Prabuddha Council, JNU
“Religion in the sense of morality must remain the governing principle of every society” – Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
Engendering violence of any kind, anywhere, is a great threat to humanity as well as the environment. Suffering pervades all and is causal to the deteriorating conditions of society. Hope seems to be dying and despair seems pervasive. However, human mind is capable of overcoming this suffering. To deal with these sufferings, we have developed varied mechanisms like society, science, politics, and religion etc. Those civilisations evolve which go in tandem with Transformation. In Buddhism, the Dhamma Chakra is the symbol of this ‘transformation’, and celebrating Dhamma Chakra Anupravartan is nothing but celebrating the transformation happening around us.
In the context of JNU, we see that there is a change in the social and political discourse. By the current unfolding of events nobody can deny that the Dhamma Chakra is turning. The manifestations of this happening ‘Transformation’ is evident firstly, in the very recent invocation and emergence of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as an overarching figure that compels us to consider the glaring fact of change in politics as well as in society. Secondly, by the penetrating influence of Dr. Ambedkar on the passionate spirit and contagious joy among his followers, followed by the strengthening of their moral stamina, by a striking political emergence in campus is also a big sign of this manifestation. Hence, this makes a strong reason for the celebration of Dhamma Chakra Anupravartan in JNU.
On its 60th year of celebration, it becomes a necessity to discuss the mind and deeds of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the person who devised this formula of Dhamma Chakra Anupravartan to rediscover the path of light – DHAMMA – which had almost disappeared from India, its root country. Dr. Ambedkar, as a mentor in the time of turbulence, guided the masses and showed them the very novel and scientific path of Dhamma. Without discussing Dhamma, invoking Ambedkar is an injustice and shows the ulterior opportunism among the invokers. This is because the question arises – is it not important to discuss his philosophy and also his method, which was the working force behind his deeds? Thus, discussing the methodology of Ambedkar and his core philosophy also becomes one of our prime objectives, so that it should reach the masses through which there shall be the rise of scientific temper, empowering every individual to be his own guide. This will not only attack the petty, opportunistic propaganda which misuses Ambedkar wrongly, but will also enable us to think about the right direction of the movement that will help to realise Liberty, Equality, Justice and Fraternity.
Nowadays, romanticising spectacles, after having them deliberately conjured, have become an appealing fad. Even in history, there have been myriad instances where one could recount the impression of such spectacles. However, the necessity to ponder over romantic spectacles arises from the urgency to relocate rational as well as righteous/reasoned understanding of history. Babasaheb had once said, “Whatever I have done, I have been able to do after passing through crushing miseries and endless troubles all my life and fighting with my opponents. With great difficulty I have brought this caravan where it is seen today. Let the caravan march on despite the hurdles that may come in its way. If my lieutenants are not able to take the caravan ahead they should leave it there, but in no circumstances should they allow the caravan to go back. This is the message to my people”. It is therefore, important to mark that there is an urgent moral responsibility on the carriers of Dhamma Chakra to keep it wheeling in the right direction of history.
The growing Ambedkarite consciousness among the masses, especially the depressed classes, is as harmful, as it is empowering for their wellbeing. The insistence to celebrate Dhammachakra Anupravartan Day in JNU arises in order to sharpen the direction and vision of the Ambedkarite movement which, at its best working conditions, has a probability to get adversely affected by the deviant tendencies of opportunistic propaganda in the name of Social Justice. Babasaheb was of the opinion that “a Political Party does not exist merely for the sake of winning election. A Political party exists for the sake of educating, agitating and organising the people.” Celebrating Dhamma at this juncture accomplishes a much needed task of shaking the moral conscience of the intellectual class. This class would take the right decisions to lead our society to the realization of equal and fulfilling living conditions for the cultivation of intelligence of all. For this aim there arises the urgency for the intelligentsia and scholars of JNU to discuss religion as propounded by Ambedkar.
Babasaheb, as a sincere and intelligent person, has left no room for confusion and by incessant work throughout his lifetime, articulated his philosophy, method and vision in a well-defined way. He believed that “Time may suggest possible new ways. But to step on the right one is not the work of time. It is the work of man.” His method is unique where he puts the ‘human’ at the centre. Moreover, it comprises a scheme of comparison of personalities, which is often visible in his writings and speeches. In this scheme itself he has discussed the problems as well as solutions of human and society by comparison of two personalities which influenced humankind as none other – Buddha and Karl Marx. To mark it distinctly, Ambedkar opines, “Religion is absolutely essential for the development of mankind. I know that one sect came into existence after reading Karl Marx. According to them religion is futile. They do not have importance of religion. In the morning they get breakfast containing bread, cream, butter, chicken leg etc. full meal, sound sleep, to see movies; and that is all. That is their philosophy. I am not of that opinion… I have a realization that how hard a man’s life can be in the absence of luxuries. I know that economic elevation movement is necessary. I am not against that movement. Man must progress financially”. Ambedkar believed that religion is a matter of choice and does not depend on one’s birth. He elaborated. “Religion is necessary for the poor. Religion is necessary for the Depressed people. The poor man survives on hope. The root of life lies in hope. What will happen to the life if the hope is lost? Religion makes hopeful, and gives a message to the depressed and the poor – do not be afraid, life will be hopeful, it will be!”
Negating the misnomer that his philosophy has its roots in political science, Ambedkar unequivocally clarified that, “My philosophy has roots in religion and not in political science. I have derived them from the teachings of my Master, the Buddha.” Having been concerned about his mission in life, Babasaheb was focused since 1935, when he announced to renounce the degraded Hinduism, until the moment when he took his last breath. In his own words, he explained, “some people say, ‘why did you take so much time to get converted? What were you doing all these days?’ This is the question of importance. Convincing a religion is not an easy task. That is not the mission of a single person. Any person thinking of religion will come to know this. No man in the world shoulders as much responsibility as do I. If I get a long life, I will fulfil my planned work.”
On 14th October 1956, Babasaheb along with his lakhs of followers got converted to Buddhism. With all of his cultivated intelligence and sagaciousness he dedicated to the cause of the propagation of Dhamma. At the time when he was struggling with old age and deteriorating health, he said, “For the task like propagation of Buddhism I am not at all ill. I am prepared to utilise every moment of my remaining life for the great task of revival and propagation of Buddha’s Dhamma in Bharat.” Most importantly, one of the prime urgency in celebrating Dhamma Chakra Anupravartan Day is to challenge all ulterior adverse propagandas by noting down the thoughts of Babasaheb in his own words. By his advancing foresight he knew that he would be remembered one day. So, he appealed to his faithful followers to struggle despite all odds. He says, “In reality, I feel guilty of starting late the work of revival of Buddhism in India. But even then I hope and believe that my people who, sacrificing their own comforts, have been faithfully following me. I hope and I trust they will continue to struggle sincerely to propagate the Buddha Dhamma in India.”
Along with several perspectives, there is a ray of hope which originates from the emergence of Dhamma. As Prabuddha Council, a study group in JNU, we do not claim the absolute understanding of Babasaheb’s thoughts but we certainly aim to propagate his envisioned directives for the realization of the world of Liberty, Equality, Justice and Fraternity in individual, social as well as political realm. And by the above enumerated thoughts we refute all deviating, false, adverse appropriations of Babasaheb’s ideas and set a plan for the construction of an ideal as well as achievable State, envisioned by him, called as ‘PRABUDDHA BHARAT’.
Prabuddha Council, JNU, can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org