To Buddhist Education In India
By Nishikant Waghmare
16 February, 2007
“Noble is your aim and sublime and glorious is your mission.
Blessed are those who are awakened to their duty to those among whom
they are born. Glory to those who devote their time, talents and their
all to the amelioration of slavery. Glory to those who would reap their
struggle for the liberation of the enslaved in spite of heavy odds,
carpine humiliation, storms and dangers till the downtrodden secure
their Human Rights.” - Bharat Ratna Babasaheb Dr.B.R.Ambedkar.
may have reduced their mentor to a symbol to center their electoral
campaign on, but history will view Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar differently—as
a man whose genius extended over a diverse arrange of human affairs.
Born to Mahar parents, Babasaheb would have been one of the many Untouchable
of his times condemned to a life of suffering and misery, had he not
doggedly overcome the oppressive circumstances of his birth to rise
to pre-eminence in India’s public life. Ambedkar was, of course,
a towering leader of the Untouchables, but he was also much more- patriot,
scholar, thinker and Founding Father of the Indian Constitution.
Ambedkar started the Bahishkrit
Hitkarini Sabha and the Samaj Samanta Sangh for the uplift of untouchables.
He led processions and dharnas for his community, demanded separate
electorates for them, parted ways with Gandhi, violently differing with
Gandhi’s approach toward the Untouchables, and finally, left the
Hindu fold, embracing with thousands of his followers the more egalitarian
faith of Buddhism.
India got Independence 55
years ago, till today Dalit has to suffer for basic needs for their
day to day living i.e. Drinking water, food, shelter and Right to live
as human being in society. The Untouchables “Dalit” were
denied even Human Rights, which are essential for a bare existence of
human life. They were not allowed to drink water from public well; and
even their shadow was supposed to pollute the so- called upper Castes.
The Hindu social order made the life of the Dalit miserable in every
sense of the term. The Hindu Dharmashastra gave sanction to this evil
Caste system and the practice of Untochability. This continued for the
Then arose on the horizon
Dr. BabaSaheb Ambedkar, the liberator of the Millions of downtrodden
in India. He made abolition of the Caste system and Untouchability a
mission of His life. Perhaps it would take a rebirth by the Mahatma
Gandhi to end the abominable evil of Caste. As he he had said: “If
I do not want to attain moksha, I do not want to be reborn. But if I
were to be reborn, I should be born an Untouchable… not as a Brahmin,
Kshatriya, Vaishya or Shudra But as an Atishudra, a Bhangi.”
Babasaheb Ambedkar raised the banner of Buddhism and brought back to
his motherland the Buddha who suffered an exile for over twelve hundred
years. Ambedkar, a man of provocative learning, challenged opponents
of Buddhism to hold discussions with him, and was confident that he
would defeat all Pandits. He propagated Buddhism in India. He made the
provision for the study of Pali in the Indian constitution. The Government
of India had declared Buddha Jayanti a holiday mainly through his efforts.
Dr. Ambedkar was the greatest Pioneer of Buddhist revival in India.
India, no doubt, continues
to be proud of its Buddhist heritage. Since regaining independence,
Buddhist symbols like the Wheel of Dhamma and the Asoka Capital, have
become national symbols and the Mathura Buddha adorns the house of Parliament
and inspires Indian lawmakers.
The Buddha established a
classless society by opening the gates of the Sangha to all deserving
individuals, making no distinction between caste and class. The fundamental
principle of Buddhism is equality… Buddhism was called the religion
of the Shudra’s… ” There was only one man who raised
his voice against separatism and Untouchability and that was Lord Buddha...
Buddhism is the only religion, which does not recognize caste and affords
full scope for progress.
Dr. Ambedkar’s speech on the Eve of the great conversion at Nagpur
on October14, 1956, Dr. Ambedkar said Buddhism can serve not only this
country, India, but the whole World at this juncture in the world affairs;
Buddhism is indispensable for world peace you must pledge today that
you, the followers of Buddha, will not only work to liberate yourself,
but will try to elevate your country and the world in general.
Dr. Ambedkar declared: “By
discarding my ancient religion which stood for inequality and oppression
today I am reborn. I have no faith in the philosophy of incarnation;
and it is wrong and mischievous to say that Buddha was an incarnation
of Vishnu. I am no more a devotee of any Hindu god or goddess. I will
not perform shradha. I will strictly follow the eightfold path of Buddha.
Buddhism is a true religion and I will lead a life guided by the tree
principles of knowledge, right path and compassion. Dr. Ambedkar denounced
Hinduism, its customs and traditions and declared that from that moment
onwards he would strive for the spread of equality among human beings.
Emancipation and empowerment
of Dalits is possible only through education. The present Dalit leadership,
unlike Spartacus or Ambedkar, is suffering from intellectual bankruptcy.
