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Part – II
(See Part – I here).
Upananda Brahmachari | HENB | Haridwar | April 14, 2021:: The leftist school of thoughts always wanted to portray Dr Ambedkar as atheist what he was not at all. The Ambedkarite and Anti-Brahmanisation lobby created by Waman Meshram (BAMCEF) or Kashiram (BSP) also wanted to present Dr Ambedkar as a staunch antagonist of Hinduism and Hindutva (Hinduness).
But, as a matter of fact Dr Ambedkar was an ardent and prolific student of Hinduism, he earned a profound knowledge of it and wanted to reform the Hindu Dharma from its certain superstitions and misinterpreted fallacy like hereditary (birth based) caste system and untouchability.
For his straightforward opinion on Hindu matter and for his tangible truthfulness, Dr Ambedkar even earned the respect of the Hindutva school of thoughts, even from its proponent V D Savarkar.
From a historical point of view, it is striking to note that though Savarkar, a Chitpavan Brahmin, and B R Ambedkar, a Mahar (untouchable Dalit caste), had represented the two opposite extremes of the Indian societal setup, there was proximity between some of their views which remains unexplored.
Definitely, Savarkar was impressed with the insights and meticulous approach of Ambedkar based upon a reformative zeal. Savarkar had quoted Ambedkar several times while advocating social reforms, harmony, and the upliftment of the downtrodden.
In his book, Savarkar: Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924, Vikram Samvat documents how Savarkar appealed that “every true Indian needs to resolve in his or her mind to absolve oneself of… seven fetters”, that is, Vedoktabandi (exclusivity of access to Vedic literature), Vyavasayabandi (continuation of a profession by virtue of one’s birth), Sparshabandi (practices of untouchability), Samudrabandi (forbidding the crossing of the seas to go to foreign lands), Shuddhibandi (disallowing reconversions to Hinduism), Rotibandi (the practice of inter-caste dining), Betibandi (rigidity in abolishing inter-caste marriage). These reformist ideas subsequently became provisions under the Indian Constitution. Savarkar also wrote how, “In what is construed as a ‘low caste’ — the Mahars — we have had such illustrious saints as Chokha Mela and such brilliant thinkers such as Dr Ambedkar, whose piety and intellect far surpasses many a Brahmin’s.”
While Gandhi’s Harijan concept was based upon goodwill of others and concession, Dr Ambedkar wanted the Regeneration of Shudras on the basis of social rights and dignity.
Dr. Ambedkar alongwith Dadasaheb Gaikwad and others led a protest outside the Kalaram Temple on 2 March 1930 in Maharashtra’s Nashik, in order to allowing Dalits into the temple.The movement was to have a right to enter temple, it was more towards having equal rights. Kalaram Temple entry movement formed a pivotal role in the Dalit movement in India as a part of Neo Hindutva concept conduced by Dr Ambedkar.
Before Kalaram Temple movement, Dr Ambedkar led the Chavdar tank movement in Mahad under Bombay Province territory on March 20, 1927 as a part of ensuring the rights of a section of unprivileged Hindus denied the rights from its own society.
Dr Ambedkar had gone to Mahad for a two-day conference organized by Kolaba District Depressed Classes on March 19–20, 1927 on the invitation of Ramachandra Babaji More. Dr Ambedkar presided over this conference, which was attended by thousands of delegates. The main agenda of the gathering was to raise awareness about the civil rights of Dalit Hindus. During the conference it was decided that the attendees would march to Chavdar tank and the “untouchables” will assert their moral and legal right to access a public water body.
Through Chavdar Talav access or Kalaram Temple entry movement, Dr Ambedkar wanted to ensure the rights of Shudras as a section of Hindu society from their perilous unprivileged and oppressed status. Actually, Dr Ambedkar wanted to dignify the Shudras as an essential part of Hindu society and of Aryan race.
Actually, Ambedkar viewed the Shudras as Aryan and adamantly rejected the Aryan invasion theory, describing it as “so absurd that it ought to have been dead long ago” in his 1946 book – Who Were the Shudras? Ambedkar viewed Shudras as originally being “part of the Kshatriya Varna” of Hindu race “in the Indo-Aryan society”, but became socially degraded after they were subdued under many tyrannies inflicted by the Brahmins for many reasons. As a first man of modernity, Dr Ambedkar disputed various hypotheses of the Aryan homeland being outside India and Aryan invasion theory and finally concluded the Aryan homeland was India itself. According to Ambedkar, the Rig Veda says Aryans, Dāsa and Dasyus were competing religious groups of same Hindu society as all son of the soil and, not the different peoples anyway.
