Why Should We Embrace Buddhism

WHY SHOULD WE EMBRACE BUDDHISM Baba Saheb Dr BR Ambedkar From the book Bahujan Samaj Aur Uski Rajniti by: Kumari Mayawati and The Hindu News paper extract.

JC Vimalo

It is necessary to understand the History of the Saints and Gurus who made significant contributions towards giving a right direction to the Bahujan samaj from time to time. Although BSP is in favour of Secularism as enunciated in the Constitution of India, within that we ought to seriously consider the options available before us, if the words of Buddha and Dhamma inspire us to reconstruct a social order into one based on equal values, we should opt for it. In the larger interest of the Country and the world at large, to encourage humanity and humanism. We should not hesitate in following such religion. In other words, since Buddhism has valuable lessons for the today's global village, we should take full advantage of such a religion. This approach might be misconstrued, as if we are trying to preach a particular Religion. All Religions have to be equally respected. But the shortcomings of each Religion in so far as they fall short of what is "Dhamma" have to be clearly understood and practiced. Today, all political parties, whether they are National or Regional, have members from all Religious denominations. Likewise, in Bahujan samaj Party also, There are people who profess different religions. All political parties should bear in mind the principles of secularism, and instead of misusing Religion for political benefits, they should use Religion in the best interests of the Country, for giving correct direction to the Society. Now the question arises, as to which are the religions, which help us to preserve the Unity and Integrity of the Society. To arrive at an answer to this question, we will have to study the History of all Religions as was done by Baba Saheb Dr Ambedkar. After an in depth study of all Religions, he described the Teachings of Buddha as appropriate for building an equality based social order. A glimpse of this belief of Baba Saheb is visible in his historic speech delivered on 14th October 1956, in Nagpur. It becomes necessary to make a special mention of that speech so that, not only the Bahujan Samaj but the whole society as such will realise some truths about the Teachings of Buddha. These teachings will help in the reconstruction of the society on equality based order.

`It is important to throw some light on the significant things which are essential for reconstructing the social order on the basis of equality, and which Gautam Buddha emphasised in his sermons, before we come to the principles highlighted by Baba Saheb in his speech at Nagpur. Gautam Buddha said, " Do not believe in traditions merely because they have been handed down, for many generations and in many places Do not believe in anything because it is rumored and spoken by many. Do not believe because the written statement of some old sage is reproduced. Do not believe in fancies, thinking that because they are extraordinary, they must have been implanted by a deva, or a wonderful being. Only after careful observations and analysis, when a thing agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, accept it and live up to it." (Kalma Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya)

Gautam Buddha announced a social revolution for the first time in India. He taught the lesson of equality, comradeship, mercy and brotherhood to the entire human society, and laid the foundations for an independent conscience, delivering the society from the slavery of spiritualism. Atamvad, Ishwarvad, Shastravad, and religious scriptures. It is due to his saddharma that the Country scaled heights of art and culture. But those professing Brahmimism did not like it since the interest of their section of society were served only by perpetuating inequalities, through Ishwarvad and Shastravad. As a result, Brahmins used all possible conceits and even State power, to extinguish Saddharma and Buddhism from the very land on which it was born, while it kept flourishing abroad, beyond the boundaries of our Country. Not only this, the Brahmins executed hundreds of Buddhist Monks, broke many statues of Buddha, destroyed many Monasteries, and killed thousands of Buddhist people, and converted most of the hardworking Buddhists of this Country into Untouchables, through the instruments of Manuvad, This oppressed class of Untouchables had to suffer inhuman cruelties and extreme exploitation for a long time. As a result, this class of working people was forced to forget its own culture and religion - in other words Buddhism itself. But on 14th October 1956, Baba Saheb Dr Ambedkar gave a call to this oppressed and deprived class to return to their own culture, namely Buddhism. He showed the path to comprehensive Dalit Revolution and Independence. By leaving Hindu religion, and returning to Buddhism alone, is emancipation and progress of Dalits possible. Not only this, the welfare of entire society of India and the welfare of the whole Country as such, lies only in adopting the high human values professed by Buddhism. The Historic words, which Baba Saheb uttered in his speech, are as follows:


"Followers of Buddhist Faith, I want to explain in my address to you today, why I have assumed the mighty responsibility of Revival and Propagation of the Gospel of Lord Buddha. Many intellectual friends and myself feel that the" induction" ritual, which took place yesterday on Conversion, should have preceded the Induction Ceremony, yesterday. But what has happened, is history, and it will be of no significance to ponder over this question of sequence now.

Why only Nagpur?

Many people have been curious to know, why did I select only Nagpur for this monumental task, and why did I not think some other location. Some believe that, since this town is a hub of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak, I have deliberately selected this venue to embarrass them, by executing a spectacular right in their view. But it is not so. I have no such ambition. I have neither the time nor the intention to provoke them with such meaningless ploys. The enormous task that I have taken upon myself is important that every minute that I spend on it is valuable to me. The thought of RSS has not even remotely touched my mind while selecting this venue.

