Violent protests scupper an atheist convention in India
A two-day atheism convention that was to commence in Mathura yesterday was called off after violent protests by local religious leaders and the public.
The conference had been organised by Swami Balendu, above, a former Hindu preacher and spiritual guru who became an atheist.
Confirming the cancellation of the convention at Balendu’s ashram in Mathura, Alok Priyadarshi said that since local residents and religious leaders were protesting, the organiser called it off and gave an assurance that no conferences that hurt religious feelings would be held in the town again.
Accusing Balendu of spreading “anti-religion” feelings, residents shouted slogans at the venue of the convention and indulged in stone pelting. However, no one was injured in the incident.
In this report, Balendu is quoted as saying:
Over 50 activists of the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and local Hindutva groups reached the Bindu Seva Sansathan Ashram at about 10 in the morning and started shouting slogans and attacking the ashram property. Armed with sticks, the Hindutva activists broke the glass panels of the ashram belongings.
The protestors also burnt an effigy of Balendu and accused him of spreading lies adharam (immorality)
Balendu had accused religious leaders of fooling people in the name of God. He had identified religion as a “business” that thrives on fear in the minds of people and said all religious scriptures are “fictitious”and meant only for entertainment.
In an interview in 2015, the “atheist guru” said:
We need to spread rational thinking and teach our children how to think, not what to think! Only through that can we save future generations from exploitation based on superstition and religion. That’s what it really is about, stopping exploitation and saving people from being cheated.
My fight is actually against poverty and exploitation. God and religion just came in between.
After he ditched religion Balendu embarked on a career of teaching yoga, and people from all over the world came to learn from him.
We now provide relaxing courses, training, retreats and holidays with yoga and ayurveda at our ashram in Vrindavan.
We focus on physical exercise, oils and nutrition. We even offer Ayurvedic cooking classes, and all this without making false claims of curing cancer etc as some yoga gurus do. People come from all over the world and love getting this experience without the danger of being brainwashed by religious and spiritual gurus.