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THE REVIVAL OF BUDDHISM IN ASIA


Dr Ambedkar Triggered The Revival of Buddhism in India and Asia.

The world is full of agonies, torments and pains. Distress, annoyance and irritations keep on plaguing our life in
a routine. And the ignorance is the cause of sufferings, sorrows and miseries. Lack of knowledge is treacherous,
unholy and deceitful in this world. Vipasana which is a code-of-discipline discovered by Buddha is a
technique of attainment of super consciousness which ultimately devolves into Samadhi. Vipasana is considered
by sagacious-pontiffs as a prelude to a metaphysical parlance of systematic repression of every impulse and
emotions by means of meditation. Observance of certain essential scruples, which serves as a conduit to
moderation, away from extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification, is a means to achievement of ethics,
virtue and decency. This is called the realization of conscience, the Buddhism. An awakening, an emergence of
understanding, development of smartness for an art of living on this planet of earth, which gives rise to
Buddhism. A Buddhist is an artful player, a person omniscient, well informed and erudite who knows the secret
of life. Buddha lives in Shangha, an organized society of artistic life style. Buddhism evolved out of long
drawn frustration, long simmering suffocation of having lived in Hinduism. Dr Ambedkar an extra ordinary
crusader, one of the prime architect of Indias constitution, one of the founding fathers of nation, a champion for
the cause of emancipation of millions sparked off the new hope and genuine expectation through revival of
Buddhism for transformation of the retrograde, depressed and disconsolate society of India A K Singh

Buddhist-awakening-of-knowledge
addressed
grievances arising out of exploitation under Hindu
way of life which caught the impressive imagination
of Dr Ambedkar. Buddhism sparked off the glimmer
of hope for millions of down trodden. It caught the
fascination of Dr Ambedkar in the long run after 21
years of study and observation. Buddism and
Marxism influenced his work on Revolution and
counter-revolution in ancient India and finally he
adopted Buddhism with his 5 lakhs followers by first
taking Three Refuge of Buddham-Sharanam
Gaccchami,
Dhammam-Sharanam-Gacchami,
Sangham-sharanam-gacchami at Nagapur in 1956
accepting Five-Precepts and 22 Wows.
Buddhism influenced Dr Ambedkar deep in his
heart, as he suffered in the vicious circle of caste
discrimination for long years in the deadly vortex of
practice of untouchability under Hindu system of
varna-ashram enunciated by Manu in India. Treatise
on Buddhas life and Buddhism were his ultimate
works he coined as The Buddha and His Dhamma
which are treated as most sacred and sacrosanct
work of one the outstanding Indian statesman and a
scholar. He argued that the Buddhas religion is the
only creed which a society awakened by science
could accept, and without which it would perish. For
the modern world Buddhism was the only religion
which it must have to save itself, which makes a

slow advance in most of the


societies of the world due to
its enormously massive work
of literature which no one
can read and understand
whole of it.
Dr Ambedkar in the
beginning struggled to bring
untouchables to the level
playing field within the
scaffold of Hindu hegemony with
his relentless efforts to demolish
the mainstay of caste so as to gain
access to public places where
untouchables were discriminated.
Baba-Saheb not only focused on
French revolutionary model of
Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity among all
the castes, classes and religions but also he
motivated
Dignity-of-Individual
bringing
constitutional provisions. His advice to Educate,
Organize and Agitate championed the cause of
building a modern India for all people amid the
heterogeneous society when he conceived the
structural framework of Indian constitution by
borrowing from United States the fundamental
rights, from Soviet Union the fundamental duties
and five year planning, from Australia concurrent


listing, from Japan unique functioning of judicial
system, from Ireland the directive principles of state
policies. Pragmatist to the core, he advocated for the
safeguard of minorities abolishing untouchability
and forced labor, placing all people on equal footing
before law, securing equal protection of laws and
installing the right to constitutional remedies. Baba
Saheb appreciated the Buddhas view that religion is
necessary to live in free society. It should be
concrete, down to earth and empathetic towards
resolution of routine troubles and tribulations of life
not centering around God or soul, heaven or
conservative-doctrinaire-of-orthodoxy, belief and
customs. He strongly opposed the idea of salvation
of the soul, making animal sacrifices, supremacy of
Dharmashastras
Hindu-religious-texts
and
ascendency of private ownership of property.
He vehemently encouraged man and morality to be
the center of religion, unhappiness in the world is
due to conflict of interests and the only way to solve
is to follow the eight-fold-middle-path the Ashtang
Marga. Baba Saheb valued Buddhist-Panchasila,
from causing destruction of any thing, to abstain
from stealing, to abstain from telling untruth, to
abnegate from lust and intoxication. Right-view
freedom from superstition, right aims of worthy and
earnest man, right speech of kind, modest, frank and
truthful, right-conduct of ensuring peace, right
livelihood without causing hurt to any living being,
right perseverance in all other seven paths, right
mindfulness with a watchful and active mind and
right contemplation on deep knowledge of life were
well treasured by Dr Ambedkar. The aim of the
noble-eight-fold- middle-path is to establish on earth
the kingdom of righteousness and thereby to banish
sorrow and unhappiness from the face of the planet.
I will not die as a Hindu came as a shock to most
of India, he cried. In Mooknayak in 1920 he
wrote, we are not yet ready to give an answer to the
question of whether the untouchables should have a
temple of their own or attempt to enter the Hindu
temple. Ambedkar criticized Hinduism but also
emphasized the separation of untouchables from
caste Hindus. It does not matter whether I call
myself a Hindu or non Hindu as long as I am outside
the pale of Hindu community he told the Simon

