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Why did Dr Ambedkar choose Buddhism?
kamna sagar 2021

Kamna Sagar

kamna sagar 2021To answer this question, in this article I will expound on B. R. Ambedkar’s (1891-1956) early life and social and political exercises, including his adolescence and schooling, reasons for his battle for equivalent rights, his involvement in legislative issues, his support for the privileges of the unapproachable individuals, actually majority rules system for him, his perspective on Communism, and his disappointment in governmental issues. Subsequently, I will examine what he looked at as the ultimate answer for helping the untouchable individuals through his exploration of the meaning of religion, his musings on the issue of disparity in religion, and his perspective on contemporary religions in India, including: his perspective on Hinduism; his perspective on Christianity; his perspective on Islam; and his perspective on Sikhism. Next, I will talk about his path to Buddhism, including his proposition for genuine religion, his experience with Buddhism, and his perspective on customs. After a significant stretch of sifting through the entirety of the political and religious choices, he came to think about two alternatives, Buddhism and Marxism. In the end, following quite a long period of careful thought, he picked Buddhism because of its ideals of equity, its backing for women’s privileges, it being an indigenous religion of India, its dismissal of both God and soul, and his own enthusiasm for the Buddha’s views. Positively, I will talk about which type of Buddhism he followed, his skeptical point of view through the recreation of Buddhist methods of reasoning of Karma, Four Noble Truths, ethical quality, etc. I will also examine others’ fault finding on his neo-Buddhist methodology. Next, I will discuss the impact of his choice of Buddhism on the distant individuals. Ultimately, after an intensive investigation, I will reason that he changed over to Buddhism in view of his disappointment and dissatisfaction with governmental issues in figuring out how to inspire the life of the Dalit community.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Life and his views on Religion

Since he belonged to the Depressed Classes, Babasaheb experienced a few instances of bias during his childhood. Actually, he was abused intensely by other individuals where later on, he rose up to battle for the cause for the unapproachable individuals. At school in Satara, he was made to sit outside the classroom on a bit of gunny tangle, which he needed to carry to the school himself. He needed to avoid water in the school, not on the grounds that there was no water, but since he was an unapproachable, who reserved no privilege to drink from a public source. Second, at Satara again, a few educators would not touch his journals due to a paranoid fear of being polluted. Third, “Contact me not” was a typical subject for him outside of the school. Fourth, even when individuals knew him as a man of learning and high authority in the Baroda State in 1917, he was treated barbarically; no drinking water was accessible in his office; his subordinates kept a good distance away from him; and low-paid laborers tossed records and papers around his work area from a distance due to the dread of being polluted.

Having these difficult encounters, he supported the privileges of the distant individuals. In the midst of his studies abroad, he came back to India in 1917 for a three-year time period to participate in two meetings for the Depressed Classes held by the Government Franchise Commission and vouched for the political and social privileges of untouchables, and to start a newspaper titled Mūknayāk (The Voice of the Mute), which turned out to be central to his long lasting political and social reformation. After he got back to live in India for good in 1923, he committed his energies to advocate for the political and social rights of the untouchables through contributions in different administrative capacities, while he also instructed and rehearsed law. Through his declarations at different parliamentary commissions for the cause of Indian democratization, he was chosen as an agent to the Round Table gatherings in London in 1930 and 1931. He likewise requested a separate electorate for the untouchables similar to that of the Muslims, Sikhs, and other minorities. In resistance to the Indian National Congress, he established the Independent Labor Party during the British administrative changes of the mid-1930s. In 1937, there were eleven Scheduled Caste members in the Bombay Legislative Assembly. Despite his endeavors to make two ideological groups, the Scheduled Castes Federation in 1942 and the Republican Party in 1956, there was only a little advancement in acquiring the quantity of seats. Later on, as a Minister of Law (1947-1951) in India’s first Independent service, he successfully ensured rights for the untouchables and was selected a place of Labor part in the emissary’s chief board (1942–1946). As director of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution (1947–1948), he was considered the “current Manu,” and along with Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) gave impetus to the prohibition of the practice of untouchability.

