Benz Circle, Vijayawada 520010, A.P. India
A Brief Outline
The founders of the Centre were associated with Mahatma Gandhi and participated in the freedom struggle. Gora had long discussions with Mahatma Gandhi on atheism and social change and the discussions have been published in the form of a book entitled "An Atheist with Gandhi", Atheist Centre is in the mainstream of national life, maintaining its distinctive position with its atheist approach. It viewed life as an integrated whole and is striving to build an alternate atheist way of life.
One of the main activities of Atheist Centre is to provide socio-psychological counselling to a large number of people who come to the Centre with various types of problems. A large number of women and men come to the Centre to seek guidance.
Efforts for castelessness and Secularism
Atheist Centre gave highest priority to fight the evil practices of untouchability and caste distinctions. In the teeth of severe opposition, Atheist Centre took up programmes of interdining and intercaste marriages to fight the heinous custom of untouchability.
Atheist Centre is in the forefront of promoting intercaste and casteless marriages. Hundreds of such marriages took place at the Centre and other parts of the State. Members of Atheist Centre placed an example before others by marrying casteless It is the example that inspires others in the efforts for social equality.
Fight against Superstitions
Dispelling superstitions is an important aspect of the Atheist Centre. The miracle mind is a bane to Indian society and prevents its onward march. Hence, Gora and Saraswathi Gora started fighting superstitions right from 1920s and they viewed eclipse, defying the taboo that pregnant women should not do so. They lived in so called haunted houses and exploded the myth. Atheist Centre takes up programmes to promote scientific outlook and rational thinking.
Combating Witchcraft and Sorcery
In the erstwhile Hyderabad State, the belief in Witchcraft and Sorcery is still deeply entrenched in the minds of the people. The District administration in Medak invited Atheist Centre in 1983 to dispel the superstition. A team of doctors, social workers, psychiatrists and scientists, headed by Dr. Samaram, visited Medak District to study the mass hysteria that reached epidemic proportions. Similar teams were sent to Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Warangal and Rangareddi districts to educate the people and to dispel the superstition.
Gora Science Centre and the Science Exhibitions
In order to spread environmental consciousness and ecological concern, Gora Science Centre organizes annual science and Environment Exhibitions on a large scale. A permanent science exhibition has been set up at Atheist Centre. Environment education programmes are also organised in schools and colleges.
Striving for Social Cohesion
The Atheist Centre took up Peace Marches in strife torn areas. When the Mulki agitation for a separate Telangana caused untold misery, Gora undertook a peace march on foot. Similarly in 1989, Atheist Centre organised a Unity March on foot for seventy days covering a distance of 1400 kilometers in four riot-torn districts of Andhra. On earlier occasions Gora organised similar marches, including the foot march from Gandhi's Ashram in Sevagram near Nagpur to Delhi, covering a distance of 1000 miles in one hundred days.
Sex education and Health awareness programmes
Atheist Centre is in the forefront of championing sex education and health awareness programmes. Dr. Samaram has been writing on sex science in the popular Telugu daily and weekly newspapers for the last quarter a century. His Five Volumes "Sex, Science" is very popular. So far, Dr. Samaram published over 100 books on health education, and all aspects of medical science. Dr. Samaram and Dr. Maru are organising a number of health camps. Weekly Health education lectures at Vasavya Nursing Home of Atheist Centre receive wide attention. Swetcha Gora eye Bank has been started to encourage eye donations. More than 200 Cornea grafting operations are already performed and thousands of people pledged their eyes. Voluntary Blood Bank is also organised. Thus with a comprehensive approach health education is imparted to people.
Secular Social work
Atheist Centre has also been carrying on comprehensive rural development programmes through Arthik Samata Mandal, Vasavya Mahila Mandali and Samskar. All three organisations have their headquarters at Atheist Centre. Arthik Samata Mandal is working among the tribals, weavers, artisans, agriculturists and women and children. Vasavya Mahila Mandali is organising AIDS awareness programmes on a wider level. It is working among hundreds of street children. Gora Abhay Nivas is providing shelter, training and rehabilitation of hundreds of women with social problems. Samskar is an offshoot of Atheist Centre's work among the criminal tribes who are now known as De-notified tribes. For decades Gora, Lavanam and Hemalata Lavanam and others from Atheist Centre worked in the Criminal settlements and initiated steps for criminal reformation.
Samskar also took up the programme for the eradication of the Jogini system, which is a remnant of the Devadasi in Telangana region of AP. Chelli Nilayam, Sister's Home, was founded at Varni, in Nizamabad District in 1987. The socio-psychological counselling helped in changing the attitudes of the erstwhile jogins. In hundreds of villages Samskar took up programmes for the eradication of Jogini system by adopting a multi-pronged attack on the problem by constant counselling, awareness building, economic and social activities, education, health education and conscience raising activities.
National and International Outreach
Atheist Centre is developing atheism as a positive way of life and touching diverse fields through its activities. Atheist Centre is publishing Atheist monthly in English and Nasthika Margam in Telugu language. Gora's books and writings were translated into different languages.
World Atheist Conferences
The First, Second and the Fourth World Atheist Conferences were held at Atheist Centre in 1972, 1980 and 1996. Atheist Centre was given the International Humanist Award at the World Humanist Congress held in Oslo in 1986. The Fifth World Atheist Conference was held at Vijayawada on January 7-9, 2005. Saraswathi Gora received the prestigious GD Birla International Award for her outstanding Contribution of Humanism-2000 and Karnataka State Government's Basava National Award -2000. She was honoured with Jamnalal Bajaj National Award in 1999 and Jankidevi Bajaj Award in 1997 etc.
Gora Postage Stamp released in his Centenary
In connection with the Birth Centenary of Gora and International Conference was held in 2002 which was inaugurated by Mr. GMC Balayogi, the then Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Government of India released postage of stamp Gora in 2002 and honoured him as an outstanding social reformer.