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Commission in 1928. At the round table conference,
he suggested that untouchables be called Protestant
Hindus or Non-conformist-Hindus. Ambedkar told
Mahatma Gandhi in 1933 that the Depressed Classes
did not want to remain shudras in the caste system,
and that he could not honestly call himself a Hindu.
Baba Saheb made up his mind to renounce the
Hinduism by the turn of this event. Mahatma Gandhi
in turn pitched rejoinder stressing on varnashrama
the traditional four class system recalling Tilaks
outlook, saying, Hinduism absorbed the shudras,
can it not also absorb the

untouchables-?
Ambedkar condemned Gandhis anti-untouchability
campaign, saying, Mr Gandhis anti-untouchability
means that the untouchables will be classed as
shudras instead of being classed as athi-shudras or
extreme-shudras. Mr Gandhi has not considered the
question whether the old shudras will be accept the
new shudras into their fold ?
Mahatma Gandhi said that untouchabliity is rapidly
disappearing. In response to this Baba Saheb refuted
telling, Mahatma Ji the system of caste,
varnashrama, and untouchability, according to you,
form really a steel frame of Hindu society. This
division can not easily be wiped out for the simple
reason that it is not based on rational, economic or
racial grounds. The chances are that untouchablity
will endure far longer into the future that the
optimist reformer is likely to admit on account of the
fact that it is based on religious dogma. Indian
history records the attempt of many a Mahatmas to
uproot untouchability from the Indian soil. They
include such great men as Buddha, Ramanuja and
Vaishnava saints of modern times. It would be
hazardous to assume that a system which has
withstood all this onslaught will collapse so easily.


Amid the temple entry efforts of untouchables Dr
Ambedkar spoken of conversion in 1929 at Jalgaon,
stating, untouchables should embrace other
religions if their disabilities were not lifted.
Contrary to popular opinion, Gandhi neither fasted
nor performed satyagriha for temple entry of
untouchables, feeling that it was a matter to be
decided by the majority of temple attenders. In
1931 Gandhi called Ambedkar and told, I may tell
you that I have been thinking over the problem of
untouchabiles ever since my school days-when you
were not even born. You perhaps be knowing what
enormous amount of efforts I had put in to
incorporate this problem in the program of the
congress and made it a party plank of Indian
National Congress and spent Rs Twenty six lakhs on
the uplift of untouchables. Baba Saheb reacted and
countered, all older and elderly persons always
emphasize the point of their age. Let me tell you that
congress has done nothing beyond just giving formal
recognition to the problem. Worth lakhs spent was
shear waste of money. With such backing I could
have effected an astounding change in the outlook
and the economic condition of my people. No person
in the congress employed an untouchable any where
or rear up untouchable student, or take food at home
with untouchable nor could you oppose prohibition
of temple-entry by Shudra. History tells that
Mahatmas, like fleeting phantoms, raise dust, but
raise no level. Why should the Indian National
Congress oppose our movement and dub me as a
traitor ? Gandhi Ji, I have no home land. Cutting
him short Mahatma Gandhi said, You have got a
homeland, I know you are a patriot worth sterling.
Dr Ambedkar retorted, I have got a home land ? I
still repeat that I am without it. How can I call this
land my own home land and this religion my own
wherein we are treated worse than cats and dogs,
wherein we can not get water to drink ? No self
respecting untouchable worth the name will be
proud of this land. The injustice and the sufferings
inflicted upon us by this land are so enormous that if
knowingly we fall a prey to disloyalty in this
country, the responsibility for that act would be
solely hers. I do not feel sorry for being branded as
traitor, for the responsibility of our action lies with

