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Why did Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar like Buddhism?
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Why did Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar like Buddhism?

Vinay Damodar

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar preferred Buddhism because it gives three liberatory principles in combination which no other religion does. All other religions bother themselves with God and Soul and life after death. Buddhism teaches Prajna (understanding as against superstition and supernaturalism).

It teaches Karuna (love). It teaches Samata (Equality). This is what man wants for a good and happy life on earth. These three principles appeal to him. These three principles should also appeal to the world. Neither God nor Soul can save society.

There is a third consideration which should appeal to the world and particularly the South East Asian part of it. The world has been faced with the onslaught of Karl Marx, and Communism of which he is considered the father. The challenge is a very serious one. Marxism and Communism relate to secular affairs. They have shaken the foundation of the religious systems of all countries. This is quite natural for a religious system, yet it is the foundation on which every thing secular rests. And the secular system can not last very long unless it has got the sanction of religion.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was greatly surprised at the turn of mind of the Buddhist countries in South East Asia towards communism. It means that they do not understand what Buddhism is. He claims that Buddhism is the complete answer to Marx and his Communism.

Communism of the Russian type aims to bring about change through a bloody revolution. The Buddhist Communism brings it about by bloodless mental revolution. Those who are eager to embrace Communism may note that the Sangha is a Communist Organization. There is no private property. This has not been brought about by violence. It is the result of a change of mind and yet it has stood for 2500 years. It may have deteriorated but the idea is still binding. Communism must answer two other questions. One is: why is a communistic system necessary for all times? The Communists may have done some work which the Russians may never have been able to do on their own. But when their work does not result in freedom accompanied by love which the Buddha preached. The South East Asian countries must therefore beware of jumping into the Communist net. They will never be able to get out of it. All that is necessary for them is to study Buddha and what he taught, and give political form to his teachings.

Unfortunately the Buddha’s teachings have not been properly interpreted and understood.  That his gospel was a collection of doctrines and social reform has been completely misunderstood. Once it is realized that Buddhism is a social gospel, its revival would be an everlasting event and the world will realize why Buddhism has a great appeal for everyone.

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Vinay Damodar is an Ambedkarite research scholar currently pursuing PhD in Inclusive Development and Social Justice, from Centre for  Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. His interest lies in intersections of Caste, Anti-caste movement, the Politics of Ambedkarite groups,  Dr. Ambedkar’s thoughts and vision, etc. He hails from Bhim Nagar, Akola, Maharashtra.