Monday, April 30, 2018
Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s vision of liberation in Buddhism
A few months back, I was introduced an Indian settled in the United States who worked with the American military and wrote extensively against Gandhi. One thing that I don’t like is that writing against Gandhi does not mean some body has become an Ambedkarite. We met in Delhi and there were lots of discussions. He was quite ‘rational’ till a certain point. Slowly, he said, that Ambedkarite are very aggressive when one talks about Buddhism and Dr Ambedkar and that they too need to be critiqued. I said, I would never hesitate in agreeing with you but both Buddha and Ambedkar have been critiqued by all. Then he pointed to me that Buddha was never born and that he is a mythological figure like Ram, Krishna, Jesus and Mohammad which disturbed me a lot. He said that Americans have done a lot of research about it. I told him, I have no issue with their research and it is not necessary for me to agree with that research. The second point which was very disturbing was his ‘’information’’ about Ambedkar having met a Christian priest in Bombay after his embracing Buddhism and admitting to him that it was a wrong decision on his part and he was disappointed with it. I was along with another friend and became very upset with such a futile allegation. I responded, Sir, Dr Ambedkar did not become a Buddhist all of a sudden. He has known about Buddhism for long and as our friend Vijay Survade ji informed me with document available with him that Dr Ambedkar had embraced Buddhism with his wife Savita Ambedkar about two three years before his public conversion on October 14th, 1956. Secondly, Dr Ambedkar participated in International Buddhist Conference in Kathmandu, Nepal and on December 6th, 1956, he passed away, so where was the time to be with the priest. I found out the book he referred and read the book in which the priest in Mumbai write about Dr Ambedkar but nowhere is this written that he was dissatisfied with his embracing Buddhism. A man of Dr Ambedkar’s character, who was actually a rationalist and explained Buddha and Buddhism in a very different way, can’t be victim of wrong choices. I am narrating this story here because so many people have been trying to malign Dr Ambedkar in different ways. I have no issue if somebody critique his policies but to doubt his integrity and put suspicion on his choices is very disturbing. Frankly, it was the dream of Baba Saheb Ambedkar to make India an enlightened society which was possible in Buddhism in real sense and his appeal for conversion to Buddhism was not merely to Dalits but to all including upper castes if they want to see India a better society.
Now, Dr Ambedkar’s Buddhism is essentially humanism and rationalism. It is more humanist because it has a compassion part in it and not merely a debating philosophy but an ideology or a way of life that has compassion in it and must be philosophically liberating for people. In many sense, Dr Ambedkar’s rationalism comes close to Marxian philosophy too except that he never believed in ‘dictatorship of the proletariats’. The one question which has debated largely among both Ambedkarite and left circles is about his relationship with the left, his thoughts about Marx and so on. Ideologies of individuals are product of their time and societies hence it is important for us to understand that we use the best of them which is suitable for us in the existing circumstances and leave the other. For millions of marginalized, oppressed and victim of brahmanical hegemony in India, Dr Ambedkar remain far more relevant and potent force than any other contemporary of his time. It does not mean we leave them aside or look down upon them in contempt but it means that any idea of theirs which compliment us should be taken to strengthen the movement and that we should not become victim of ‘ideologies’. It does not mean to make one compromising on things but the fact is Dr Ambedkar remained absolutely committed to his conviction but at the same time was not rigid to political alliances or formations.
In an interview to me Prof Kevin Brown from Indiana University in United States felt that Ambedkar was one of the greatest intellectuals of the world, simply extraordinary. As an African American, he felt sad why Martin Luther King remained unaware of the work of Dr Ambedkar. Had he known Ambedkar that time, the later would have been known world over and not Gandhi? Popularising Gandhi myth internationally, to a large extent, comes from Dr Martin Luther King’s acceptance of him as the icon of non-violence. Prof Brown says, ‘From an African-American viewpoint, Gandhi is connected to the non-violent protest movement of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Reverend King often referred to the fact that he adopted his non-violence philosophy from Gandhi. Thus, when African-Americans think of Gandhi, we tend to think of him as a role model for Reverend King. As a result, Gandhi is held in high regard by African-Americans, despite the very racist views that Gandhi expressed about blacks while in South Africa. Unlike most of my people, I am very aware of the Gandhi-Ambedkar conflict. At the core of African-American culture is a struggle against racial oppression. From that standpoint, Gandhi’s stand on separate electorate for Dalits was most unfortunate. That move substantially undercut Dalit political power to this day. And political power has been a huge help to the African-American struggle for equality.’
