Celebrate Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar as hero of India’s greatest nonviolent revolution after Buddha

Baba Saheb Ambedkar The biggest hero of the social revolution in India

It was a massive gathering that had jolted many hearts but
brought a new hope in the lives of millions who thronged the venue which today
is called as ‘Deekshabhumi’, in Nagpur. The impact is so much that no other
political or spiritual leader in the history of post-independence India has
that much of following as of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar today.  You have to just visit Nagpur during the Dhamma
chakra Pravartan Diwas and watch the massive gathering of people from different
parts of the country, as a mark of their deep respect to the man who changed
their lives.  While Indian celebrate the
life of Gandhi ji as the saint who talked about Ahimsa or non-violence as he
was the only person or the first person to speak about it which is completely
untrue. The day, I am referring is October 14th, 1956, and incidentally, Ashoka
Vijaya dashmi day, when Baba Saheb Ambedkar officially embraced Buddhism and
then gave deeksha to millions of his followers.

The fact is that over two thousand four hundred years before
Gandhi, Buddha spoke of non-violence and his ‘ahimsa’ was not status-quoist but
a change maker and Buddha’s ideological revolution was completed in India in
the form of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s call to make India a ‘prabuddha Baharat’
i.e. enlightened India. It is strange that Dr Ambedkar’s revolution of bringing
India’s 120 million untouchables to follow or look towards the path of Buddha
was not considered worthy by the Brahmanical intellectuals who continue to
celebrate Gandhi’s ahimsa as ‘landmark’ and promote it unashamedly.

If we look at Gandhi’s work and ahimsa which is no doubt a
great political weapon, it is also important to see that at the end of the day
Gandhi ji non-violence was status quoists. It did want to defuse the Dalit
anger against Brahmanical oppression. Gandhi was preaching them the ‘greatness’
of varnashram dharma which was the biggest cultural violence on India’s
indigenous people. The Congress Party was originally a party of the landed
Zamindars, Brahmins and other upper castes and Gandhi brought the moneyed
Marwaris too into it. The ahimsa weapon was not much used against the British
but more to foil the local movements. We have seen Champaran, Chauri Chaura and
Avadh Kisan Andolan and any honest reading of these movements will reflect that
Gandhi demolished the local leadership and anger of the people against the
oppressive Zamindars mostly the twice born communities.  In most of these places the leadership of the
marginalized was ultimately handed over to the oppressive caste forces.

I have heard Gandhian speaking of ‘Ahimsa’. In a rally where
massive gathering had happened, poor Adivasis and Dalits who never got their
land and other rights in this so-called freedom, that we must not resist, not
do anything even if beaten up. We must resist non-violently. I am amused at
this non-violence. If this is ‘ahimsa’ then, it is time the Gandhians start
their campaign in the houses of the twice born Sawarnas who are filled with
hatred towards the Dalits and Adivasis. It is time, we teach them the good
values of Ahimsa and stop hitting and killing the Dalits and I would say, it
would be the great work that a Gandhian can do. Hence, ideologically, even when
I acknowledge and appreciate Gandhi’s faith in Ahimsa, I would still call it
not change-makers. Gandhi could not change the heart of the Sawarnas, nor could
he win the heart of Dalits and Adivasis.

Contrary to this, Dr Ambedkar who faced humiliation and
isolation from caste Hindus just because he was speaking for the rights of
‘depressed classes’ and all those communities who were treated as untouchables
by the caste Hindus, still talked about ‘fraternity’.  Despite all poison that still exists in the
minds of the Savarna Hindus for the Dalits and Adivasis, Ambedkar wanted to
change their heart. He did not call for a violent revolution against the Hindu
hegemony. He always used the term Hindus for the Brahmanical caste Hindus and
therefore Ambedkar’s belief in Buddha and his five-fold path including Ahimsa
have much bigger meaning for India than Gandhi’s status-quoist Ahimsa which
failed to give any justice to the victim of our caste apartheid.