Those who have studied the ancient history of India, and the Buddhist connection, know that the credit for propagating Buddhism in the beginning goes to Nagas. Nagas were non-Aryans, and there existed a fierce enmity between the Aryans and the Nagas. Many battles were fought between the Aryans and the non-Aryans. Aryans wanted to completely annihilate the Nagas. There are many legends, to be found in the puranas in this connection. The Sage 'Agastya' is said to have saved one snake deity, symbolic of Nagas. You are all supposed to be the descendents of naga. The Nagas, who were suppressed and oppressed by the Aryans, were on the look out for a great man to liberate them, and they found that great man in the person of Lord Buddha. Nagas spread the Religion of the Buddha throughout India. Nagas were predominantly the inhabitants of Nagpur. A river flowing at a distance of 27 miles from Nagpur is also named Nag. It appears that the Nagas lived in the banks of this river. This is mainly the reason for selecting Nagpur for this occasion. Conflict is possible with the RSS on any other issue, but none has selected this venue to provoke them.

Frustration among critics

Severe criticism has been made by some NewsPapers, of this great moment launched by me, and followed by you. According to some of my critics, I am misguiding my own brethren. According to them, the Untouchables will continue to remain Untouchables. Conversion will not benefit us. Many News papers even went to the extent of suggesting that whatever Political Privileges are being enjoyed by the Untouchables at present, will also be taken away after conversion. All this is absurd propaganda. These people are of the view that, instead of exploring new avenues, we should follow the beaten path for amelioration of our condition. This kind of mischievous talk is likely to cause doubts in the minds of young, as well as the older people. Therefore, I cannot desist from answering this question. Our Movement will gain strength if such doubts are removed. Therefore, I wish to speak on this question at length.

Mahars and Chamars should stop removing the dead bodies of buffaloes and cows. 'Mahars and Chamars. Don't eat carryon' was a slogan, which was raised by me. Some thirty years ago, I launched this Movement on these issues. This somehow immensely offended our Hindu friends. I asked them, "You take the milk from the cows and buffaloes, and when they are dead you expect us to remove their dead bodies. Why? If you can carry the dead bodies of your mothers to cremate, why do you not carry the bodies of your 'mother-cows' yourself? When I put this question to the Hindus, they felt offended I told them, if you let us remove the dead bodies of your mothers, we will very gladly remove the dead bodies of your cows and buffaloes as well. A 'Chitpavan Brahmin' tried to prove, through a number of letters published in 'Kesri', a Brahmin journal, that if the Untouchables stopped removing the dead bodies of animals, they would be put to a great financial loss. He augmented his point, by furnishing statistical data in support of his argument. According to him, every Chamar, who removed the dead bodies of the animal, earned between Rs.500 and Rs.600 per annum from the sale of proceeds of skin, horns, teeth, hoofs and bones of the dead cows. He accused me that I was trying to deprive them, of their livelihood by preaching against this practice. My Untouchable brethren felt confused, as to where I was leading them.

Once I happened to visit Sangmaner, a Tehsil in the District of Belgaum. The author of those letters, which had appeared in Kesri, met me and repeated the same questions. I told him that, I would answer his questions at an appropriate time. I answered the questions published in 'Kesri' in a public meeting in the following manner. 'My people do not have sufficient food to eat. Women have no clothes to cover their bodies. No roof over their heads to give them shelters. No land to grow food -grains. So they are drown-trodden and poverty stricken. They are oppressed and exploited. ' I asked all those present, if they knew the reason why? None replied from among the congregation; not even the person who had written those letters to the 'Kesri'. I told them, to better leave us alone, and allow us to worry about ourselves. 'If you are so much anxious about our losses, why don't you send your friends and relatives to live in the villages, and do this dirty job of dragging the dead bodies of animals so that they may earn Rs.500/- per annum. In addition to that amount, I will pay Rs.500/- from my pocket as prize. They will gain doubly. Why miss this opportunity? True, we will suffer a loss, but you stand to gain. No caste Hindu has come forward to undertake this job and claim the prize. Why do they feel perturbed on seeing us making progress? I can take care of my people for the food, clothing, houses and other things they need. You Hindus need not worry about these things.

If we do this dirty work, it is said to be profitable, and if they do it, it becomes non-profitable. They were welcome to remove the dead animals and earn profit. Similarly, some people say that, some seats have been reserved for us in the Legislature. Why are we keen to give up that advantage by converting to Buddhism? My reply to them is that they should let the Brahmins, Rajputs and other caste Hindus come forward, and fill these up by becoming Chamars, sweepers and mahars. Why should they moan over our loss, if seats Reserved for us are left vacant? Self-Respect is more important to a man than material gains only.

There is an area in Bombay known for prostitution. Women of easy virtue who live there wake up at about 8 O'clock in the morning, and call for boys who work in the cheap restaurants, 'O boys; Get a plate of 'kheema' and 'Roti. They take 'Kheema roti' and tea. But our women do not get 'Kheema roti' to eat. They eat ordinary 'Roti' and 'Chatni', and remain content with that. They too can opt to live the life of prostitutes, but they are fond of their self-respect. And Dignity is one's birthright. Our ambition is to do our utmost towards achieving it completely. No sacrifice will be enough to achieve this. Journalists have been after me for the last forty years. I want to tell them now that, they ought to write in a mature and considered language. We do deserve to live with fuller Dignity, which the Hindus have hitherto denied to us. We will achieve that fullness, after we have embraced Buddhism.

