Dr. B.R.Ambedkar : The Greatest Indian
By Bhagwan Das
17 August, 2012
(The following is an extract from the Introduction to the book titled “Thus Spoke Ambedkar, Vol. I” edited by Late Sh. Bhagwan Das which was first published in 1963 in the series of four volumes. These books were the only books on Dr. Ambedkar besides “Life and Mission of Dr. Ambedkar by Dhananjy Keer, which were available in India. Bhagwan Das’s appraisal of Dr. Ambedkar is very much relevant today especially in the context of recent survey assessing Dr. Ambedkar “The Greatest Indian after Gandhi.”)
Dr. Bheemrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Baba Saheb Ambedkar among his followers was, perhaps, the most controversial public figure in Indian public life. Like most great men of the world he was the most misunderstood person in his own time. In spite of his incomparable learning, his humanity, his patriotism, his immaculately clean character, which put to shame even the saints, his encyclopaedic knowledge and wisdom, there was no other Indian more maligned and misrepresented, vilified and abused publicly and privately by his own countrymen.
The reason: He was born among the Untouchables, the most despised and persecuted minority the world and chose to be the leader, liberator, master and messiah of these oppressed people of India. Other great men of the world had suffered from numerous disabilities and hardships but he suffered from the most inhuman disability namely stigma of untouchability. His virtues in the eyes of the oppressors became the vices. His well intentioned moves were branded as tricks of politics. Students walked out of his classes and the caste-proud leaders, because of the inherent arrogance tried to ignore him. No friend of the British, he was branded as their lackey, their stooge, traitor and enemy of India. The Hindu journalists of India vied with each other in painting him black and foreigners took little interest for fear of offending the noisy caste Hindu leadership. They never publicised his patriotic humanitarian activities. There is scarcely an epithet of abuse to be found in Indian languages which was not hurled at him. Everything which rancour, prejudice, ignorance or knowledge could suggest was showered on him. But mud refused to stick to his person. It was only when pen and tongue let loose in frenzy of passion were exhausted, that the people began to take notice of this, the greatest man of India, born among the most oppressed and exploited people of the world.
After his memorable speech in the Constituent Assembly where people had come prepared to insult him and to abuse him, and instead applauded him and cheered him as they had never done before, the trend changed. He was honoured and assigned the most responsible task of drafting the Constitution of free India which demanded enormous knowledge of law, geography, economics, politics, sociology and history of India. It required statesmanship, wisdom, understanding and sympathy with the teeming millions of India who had been bled white by the oppressive system of caste and diabolical rule of the exploiting classes. Ambedkar had wealth of knowledge and strength of character in abundance, more than any other man in public life in India, and proved to the world that prejudices cannot smother, the talent nor can the mud and filth of abuse stick to the shining golden image of a truly great man. ‘A great man’ to use his own words ‘must be motivated by the dynamics of a social purpose and must act as the scourge and the scavenger of society.’ He was that and much more because he was alone one of the greatest builders of this nation. India is only now beginning to discover him. The influence and the power he exercised on the minds of the people cannot be correctly assessed. World is looking askance at the great movement of raising the level of the man through education launched by him in 1956 in the form of revival of the Buddha’s Dhamma. There have been revivalist movements but nothing to match the greatest conversion launched in 1956, in the whole history of man.
The speeches included in this volume represent two periods and aspects of his life. The period of vilification and period of glory. They are by no means exhaustive. They are representative. In some he speaks as a champion of the cause of the Untouchables and in the other one can hear a patriot addressing his countrymen, motivated by the single desire to see India, grow into a truly free, strong, rich and beautiful country capable of changing the shape of the world by spreading the message of peace, equality, compassion, non violence and service of humanity which her sages had bequeathed this great land.
In this volume, Speeches delivered in Round Table Conference, have been taken from the proceedings of the Round Table Conference, 1930-31. Speeches on the Constitution and relevant subject and on foreign policy of India have been taken from the Constituent Assembly Debates and Rajya Sabha Debates of the relevant years. Speech entitled as ‘Future of democracy in India’ has been taken from the Andhra Republican wherein it was serialised in English and Telgu. The remaining speeches have been reconstructed from the newspapers reports wherein these were published. Various versions were published in different papers. These have been carefully edited. Speech on the ‘Communal Problem of India’ has been included in this volume in abridged form as it appeared in the daily newspapers. Complete text of the speech in English has been published in book form by the Bheem Patrika Publications. Background of the speeches has been added wherever considered necessary. In spite of devastating criticism and damaging reviews which appeared in the papers which have been generally hostile to Baba Saheb Ambedkar and the Scheduled Castes as well as in those which are supposed to be progressive and revolutionary, students of Indian politics, untouchability and constitutional development have found these speeches interesting and useful. Many have used them in their researches and for writing bio9raphies of Baba Saheb Ambedkar. This little book would help understand the character and personality of Baba Saheb Ambedkar as well as the view point of the Untouchables.
The ‘Untouchables’ are no longer looking towards others for guidance and advice. Leadership of Baba Saheb and his teachings contained in his spoken and written word have given them sufficient independence of thought and action. He has also given them new hope and vision so necessary for development and progress of the oppressed people. His speeches and writings contain sufficient light to guide them for generations to come.
India, particularly the oppressed and exploited masses of India, is passing through a critical period of her history. A western scholar has called it, “the most difficult decades” of modern India. The awakening oppressed and exploited masses of India need guidance and advice of the master to keep them straight and upright.
This article was compiled by S.R.Darapuri I.P.S. (Retd)
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