Shouldn’t India be celebrating Ambedkar’s path of Buddhism and his call for a ‘prabuddh Bharat’ as it was not meant for the Dalits alone but for all of us? India cannot be enlightened if the Savarnas continue to live in their hatred and it is not possible without fraternity as Ambedkar prescribed. Social justice was a key for peace building. Gandhians are speaking of love and ahimsa but is it possible without undoing historical wrongs. Gandhi and Ambedkar both spoke of non-violence but why is that Ambedkar’s path has much solid ideological ground than Gandhi’s. It has to be scrutinized and analysed.

Gandhi’s ahimsa came from ‘Gita’ and his deep ‘faith’ in
Varnashram dharma. In fact, Dr Ambedkar’s path-breaking work: Riddles of
Hinduism exposes the ‘best’ ‘book’ theory of the Brahmanical intellectuals. How
can Gita be claimed as ‘non-violent’ or how can it inspire us to be non-
violent when it actually preached violence. 
When Arjuna refuses to fight against his own brothers and elders,
Krishna preach him: “Nainam chhidanti shastrani, nainam dahati pawakah,
nachainam cladiyanti aaph, na shoshiyati marutah). Oh Arjun, go and kill as you
will only be killing body and not soul as soul is immortal. So even if you are
killing your near dear ones physically, you are not killing them in real as
soul is immortal and it transmigrate. None can burn it or wet it”.  Now, any sensible person should have laughed
at it as Ambedkar says, but it has been made the ‘biggest’ philosophy.  Gita actually suggest you that violence is
not violence. What an idea?

So, in both the fronts, his ‘ideal book’ and ‘ideal
religion’, Gandhi failed to inspire the Dalits and Adivasis. His ‘Ahimsa’ has
the highest ‘following’ in the castes who don’t believe in at all. If Gandhi’s
call for Ahimsa had any impact on his upper caste followers, then, I can bet,
violence against Dalits in India would have stopped by now.

Look at Dr Ambedkar. He did not proclaim to be non-violent
but all his action categorically indicate that he believed in it and more than
that the philosophy which bring equality, liberty and fraternity.  So, Gandhi’s Ahimsa may be even at the cost
of equality but for Dr Ambedkar, Ahimsa is acceptable only when it brings
Equality, Liberty and Fraternity. While Gandhi believed in his ‘village’
‘republics’ who actually were never so, Dr Ambedkar felt that without a
philosophy that talks of equality, liberty and fraternity, it is not possible
to democratize the villages and bring ahimsa. 
Ambedkar continuously emphasized on social democracy and warned on
November 26th, 1949, in his address at the Constituent Assembly, that if there
is no social democracy, then the constitutional democracy would fail and then
the same people who had built this structure so laboriously, will demolish it.
So, Ambedkar’s warning was clear that in the absence of an equitable social
order, our political system is bound to fail and will ultimately compel the
marginalized communities denied their fundamental rights historically might
pick up arm and destroy it.

Over seven decades have passed and the caste hatred against
the Dalits and Adivasis continues unabated. Not merely that, the hidden
apartheid in the form of untouchability is practiced rampantly despite a great
constitution and the reason is the inability and ill-will of those who have the
responsibility to implement the constitutional provisions. And yet, despite
that, Dalits have deep faith in Constitution. They have rejected all paths
towards violence as Buddha’s way is showing them enlightenment and the results
are worth research. That is why, I mentioned, if any one wish to see what
Ambedkar means to more than Twenty Crore Dalits of India, then visit
Deekshabhumi in Nagpur during Dhamma chakra Pravartan Diwas, Mumbai’s
Chaityabhumi on December 5th and 6th and rest of India on April 14th. The
crowed that come and celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti in the villages, in hamlets are
not state sponsored but spontaneous. Ambedkarite literature is sold in huge
number during these events all over the country.