It fails to criticize the ruling classes or follow Ambedkar’s
philosophical and ideological roots. Nearly 60 to 70 per cent of India’s
wealth belongs to Dalits. It is their blood and sweat. But they are
the principle victims of the system.
Dr. Ambedkar explained to
his people that “a great responsibility had fallen on their shoulders
in connection with the upholding of Buddhism; and if they would not
follow rigidly and nobly the principles of Buddhism, it would mean that
the Mahars reduced it to a miserable state, no other person under that
the sum was burdened with such unparalleled responsibility as he was,
Dr. Ambedkar set the wheel of Dhamma in motion once again, spreading
the message of his Master to all the corners of the world. The Buddhists
said the “the Dhamma Chakra was set revolution by Dr.Ambedkar
and it was the greatest religious revolution which India had witnessed
in modern times.”
Dr. Ambedkar dedicated himself
to the propagation of the Buddhist faith in India. He wrote a book on
Buddhism titled “Buddha and His Dhamma” explaining its tenets
in simple language to the common man. His two other books “Revolution
and Counter Revolution in India’ and “Buddha and Karl Marx”
The malafide intentions of including the Buddha in the Avatara pantheon
are also clear from the fact that the Brahmins never worshiped the Buddha
and no temples were built in his honour. Logically, the theory that
Buddha is an incarnation of Vishnu is dubious one. Therefore, Dr. Ambedkar
exhorted Buddhists not to believe that the Buddha was an incarnation
of Vishnu. Now even a Brahmin Priest agrees that the Buddha was not
an incarnation of Vishnu. Principal Vipassana Teacher, Shri S.N.Goenka
and Sankaracharya of Kanchikam Kote Peetham Sri Jayendra Saraswati made
a joint declaration on 11.11.1999 at Sarnath that Gotama the Buddha
was not an incarnation of Vishnu.
“I am reported to be against peace. This is not correct. I am
for peace. But, the peace, which is, based on justice not the peace
of a graveyard. So long as justice is not respected in the world there
cannot be any peace. Buddhism and Buddhism alone can save the World.”
Dr. B.R.Ambedkar a great
scholar, Lawyer and freedom fighter along with hundreds of thousands
of Mahar’s an untouchable caste, converted to Buddhism and changed
the face of Buddhism in India. Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion was a
symbolic protest to the oppressions of caste inequality. His conversion
was an intellectual decision that would meet with the least opposition
from the Hindu majority.
India, have no leader of
the kind Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Indian Crusader for Social Justice
and Champion of Human Rights. One of the greatest contributions of Dr.
Ambedkar was in respect of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles
of State Policy enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The fundamental
Rights provide for freedom, equality, abolition of Untouchability and
remedies to ensure the enforcement of rights.
Fifty-five years after independence,
Caste prejudices in India have not erased very much. And now there is
a deliberate attempt to revive these prejudices to their former position.
about Nordic mythology and Christian “Anskuelese” may be
compared with Ambedkar’s views on the original tradition of Buddhism
as a source of inspiration. In describing the work of on Buddhism he
said” we have started this movement to develop and educate our
minds” Explaining the need for religion among the poor as a need
arising for hope, Ambedkar referred to a German professor of his, Professor
“The Watergang Rabelan Depth was the book which he recommended
and by which I was much inspired. It is only the poor, he said who need
religion.” Hope is the spring of action in life. Religion affords
hope. Therefore, mankind finds solace in the religion, and that is why
the poor cling to religion.”
Those who are turned to Buddhism,
but remained within Hinduism but wanted Hinduism to change, Ambedkar
made the following suggestion:
“You must give a new
doctrinal basis to your religion-a-basis that will be in consonance
with Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, in short, with Democracy.”
Dr. BabaSaheb Ambedkar once
commented, “Dalit representatives elected from reserved seats
open their mouth in the Indian parliament only when they have to yawn.”
It was the Buddha who, for the first time in the known history of mankind,
attempted to abolish slavery and “invented the higher morality
and the idea of the brotherhood of the entire human race, and in striking
terms condemned” the degrading caste-system which in Indian society
at that time was firmly rooted. The Buddha declared: “By birth
is not one an outcast, By birth is not one a Brahmin, By deeds is one
an outcast, By deeds is one a Brahmin.”
Dr. Ambedkar in His book
“Annihilation of Caste” reproduces his major difference
with the Mahatma Gandhi. While he was for abolition of the caste system,
prescribed by Hindu sage Manu, Gandhi was for giving up caste prejudice,
and for reform of the system, so that the stigma of Untouchability may
be removed, but function of various castes remains.