I have been liberated from Hell

I am surprised that our Conversion is being discussed everywhere. But, I am surprised to see that nobody has asked me the Reason why of all the religions I have chosen Buddhism. In any Movement of Conversion, this is a significant question to be asked. Which religion should be adopted and why? I started the Movement of renouncing the Hindu Religion in 1935, and since then I have been continuing the struggle. A mammoth public meeting was held at Yeola, District Nasik in 1935, in which it was resolved in the congregation that, we shall renounce the Hindu religion. I had resolved then, that although I am born as a Hindu, I would not die a Hindu. I had taken that pledge 21 years ago, and I have fulfilled it today. This Conversion has given me enormous pleasure. I feel as if I have been liberated from Hell. L does not want any blind followers. Those who want to embrace Buddhism should do so after careful thinking so that they hold on firmly to this Religion for future.

Karl Marx and Dalits

Religion is a must for the progress of mankind. I am deeply aware that, according to a new interpretation given by Karl Marx, Religion is an opiate. According to him, Religion has no place in life. They believe in 'eat, drink and be merry.' All that they want is bread and butter for breakfast, delicious meals in the afternoon, nice comfortable bed to sleep on, and cinema to while away their time. I do not somehow agree with them. Owing to the poverty of my father, I did not have the opportunity to enjoy any of these luxuries. None would have labored in life as much as I have. But this ahs not made me irreligious. I known myself what sort of hardships the poor have to bear. We must launch our struggle keeping in view the economic aspects. I am not against this idea. We should progress economically too. I have been struggling throughout my life to that end. Not only this, I very much desires the entire mankind to become economically strong.

Animal and Man

But I have my own views in this regard. There is difference between man and animal. Whilst the beast needs nothing except its daily food for existence, the human being is endowed with a Body and a Mind. Mind must be developed side by side with body. Mind should also be filled with pure and cultured thoughts. I do not consider it advantageous to have anything to do with the Countries where people believe that eating and drinking is separate from Development of mind. One should bear in mind that, just as we have a healthy body in order to be able to remain free from disease, so in order to keep the body healthy, we must also develop a healthy Mind. Without this, all human progress will become meaning less.

A developed Mind - the Main Force Behind Enthusiasm

What causes the disease in human body or mind? So long as the body is in suffering, Mind cannot be happy. If the mind is not happy, there cannot be any enthusiasm in life. Nothing can be achieved if there is no enthusiasm. What causes this lack of enthusiasm? It is a state of hopelessness. If one begins to believe that there is no hope of ones' elevation in life, one looses enthusiasm. There can be no enthusiasm without hope. The mind becomes diseased. When one is assured of enjoying the reward of ones' labour, only then one feels enriched by enthusiasm and inspiration. If the teachers in school start commenting, "Oh! This is a Mahar boy. How did he secure the first position in the class? What business has he to stand first in the class? Only the Brahmins are entitled to secure the first position." Now what enthusiasm can the Mahar boy have in these circumstances? How will he advance in life? Mind is the main source of generation of enthusiasm. One who has a healthy body and a healthy mind has confidence and courage. He can fight with all kinds of odds in life. This generates enthusiasm in him. Hinduism is founded on ideologies and such principles of inequality and injustice, as leave no room for the development of enthusiasm. If this religion thrives for another thousand years, it will only produce clerks who will do nothing except filling their bellies. Then we shall need super clerks to protect them from injustices and various kinds of atrocities. Common masses of Untouchables will not gain anything. If there is one foundation for enthusiasm it is the mind. Manager is appointed in mills to extract work from labour. Their job is only to get work from the labour. The proprietors remain engrossed in their business, and get no time to develop their minds. How did I get my education? Owing to poverty, I used to attend school with nothing more than loin clothes on my body. I was not allowed to get even water to drink in the school. I had to go without water for many days. Untouchability was observed even in Elphinstone College, Bombay. What can be expected in this kind of circumstances? Untouchability cannot be removed if education produces only slavish clerks.

Be Rulers, not Clerks.

I was an Executive Councilor in Delhi during British Rule. Lord Linlithgow was the viceroy of India at that time. Once I asked that he allocated Rs 3 Lacs for Aligar Muslim University for the sake of Muslims, and Rs 3 Lacs to the Benaras Hindu University for the sake of Hindus. But we are neither Hindus nor Muslims. An amount proportionate to the population of the Scheduled Castes should be allocated for us. Since that proportionate amount would be quite high you should allocate an amount equal to that allocated to Muslims. Lord Linlithgow asked me to give in writing whatever I wanted to say. As desired by him, I submitted a Memorandum. Europeans were generally sympathetic in their outlook. He agreed to my proposal, and granted a sum of Rs. 3 Lacs for the Scheduled Castes. But the question, as to how the amount thus allocated should be spent, could not be resolved. Viceroy wanted this amount to be spent on education of the girls belonging to Scheduled Castes, and suggested Boarding Houses be built for them. If this money is spent in this manner to build Boarding Houses, in order to make the illiterate girls belonging to the Scheduled castes educated. I thought we should soon require money for providing them with good food too. Poor as our people are, how shall they get these things for their daughters? What will be the result of this education? Since these questions could not be resolved, the Viceroy withheld the money earmarked for the education of the Scheduled castes.

