“If Hindu Raj becomes a reality then it would be greatest menace to this country. Whatever may Hindus say, actually it does not make a difference that Hinduism is a danger to Independence, Equality and Brotherhood. Thus, it is an enemy of democracy. We should make all out efforts to stop Hindu Raj from becoming a reality.” Babasaheb Ambedkar (Pakistan or Partition of India, Page 358)
On 14th April 2015, Dr. Ambedkar’s 124th Birth Anniversary, we witnessed grand celebrations across Dalit India. As Dr. Ambedkar’s followers were celebrating this most remarkable event in Dalit and Buddhist history in India, we also witnessed peculiar celebrations by the Hindu parties like BJP, Congress and AAP and ‘cultural’ organizations like RSS. All of them were competing to prove their love for Dr. Ambedkar’s unparalleled contributions in almost every field. One might wonder as to why the Congress and the AAP are being referred to as Hindu political parties. This essay will try to analyse that among other things.
The Congress has almost always had its faith in Hindu ideology – whether during Gandhi’s reign or later when Congress Raj was actually realized – it has always romanticized Gandhi through textbooks and hasn’t ever given Dr. Ambedkar and his radical thoughts the national importance they truly deserve. When the Congress today shamelessly recounts the ‘help’ it had provided Dr. Ambedkar, has it forgotten how much the Congress actually troubled Dr. Ambedkar? In fact, there is no real help which was provided to Dr. Ambedkar by the Congress. On the contrary, the Congress was always reluctant to let Ambedkar emerge as a national leader. This fact can be proven through several historical instances: through the Round Table conferences, Dr. Ambedkar’s writings, the opposition to The Hindu Code Bill, Gandhi’s politics of fulfilling 14 demands of the Muslims if the League opposed the demands of the untouchables, Poona Pact and many more. So basically there is not even a single point on the basis of which the Congress today can claim its share in Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy.
Let us now look at AAP – I shall quote what Anoop Kumar said in a Facebook update here:
“I have no qualms about accepting that whatever politics I adhere to, they stand today totally battered, absolutely defeated. But who else could withstand the upper caste onslaught? None actually. During the Nirbhaya agitation, during India against corruption, during anti-reservation [Mandal 2] I was in Delhi and used to always wonder when would Dalits be able to gather in huge numbers and occupy Jantar Mantar, Ram Lila ground, immobilize Delhi for days and create a movement so powerful that it reverberates the entire country. But soon it became clear to me, it is not only the Dalits who are unable to do so, it is everyone except upper caste Hindus. Despite being hounded for decades, killed in thousands during riots Muslims too could never take over Delhi, not even for a second, to demand justice. The same goes for Sikhs post-1984 or Christians or tribals or any other community except upper castes.
It is only the upper caste Hindus who could do so whenever they needed to fight for something. Not only could we put up no fight ever but also we got disenfranchised so much that we now need an upper caste interlocutor to make our pain a bit visible. For us, Dalits, we never had a chance actually to begin with. We were always disenfranchised, always at the mercy of others. What worries me really right now is the process that other communities are in. Probably the same process that would have made us ‘untouchables’, the most despised one – hundreds of years ago.
All these attacks on churches, all Ghar Wapsi programmes, all this religious jingoism has not much to do to make one religion stronger at the cost of others or to turn India into a Hindu country. It already is a Hindu nation. Make no mistake about that. What these attacks actually result in is something much more reprehensible. It is about turning other communities into perpetual clients. No more an equal citizen but merely someone who can survive in this country only through upper caste patronage. Communities who then can never dream of sharing power and resources of the country but must remain content in just trying hard to protect their children from getting encountered, their religious places not burnt down, their culture not humiliated. To remain happy if one Modi gets defeated in one election. But there is something worse. They also take away your ability to speak for any universal category. At best you could be the spokesperson of your community and its pains. Nothing more.
You can never produce an honest man, honest enough to speak for the common man.
There can never be a Muslim Kejriwal, a tribal Kejriwal, a Dalit Kejriwal, a Christian Kejriwal. He has to be an upper caste Hindu always.”
The evil deeds the BJP, RSS and the Congress have done to the Dalits cannot ever let an awakened mind be misled by their false concern for the Dalits. The AAP too has done nothing, absolutely nothing, which can prove their slightest concern for the Dalits. None of them have publicly spoken in favour of the Dalits and the day-to-day problems that the lower castes face. Only 5% of all marriages in India are inter-caste marriages. Marriages of upper castes with Dalits and the Tribals, who are also missing from Arun Jaitley’s budget, would be even lower. Apart from some instances like reservations, on no other platform has the AAP spoken about their concern for Dalits and the Tribals. It has undoubtedly proven that the definition of the Aam Aadmi is limited to the upper caste Hindus.