As Dr. Ambedkar could not
abolish the caste system, when Mahatma Gandhi asked for dedication on
the shared cause of struggle for freedom, he asked for separate electorates
for the so-called “outcastes” whom the Mahatma called “Harijan”-
sons of the ‘God’
Dr. Ambedkar turned on Gandhi
too: The Dalits leaders converted to Buddhism perhaps the least dogmatic
or hierarchic of world religions. Dr. Ambedkar’s response to Gandhi
was that he wanted to treat the symptom, not the cause of the disease-
you can’t abolish Untouchability without addressing the Caste
and the Dharma system, which is at the root of it.
“ Gandhiji, felt that
the high castes should change their hearts: Dr. Ambedkar said that we’
ve been suffering for over 2000 years, many Hindu saints have come and
gone; but nothing has changed, so he legally empowered to challenge
it.” Article 17, of the Constitution that abolished “Untouchability”
The problem is if you implement it half of India would be in Jail.”
There have been many Mahatmas in India whose sole object was to remove
Untouchability and to elevate and absorb the depressed Classes, but
every one of them has failed in his mission. Mahatmas have come, Mahatmas
have gone. But the Untouchables have remained as Untouchables.
Buddhists of India need the friendship, understanding and cooperation
for uplifting themselves and for strengthening the hands of those who
are striving for peace, equality and justice. Let the scent of the Dhamma
spread in all directions and illumine the minds of those who put much
faith in steel and fire but ignore the value of peace, loving kindness
Venerable Anagarika Dharampal,
great son of Sri Lanka, came to India and was distressed to find even
the great Bodhi Gaya Temple in a dilapidated condition under the control
of Brahmin Mahant. He struggled to take possession of Boudh -Viharas
of the Buddhist but failed owing to the hostile attitude of the British
Government and the Upper Caste Hindus. He founded Maha-Boudhi Society
to propagate the Dhamma and to continue the struggle for reviving Buddhism.
Dr. S. Radhakrishna, Late -President of India and Philosopher said;
Buddhism brought about a profound change in the lives of the Indian
people. “For us in this country the Buddha is an outstanding representative
of our religious tradition.”
Dr. G.P.Malalasekera said:
Let us not forget that some of the leaders of religion have themselves
been revolutionaries. The Buddha, for instance, was one of the greatest
rebels in human history. He denied the assumptions on which religion
in His day was based and gave the religious quest an entirely new orientation.
He refused to accept the sincerity of the Vedas or the power of the
Priesthood. He refuted the illusion that human problems could be solved
with sacred rituals and incarnations. He was a sworn enemy of the Caste
–System on which the World structure of Indian Society rested.
He was ridiculed and persecuted and several attempts were made on his
Dr. Ambedkar said, my final
words of advice to you is “Educate, Agitate, Organize” have
faith in yourself. With justice on our side, I do not see how we can
lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is
in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social
in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle
for freedom. It is a battle for reclamations of the human personality.
Amedkar was Bharat Ratna
in the refuge of Tri- Ratna Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Therefore all
Ambedkarites must call themselves as Buddhist and nothing else. Thus
Ambedkar’s whole life and mission was a practical contribution
to humanistic Buddhist education in India and not just intellectual
and philosophical which is common these days. Though he was not a Buddhist
by birth but by practice and at heart he was a Buddhist.
BabaSaheb Ambedkar had said Tuesday July 31, 1956, at his official residence
26 Alipur Road, New Dehli at 17-50 to his Honorary Personal secretary
Mr. Nanak Chand Rattu… Tell my people Nanak Chand: “Whatever
I have done, I have been able to do after passing through crushing miseries
and endless troubles all my life fighting with my opponents. With great
difficulty, I have brought this caravan where it is seen today. Let
the caravan march on and further on despite the hurdles, pitfalls and
difficulties that may come in its way. If my people, my lieutenants
are not able to take the caravan ahead, they should leave it where it
is seen today, but in no circumstances should they allow the caravan
to go back?”
The most significant development in the resurgence of Buddhism in modern
India was the movement inaugurated by BabaSaheb Ambedkar, as a result
of which mass conversions of Buddhism have been taking place in many
parts of the country. The Neo-Buddhist is progressively gaining self-sufficiency
as regards temples and shrines, monastic leadership and guidance, educational
institutions and religious literature. In India, too, Buddhism is numerically
the fastest growing religion.
I, for one, truly believe
that individuals can make a difference in society. Since periods of
great change such as the present one come so rarely in human history,
it is up to the each one of us to make the best use of our time to help
create a happier world for new generation to live with peace, freedom
and love for mankind on planet earth. This century is the most important
century of humankind said: His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
BabaSaheb Ambedkar said: The first point, which makes off Buddha from
the rest, is his self-abnegation. JESUS insists that he is the Son of
God. MOHAMMED went a step further. He claimed that he was the messenger
of God on earth and insisted that he was the last messenger. Lord KRISHNA
went a step beyond both Jesus and Mohammed. He claimed that he was “Parameshwar”
– the God of Gods. BUDDHA never arrogated to himself a status.