To advocate the privileges of the Depressed Classes successfully, Ambedkar distributed a few newspapers and journals, namely, Bahishkrit Bhārat (Excluded India), Janata (People), and Prabuddha Bhārat (Awakened India), which succeeded Mūknayāk. These papers were popularly followed, in spite of a very low literacy rate among the Untouchables. To elevate the proficiency levels of the distant individuals and the youngsters among them, he founded the People’s Education Society that set up the Siddharth College in Bombay in 1946 and Milind College in Aurangabad in 1951. After his demise in 1956, the general public established Ambedkar College in Poona in 1982 which right now runs two dozen foundations. Simultaneously, the Dalit Sahitya development turned into a significant power in the Marathi language and has impacted comparative schools of writing in different dialects. Despite getting profoundly involved in legislative issues, he was disappointed inside the political frameworks. For example, the Poona Pact of 1932 incorporated a trade of discrete electorates for more held seats for the Depressed Classes after Gandhi’s fast against the inconsistencies in Indian culture. Regardless, he communicated his dissatisfaction and skepticism about its genuineness in elevating the untouchables through the book “What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables”, which blamed the Gandhian structure for paternalism in 1945.

While engaging in governmental issues, he gave more consideration to socialism. While valuing a few aspects of Marxism, he didn’t acknowledge a portion of its essential standards, for example, the viciousness and fascism of the proletariat. Indeed, he suggested a major concern with Marxism’s rough methodology: “They can get brisk outcomes by utilizing power. What will happen when tyranny disappears?” Although he at first teamed up with the socialists to shape an assembled front against the entrepreneur Congress of India, which abused the lower classes, later on he transparently restricted socialism because of its brutal and terroristic approach, that only through viciousness can the current framework be adequately separated; and only through the autocracy of the working class can the new framework reproduce and continue. So, he was unable to use socialism as a way to ensure social reform for his distant individuals.

As his dissatisfaction with governmental issues developed, he started looking for a holistic answer for settling social imbalance through religions. He underlined that “Among man and creature, there is the distinction of creating conscious psyche,” as man needs both material and otherworldly life. His view is very contrary to that of the socialist way of thinking of “stuff the pigs,” like men are no better than pigs. He could not be so cynical even after he had worked extremely hard with over the top sufferings (of being discriminated against). According to his meaning of religion, it is the propounding of an ideal plan of heavenly administration, the point and object of which is to make the social request where men live in good order. Moreover, as he continued looking for social balance through religions, he perceived the issues of strict disparity. Specifically, a definitive divergence and imbalance of religions exist clearly on the grounds that every individual has distinctive abstract strict mentalities, both in unnecessary and basic highlights, diverse individual ways of life, various dispositions, distinctive strict senses, and diverse strict encounters. The imbalance of religion might be through different convoluted ideas and substance of religion, which are individualistic, social, custom, enchanted, conviction, and experience, moral, divine substance, intellectual and non-psychological in its articulation, philosophical, eschatological, and other-common.

Also, he introduced his considerations about the issue of imbalance in Hinduism as follows. Preceding the approach of the Buddha, India was uninformed of the morals of equity and all inclusive fraternity. The Vedic culture depended on the guideline of graded inequality. Specifically, by following the plan of Manu, Hinduism doesn’t perceive uniformity of men since it follows a positioning framework and request of degree: first position, Brahman; second position, Kshatriya; third position, Vaishya; fourth position, Shudra; and fifth position, the Ati-Shudra (untouchables). This evaluated imbalance is more misleading than that of disparity. To be specific, disparity contains the possibility of implosion, on the grounds that under the straightforward as can be imbalance of its short life, imbalance creates general discontent that is the seed of transformation, and motivates the suffering to ascend against the normal adversary and on the regular complaint. Graded disparity avoids the above variables, since it forestalls the ascent of general discontent and upheaval against imbalance, and makes it almost inconceivable for the consolidated powers from all classes to topple the imbalance since each class may have a bit of leeway and inconvenience inside that disparity framework. For example, with respect to Manu’s administration of marriage, the Brahman has the option to take a lady from the three lower classes, yet not to give a Brahmin lady to them. Despite the fact that the Kshatriya may have disdain toward the Brahman, he won’t face the Brahman with other lower classes on the premise that he likewise has the option to take a lady from the two lower classes.

Besides, imbalance endures when it is blessed by religion, and it perishes on the off chance that it isn’t so sanctified. For example, Hinduism actually perseveres with its official tenet of disparity since this rule has been given by divine origin and strict association. Furthermore, aside from being blessed and consecrated by divine powers, the crude and present day religions don’t have a specific type of social structure, which characterizes the solid job and connection among man a lot. Once more, being blessed by religion and made holy, unceasing and untouched, Hinduism most likely is the main strict framework on the planet that sets up the solid social request of the connection of man to man, the monetary request of the connection of laborer to worker, and the political request of individuals to individuals.