At the same point of time Prof Brown says that Marxism did not appeal to blacks in United States because Marx failed to address their core issue of racism and slavery. It is not surprising that Marx’s way of addressing all the issue is through economic view point and he failed to understand or address, I am not sure whether it was a deliberate failure or out of ignorance, the issue of racial discrimination, segregation and slavery in the west as socio cultural subjugation. Many people in India blame Marx for not addressing the caste issue but how would he do when he failed to understand the cultural aspect of racism in the west.
It is not that Ambedkar did not know about Marx or any other ism that time but for him the most important thing of his life was to ensure justice to the vast communities of untouchables and other marginalized people. He did not have the luxury of claiming to be an ‘ideologue’ and sitting in his chamber rather he was with the common persons most of the time and used all the paths which he felt would get justice, for his people.
It is true Ambedkar belong to the world and he deserve a place among the high echelons of world philosophers, thinkers and social revolutionaries but, for millions of Dalits and Bahujans in India, he is their ‘father’ and ‘guide’. This is an unprecedented situation for an individual. Ambedkar as an emancipator of Dalit Bahujans but at the same point of time a philosopher, without reading him, you cannot claim to have understood Indian society. No studies of social sciences in India would complete without understanding Ambedkar. Scholars have written a lot about whether he was against Marx or communism but Ambedkar was unambiguous about his faith in Buddha because he wanted to enlighten people and never ever believed in retribution. It is important to understand what exactly Ambedkar wanted and why his perception and philosophy could become the ideology of human rights of 21st century.
I put Dr Ambedkar as a freethinker, a humanist whose world vision was of Equality, Fraternity and Liberty; a world where individual is supreme and could take decision about his life. He stood for the rights of absolute freedom of expression to the extent of even challenging the ‘Shastras’. Those who have seen his argument over ‘caste system’ with Gandhi will vouch how he demolished Gandhi’s‘ chaturvarna’ theory and shastras being sacrosanct, with his argumentative skills and theoretical evidences. Ambedkar never accepted the supremacy of the authority of Shastras while Gandhi said Shastras are written and dictated by God and those who do not believe in them are not Sanatan Dharmis. In his Harijan, Gandhi defended the Varnashram dharma and unsuccessfully try to differentiate between Caste and Varna. Dr Ambedkar writes in ‘Annihilation of Castes’ :
Caste has nothing to do with religion. It is a custom whose origin I do not know and do not need to know for the satisfaction of my spiritual hunger. But I do know that it is harmful both to spiritual and national growth. Varna and Ashrama are institutions which have nothing to do with castes .The law of Varna teaches us that we have each one of us to earn our bread by following the ancestral calling. it defines not our rights but our duties. It necessarily has reference to callings that are conducive to the welfare of humanity and to no other. It also follows that there is no calling too low and none too high. Ail are good, lawful and absolutely equal in status. The callings of a Brahmin— spiritual teacher—-and a scavenger are equal, and their due performance carries equal merit before God and at one time seems to have carried identical reward before man. Both were entitled to their livelihood and no more. Indeed one traces even now in the villages the faint lines of this healthy operation of the law. Living in Segaon with its population of 600, I do not find a great disparity between the earnings of different tradesmen including Brahmins. I find too that real Brahmins are to be found even in these degenerate days who are living on alms freely given to them and are giving freely of what they have of spiritual treasures. It would be wrong and improper to judge the law of Varna by its caricature in the lives of men who profess to belong to a Varna, whilst they openly commit a breach of its only operative rule. Arrogation of a superior status by and of the Varna over another is a denial of the law. And there is nothing in the law of Varna to warrant a belief in untouchability.
Baba Saheb Ambedkar said that there might definitely be certain good things in Shastras but if there are things which are against basic human dignity and common goods of the people and which violate the principle of equality then we must either delete those text or amend them, to which Gandhi responded with his typical contempt that Shastras are written by Gods and human beings have no right to amend it. Gandhi’s stand was not dissimilar to that of any other religious fanatic who considers their ‘holybook’ as God written texts and give nobody the liberty to challenge those verses or quotes mentions in these books. Castes are powerful bodies, autonomous and each one of them feel superior to other. They have no connectivity unless you do the work destined for you under the chaturvarnya philosophy. Hinduism is nothing but a ‘collection’ of castes, said Dr Ambedkar.