None of these parties have ever given importance to Dr. Ambedkar’s admiration for the Buddha’s philosophy and his strong opposition to the Hindu Raj and Hindutva philosophy. These parties pay reverence to Gandhi by mentioning his Satyagrahas, fasts and movements, but never acknowledge Dr. Ambedkar’s immortal legacy by mentioning his books, movements, dream of a Buddhist and a caste-free India, his deep analysis of Hinduism and its horrendous effects on society at large. Instead, the RSS and the BJP seem busy in misquoting Dr. Ambedkar to suggest that Dr. Ambedkar shared their anti-Muslim politics. This is utterly false and baseless. They know that a large number of Dalits in India are still uneducated which makes them think that they cannot read Ambedkar. On the first part they might be correct but they are highly mistaken on the second part. We know our Ambedkar a thousand and million times better than you know your Gods. None of you can fool us in believing your filthy political motives. Moreover, we very well understand your unexpressed hate for Ambedkar.
Maha Bodhi Maha Vihar protests
All that the BJP, Congress and other Hindu Parties have always done is to belittle Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy and to cunningly try to merge Dalits into their so-called Aam Aadmi. Whereas it is evident that the slogans – Aam Aadmi, Garibi Hatao and Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas – are only for the upper castes. These few examples prove that these parties have miserably failed in understanding Dr. Ambedkar’s vision. You all must remember that a lie told a hundred times still remains a lie.
Now to look at the BJP – since it came to power last year, it has been endeavouring to show its love for Buddhism to the western countries. This love doesn’t seem to be for creating a secure environment for most of the untouchables who converted to Buddhism following Dr. Ambedkar in late 1956. Mr. Modi has visited many Buddhist countries so far where he has made a show of his respect for the Buddha, but the people in India especially need to understand that all this is as fake as his love for Dr. Ambedkar and his vision. Modi knows that if he doesn’t pay reverence to the Buddha, the western media may strongly condemn his actions as Buddhism originated in India and is the world’s fourth largest religion. What Mr. Modi interprets as the Buddha may be the one who they wrongly believe as the reincarnation of Vishnu.
Subramaniam Swamy and the other BJP members too share similar feelings. Subramaniam Swamy believes that Buddha was the reincarnation of Vishnu and that Buddhism is a branch of Hinduism. Most of the BJP ministers believe that the teachings of the Buddha originate from Hindu Philosophy.
The Dalits who converted to Buddhism believe in the 22 vows which stress on renouncing the very idea of Hinduism. The fifth vow says that, ‘I do not and shall not believe that Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu. I believe this to be sheer madness and false propaganda.’ When both the BJP and the RSS believe that Buddhism is just the evolved form of Hinduism, how can Modi claim to have respect for the anti-Caste Buddhism i.e., Ambedkarite Buddhism?
Dr. Ambedkar in his book ‘The Buddha and his Dhamma’ explains how Buddhism isn’t related to Hinduism and how Buddhism itself is anti-Hinduism. He articulates through his writings how the Buddha spent his entire life fighting against the Hindu Caste system, Brahminical oppression, Brahminical sacrifices, theism, reincarnation, moksh and the gender inequality in Hinduism.
As a result, the Buddha became the first man to attack the evil Gods and the Caste system prevalent in Hinduism. Now the question arises as to what is true Buddhism according to Mr. Modi and how does he interpret the Buddha? Does he really believe in Buddha’s doctrine? Does he endorse Dr. Ambedkar’s anti-caste Buddhism? Surely, one is smart enough to know how the behaviour of the Modi government is a complete contradiction to anti-caste Buddhism.
Narendra Modi will have to make his stand clear on anti-caste Buddhism and will have to condemn the Ghar Wapsi programs started by the RSS as the term Ghar Wapsi itself means hell for the lower Castes. It can be proved through Dr. Ambedkar’s statement while renouncing Hinduism where he says, “I have left Hell!” On what basis is the RSS bluffing then?