He was born a son of man and was content to remain common man and Krishna
claimed for them selves a role of MOKSHADATA, Buddha was satisfied with
playing the role of MARGADATA.
are based on wisdom, morals and concentration, which are applicable
not only for Buddhist nations but are of Universal application. He is
the giver of path of sublime promotions and reliever from painful demotions.
Hence let us all practice His teachings without hesitations walking
on the path of noble truth realization and making “Nibbana”
as our final destination.
The socio-cultural movement,
which gradually transformed the original teaching of Buddha to popular
Buddhism as practiced by millions of people, needs to be given due consideration
in a study of Buddhism as religion.
“The Hindus wanted
the Vedas and they sent for Vyasa, who was not a caste Hindu. The Hindus
wanted an Epic and they sent for Valmiki, who was an Untouchable. The
Hindus wanted a Constitution, and they sent for me.”-Dr. B.R.Ambedkare.
“Law is secular, which any body may break while fraternity or
religion is sacred which everybody must respect. My philosophy has a
mission. I have to do the work of conversion: for I have to make the
followers of Triguna theory to give it up and accept mine. Indians today
governed by two different ideologies. Their political ideal set out
in the preamble to the Indian Constitution affirms a life of liberty,
equality and fraternity. Their social ideal embodied in their religion,
denies them.” Dr. B.R.Ambedkar
(All-India Radio broadcast of speech on October 03, 1954)
Buddhism makes enlightenment
the sole aim of life. This was the philosophy that Ambedkar accepted
and tried to revive. Besides this there was another reason. Buddha,
whose life and movement Ambedkar had studied, was a believer of the
educatability and the creativity of the people. Under the influence
of those teachings, the most rejected peoples of India has once risen
and uplifted their life as well as that of the whole society. If that
was once possible in India, it must be possible again. He had a solid
historical basis to trust India’s ordinary folk as India’s
This is what Jawaharlal Nehru
wrote of the commitment of Ambedkar to the untouchables: “Dr.B.R.Ambedkar
would be remembered mostly as the symbol of revolt against all the oppressing
features of Hindu society. In a way he symbolized the hopes and aspiration
of the oppressed and the Untouchables.”
Buddha was the first religious leader of the world, who expounded peace
and equality in the history of man. Five precepts (Panchsheeel) of Buddha’s
life are principles of building world peace the precepts Panchsheel
based on Buddha’s life would help to build world peace and harmony
among the Nations.
Our Humanity is cultivated through our emotions. Each day we should
look not only to be moved by others, But also to move them through kindness,
patience and caring. Said Venerable Master Hsing Yun.
It is my hope and prayer
that we will always live a happy, joyful, peaceful life based on non-violence,
truth, equality, love and compassion, this great message of Buddha is
Nishikant Waghmare, Peace
Representative, The World Peace Prayer Society, USA. Director- Asia
& Pacific, Airline Ambassadors International UN NGO USA.
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar - -“Buddha and His Dhamma” Siddhartha
Publication Mumbai, 1957.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar - - “Annihilation
Dr.B.R. Ambedkar - - “Writing and Speeches” The Education
Department, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai 1987.
Mr.Bhagwan Das- “Buddhism
in India” Dalit Liberation Today, June 1997, New Delhi.
H.H. Dalai Lama - - “A
Human Approach to World Peace.”
H.H. Dalai Lama -- “Compassion
and the Individual”
Dhananjay Keer - -“Dr.
Ambedkar’s Life and Mission” Popular Prakashan, Mumbai,
1971, “Revival of Buddhism”
Dr. Prof. Ananda W.P. Guruge
- - “What In Brief Is Buddhism” Published by Mitram Books,
A Subsidiary of, Dhamma Healing Way. Inc. Monterey Park, CA. USA, 1999.
W.J. Basil Fernando - - “
Demoralization and Hope” A Comparative study of the Ideas of N.E.S.
Grungtvig of Denmark and B.R. Ambedkar of India, A Publication of Asian
Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong, 2000.
Venerable Narada Mahathera
- - “The Buddha and His Teachings” Buddhist Missionary society,
Kuala Lumpur, 1988, “Is Buddhism A Religion”
Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda
- - Ven. Narada Mahathera, Dr. G.P. Maklalasekera “Gems of Buddhist
Wisdom” The Buddhist Missionary society, Kuala Lumpur.
S. Krishna (Anand) –“The
Buddha the Essence of Dhamma and its Practice” Publication By,
Samrudh Bharat Publication, Mumbai, August 2002
The Times of India -- “100
Indians who made a difference this Century” Monday, December 6,
Venerable Bhikkhu Vinayarakkhita,
Dharmayatana, Maharagama, Sri Lanka.
Dr. BabaSaheb Ambedkar…
“The Man who made all the difference.”
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