To discredit the Hindu strict framework, Ambedkar gave the order of social and strict sorts which included conservation of life as regular attributes of religion in any general public; savage social orders or pre-state social orders of chasing and assembling clans; crude religions having neither the possibility of God nor connected ethical quality to religion; edified social orders or positive religion including the idea of God or Gods, and profound quality blessed by religion; and humanized social orders which sprang out of religion established on family relationship among God and admirers, “parenthood of God,” in actual sense. Every god, among numerous divine beings, is connected to a network, religion, and public recognizable proof. Profound quality depends on utility that every individual was subjected to society; through second strict upheaval, “current culture” exists in which god was dispensed with from the actual synthesis of society. God filled in as a widespread lord of all, and God filled in as unique and total great. Ethnicity is disassociated from religion. While many of his counterparts thought about Hinduism as a crude religion, he viewed it as a positive religion that arose at a specific time in history with its own plan of perfectly overseeing the strict, ceremonial, and public activity of individuals.

Having the acknowledgment of social unfairness inside the Hindu framework, at a gathering for the Depressed Classes in Mahad of Bombay, he effectively and emblematically copied a few bits of the exemplary Hindu law book, the Manusmṛti, which oppressed low castes. After the last disappointment in securing the untouchables’ privileges of participation in open celebrations, sanctuary section, Vedic wedding ceremonies, and the wearing of the holy string, in 1935 he announced that in spite of the fact that he was born a Hindu he would not die a Hindu. At long last, he reasoned that the untouchables could accomplish opportunity only outside the Hindu religion. His clear-cut dismissal of Hinduism led to proposals from different conventions to him, and the responses to this declaration were prompt and extensive, including from some untouchables who were not ready to change their religion. In any case, Ambedkar laughed at these enticing offers and dismissed them with no hesitation. After dismissing Hinduism, he investigated other strict conventions to see whether they could inspire his unapproachable individuals’ economic wellbeing or not.

For him, the Christian ideal of fairness grasps various highlights obtained from Hebrew, Greek, and Roman sources. Christianity has consistently acknowledged the guideline of progression in both church and society, while simultaneously holding the precept of fairness to be important “just as far as eschatological guarantee”. False teaching adds to the force of disparity in religion.

Being terrified by the danger of the untouchables adding their numbers to the non-Hindus, some Hindu chiefs forced Ambedkar to check out the Sikh religion on the request that Sikhism was a part of Bharatiya culture. As needed, the Sikhs set up the Khalsa College for the Depressed Classes and respected Ambedkar as the director of the College Committee. Be that as it may, inside a year Ambedkar was disappointed with Sikhism. His relationship with the Sikh mission reached a sudden conclusion, on the grounds that as per his appraisal, the Sikhs were not in a way that is much better than the Hindus.

Dr. Ambedkar’s views on Buddhism conversion

After a careful assessment of the major contemporary religions in India, he arrived at the resolution that these conventions couldn’t successfully elevate the economic wellbeing of his distant individuals. Therefore, he proposed a genuine religion for him and his unapproachable individuals. To begin with, he needed to rise above the constraints of nineteenth-century mystical talk. Second, he moved away from Mahatma Phule’s deism and Ranade’s neo-bhagvat Dharma, and he moored his situation in the Buddhist custom. Third, he offered an innovative comprehension of Eastern and Western religions. Fourth, he characterized amiability as the profound quality. Fifth, with his regulation of Dharma, he also uplifted secular values in India over the enmity of custom and advancement of reason and confidence. Sixth, by mixing the Buddha’s task of dukkhamukti (freedom from suffering) with Marx’s venture of freedom from abuse, he demonstrated the best approach to battle rank and class inequalities. He underlined the Buddha’s message of religion: “The focal point of religion laid in the connection between men a lot, not between man and God. The reason for religion is to show man how he ought to act towards different men so that all might be cheerful.” Hence, as indicated by him, religion is to clarify the starting point of the world.

In the article “Buddha and the Future of His Religion” Ambedkar’s view of a genuine religion comprises of four attributes: (1) it must remain the administering standard in members of the general public in the feeling of ethical quality; (2) it must be as per reason which is only another name for science on the off chance that it is to work; (3) its ethical code must perceive the crucial principles of freedom, uniformity, and organization; and (4) it must not purify or honor destitution. He said further that no religion but Buddhism can fulfill every one of these tests, and it is the main religion the world can have. Buddhism is basically pragmatist and humanist in its way to deal with life.

Truth be told, in the quest for a confidence to assemble and free the Untouchables, Ambedkar’s deep rooted academic pursuit covered the gamut of experiences and lessons of Buddhism included in excess of 20,000 volumes of rich assortments all through his school years and ensuing visits to New York, London, and Bonn. His introduction to living Buddhist customs in Burma, Sri Lanka, and others, and his valuation of Buddhist workmanship in different places, for example, the Ellora and Ajanta caverns may have affected his strict undertaking too.