I went to Lord Linlithgow again and had a straightforward talk with him on the topic. I put this question to the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow. 'Am I not equal to 500 graduates?' 'Yes, of course, you are.' Replied Lord Linlithgow. Then I asked him, 'Do you know the reason why I say so?' He did not know. I told the Viceroy that my education that my education is so thorough that I am capable of holding any office of the Govt. with confidence. I need such learned men who should be capable of holding key position whence they should work in the most effective manner for the betterment of the community. If you really want to do something for the betterment of the 'untouchables' you will have to produce such people as would be able to ameliorate their condition. How will it help to merely help produce clerks? Lord Linlithgow acceded to my suggestion, and sent 16 boys belonging to Scheduled castes abroad for higher education.


"Chaturvarna, Gandhi and Religion

We have been living in this country for thousands of years, in a hopeless system, which generates no enthusiasm. So long as the present system continues, there is no scope for generation of any enthusiasm for our progress. Smarting under Hindu religion, which is founded on inequality and injustice, we can achieve nothing. Manusmriti describes the 'Chaturvarna'. This 'Chaturvarna' is disastrous for the progress of mankind. Under this system, the Shudras are restricted to performance of drudgeries only. They have nothing to do with education. Who would be interested in ameliorating their lot? Brahmins, Kshatriyas and vaishyas benefit alike from the slavish condition of Shudras. Shudras have nothing but slavery to share. Chaturvarna cannot just be blown away. It is not only a part of tradition; it has become a religion.

There is no equality in Hinduism. I once went to see Gandhiji. Gandhiji told me that he believed in CHATURVARNA. 'What kind of Chaturvarna'? I enquired, pointing towards my hand with the little finger in the bottom and thumb on the top or this way - with the palm lying flat on the surface of the table and fingers lying side by side. 'What do you mean by the Chaturvarna? Where does it begin and where does it end?' I asked Gandhiji. Gandhiji could not reply.

Those who have ruined us, this unjust religion of theirs will be annihilated in front of them. I do not accuse the Hindu religion in vain. This sinful religion cannot save any body. It has no life left in it." Dr.B.R.Ambedkar


Bahujan Samaj Party under the able Ms. Mayawati, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Don't Delude: They deliver

The Facts Speak for Themselves

· 69% reduction in crime.

· Rs. 7000 crore Water Restructuring Project Launched

· Rs. 3000 Crore State Roads Project initiated.

· Highest external aid received and utilised in last 5 years.

· Construction of Rs. 2500 crore first accesses controlled expressway of India between Greater Nouda & Agra started.

· 650 crore PM Rural Roads Projects implemented.

· First State to provide legal framework for SEZs.

· Proposal of Rs. 1900 crore for new industries.

· 1.87 lakh landless dalits provided ownership of village land.

· 89,000 landless given new land leases.

· 1001 new urban development projects launched.

· 96 crore Dr.Ambedkar Memorial dedicated to people.

…And all this happened in just One Year It needed courage with Vision to realise it.

Mayawati moots reservation in cabinet

The Bahujan Samaj Party today advocated reservation in the Council of Ministers in order to ensure adequate reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

While supporting the move to limit the size of Ministries both at the Centre and the States, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP vice-president, Mayawati said that she had instructed her party leaders in the Lok Sabah to seek a clause providing reservation for the SCs and the STs, "keeping in mind their population".

Addressing the media at NEW DELHI on 03-04-2003, on completion of one-year of her coalition Government, Ms Mayawati said the BSP would also support the Centre's move to introduce legislation to tackle the problem of defection. "We will vote in favour of both the Bills and help in their passage." To a question on the BSP's viewpoint to ban religious conversion, Ms Mayawati said there was no objection to the move to check forcible conversions. Otherwise the constitution permitted the freedom to practice any religion. Incidentally, Ms Mayawati had warned at the Lucknow rally on April 14, that unless Hindu religion leaders eliminated discriminatory practices, the 'Bahujan ' samaj led by her would embrace Buddhism.

The BSP would also support Central ligislation to ban cow slaughter and such a law was already in place in Uttar Pradesh. Asked about her Government's stand on the VHP's 'trishul' (trident-anodized plastic) distribution programme, Ms.mayawati said she agreed with the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K.Advani's remarks that it marred the organisation's image. However, she said the VHP had already carried on some 'minor' programme in the state. "I would not commit the mistake of carrying out (their) arrest like Rajastan did and make him (VHP leader Praveen Togadia) a hero," she said.

In the same breath, she warned that if the Samajawadi Party attempted to distribute swords, as the party leaders did at a rally in Delhi, they would be proceeded against under the Arms Act.

The BSP would go it alone in the Assembly elections in Madya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Delhi and Rajastan later this year. Talks on seat-sharing arrangement with the BJP for U.P. ahead of the next general elections would take place only after the Assembly polls.

The BSP would field a candidate against the Mahashtra Chief Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde.


'I will be the best PM and Mayawati is my chosen heir'

"I will be the best Prime Minister. I have already declared at the Lucknow rally that Mayawati is my chosen political heir."

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Chief Kanshi Ram appeared out of the blue in the mid-70s to pose a challenge to the powerful and influential leaders of Indian politics. The former employee of a steel plant set out to rid society of its most potent evil - the caste system - and give dignity and freedom to his constituency, the Dalits. It has been two decades since he began, and Kanshi Ram is still energetic despite a debilitating illness.

