Lavanam – Atheist, Social Reformer, Philosopher, and Human Rights Activist, 1930-2015

Nicole Scott

Lavanam, a strong pillar of the Atheist Centre in Viyajawada, India, died at the age of eighty-four in India on August 14 from cardiac arrest.

Goparaju Ramachandra Lavanam was born to Gora and Saraswathi Gora, the founders of the Atheist Centre, and started his life in atheism, humanism, and social change at a young age. He, along with his father, participated in programs and civil disobedience protests across the country, advocating for a party-less democracy and education for those in rural villages. In 1960, Lavanam married, and together he and his wife, Hemlata, continued fighting for social justice and human rights.

In 1974, Lavanam and his wife initiated the Criminal Reform Movement, hoping to change criminals’ culture of crime into a culture of civility. They both continued to work for this movement and other reform movements for the next thirty years. They have also led various towns and villages to sponsor meetings to educate young men and women on positive atheism. Lavanam spread the message of positive atheism across the world through international tours. He was also involved in all of the eight World Atheist Conferences conducted by the Atheist Centre, along with seminars and conferences in India and globally.

Lavanam stood to promote knowledge, human service, and fellowship. He said, “We consider it invaluable to show the world, as my dear father showed Gandhi, that to do good and to be good, god and religion are unnecessary.” He received numerous awards throughout the world for his work in atheism, humanism, and promoting Gandhian values. He published several pamphlets in English and Telugu and translated the speeches of the few leaders who toured India.

He has eight brothers and sisters who are all devoted atheists.

The Center for Inquiry extends its deepest condolences to the family of Lavanam and thanks him for his contributions to social reform, atheism, equal rights, and humanism across the globe.

Nicole Scott

Nicole Scott is the managing editor of Free Inquiry.


The Center for Inquiry extends its deepest condolences to the family of Lavanam.

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