Father of Indian Constitution
Dr B R Ambedkar’s 54th death anniversary today:
Dr B R Ambedkar
* Born: April 14, 1891
* Died: December 6, 1956 (aged 65)
* Nationality: Indian
* Title: First Law Minister of India, Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee
* Political party: Republican Party of India
* Religion: Buddhism
* Awards: Bharat Ratna (1990)
According to the Constitution of India, Dalit Community with nearly 160 million population is identified as members of the Scheduled Castes. It was on the October 14, 1956 Dr B R Ambedkar with his wife Srimati Savitabai Ambedkar along with half a million followers embraced Buddhism in an impressive and historic ceremony at Nagpur, Maharashtra, India.
Dr B R Ambedkar
The leader who brought a promise of new life to the long down-trodden and oppressed members of the Scheduled Castes died on December 6, two months after the mass conversion ceremony paralysing the forward march of his mission and vision.
Dr Ambedkar himself was the father of the Constitution of India framed and adopted after the Independence. Speaking at the Nagpur on the eve of his conversion to Buddhism Dr Ambedkar told that he had decided to embrace Buddhism because of misbehaviour by those so-called upper class society. “I am decidedly choosing something better” and asked “why do you want us to remain perpetually untouchable to enjoy those benefits like reservations under Constitution? Are the Brahmins prepared to become untouchables to have these privileges?”
Ancient Buddhist shrines
Babasaheb Ambedkar was born in 1891, the year Anagarika Dharmapala founded the Maha Bodhi Society of India for the purpose of reviving Buddhism in the land of its birth and for restoring the ancient Buddhist shrines at Buddha Gaya, Sanath and Kushinara.
The Scheduled Castes members were subjected to inhuman treatment by the high-caste in the name of religion. According to them, Ambedkar family, were not only lowest of lowly and devoid of even elementary human rights but these unfortunate people were also damned as unseesbles, unapproachable above all untouchables, whose mere touch, and even shadow would pollute the high-castes. In short they were made to suffer immeasurable deprivations and humiliations.
According to the life story of Dr Ambedkar himself, at school at Satra he was made to sit outside the classroom on a piece of gunny bag which he had to carry to the school everyday.
Many a time he had to go without water, because he was being untouchable, had no right to drink from the common source. In the same school some of the teachers would not touch his notebooks for fear being pollute. Outside school, the position was even worse. “Touch me not” was the rule for him everywhere.
As a man of learning and high official in the Baroda State in 1917, he was subjected to inhuman treatment. Drinking water was not available to him in office.
His subordinates kept distance from him and even the peons fearful of pollution threw the files and papers on to his desk from a distance. There he even could not get accommodation and had to resign in disgust and return to Bombay.
As a professor in Bombay University in 1918-1920, he was treated as a ‘Parish’ by the academic staff belong to high castes and was not allowed to drink water from the pot kept in the professor’s common room.
When in 1923, he started practice as barrister in the High Court of Bombay, the solicitors would not condescend to have any business with him on the ground of untouchability. Even the humble canteen boy would not serve him tea.
This was the case of Dr Ambedkar, a highly educated person made to think about the future well-being of his caste members numbering millions living in rural areas all over India.
He fought bravely against the protagonists of inequality and exploitation and made heroic efforts to inspire the downtrodden classes to raise the banner of revolt against those strong, rich and powerful with extraordinary social status.
He started the struggle for the liberation of the downtrodden at Mahad on March 20, 1927 when untouchables for the first time asserted their human rights by drinking water from a forbidden tank.
Several times he openly declared his intention to embrace Buddhism but with pressure mounting from and within the Dalit community he finally informed Ven Chandamoni Maha Stavira from Kushinara and Devpriya Valisinghe, then General Secretary of the Maha Bodhi Society of India about his final decision to embrace Buddhism.
Accordingly Devpriya Valisinghe along with Ven Galagedara Pannarama Maha Stavira (present high priest of Luknow Buddha Vihara) visited his Nagpur residence and accompanied him to the venue.
Today, the Dalit Community has become a powerful political force and a vote bank of different political parties rather than a religious group, specially in Maharashtra, North India, Tamil Nadu and Uttara Pradesh. For instance, Kumari Mayawathi, a member of the Dalit Community became the Chief Minister in Uttara Pradesh (several times) due to her affiliations with the Ambedkar Movement.
Ambedkar Mission remains today with different faces but with no particular leader.
Courtesy : Srilankan News