To Ambedkar, Buddhist standards of freedom, correspondence, and club were not current ideas taken from the French Revolution, but rather they were taught by the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. Buddhist logic and humanism had no place for intimidation and abuse. As Edwin Arnold (1832-1904) said “Buddhism is the most stupendous indication of opportunity ever announced,” in light of the fact that it focuses on the freedom of humankind from all chains and shackles. That is freedom. Buddha articulated the convention of fairness in the exchange of the Buddha and Assalayana, subsequent to liberating man from confidence in God, from the mastery of the Vedas, and from the intensity of Varnashram and position. That is uniformity. The Buddha set up the all inclusive fellowship inside the saṅgha that rises above the constraints of station, belief, shading, and sex. That is clique. As the father of Indian Constitution, Ambedkar embedded these standards of freedom, balance, and crew extraordinarily in the Preamble to the Constitution.

Ambedkar likewise fully accepted that Buddhism is Saddhamma, which has the capacity to advance correspondence between people. He said that “I have gotten my way of thinking from religion of the Buddha in freedom, balance, and club, not from political science.” The position of women in Buddhism, for example, that of Mahaprajapati Gotami, the main Buddhist cloister adherent, and Visaka, the Buddha’s central female ally, were an additional wellspring of motivation for him to hold onto Buddhism. Ambedkar favored Buddhism over different religions not just in light of the fact that it is indigenous and preaches libertarianism but also because “There is a bad situation for God and soul in the Buddhist religion.” Also, the Buddha’s actual picture, his sympathetic and bright figure, his accounts, the manner in which he managed life, and the manner in which he is spoken to by specialists through all occasions made Buddhism an engaging and fulfilling religion for Ambedkar.

Having a significant comprehension of Buddhism, he actually preferred to contrast this convention with a contemporary political framework, socialism, to figure out the best solution for his unapproachable individuals. In the examination between Buddhism and Marxism, Ambedkar called attention to some comparability among Marxism and Buddhism with regards to misuse of class and sufferings of conscious creatures. To be specific, he discovered some proclivity between Marxism’s dismissal of abuse and that of the Buddha’s demeanor towards property. Although both Buddhism and Marxism have a comparable objective of end of the torment, or wretchedness, or abuse, each has different paths to accomplish that goal. Being resistant to Marxism’s brutality and fascism as methods for accomplishing the ends, he felt that Buddhist peacefulness and vote based system as a surest, a most secure, and a soundest way, and he guaranteed that its good and philanthropic perspectives spoke to Indian individuals and fit them best of all. Buddhism emphatically forbade the utilization of power in a vicious manner. Socialism likewise follows the fascism or State government that has the option to authorize and seriously discipline its residents through the Rule of Law. All things considered, Buddhism inclines toward the Rule of Righteousness, in which the adherents should be prepared ethically in feeling for the public authority of uprightness without turning to any ruthless power.

At last, Ambedkar arrived at the resolution to pick Buddhism as his best religion. He clarified that “Destitution made me no skeptic. Dignity is a higher priority than the material additions. Buddhism is for progress, not just for financial progress.” Also, as indicated by Gokhale, some Buddhist highlights appear to have appealed to Ambedkar. To begin with, Buddhism accentuated the role of reason as against confidence or strange notions. Second, subsequently, Buddhism dismissed numerous objects of narrow minded conviction, for example, God and soul, which were acknowledged by the vast majority of different religions. Third, Buddhism unequivocally contradicted the rank framework. Fourth, Buddhism underscored ethical qualities as the substance of a good life. This ethical quality as per Buddhism was basically human-driven and had no reference to soul or to God. Ambedkar paid attention to these highlights, however he additionally attempted to expand some of them to their coherent limit and endeavored to a remaking of Buddhism with that approach by drawing out a genuine embodiment of it as indicated by his various musings and ideas. Also, there were other Buddhist qualities that truly appealed to Ambedkar.

After a long cycle of correlation and determination of the political frameworks and strict ways, he made the move of real change to Buddhism on October 3, 1954. He admonished that, “My own way of thinking is to dismiss Hindu way of thinking of Bhagavad-gita which depends on a savage corruption of Sankhya reasoning of Kapila, the station and evaluated disparity. I have gotten my way of thinking from the religion of the Buddha in freedom, equity, and society, not from political theory.” Spiritually, since he was keen on Buddhism during his childhood, he made a pledge to turn into a Buddhist and having rejected Hindu strict social and political life as well as the chance of changing over to Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, or socialism, Ambedkar settled on an official conclusion during the final months of his life in October 1956 with about half a million Dalit individuals to convert themselves to Buddhism for equality and liberation.

