapu and to convince him that atheism was better than theism. Even the prayer meeting on that day distracted the minds of many a member from Ramdhun and reverted it against Goraji. Ultimately Bapu and Gora had a long discussion on the subject. Both came out successful. Bapu said that Goraji's atheism and his theism were not very different and both culminated in humanism and service to humanity. The saying that any two great personages dedicated to the service of humanity always look alike, was more true of Gandhiji and Goraji.
Goraji had his best luck with his family. The members of his family have great love and regard to his philosophy of life, his sufferings and sacrifice. Probably this had channalised their thinking also into the same stream. The result is the Atheist Centre with beaming lights of Smt. Saraswathi Gora, Lavanam, Hemalata and others working for Goraji's philosophy.
Not only this, Goraji is very lucky in having Lavanam as a Bhashyakara for his philosophy just as Gandhiji had Pattabhi. In this background the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Atheist Centre with Sir Hermann Bondi as the Chairman of the International committee is the hope for future of humanity at large.