Today, the BSP rules India's largest state, UP, and is a national party. Kanshi Ram spends his time Travelling in states as far flung as Punjab, AP, and MP and Gujarat ''addressing the public, creating leaders for his party and building the future''. His views on why he aligned with ''casteist'' and ''communal'' parties like BJP are well known - for Dalit empowerment -

'Yes, I was influenced by the writings on the caste struggle of Ambedkar, Jyotibhai Phule and Shahu Maharaj, who were all from Maharashtra. I am a chamar from Punjab but we were an educated people because of the Sikh religion. We even had an IAS officer from our village soon after Independence. It became clear that if I had to take the fight of the chamars against upper caste oppression, I should first mobilise educated and employed chamars like me, because they have the resources and the ability to comprehend. And, so, Bamcef, a federation representing them, was born in Pune around 1975, but I shifted my headquarters to Delhi. The majority of chamars are in north India.

Yes. I saw the Congress was the most powerful in the chamar belt - extending from Jammu in the north to Dhanbad in the east including Madhya Pradesh in the south. The Congress had cleverly got a stooge in Jagjivan Ram, a chamar leader, whose only job was to keep the community in the Congress fold and to ensure that the radical writings of Ambedkar did not enter the region. I decided to break Jagjivan Ram's grip and finish the manuvadi (upper caste) Congress here.

Nothing in my life is immediate. When word got around that there was a new chamar leader, Indira Gandhi began strengthening the hands of Jagjivan Ram, but it proved costly. It finally led Jagjivan Ram to challenge her leadership by wanting to become PM and he was forced to leave the party.

The BSP was founded in 1984 and in 1985, it contested the UP assembly elections by fielding more than 200 candidates. We did not win a single seat but the Congress lost 165 seats because we split its votes. It was the beginning of the end.

Is it wrong for the chamars to have their own leader and party to fight for dignity and justice? The BSP represents the chamars and we had got 18 varieties of chamars under one umbrella in UP. I started a party of educated and employed chamars who would influence the illiterate and poor chamars. We also used the lever of patronage cleverly by distributing government jobs among the community.

Well, I saw that a chamar IAS or IPS officer did not get the respect the Brahmin or Thakur officer got. For instance, the lower officials who were also upper caste would salute their officers saying, ''salaam panditji'' but would utter ''kutta chamar'' under their breath to chamar bureaucrats. I used that to great effect among lower and higher bureaucrat chamar officers. Some of it was fictitious, of course. (chuckles).

In 1984. Mayawati was a school teacher but was studying law too. She was speaking at a rally on the occasion of Ravidas Jayanti in Delhi. She caught my eye because of her invective language. She was cursing Gandhi saying why did he call us Harijans (children of god), and asked if he was a child of shaitaan (The devil)? I began to keenly follow her and invited her to attend the cadre camps. She began to shine, especially in her speeches. She always hit the right spot. I soon began giving her prominence.

Yes, so far, we have never been part of the combined Opposition, we have always stayed on our own. It is our strategy to go alone and it has paid us well.

If you remember - to first finish the Congress. I saw this after the three by-elections we contested in the late '80s, in Hardwar, Bijnore and Allahabad. Both Mayawati and I lost, but we were not in a position to win, but I saw we could drastically cut into the Congress vote. A decade later, in 1996, the Congress lost all the assembly seats in UP. It had worked.

In 1990, Mulayam Singh dumped V.P. Singh at my bidding because Chandrashekhar came to me as he wanted to become PM. It was I who made him (Mulayam Singh) CM of UP in 1993 with BSP support but he tried to break my party and come on his own. I decided to break him before he broke me. Murli Manohar Joshi had already approached me to become CM with BJP support. I told him why don't you make my trusted woman CM, I'll be behind her. We went to Governor Motilal Vohra, he was Narasimha Rao's man. It was very convenient.

The ambition in my village was to aspire to become a patwari (registrar), I wanted bigger things, so...

Mayawati does a lot of work independently and is doing well on her own, so why control her. I influence her to an extent and advise her on her job. My job is to create a leadership, my next CMs will come from MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Rajasthan has the maximum percentage of chamars at 26 per cent, then MP with 20 per cent, UP with 18 and the lowest in Punjab. That is why we did badly in Punjab.

I chose UP because I believed we must get the enemy by the neck. When I started, the Congress vote was 48 per cent, BSP was 2.4 per cent. Today, the Congress is 8 per cent, the BSP, 20.6 per cent. The BJP has come from 62 seats in Parliament to 54, to 29 seats. Today, we have 113 MLAs, and the BJP has surrendered the Varanasi by-election to the BSP because it will lose heavily without the alliance. Both the BSP and BJP need each other to keep the government running and the alliance will last till the need is there. I started a movement for social transfer - the country has had Brahmin, Kshatriya and an OBC PM, the time for a Dalit PM is coming closer.

Life is full of incidents, we learn from them. People have come and gone. We have both benefited from the friendship. We will meet whenever and wherever we feel necessary.

I am not with anybody now, I mostly go it alone.

We may benefit from an alliance with the BJP to eliminate both the Congress and Samajwadi Party.