‘Whether the Hindu religion was or was not a missionary religion has been a controversial issue. Some hold the view that it was never a missionary religion. Others hold that it was. That the Hindu religion was once a missionary religion must be admitted. It could not have spread over the face of India, if it was not a missionary religion. That today it is not a missionary religion is also a fact which must be accepted. The question therefore is not whether or not the Hindu religion was a missionary religion. The real question is why did the Hindu religion cease to be a missionary religion ? My answer is this. Hindu religion ceased to be a missionary religion when the Caste System grew up among the Hindus. Caste is inconsistent with conversion. Inculcation of beliefs and dogmas is not the only problem that is involved in conversion. To find a place for the convert in the social life of the community is another and a much more important problem that arises in connection with conversion. That problem is where to place the convert, in what caste ? It is a problem which must baffle every Hindu wishing to make aliens converts to his religion. Unlike the club the membership of a caste is not open to all and sundry. The law of caste confines its membership to person born in the caste. Castes are autonomous and there is no authority anywhere to compel a caste to admit a new-comer to its social life. Hindu Society being a collection of castes and each caste being a close corporation there is no place for a convert. Thus it is the caste which has prevented the Hindus from expanding and from absorbing other religious communities. So long as caste remains, Hindu religion cannot be made a missionary religion and Shudhi will be both a folly and a futility.’
In a rare but candid interview to BBC in 1956 Dr Ambedkar said that India is still not a society as none care about others. We are not bothered about our neighbors. We are bothered about his caste first and hence how can we become a society when there is no man to man relationship, where we cannot shake hands with an individual despite knowing him just because he happen to belong to another caste. He was bitter but he never lost reasoning and sanity. He was deeply influenced from that thoughts of Buddha and that is why believed that we can only be a great society if people follow human values democratically and a changing the heart happens after positive realization.
Many votaries of Marxism feel Ambedkar was the product of ‘liberalism’ where individual matters the most and his faith was in strengthening democracy but not through the path of ‘revolution’ while the votaries of the ‘Right’ like Arun Shourie felt that he opposed or should I say, questioned, Gandhi and hence was a British ‘plant’ to subvert our ‘freedom movement’. As we have mentioned that retribution was never what Ambedkar wanted otherwise he would have been happier with Russian revolution but he never believed in ‘communist’ form of ‘government’, which he felt would only perpetuate violence and injustice. His focus was social justice and not in retributive justice. It means he believed in an equalitarian society where human being believed in concept of equality not because of fear of law but because of principle of their faith in equality. This is an important part where Ambedkar differed with Communism and its whole theory of ‘dictatorship of the proletariat” as Ambedkar felt democracy is the only way out where untouchables would be able to get justice and politically united. For democracy to survive, we would need philosophers like Voltaire as Dr Ambedkar said who would question the state and society whenever and where they were wrong. So dissent remains Dr Ambedkar’s biggest strength.
Dr Ambedkar believed that State must owned all the land and nationalize it. It is here he had been influenced by the Soviet module where he felt that state must distribute the land according to needs of the farmers and those who do not till the land have no right to control it. Ambedkar had appreciated the communist thinking on land. He also promoted idea of cooperative farming for the better results of it in India particularly in the drought prone regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada in Maharastra.
If we just keen aside the differences, Dr Ambedkar’s main emphasis was towards the emancipation and liberation of untouchables and ensuring that they get fair representation in the new framework of governance. So, he had enormously difficult task for him. One a community leader who is negotiating with the government for their rights and the other role is of a guide of the community telling them what they should do. The role of the guide of the community is very important as it is where Baba Saheb Ambedkar focused a lot the cultural changes in the community as he felt that without them there would not be a change. Hence he thought of ‘Prabuddha Bharat’ i.e. an enlightened India or enlightened world where people share common concerns of humanity and stand for the most oppressed together.
Dr Ambedkar had realized that the vast masses of untouchables need to be delinked with the brahmanical practices and the religion they follow which have degraded them and put them in subhuman conditions. And he found that he it is not merely leaving Hinduism and following any other religion but returning to his roots. He never wanted people to become prisoner of religion and therefore after a big thought he embraced Buddhism which was not only native but redefined Buddhism from original Navayana perspective which is nothing but humanism.
In his book ‘Buddha and Marx’ Dr Ambedkar mention why and how is Buddha different than others.
‘ Religion is important fact of life and must relate to it and not to speculation about God, soul and heaven etc. It is wrong to make God centre of religion or universe. The purpose of philosophy is to reconstruct the world and not to explain the ‘origin’ of it.’