Further, the behavior of the BJP Govt is a threat to the lives of the lower castes and the minorities. Modi still hasn’t taken a stand against the banning of beef. If it’s Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas then why is it dehumanizing the Dalit, Muslim and Christian culture? When one reads The Buddha and his Dhamma, Dr. Ambedkar explains how the Buddha didn’t impose any restrictions on the eating of non-vegetarian food upon the Upasakas and the Upasikas. This is how the theory of Buddha’s non-violence is more practical and is completely different from that of Gandhi and Mahavira. Is Modi determined enough to make his stand which suits the ideals of Buddhism and those of Dr. Ambedkar? Or will he continue to fool people in believing his fake love for Buddhism and Dr. Ambedkar?
Narendra Modi had also often mentioned the name of Buddha before the 2014 elections. In one of his addresses, he said, “When we remember the age of knowledge, we remember Nalanda and Takshashila, this is my Bihar, brothers and sisters.” Now of course when he mentioned this, he indirectly meant that Takshashila is in Bihar! There is not point blaming him because, in fact, these must be the words of his speechwriters.
Modi is an evil genius who is trying to attract the Dalit vote bank by using Buddha’s name. All of Ambedkar’s followers know that this is another attempt to misguide them. The western media too hasn’t realized the fake stand of Modi on Buddhism. Recently Modi while demanding a permanent seat for India in the UN spoke about how India had been enlightened through the great personalities of Mahatma Gandhi and Gautam Buddha and has thus never attacked any other country. It is a peace loving country and depriving a permanent seat for India in the UN would be an injustice to India.
Mr. Modi hasn’t realized that the non-violence Gandhi preached was a copy of the Jain theory of extreme non-violence which differs from Buddha’s theory of non-violence. Is Mr. Narendra Modi assuming that Buddhism is only about non-violence? I am afraid, he is mistaken. His stand on Buddhism is not clear yet. His filthy attempt to propagate Buddhism being a part of Hinduism doesn’t end. He gifted The Gita to the Japanese emperor Akihito and US President Obama as well. Modi should have given a copy of The Buddha and his Dhamma which was written by the founding father of Modern India, Dr. Ambedkar, to the Buddhist countries he visited or a copy of all the religious books to project unity in diversity instead of gifting a copy of the Gita. If he can say that India being a land of the Buddha deserves a permanent seat in the UN, why can’t he gift The Buddha and his Dhamma to the Buddhist countries? What I understand through this is that Modi uses Buddha’s name in the western countries just to get further his agenda.
If Modi has true love for Buddhism, why hasn’t he or any other senior BJP minister addressed the protests which will be carried out from 25-27 April 2015 to free the Maha Bodhi Maha Vihar in Bihar from Hindu control? On watching Lord Buddha TV, I came to know that the Maha Bodhi Maha Vihar is under the control of Hindu authorities which propagate false Buddhist history including the false theory of Buddha being a reincarnation of Vishnu. These protests will be carried out at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to warn the Hindu forces to keep their hands off the Buddhist heritage. Of course, it won’t be highlighted by the upper caste media. The protests have been carried out for many years to demand the Maha Bodhi Maha Vihar to be handed over to Buddhist authorities. If the Modi government truly endorses his stand on the Buddha, why hasn’t it favored this protest? In fact, counter protests had always been carried out against the Buddhists demanding their own Maha Bodhi Maha Vihar. In several of his speeches, Modi himself says that ‘Hinduism is not a religion. It is a way of life.” This is a way of life which has ruined the lives of millions of masses. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had strongly opposed this way of life and when Modi and the BJP claim Ambedkar’s legacy, it should wash its sins first. Be it the missing Dalits and Tribals from Jaitley’s budget or be it atrocities on Dalit, Mr. Modi seems to have no concern for the Dalits and the lower castes.
With the media being in the hands of upper castes and the corporates, it becomes difficult to reveal these contradictions in your government and you. Whatever you may say, your interpretation of Buddhism is a menace as it has its base in the inequalities of Hinduism be it caste or gender. It isn’t the Buddhism which Babasaheb had given us. So, when you pay respect to Babasaheb or Buddha, follow their ideology or else keep your hands off them. Gita and The Buddha and his Dhamma are as incompatible as are Gita and democracy. Mr. Modi, Dr. Ambedkar and the Buddha gave us the most powerful weapons of reasoning and education. If you think that your false interpretation of Buddhism and Dr. Ambedkar would fool us, we are coming to prove you wrong through our writings.
Anitya Sanket is a Class 12 Arts student who is interested in subjects like Sociology, Political Science, Economics and History. He admires Dr. Ambedkar and is inspired by his life and work. He aspires to battle against caste and wishes to be a social scientist and reformer.
Pictures courtesy: Babasaheb Ambedkar Channel.