If we too had the Right to bear arms

Why did our Country get subjugated time and again? Second World War was fought in Europe during the period from 1939-45. The soldiers who were killed in the battles were immediately replaced by the fresh recruits. Nobody ever paused to say that, the credit for winning the war should go to a particular community or section of the society. It used to be a common National Achievement. But ours is a strange Country. If all Kasatriyas get killed, all the warriors get killed. This has been happening in the past. That is why our Country became slave, so many times. If we were allowed to bear arms, this Country would never have been subjugated, as no invader would have been able to conquer this Country.

Buddhism has hope for this Country

There is no salvation for anybody in Hinduism. According to the tenets of Hinduism only the so-called higher castes have been benefited. There is no exaggeration in my statement. What has the Shudras or the Ati-Shudras gained? As soon as the wife of a Brahmin conceives, she thinks oh the High Court, whether any post of a Judge has fallen vacant, but when our woman becomes pregnant, she cannot think anything better than a sweeper's post under the Municipal Committee. This deplorable situation exists only because of Hinduism. How can we gain by staying in this system? It is only by embracing Buddhism that we can hope to gain anything.

Brahmins and Shudras alike embraced the religion of Lord Buddha. While delivering a Sermon to the original Bhikkus, Lord Buddha said, "O' Bhikkus, you have come from different Countries and various Castes, Great rivers when they flow in different Countries maintain their individual flow, but, after falling into the ocean, they loose their separate identities. Buddhism is like that ocean. All are one and equal in this ocean. It is not possible to identify the waters of Ganga or Yamuna when they have merged. Similarly after embracing Buddhism, you are all one." Such was the teaching of Lord Buddha.

I have a grave Responsibility on my Shoulders

Some people ask me why I have taken so long to take a decision to Change of Religion? What was I doing all these years? This is a very serious question. It is an enormous task to persuade people about the merits of a Religion. It is not a task only one man can perform. You will understand the enormity of the matter, if you meditate on the principles of the Dhaka. I have a great responsibility on my shoulders. No other person in the world has had to shoulder such an enormous responsibility. If I live for a few more years, I will bring this task that I have undertaken to a successful end. (Slogans of Baba Saheb Zindabad) We will not be Untouchable Buddhists

Some people will naturally ask this question, what will the Untouchables gain by embracing Buddhism? My only assertion in this regard is that, you should not ask this question since, it is worthless to ask it. Religion is not necessary for the well to do. Those who are holding high positions in life, have nice bungalows to live in. money to buy all comforts of life, and servants to attend on them. Practicing a Religion or thinking about it has no use for them.

Religion has use for the poor

It is the poor who need Religion. The suffering and the oppressed need Religion. The poor live on Hope. Hope is Foundation of Action in Life. Life cannot go on if Hope is demolished. Religion affords this Hope to everyone. Religion gives solace to the poor and the oppressed, and assures that life is full of Hope. This is the reason why the poor cling to Religion.

Some people will, no doubt, say that the Buddhism is the Religion of the untouchables. Brahmins used to irreverently address Lord Buddha as 'Bho-Gautama'. They used to insult and disrespect him with such names. But as you know, if the idols of Rama, Krishna, or Shankara are kept for sale in foreign countries, nobody would buy them. But if the images of Buddha are kept for sale none will be left. So much has happened and has been witnessed in India. Let us look outside the Country also. If there is an Indian God whose name is popular abroad, it is Lord Buddha.

We shall follow our path, undaunted. Let others follow their own path. We have found a new way to life and we shall follow it. This path symbolises Hope. This path leads to progress. In fact we have not imported it from outside. Buddhism is the Religion of this country. It is more than two thousand years old. I feel sorry for the fact that I did not embrace this Religion earlier. The teachings of Buddha are eternal, but even then Buddha did not proclaim them to be infallible. The Religion of Buddha has the capacity to change according to times - a quality, which no other Religion can claim to have.

The decline of Buddhism

Main reason for the decline of Buddhism in India, was the invasion of India by the Moslems. Thousands of images were mutilated and destroyed. Viharas were desecrated and thousands of Bhikkus were massacred. Terrified by these ghastly events, the Bhikkus fled to the adjoining Countries. Some went to Tibet. Some went to China. They spread throughout the world. The result was that, the Bhikkus disappeared from this Country.

There was a Greek King in North West Province, called King Menander. He was an expert on the religious Discourses. He had defeated the Brahmins many a time during the religious Discourses. He asked his servants to invite Bhikkus and the scholars of Buddhism to his court. The Bhikkus approached Nagasena, a learned versatile Bhikku, to discuss the Religion of Buddha. Menander asked him a question, as to what leads to downfall of a Religion. In his answer, Nagasena listed three causes of the ruination of a Religion. Firstly, if a Religion is not based on Truth, and its basic principles are not cogent, it does not last long. It has only temporary existence. Secondly if its preachers are not learned enough, the Religion cannot be sustained. Thirdly, if the Religion and its principles do not get translated into the Temples and other modes of worship among common people, then also that Religion declines.

You must bear in mind, some facts while accepting Buddhism. You must not think that the Teachings of Buddhism are of temporary value, and are not likely to last longer. Even after a lapse of 2,500 years, the world respects the Teachings of Buddha. There are as many 2000 Institutions of the followers of Buddhism in the United States of America. In England, a Buddhist Vihara has been built at a cost of Rs.3, 00,000. There are some 3000 or 4000 Institutions founded in the name of Buddha in Germany. The Principles of Buddha are Eternal, but in spite of this fact Buddha did not claim any Divine Status for himself, nor did he claim his Faith to be Infallible. Buddha did not say that he was the Son of God, or the last Prophet Messenger of God. On the contrary he said, "My Father and my Mother are ordinary mortals". Only those people should embrace this Religion who earnestly believe in it. For such high principles are not to be found in any other Religion.