If we analyse the above statements carefully then it is clear that Ambedkar is a humanist as he has not accepted the ‘supremacy’ of written texts and that he emphasizes on that the centre of ‘religion’ should be ‘human being’. It clearly reflect his mind how he envisaged religion. He did not want to engage with those who wanted to speak of ‘atma’, ‘paratma’, ‘punarjanm’, ‘avatar’ etc as he felt these are brahmanical construct to keep their monopoly over religion and continue to misguide poor. Hinduism for him was minus any ‘Karuna’ or humanity as it divide people on the basis of their birth.
It is essential to understand how he looked at Buddha and his teachings.
Let us talk of the Eight Fold Path ( Ashtang Marg)
1. Right view (freedom from superstition)
2. Right Aims (high and worthy)
3. Right speech (Kind, open and truthful)
4. Right Conduct ( Peaceful, honest and pure)
5. Right livelihood ( causing hurt or inury to no living human being)
6. Right Mindfulness ( with a watchful and active mind)
7. Right perseverance in all the above
8. Right contemplation ( earnest thought)
According to him all the above are meant for the creation of Kingdom of righteousness. The most important thing is how ‘means’ too are important for Buddha. He will not ‘achieve’ things by ‘any means. It means that you have to have right ‘mean’ to achieve your path. So, ‘dictatorship of the proletariat will neither lead to democracy and will not be without violence. The end of the dictatorship is to make revolution permanent but then you have only duties in communism and no right to criticize if you disagree. It is the biggest point of disagreement of Ambedkar of communism or say communist form of governance.
He says, “Buddha was against violence but in favor of justice’ who promoted democracy at every level in his Shakya world. There were 13 monarchies and 4 Republics among the Shakyans”.
Buddha’s commune concept was nothing but communism where none of the Bhikkhus had personal possession. According to Dr Ambedkar, Buddha established communism without being violent and dictatorial. So the changes, that Buddha wanted to bring was through mind and attitude. Whatever you do, do it voluntarily. According to Ambedkar, ‘We need religion, as we are human being, emotional and work to satisfy our spiritual need too’ but then his meaning of religion was based on concept of humanism and felt that it was needed to protect human values and should have focus on wellbeing of human being rather than an illusory ‘God’.
Dr Ambedkar was impressed with French Revolution and its ideals of Fraternity, Liberty and Equality. He respected Voltaire and wishes if we had person like him India would have gained immensely in terms of knowledge and democratic spirit.
He explain his respect for Russian Revolution too as it brought equality but he was not ready for the dictatorship of proletariat and felt that equality without fraternity is not acceptable to him. Society should be equal but not at the cost of sacrificing fraternity and equality, he emphasized. Any changes that the law enforces will be cosmetic and compulsory aversion and India is witnessing that humbug politically and administratively when the love for ‘Dalits’ is not in the heart but because of the constitutional promulgations, which result in falsifications and violation of their rights. Ambedkar was absolutely clear that we need to change the heart of the people and that is why he embraced the guiding principles of Buddha. You cannot change people through laws but through their mindset and change of heart. We need to understand that Ambedkar was hurt but never bitter at the end as he found right path in the preaching’s of Buddha.
So in the context of today, we need to see what he should have been doing.
Today, Ambedkar remain an icon beyond boundaries. He is finding his place in the history books among the historians and politicians as well as political philosophers who were the most influential in 21st century. He will be scrutinized and further critiqued. There will be people who have vilified him because he stood up against authoritarian Gandhi and for whom the ‘freedom’ of Dalits from the ‘servitude’ of caste Hindus was more important than the ‘transfer of power’ in India, as he felt British were far more justice loving people than the caste Hindus.
Annihilation of caste made a few things clear and we must understand that. That was Ambedkar in 1930, fighting with Gandhi, trying to improve Hinduism but he was disappointed with Gandhi’s approach and learnt his lesson. He moved away and decided that people need an alternative vision, a better one to guide their destiny. There is no time for ‘improvement’ but the best way is to walk out of the system and develop your own system. That is where he revitalized Buddhism in India, it is Navayana, a new way of life, much different than that of Dalai Lama and his superstitious ways of life. Let us see what does Ambedkar learnt from his entire altercation with Gandhi which has been produced in ‘Annihilations of Castes’.
1. That Dr Ambedkar was not ready to accept the Supremacy of ‘God’s words’ and for that he was not just ready to take on to the high and mighty like Gandhi but also to Pope John Paul. We cannot ignore an important publication of Times when Ambedkar was invited for hearing in Rome by Pope. After initial introduction and the concern of Dr Ambedkar towards the untouchables, the Pope viewed that it will take a few centuries before the caste system is completely ‘eradicated’. Upon hearing this, Ambedkar just walked out of the meeting saying that he did not have time to wait for this much of centuries to liberate his people.