On October 13, 1956, a day prior to his proper change to Buddhism, Ambedkar gave a public interview to clarify his situation on transformation in which he proclaimed to embrace neither Hīnayāna nor Mahāyāna, but Neo Navayāna (Neo-Buddhism). In particular, he received the real lessons of the Buddha only. Especially his reevaluations of the “Buddha’s legitimate lessons” were introduced expressly and principally through the books The Buddha and the Future of His Religion, and The Buddha and His Dhamma. These books received varied responses. Some scrutinized him as having confounded the Buddha’s instruction, and some upheld his view. The critical effect of his transformation to Buddhism changed his life profoundly as well as the course of Indian Buddhism since it ushered in a new time of Buddhist restoration in India. Today in India, if there is regard and veneration for Buddhist qualities, and Buddhism is viewed as the expansive pathway to salvation by millions of individuals, the credit generally goes to Ambedkar.

Reinterpretation of Buddhism in Indian context

Insightfully, Ambedkar’s push to recreate neo-Buddhism likely may be viewed as a deviation from conventional Buddhism, however it might be rightly considered a deviation from unique Buddhism. Gokhale brought up four highlights of Ambedkar’s reproduction of Buddhism. To begin with, Ambedkar only included Buddhist conviction and practices to this world and this life, and barred the faith in different universes and past and future as well as the presence of awareness autonomous of the body. Second, Ambedkar underscored logical judiciousness as a center of the Buddhist way to deal with the idea of the world and the person. Basically, Ambedkar thought about whatever disregarded the authority of experience and reason as non-Buddhist components. Third, Ambedkar pushed aside the supernatural components from Buddhism, for example, dhyāna and samādhi. Fourth, as indicated by Ambedkar, ethical quality is the foundation of Buddhism, while different religions set ethical quality in the possession of mystical gods. What follows do his questionable understand about a portion of the Buddhist ideas and standards?

First, Ambedkar said that “The Buddha’s Law of karma applied distinctly to karma and its consequences for the current life. The all-inclusive Buddhist regulation of karma, including past karma, is a most malignant precept that is regularly discovered to be credited to the Buddha.” It was reasonable that he only upheld this common understanding of karma teaching and prohibited karma of previous lives since it might legitimize the Hindu’s clarification of the casualties of social abuse by viewing their sufferings as discipline for offenses in previous lives.

Second, Ambedkar reprimanded the Four Noble Truths, usually considered the Buddha’s fundamental lessons, on the grounds that, in his view, they deny optimism to man and make the good news of the Buddha a good news of cynicism. Rather than perceiving the attribution of sufferings to the psychological conditions of obliviousness and needing, he accused social conditions as the reason for huge sufferings, for example, destitution and injustice. He thought of the Four Noble Truths as a later gradual addition by monks. He didn’t discover expectation and bliss in the third and fourth honorable facts, which talk about the end of suffering as a condition of inward harmony and the way to its end, including both moral and otherworldly practices.

Third, he considered Buddhist ethical quality as universalist and self-evident not requiring other beliefs, including supernatural religious conviction. As a rule, he considered mystical religion as the hindering stones for profoundness and objectivity since they just fabricate a God-man relationship and sabotage social relations among men. In his point of view, the Buddha characterized religion as an approach to make a realm of honesty on the planet. Likewise, since the more profound quality is basically social, he prohibited in his model the individualistic, spiritualistic part of Buddhism, particularly the part of meditation. He additionally characterized the ethical quality as consecrated in light of the fact that it is general and can’t be violated. With these pragmatist, humanist, and sensible methodologies, he stressed profound ethical quality as the foundation of Buddhism that replaces god, soul, supplications, love, customs, functions, penances, and others in strict component.

I would like to conclude by saying that while Gandhi was a social reformer, Ambedkar was a social revolutionary, a political pioneer, a unique humanist, and an advocator of the neo-Buddhist development in India. After an intensive assessment of Ambedkar’s life, political and social exercises, and his perspectives on strict and common ways to free the unapproachable individuals, I arrive at the resolution that Ambedkar went to Buddhism as a way of freedom because of its precepts of balance, freedom, and clique for his distant individuals after his disappointment in politics. As a result of his conversion to Buddhism, a great many distant individuals have followed his guidance to become Buddhists, and are making an incredible effort as the freemen in their Hindu majority nation. Future examinations may have to decide how far these devotees of Ambedkar are able to make the most of their life or experience trouble as Buddhists who are only a small portion of the populace in a Hindu majority nation.


Kamna Sagar is an editorial reviewer, writer and a PhD research scholar at JNU, New Delhi.


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