Dr. R. Praveen
The growing atrocities on dalits in the name of hindutva fascism need to be countered with a formidable retaliation, one which leads us to path of progression and helps us to reclaim our humanity and that path is of Buddhism. Babasaheb has shown us the path to salvation as Buddhism and this article looks into the rationale to revert to our native religion of Buddhism.
Buddhism – in the path of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar
So, why Buddhism?
Buddhism is a quarantine for all dalits facing the stigma of caste oppression. It is a place where we can shed our notions of hierarchical thraldom prevailing in hinduism.
The principle of a group to which we identify ourselves with, defines the principles by which we lead our lives. Hinduism preaches hierarchical hegemony as the birth right, the feeling of being inferior to the castes above and superiority over the castes below, is the dictum. Being a hindu places you right where your caste belongs to and hence your notions of superior/inferior.
It’s not the tag ‘SC’ that isolates you, it is the notion of untouchability in hinduism that isolates you. Even if you turn ‘SC’ to ‘XY’, you will still be isolated, because the hindus’ principle is to practice untouchability on the untouchable castes. It is their dictum or dharma.
Buddhism in every way is antithetical to hinduism. The tentacles of casteism can’t even breach the girders of Buddhism built by its principles of brotherhood and equality. Embracing Buddhism is not an escape from caste, it’s the abandonment of hinduism altogether with the stigma that’s attached with the castes, courtesy of hinduism for eons.
It’s the casteist notions of hinduism that prevent the social bonding even between the scheduled castes. As long as one remains a Hindu, the hierarchical notions of hinduism will be guiding you for your life preventing the social endosmosis even between the scheduled castes.
Thus Buddhism serves as a quarantine from hinduism and thereby offers a place to unify all the scheduled castes/dalits.
To unify a conglomerate of variegated population, separated by a principle such as hinduism. Another principle is required to unite them. That principle which unites all these broken men from hinduism is of Buddhism.
A Buddhist SC is not the same as a Hindu SC
As a Hindu SC when you are discriminated or isolated by the upper caste hindu, you can’t do anything but lament to fellow hindu SCs or live in silent reproach.
Being a Buddhist SC, you carve for yourself an identity distinct from being an outcaste in erstwhile hinduism. It gives you that innate strength in the metaphysical or spiritual sense, to confront the oppressing hindu and the Buddhist identity will limit the hindu’s mind, for his dharma is confined only to hinduism.
One may question there’s discrimination of scheduled castes in Christianity. Christianity to my knowledge is institutional, when evangelists converted people from here, it’s not the scheduled castes alone that got converted. All castes in sufficient numbers got converted. The persons who occupied office of clergy, and the people who belonged to every castes of Hinduism, with their notions of hierarchy of being an upper caste Hindu, should have polluted Christianity in India as such.
Still it hasn’t stopped people of scheduled castes from becoming a bishop of archdiocese. If Christianity is fraught with casteism, then Hinduism is to be blamed for polluting it.
Can we expect such a scenario in Buddhism? There won’t be anything like that. Because, Babasaheb asks us to follow the Navayana Buddhism as we are native Buddhists of this soil and a Buddhism distinct from the Mahayana, Theravada or Vajrayana.
As most of the people who follow Navayana Buddhism will be defined as abiding by the principles of Buddha and his dhamma, there’s no place for hierarchical hangovers from Hinduism. It will not be polluted as the principles and 22 vows stand as girders.
The SC tag in certificate of Buddhism is to not give up our representational right, which was and is still being denied.
Discrimination based on quota is a a ploy to digress from the actual causes of dalits. The oligarchs sustain their hegemony, by creating confusion and clamour among the oppressed,by making a non issue into an issue and giving them social, economic and political problems which they spend their lifetime fighting, eventually making them to digress from the real cause.
Harping on reservations and the discrimination by reservations is one such ploy. The picture is much bigger. The reservation in the government sector is minuscule compared to the opportunities prevailing in the private sector. It’s the attack inflicted upon every means of dalit lives that needs to be countered.
Navayana Buddhism will be another sect of Buddhism, with Buddha and Babasaheb. The other sects might see it just as another sect of Buddhism and as there’s no hierarchy in Buddhism as far as I know. There’s no place for looking down upon by or on other Buddhists in a rational sense.
We ought to remember there exist myriad tribes in this world, it’s only the social stigma that’s attached with it, is the issue. Only those with these social stigma search for remedies (writings of Ambedkar), others who are inspired by Ambedkar and those who abide by his Buddha and dhamma may follow Navayana Buddhism. Everyone defined as such comes under Buddhism with no hangovers from Hinduism.
The mission of reversion to Buddhism is with the objective to unify, embolden and empower the erstwhile broken men branded as Hindus. To register as a separate entity different from the Hindu. The reversion to our native religion, isn’t for theological purposes, it’s for social amalgamation among the dalits. The word Buddhist gives a new identity, and rejuvenation.
Still reversion to Buddhism isn’t a magical cleanser which wipes away all the miseries of your life. The struggle is always there in the life of the oppressed. The unification of the dalits under Buddhism through social education is the first objective and essential.
If you peruse the article published in the Hindu daily on February 27,2016 in its international news section titled: U.S. lawmakers urge Modi to take action on religious violence, it says how ‘the senators of u.s have strongly condemned the religious violences in India on the religious minorities such as the Christian, Muslim and Sikh, urging the prime minister of India to keep his commitment to religious tolerance, to protect the religious minorities using the Indian security forces and to curb the activities of Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and RSS.
This kind of condemnation and urging a prime minister to protect its people by a powerful country of this world and its elected representatives is a shame to the P.M. and it acknowledges to the world the violence on religious minorities.
Why such voices of condemnation from the other countries are not heard for violence against dalits in this country ? Dalits identity is likened and not distinct from Hinduism.
The violence on the dalits by the caste hindus, is seen as internal feud within hinduism, as that of a drunken husband beating his wretched wife, whenever he is high (on casteist notions).
If all Dalits unite and have a Buddhist identity, any attack would be portrayed in the media as attack on Buddhists. So the Buddhist nations around the world will be bound to condemn it. Hence the need of the hour is to unite under Buddhism.
Dr. R. Praveen is a primary care physician.