I'm a little late reporting this one. Legendary Indian rationalist and skeptic Basava Premanand has passed away at the age of 78.
In the face of death threats he showed their supposed miracles were simple sleight-of-hand tricks, and by founding the Indian CSICOP movement and publishing the Indian Sceptic magazine brought skepticism into a country that desperately needed it.
Such was Premanand's notoriety that he feared rumours of a deathbed conversion might abound after his death. As a result, he took steps to prevent such a thing by writing this statement:
I, B. Premanand s/o late Sri Basava Prabhu, 80 years of age resident Chettipalayam Road, Podanur, sound of mind though suffering from physical complications caused by metastases in many organs caused by carcinoma of the stomach herein solemnly wish to place on record the following:
1. I have been closely associated with the rationalist movement from 1975 onwards and have been a rationalist of full conviction since then and continue to be so.
2. It is common for the purveyors of superstitions and such anti rational forces to start spreading rumors about rationalists turning to god and other supernatural forces at the end of their lives and becoming devotees of gods and god men of various types.
3. It is also claimed that at times of crises that we staunch rationalists through the major part of our lives, turn to spiritualism and religion.
4. 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.
I want to convey to all that the struggle against the exploitation by god men and so called supernatural forces is a long and hard one but the ultimate victory will be ours.
My very survival has been a challenge to astrologers and their so called “science” of astrology, as they had all predicted that I would die soon after birth and refused to cast a horoscope for me.
I wish to convey to my colleagues of the rationalist movement to continue the work that I have been doing with renewed vigor and that will be the best of tributes for me.
Podanur (B. Premanand)
Witnessed by: Dr. Maya Prabhu and Suneera
Basava Premanand, we salute you.