THIS biography of BR Ambedkar is written by an ardent admirer of his as can be gauged for the lines written to praise him for taking up Buddhism, “Later in life, Ambedkar embraced Buddhism, along with thousands of his followers and is now said to be mainly responsible for the revival of Buddhism in India, the country where this religion was first propagated by Gautam but from where it had almost disappeared until Ambedkar came on the scene as an emancipator of the downtrodden and a strong believer in Buddhism…”
The author says that as the fourteenth child of his parents, Ambedkar himself did not know the date of his birth. He belonged to the Mahar caste and later, recalling his childhood experiences, wrote: “I knew that in the school I could not sit in the midst of my classmates according to my rank. I used to sit in a corner by myself. I knew that in the school I was to have a separate piece of gunny cloth for myself to squat on in the classroom and the servant employed to clean the school would not touch the gunny cloth used by me.”
He wrote books and edited newspapers and formed a powerful organisation of the Scheduled Caste to help them fight for their due place under the sun, but on seeing his efforts fail, he advised them to embrace Buddhism.
The author of the book feels that once Ambedkar left the world, the zeal and zest for challenging India’s caste system, “which holds more than half the country’s population in perpetual bondage, started losing momentum. There was at least a symbolic concern for the Untouchables so long as Gandhi lived. But untouchability against which Ambedkar fought all his life never became an article of faith with the civil society in India.” He himself admits that “the turmoil caused in the Hindu society by Ambedkar, who challenged the very basis on which its caste hierarchy rests, Dalit militancy is on the rise, whether it will succeed in revolutionising the Hindu society or not, only time will tell.”
(Kalpaz Publications, C-30 Satyawati Nagar, Delhi-110052; [email protected])