2. Annihilation of caste was an attempt by Ambedkar to radicalize the Hindu system. He felt that if the caste Hindus change, it would be great. Till that period Ambdkar contended with claiming to be a ‘protestant Hindu’.
3. The whole debate on the issue of ‘caste system’ with Gandhi made one thing unambiguously clear that the Hindus were not ready to change their attitude towards Dalit a bit. Caste system, as a Ambedkar said was a ‘graded inequality’ and divide oppressed too on the basis of ‘hierarchies’. It has made a false sense of pride among people. Hence the entire edifice of Hinduism is nothing but caste system and if caste system is demolished the entire system of varna will collapse like a castle of cards. No Hindu believing in the Varna system, would like to demolish his faith. Gandhi knew it well and hence created myth around everything so that uncomfortable questions are not raised and if they are then the answer should be wrapped in mysticism.
4. Dr Ambedkar realized that Hindus are not ready to change. It is no point discussing with them to change when they are not ready to accept the fundamental of the problem. Caste system and discrimination are inherent part of Varnashram dharma and cannot be resolved by propagandist’s statement and patronizing attitude of Gandhi, suggesting that ‘untouchables’ are ‘Harijans’, son of God. Ambedkar considered it a virtual abuse as Harijan was a term used for the children of ‘Devdasis’ who were sexually exploited by the temple priests. Despite objections by Ambedkarites this term continued to be used in India portraying Gandhi as a ‘great’ emancipator of Dalits. It was only after 1991 when BSP’s fire brand politics threatened to agitate and the government finally ordered to remove the word from the government files. For Dr Ambedkar, saving Hinduism is nothing but saving Brahmanism and as all efforts to change it were countered by Gandhi under the pretext of Shastras, he decided that ‘ though I was a born Hindu, I would not die as a Hindu’.
6. Gandhi was always claiming that untouchability was not part of Hinduism and a blot to it. Ambedkar on the other hand felt that discrimination and caste segregation are inherent part of brahmanical values defined by Manu. Hence, just speaking of untouchability yet protecting caste system reveal the greatest double speak. How can a person ‘condemn’ untouchability and decide to work for its removal but at the same point of time openly advocate work based on caste. Gandhi unambiguously said that caste are based on ‘divinity’ of Shastras and cannot be changed. Those who challenge the supremacy of the religious be text have to leave the ‘religion’ and can’t be called Hindus, said Gandhi. Actually, Gandhi was a deeply religious person who was ‘defining’ things according to his own concepts without challenging the authority of religion to dictate our lives. Ambedkar on the other hand was not ready to accept the ‘authority’ of Shastras if they violate the dignity and human rights of the people. Ambedkar was of the belief that every religion has good things too and bad things too but most important part of them should be to delete those which are wrong and change according to the time and need of human being. Prior to this, Ambedkar had led the temple entry movement in famous Kalaram temple of Nasik and was heavily objected by caste Hindus.
8. On December 25th, 1927, along with his supporters, Dr Ambedkar burnt Manusmriti and drank water from Chavdar pond of Mahad, in Maharastra. It need to be reminded to people that Dalits were denied right to drink water from the village ponds and wells. Ambedkar challenged this and led the movement against such discriminatory practice.
Dr Ambedkar realized that Caste is a big ‘political’ power for the Brahmins and bring many privileges hence all their talk of working against it would be just hypocrite as at the end of the day we all would not like to do away with our ‘powers’ and ‘privileges’ but he also knew that there are good people everywhere who were ready to associate with him in this battle for Indian renaissance and therefore he made them partner in his struggle. One should not ignore the symbolism in how it was not Dr Ambedkar but Shahshrabuddhe, a Brahmin who burnt the Manusmriti in Mahad.
So for the humanists of the world, Dr Ambedkar is perfect example who challenged the religious supremacy and never accepted the finality of religious texts. He suggested that they should be amended as per needs of the time. However, many friends raised objection to his ‘embracing’ Buddhism in a traditional way ignoring the vital factor of 22 vows that he asked his followers to obey before joining Buddhism and in my opinion these are nothing but humanism. One must have a look at them as most of them guide people against superstition perpetrated by the Brahmins in the name of traditions.