There is a world of difference between this Religion and other Religions of the world. Main Principles of Buddhism form no part of theistic Religions. According to other Religions, God created the world, this Earth, and thereafter he created Heaven, Air Moon and other planets. God has done all that was required to be done, and there remains nothing for us to do. All that we are required to do is, just to sing the praises of Almighty God. According to Christianity, there will be a day of Judgement after death. Everything will be determined on the basis of that Judgement. This does not appeal to rational man today.

Buddhism denies the existence of God and Soul. The real basis of Buddhism is, rational way to eradicate suffering. 'There is' Buddha said, 'suffering in the world-suffering wide spread'. Ninety- percent people are afflicted with suffering or misery of some kind or other. The main object of Buddhism is to emancipate the suffering humanity. The question arises then, what is the use of Das Kapital? I believe that Karl Marx was behind Buddha. For, he did not say anything that had not been brought to light by the Buddha himself, some two thousand and four hundred years before Karl Marx was born. Whatever Buddha said was simple, and the path he showed was straight.

Brothers and Sisters, that is all I had to say. This Religion is the best of all. It is an all-comprehensive Religion. There are some such ingredients in Hindu religion as inhibits any kind of enthusiasm. This Religion has not permitted any member of our samaj, to become a scholar for thousands of years.

I do not hesitate to tell you, some of the bitter facts about my childhood. There was a Maratha maid in our school. She was herself uneducated, but she never used to teach me. My mother had taught me to address every senior person with respect. I used to address, even the postman of the school with respect. Once I felt thirsty in School. I requested the teacher for water. The teacher called the peon, and asked him to open the tap, and I drank the water. If the peon used to be absent from School, I used to go without water for days together in School. I used to return home thirsty, and drink water after reaching home. When I returned after receiving higher Education, I was offered the post of District Judge. But I did not accept this offer, considering that if I accepted this post, I would not be able to serve my people. It is only on these considerations that I did not accept Government Service.

With the education, intelligence, knowledge and experience that I have, it is not difficult for me to oppose or fight against any evil. But there is a mountain - colossal mountain of caste hierarchy, vaishyas, Brahmins, Kshatriyas sitting on our heads. The question before us is how to topple it down and blast it. To be able to do so, I will write books, remove all your doubts and acquaint you fully with the Religion of Buddha. I owe it as a duty. Have full faith in me and follow me.

Some people say that, Buddhism is on its deathbed or practically dead. If it is so, it is our duty to awaken it to better status. We should act in a manner so as to enthuse, inspire respect among other people. We should arrange discourses.

Elevate yourself and the world

A great responsibility has fallen on your shoulders now. It is a significant matter. Don't think that this Religion is like the dog collar tied around your neck. Buddhism considers that this Country is ours, has become a desert. Now it has fallen on you that you should endeavor to follow this Religion sincerely. If you do not do so, people will laugh at this Conversion. Pledge today, to liberate yourself, and to elevate your Country and the World in general. Buddhism can alone salvage the World. Until Justice Rules the World, World peace cannot be there.

Donate 1/20th of your Income

The task you have taken in hand is of immense responsibility. You have resolved to labor hard, to complete it. The young among us have to work hard. This thing you have to bear in mind. Do not be interested in your bread. You must resolve to contribute at least 1/20th of your income for the propagation of the Dhamma. I am to carry you all with me. Bhagwan Buddha used to carry out Initiation Ceremony himself. When it became unmanageable for one person, he allowed that work to be shared by other competent persons among his followers. You might have heard the name of one 'Yasha'. He was the scion of a rich family. Yasha became his Disciple, and there were forty more men who followed him. Bhagwan told them, 'My Religion is for the good of many; for in the good of many, lies the happiness for many. This is good in the beginning; this is good in the middle, and this is good in the end'.

Buddha adopted the method of preaching according to circumstances then prevailing. Accordingly, we too should adopt the method, which is most suitable to the existing circumstances. There are no Bhikkus in this Country now to do this work. So every one of us has to take "deeksha". Every Buddhist has the right to initiate others, by administering the 22 vows, which are as follows:

The 22 Vows of Buddhism

1. I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and mahesh, nor shall I worship them.

2. I shall have no faith in Rama and Krishna, nor shall I worship them.

3. I shall have no faith in 'Gauri', Ganapathi and other gods and goddesses of Hindus, nor shall I worship them.

4. I do not believe in the incarnation of God.

5. I do not and shall not believe that, Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu. I believe this is to be sheer madness of false propaganda.

6. I shall not perform 'shraddha', nor shall I give 'pind-dan'.

7. I shall not act in a manner, violating the Principles and Teachings of Buddha.

8. I shall not allow any Ceremonies to be performed by Brahmins. 9. I shall believe in the Equality of Man.

10. I shall endeavor to establish Equality.

11. I shall follow the 'noble eight path' of the Buddha. 12. I shall follow the 'paramitas' prescribed by the Buddha.

13. I shall have compassion and loving kindness, for all living beings, and protect them.

14. I shall not steal.

15. I shall not tell lies.

16. I shall not commit carnal sins.

17. I shall not take intoxicants.

18. I shall endeavor to mould my life, to the practice of compassion and loving kindness in every day life.

19. I renounce Hinduism, which is harmful for humanity, and which impedes the advancement and development of humanity, because it is based on inequality, and adopt Buddhism as my Religion.