As an outright opponent of Two Nation (Hindu-Muslim) Theory and Creation of Pakistan, Ambedkar always challenged the minority appeasement in the name of communal Muslim Politics. In his book, Pakistan or the Partition of India (1945), Ambedkar critically exercised the fate of India at the emergence of Muslim Politics and the probable division of India. In that exercise, though Dr Ambedkar could not support any school of thoughts viz Congress, Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha, he always emphatically exposed the communal politics of Muslims as their interests virtually excluded the interests of the Dalit people and as such he never advocated the ‘Dalit- Muslim unity’ as surfaced at present.
In this book, Dr Ambedkar wrote, “This alternative of Mr. Savarkar to Pakistan has about it a frankness, boldness and definiteness which distinguishes it from the irregularity, vagueness and indefiniteness which characterizes the Congress declarations about minority rights. Mr. Savarkar’s scheme has at least the merit of telling the Muslims, thus far and no further. The Muslims know where they are with regard to the Hindu Maha Sabha. On the other hand, with the Congress the Musalmans find themselves nowhere because the Congress has been treating the Muslims and the minority question as a game in diplomacy, if not in duplicity”.
In that way Dr Ambedkar passively picked up the points of Savarkar’s Hindu attitude against Muslim politics at that period of political transition leading to the partition of India.
Born as a Hindu, Dr Ambedkar died as a Buddhist. At the end of his journey of realizing Dharma (Religion) Ambedkar organised a formal public ceremony for himself and his supporters in Nagpur on 14 October 1956. Accepting the Three Refuges and Five Precepts from a Buddhist monk in the traditional manner, Ambedkar embraced Buddism along with his wife. He then proceeded to convert some 5 lakhs of his supporters to Buddhism who were gathered around him in that event.
Firstly, Ambedkar considered converting to Sikhism, which encouraged opposition to oppression and so appealed to leaders of scheduled castes. But after meeting with Sikh leaders, he concluded that he might get subaltern Sikh status.
Some sources mentioned that hearing the intension of his change of religion, leaders of Christian and Muslim religious sects also approached to Dr Ambedkar to be converted to their faith, but Dr Ambedkar out rightly rejected their proposal to be converted in any Semitic religion. Refuting all offers from Dr Ambedkar took the refuge of Lord Buddha, emerged as a Buddhist seer and writer of his final work, The Buddha and His Dhamma, which was published posthumously. Ambedkar founded Bharatiya Bauddha Mahasabha in 1955 as his final mission to the world.
Embracing Buddhist faith rather than any Semitic religion, is an outstanding contribution of Dr Ambedkar towards Hindus among many other important things for them. It would be a horrible thing for Hindus, if Dr Ambedkar converted himself with his 5 lakh supporters in any Semitic religion in 1956. Through embracing Buddhism, Dr Ambedkar saved the ‘Dhamma’ texture of India without crashing its Hindu identity. Otherwise, India would be paved towards another partition.
There should be a high research on the relation between the Hindu Mahasabha and Jan Sangha leader Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Dr B R Ambedkar in the pre-partition phase of Independence movement of India. Though Dr Ambedkar conceded the partition of India, he proposed that the provincial boundaries of Punjab and Bengal should be redrawn to separate the Muslim and non-Muslim majority parts. Certainly, that was helpful for making a Hindu majority state for Bengali Hindus as West Bengal by Dr Mookherjee cutting it from the map of East Pakistan.
Though the Dalit school of thoughts invoked by the left schools always tried to portray Dr Ambedkar as an atheist and anti-Hindu revolutionary icon for the depressed and downtrodden people; the Hindus and Hindu school of thoughts must consider Dr Ambedkar a missionary and reformist for the Hindus and Hindutva (Hinduness) giving the proper rights and dignity of the Dalits (persecuted) in Hindu Society.
Once Swami Vivekananda said, “Buddhism was the rebellion of newly-formed Kshatriyas against Vedic priestcraft….. My religion (Sanatan Hindu Dharma) is one of which Christianity is an offshoot and Buddhism a rebel child”. (SwamiJi’s notes of class talks and lectures/notes taken down In Madras, 1892-93). We can easily take Dr Ambedkar as a real example of that as mentioned by Swami Vivekananda as Babasabeb changed his religion to Buddhism from Hinduism.
For this, the admirers of Babasaheb have never lost any portion of their passionate relationship and regards to him. He is one of the greatest sons of Bharat Mata and a real Bharat Ratna.
Courtesy to sources and authors: Works of BR Ambedkar by Thackers Publishers Bombay, AR Megwal in IE & Wikipedia.