Way to go, Mr. Premanand.
You're sticking with your non-faith and irreligion even though you're critically ill. I applauded your statement from a hospital bed in Podanur, India -- making clear that no, you're not having a death bed conversion to godliness. Here's an excerpt:
I wish to clarify that as on today the twentieth of September, 2009 I remain a staunch rationalist and wish to place on record the following:
a. I continue to be a rationalist of full conviction.
b. I do not believe in any supernatural power. All the powers that we encounter are in the realm of nature and nothing exists beyond that.
c. I do not believe in the existence of the soul or rebirth.
d. I have not turned to any religion, god or any sort of spiritual pursuits.
e. When I pass away I shall be leaving only my body which is to be donated to a medical college and no spirit or soul to cause problems for the living.
Basava Premanand apparently was one of the founders of Nirmukta ("liberated" in Sanskrit), a group dedicated to promoting the secularization movement in India and South Asia.
Good for them.
Judging from an interview with Premanand, it sounds like cutting through irrational, anti-scientific crap in India is even more difficult than it is in the United States and Europe.
Which figures. After all, India is home to a lot of weirdness (along with a lot of elevated philosophy).
Browsing around the web site, I found much interesting churchless material. "Why I Criticize Hinduism the Most" explained why a Nirmukta contributor tends to pick on the majority religion in India rather than other faiths.
Attracted to a "Deepak Chopra: A New Age Shaman" post, I loved a nicely-crafted video debunking Chopra's pseudo-science. They nailed him. Chopra does indeed take a inch of scientific fact and expand it into a mile of New Agey mumbo-jumbo.
Most people I know view India as a melting pot of spiritual beliefs where tolerance is the rule. But apparently Hindu fundamentalism is a growing problem there, just as Christian fundamentalism is in the United States.
In "Do We Need Yoga?" I read:
Not to be left behind, the Governments in India, in several states and even at the Centre, have decided to introduce yoga as a compulsory curriculum in physical training, right from the first standard. And the Hindutva Brigade, ever so eager to garner publicity from anything anciently Indian, has usurped yoga into its folds and posits itself at the vanguard of promoting yoga; any skepticism about yoga is branded by these forces as anti RSS, anti BJP, anti Hinduism, anti Indian and even anti national and unpatriotic.
Sure sounds like how Christian true believers treat people here, such as politicians, who choose to challenge the notion that God is on the side of the U.S. -- or that God even exists.