Ambedkar’s path to the Dalit was emphatically clear that
they have to leave the religion and values which degrade them and believe in
birth based inequality and he found that only Buddha’s way can create an
enlightened society based in Equality Liberty and Fraternity and interestingly
not only the Dalits, but OBCs are also attracted towards Buddhist movement as
espoused by Baba Saheb Ambedkar. It is growing and it will reach the nook and
corners of India. Now, Dalits do not seek justice from Savarnas who have
oppressed them from centuries but wish that this constitution is impartially
implemented and it is not possible without their fair representation in all
structures of power. Yes, for making our politics function, it is also
essential for them to delink themselves from Brahmanical habits which divinely
sanctified inequality and glorified certain communities. Such a philosophy
would only create sick society which cannot make a strong India and that is why
Dr Ambedkar wanted people to follow ‘Navayana’, new path. This new path is
leaving the dirty old world of castes ghettoes and live a life on your own, in
the world of Buddha and its enlightenment.

Dr Ambedkar’s call was whole heartedly accepted by a
majority of Dalits who realized that being ‘Harijan’ under the Brahmanical
patrons would never give them dignity and self-respect. So, all the talks of
Gandhian Ahimsa would be just a fluke for them as long as they continue to do
age old traditional work and face caste-based discrimination. On October 14th,
1956, when Baba Saheb gave Deeksha to people at Nagpur, the people were
celebrating and huge sea of humanity visible everywhere. It was not merely in
Nagpur, Baba Saheb gave Deeksha at Chandrapur too and the ceremony happened for
several days. Mr Sadanand Fulzale, who was the deputy Mayor of Nagpur and a
follower of Baba Saheb says:

“It was a huge celebration he says. Photographs of the
functions are well placed decorating his drawing room in Nagpur and each event
reverberate his mind in passion. ‘’First Baba Saheb took Deeksha through Chandiramani
ji. He was so overwhelmed that he did not raise his head. Then Chandiramani ji
gave him panchsheel. Then he got up and said now I have become Buddhist. All
those who want to have deeksha should stand up. Then baba sahib gave them
trisharan and panchasheel. and later gave them 22 bows. The people were there
for two days. Baba Saheb spoke for nearly two hours. Later in the night Baba
Saheb departed for Chandrapur.’’

 It is not merely Ambedkarite
in India and abroad, but even the African Americans have now started
understanding Dr Ambedkar and his historical struggle. Prof Kevin Brown, from
Indiana University in the United States is so much impressed with Baba Saheb’s
work that he brings number of African American and other religious and racial
minorities to India to learn from Dr Ambedkar’s work. He tells me in an interview:

“I want to start by noting that I was born the evening of
October 13, 1956.  If you adjust for the
time difference between India and the United States, then as Dr. Ambedkar was
leading the conversion of Dalits to Buddhism, my mother was in labour
delivering me.  So, in a way, I was fated
to learn about Dr. Ambedkar and the Ambedkarite movement in India. “

From an international point of view, Dalits must inform the
rest of the world of their struggle. 
Caste Hindus have controlled the international image of the caste
system.  They typically discuss how
things have changed in India and how caste is not very important anymore.  They talk about reservation and how much
Dalits have advanced since Independence. 
Because this is the typical story that caste Hindus tell, it is imperative
for Dalits to publicize their experiences, perspectives and realties as much as
possible.”

Unlike Gandhi and Gandhians, Ambedkar and Ambedkarite don’t
harp on ‘non-violence’ theme too much because the focus of Ambedkarite is
Equality-Liberty and Fraternity and for that Ambedkar did not ask the Dalits to
pick up guns and eliminate the caste Hindus. He did not ask the depressed
communities to live in perpetual hatred but enlighten themselves, ‘be better
than their best’, as our Ambedkarite friend N G Uke used to say.  It is time, India celebrate Dr Ambedkar’s
path of enlightenment embrace Equality-Liberty and Fraternity which he
described through the path of Buddha, respect individuals and build a modern
society. You cannot build modern India on the edifice of celebrating the spirit
of Manusmiriti. A modern India which will equal rights to all is possible only
through socialization of constitutional values of egalitarianism and cultural
path shown by Baba Saheb Ambedkar who brought the biggest nonviolent revolution
in the history of independent India on the Dhamma chakra Pravartan Day on
October 14th, 1956.

Celebrate the revolution and spread it.

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

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