The International Community of Humanists gathered here at Vijaywada are witness to the excellent work of the Atheist Centre co founded by Gora and Saraswathi Gora. They would be anxious to know the spread of atheism in other parts of India.
We wish to acquaint the International Community of Humanists about another Atheist Centre under the name of Dev Samaj which has carried out with absolute commitment the programme of atheism and humanistic values in North India practically for the last hundred years. In pre-partition days it had its Head Office at Lahore and centres of work in Punjab, North Western Frontier Province and Sind. After' the partition it has its Head Office at Chandigarh and centres of work in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Bombay. Its membership comes from a hundred places. It is not large but its influence and achievements are in inverse proportion to its numbers.
The word 'Dev' is equivocal in meaning. The popular mind understands by 'Dev' to mean a divine or heavenly being or & deity, outside the natural order of things studied by sciences. In this meaning it stands both for God or an evil demon (A.V.iii, 15,15). However, 'it also stands for things of excellence. (R.V.; A.V; S.Br.). 'Dev' in 'Dev Samaj' stands for excellences which have their origin and development in natural conditions explicable through natural evolution. It is in this naturalistic meaning of Dev that the name 'Dev Samaj' is to be understood. It stands for evolutionary naturalism.
The society of Dev Samaj was established for moral regeneration of its countrymen in February, 1887. To start with, it had' theistic ideology. But in 1895 it underwent a metamorphic change. It became atheistic. Since then it has zealously worked to make people free from their belief in God, inspired hundreds of its member to work for social reforms in the form of encouraging widow-remarriage, inter-caste marriages, education of women, and delivered thousands of people from smoking, drug addiction, gambling, and extra-marital relations. It has gone further in bettering relations between children and parents, brothers and sisters, husband and wife, and neighbours and …
From Atheism in North India
- December 1990