Bengaluru: Dr SL Bhyrappa, a renowned Kannada litterateur, inaugurated the world-famous Mysuru Dussehra today (September 29). 

In his inaugural speech, he brought our attention to a very important aspect. He said, “When I was invited to inaugurate the festival, I got calls asking me if I had accepted the invitation. I shot back asking them as to why I should not accept the invitation? I am a firm believer in God. Those who don’t believe in God or are atheists are portrayed as rationalists. There are some false notions in our society,” as quoted by a local news channel.  

Well, Bhyrappa’s statements and observations have set in motion a debate. Who is a rationalist? Does rationalism mean you must be an atheist? And even if you are an atheist, does that imply you should not attend state festivals? 

Bhyrappa has received phenomenal support in Professor KE Radhakrishna, an eminent educationist and the vice-president of the KPCC. He said, “What is rationalism? My belief can be your superstition and vice-versa. To say that every thought has to be logical is not understanding the human psyche. Logic is nothing beyond verbal argument. What Bhyrappa has said is correct. Belief in God or otherwise is personal. But there is a collective opinion. Religion and festivals related to religions are a community asset. Therefore. To decline invitation based on the fact that I don’t believe in something is an insult to collective wisdom and culture of society. What he said is relevant.” 

Pramila Nesargi, a senior lawyer says, “Many have this belief that there is no God. Though it their line of thinking, I feel they make no sense. The body is controlled by the mind and greater than that is the soul. A man can’t control nature. It is controlled by a higher force. Even if one is a rationalist, it doesn’t mean one can’t attend festivals and take part in rituals. Beliefs need not be wrong and they may have their own reasons behind it.”