Dr Ambedkar’s belief in Buddha was ultimate as he knew it is because of this vision that India and rest of the world would be an enlightened society. He was not taking his people to the path of darkness but to a place where people would be enlightened and engaged with each other in reasoning (tark) with humanity (Manavta) and it is Humanism of modern day definition where human being is the centre of universe of philosophy.
Through his anti-caste movement, Baba Saheb Ambedkar wanted to change the Hindu society but he realized that it was not possible. As long as you believe in those dogmas and beliefs, you won’t be able to do justice to other people. Baba Saheb knew the futility of a casteless society through ‘reforming’ Hinduism or brahman dharma and that is why he gave a clarion call to embrace the path of Buddha. Therefore, annihilation of caste is not possible without making our way to new path. A debate on annihilation of caste must understand that by annihilating castes we will be demolishing Varnashram dharma or what we call Brahman dharma. Are we ready for that? Baba Saheb knew it well that Hindus may say that they are against untouhability but as long as they believe in basic foundation of the same, they cannot really fight against it. That is why he called to his followers to leave the varnashram dharma and embrace a new way of life where your universe will be the philosophy of life and where you are treated equally. The Hindus must continue to fight against caste system but those who really follow Dr Ambedkar have really moved far ahead on the path shown by him which is the way of Buddha’s enlightened world of humanism. There is no other way. India and rest of the world cannot progress by fighting against an ideology but the only possible way is to give people a better alternative. Budddha gave to the world a big humanist way of life without engaging himself in ‘critiquing’ the follies of ‘others’. He learnt the lessons and ensures that all the evils of brahmanical value system do not come in his way and that is why Buddha’s way is the way of life for millions of people world over, it is the path of happiness and equality for all. It is a positive idea and Ambedkar knew well that negativity takes a toll and does not take us anywhere except many of us actually start following it. Therefore, it was important to give people a way of life, which was actually Buddha’s path of salvation, where they become decision makers of their ‘destiny’ rather than believing in some ‘Mahatma’ to guide them to ‘liberation’.
Unfortunately the left in India never understood that and remained more dogmatic in its views. Dr Ambedkar remained a pragmatic person and was ready to cooperate and coordinate with forces who were there to support the cause of untouchables. Dr Ambedkar speaking in Rajya Sabha on 19th march, 1955 on Article 31 or Right to Property, he said, ‘I am prepared to pick and choose from everyone, socialists, Communists or other. I do not claim infallibility and as Buddha says there is nothing infallible, there is nothing final and everything is liable to examination’.
Even when the Congress played all the games to stop him winning election, the record of communist party of India is not fair in this regard whose tallest leader S A Dange contested against him. It is not that he was not trying to create a better opposition but he found caste arrogance of the political leaders of his too big to leave aside their farcical egos and support him. But it is also a fact that Dr Ambedkar was in close touch with many of the socialist leaders of his time. Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Mr N G Gore, S M Joshi and Acharya Atre were among few with whom he was in touch to form a united opposition party to fight against Congress which was the most powerful political force during those days.
It need to be understood that as a politician both the Congress and the left could not shed their caste biases against Dr Ambedkar which definitely disappointed him if not made him bitter and ultimately he also realized that without a cultural revolution political changes in India would merely be cosmetic and therefore the Dhammadeeksha on October 14th, 1956 on Ashoka Vijayadashmi day was perhaps the most powerful expression of his vision for making India a prabuddha Bharat. He had more faith in common masses than ‘powerful’ politicians of his time who actually betrayed him.
The politicians who hated him, berated him, today acknowledge and bow before him but the threat are bigger. While a majority of the Ambedkarite intellectuals and political activists have felt the necessity of Buddhism as a uniting factor and breaking of caste barrier but the situation now is serious with petty political minds playing diverse caste games. The deras in Punjab and sub-casteism elsewhere are the biggest threat to the cultural change that Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar has brought. The mission Prabuddha Bharat will remain difficult as long as we continue to live in those identities given to us by someone else. The power of Ambedkarism is in the modern thinking and delinking from the past that segregated people and created a false sub consciousness among people about their superiority or inferiority of others. Definitely, those who assert their caste identities and want to congregate on that basis at the end remain in the varnashram dharma. We know political ambitions of people are the biggest impediment in the way to achieve a casteless humanist society. I always felt it that political power may be important but unless there is a cultural change, India will not grow. All our progressive constitutional provisions of equality, liberty and fraternity are being defeated by the regressive caste minds who have a duty to implement it and therefore it become imperative for us to work for the cultural revolution in India which is only possible through the liberated humanist path of Buddha and which Baba Saheb wanted us all to follow.