20. I firmly believe the Dhamma of the Buddha is the only true Religion.

21. I believe that I am having re-birth.

22. I solemnly declare and affirm that, I shall hereafter lead my life, according to the Principles and teachings of the Buddha and his Dhamma. Baba Saheb Dr. Ambekar

Thus, on 14th October 1956, Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar, the true Buddhist, underwent the Initiation Ceremony into Buddhism, the Religion founded by Lord Buddha, along with Lacs of followers. Some people call it Conversion, and some describe it merely as modification of Religious Belief. As a matter of fact, this was not a Conversion. What happened is that, thanks to the guidance of Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar, a very large number of people returned to the Religion practiced by their forefathers. They returned to a Religion, to coax the masses to abstain from which, the conservative Brahmins had conspired for ages. We have escaped mirage set out by them, and have adopted the right path. This will be recorded, as the most important convention Free Revolution. When in the remote future, History is recalled, this day the 14th of October will be recalled as the day of the Emancipation of the dalits.

Here, the author of the book 'BAHUJAN SAMAJ AUR USKI RAJNITY' Kumari Mayawati clarified that 'Baba Saheb Dr.Ambedkar did prefer Buddhism on account of certain values vouched by this Religion, but this should not be taken to mean that he was against other religions. Even about Hinduism Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar had said that if fundamentalist Hindus purge this religion of its objectionable principles, even this religion can prove to be beneficial to mankind. These ideas of Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar became abundantly clear from his utterances while introducing the Hindu Code Bill in the Parliament in his capacity as the first Law Minister of India. He said, "If you wish to protect the Hindu-system, the Hindu-culture and the Hindu-society, do not hesitate to remove the evils that have crept into them. This Bill intends nothing beyond removing such evils". He held respect for all Religions likewise.

The significance of the above event is, however, much larger. By embracing Buddhism, Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar made the poor and the oppressed, the repositories of the richest Culture of the World.

Much before Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar, Mahatma Jotiba Phule, goaded by the tyranny and oppression perpetrated by caste system, had begun the struggle to transform the manuvadi social order, based on inequalities, into an order based on equality. But Jotiba Phule expired in 1890. Dr. Ambedkar was born after one year of the death of this founding father and pioneer of the Social Revolution. Baba Saheb sacrificed his entire life, for the establishment of society based on equality, based on the inspiration he received from the life of Mahatma Jotiba Phule and Lord Buddha. Simultaneously, Sri. Harichand Thakur and Shri. Guruchand Thakur, who belonged to the Chandal Community of the Scheduled castes, and graduated to be barristers, thanks to the British Rule, started work on social reforms. Chatrapathi Shauji Maharaj of Kholapur, made his own contributions towards ushering a Revolution in the Bahujan samaj. Periyar Ramaswamy and Narayan Guru, also struggled against manuvad. Similarly, our saints and Gurus, also spread the message of humanism and human brotherhood and fought against manuvad.

To be able to transform the brahminical social order, the members of Bahujan Samaj must understand their own History, apart from the History of manuvad samaj. Otherwise, they will continue to be exploited by a handful of dominant caste hindu people, who constitute only 15% of the total population. Besides it is necessary for them to understand their own History in order to consolidate and organise the Bahujan samaj. They cannot capture Political Power at the Centre and the States, even though Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar had cleared their way to Political Power, through the Constitution of India. A colleague of Baba Saheb asked a question about this, sometimes before he died in 1956. The collegue asked as to why he did he remain cheerful and happy those days. To this Baba Saheb replied that, he had pledged to restore the reins of the Country to its original rulers, and that with the promulgation of the Constitution on 26th January 1950, he had won the battle. How do you say that, the inquisitive colleague retorted, since the Prime Minister and most of the Ministers then belonged to the dominant hindu castes. To this Baba Saheb Ambedkar replied stating that, so far as he was concerned, by introducing the Democratic System of Governance and Universal Adult Franchise, he had handed over the potential capacity to capture Political Power to the majority community of Bahujan Samaj. That, as on date, the Samaj was not capable of controlling the Reins of the Government, but in the coming 30 years the Samaj will get educated, and will grow strong enough to gain political control of the Country.

Keeping in view the above facts, my appeal to the Members of the Bahujan Samaj is that, if they aspire to stand on their own feet, the first thing for them is to understand their own History and the struggles of their Ancestors. Failing this, the Members of the manuvad samaj will continue to exploit our ignorance, and will make it difficult for us to progress in any walk of life'.

Print this Page
Print this Page
Published on: June 24, 2003
Send e-mail to dalits@ambedkar.org with questions or comments about this web site.
No Copyright: Dalit E-Forum
www.ambedkar.org does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any of the information/content of news items/articles mentioned therein. The views expressed therein are not those of the owners of the web site and any errors / omissions in the same are of the respective creators/ copyright holders. Any issues regarding errors in the content may be taken up with them directly.