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the land that dubs me a traitor. If at all I have
rendered any national service as you say, helpful and
beneficial, to the patriotic cause of this country, it is
due to my unsullied conscience and not due to any
patriotic feelings in me. If in my endeavor to secure
human rights for my people, who have been
trampled down by higher castes, in this country for
ages. I do any disservice to this country, it would be
not a sin, and if any harm does not come to this
country through my action, it may be due to my
conscience. Owing to the promptings of my
conscience I have been striving to win human rights
for my people without doing any harm to this
country.
The atmosphere turned grim. Faces changed color.
Gandhiji was growing restless. He wanted to give a
turn to Ambedkars for speaking. Just then Dr
Ambedkar asked him the most important question.
Mahatama Ji, every body knows that the Muslims
and the Sikhs are socially, politically and
economically more advanced than the untouchables.
Round table has given political recognition to the
Muslims demands and has recommended political
safeguards for them. The congress has agreed to
their demands too. So too the Depressed Classes has
been given political safeguards and adequate
representation. Do you have any objection to it ?
Gandhi Ji replied, I am against political separation
of the untouchables from the Hindus. That would be
absolutely suicidal. Dr Ambedkar responded, I thank
you for your frank opinion. It is good that I know
now where we stand as regards this vital problem. I
take leave of you. Baba Saheb left the hall, his face
beaming with a fiery resolve to fight out the issue
with all his might and to win human rights for his
down-trodden people.
Dr Ambedkar repudiated all suggestions that
Buddhism has disappeared from the surface of
Indian soil, he said, Buddhism in its material form
seems to have faded. I agree. But as a spiritual force
it dwells in the heart and horizon of Indian soil.
Hinduism, he said, it had passed through three
stages, Vedic religion, Brahminism and Hinduism.
During Brahminism Buddhism was born. Brahmins
preached inequality, Buddhism preached equality.
After Shankaracharaya Buddhism was not dead in


India. In fact, Buddhism prospered during this time.
Allauddin Khilji and Tuglaks invasion killed
thousands of Buddhists in Bihar and consequent
upon that most of them escaped for their subsistence
to Tibet, China and Nepal. Majority of Buddhists
meanwhile turned to Hinduism. Buddhism was
difficult to practice. Political atmosphere during
Delhi Sultanat of Khiliji and Tughlaks were not
favorable to spread of Buddhism. Buddhism spread
all over the world with no center of its sustenance in
India further. It relinquished all other gods except in
for Mahatma Buddh as the honorable and most
esteemed God. Besides its godlessness, its over
emphasis on redemption, its sad tone, its non
attachment and least concern with the world, its
element of neglect of family prohibited rather than
fostered its further sustenance, wherewithal and
enterprise. In the end he declared in New Delhi that
he would dedicate rest of his life to the revival and
further expansion of Buddhism in India and abroad.
Regretting Ambekars decision to renounce politics,
The Time of India, Bombay, said that those who
knew the economic and social views of the erudite
scholar and indomitable fighter were under no
delusion that he would don the politician mantle and
take the lead in forming progressive organization for
Buddhist proliferation. The weekly suggested that Dr
Ambedkar should be regretfully handed over to
Aldous Huxley and Aurobindos and should be called
Bhikku Bhim Rao.
During the last phase of his life, Dr Ambedkar said
that Ceylon and Burma were in pioneer in expansion
of Buddhism. They were forefront in championing
the cause of revival and propagation of Buddhism in
other countries as well. Buddhism had a far reaching
effect on Hinduism, and cow protection was a
victory of Buddhist principle on non-violence he
added. Provision was made to study Pali in
constitution of India, the inscription of a Buddhist
dictum on the facade of imposing Rashtrapati
Bhawan in New Delhi. Adoption of Ashok Chakra,
Lion Pillar from Sarnath at Varanasi were all his
personal achievements. Government of India has
declared Buddha Jayanthi a holiday after his
endeavor. Dr Ambedkar established two colleges,
one at Bombay and the other at Aurangabad

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encouraging 3400 students for Buddhist studies. Dr
Ambedkar unveiled an image of the Buddha in a
new constructed Buddha Vihar at Poona, the image
he brought from Rangoon. On the occasion he said,
the honor of establishing the image of Mahatma
Buddha twelve hundred years after fall of
Buddhism, is bestowed to his people. If six crores
of people in India, he observed, accepted Buddhism
in 1956, it would not only bring new life of scientific
temper to the country and but also enable her to
progress by leaps and bounds. He prepared
Dhamma-Diksha-Ceremony
code-of-conduct
which every one embracing Buddhism would be
required to undergo. The idea of Buddhism is a
moral religion, a religion of equality. The religion
which has no idiosyncrasy of birth, rebirth and
incarnation of gods, the order which has no
eccentricities of faith and offerings, no rituals and
ceremonies. This propaganda of Hinduism is false
and mischievous. Rites and customs performed by
Brahmins believing in Brihma, Vishnu and Mahesh
as Gods, Rama and Krishna as ideals of faith have
no compassion for all humans, they treat some of us
as untouchables, low caste, make us to live in life of
depression, disappointment, and disabilities. We
need to embrace the Buddha-Dhamma discarding
Hindu religion which is a hindrance to the
emancipation of human beings.
Dharma-Diksha of conversion were held across
Mahararashtra this time. The total number of
declared Buddhists recorded in 1961 census was
found to be 33 lakhs. Of the three essential
requirements Baba Saheb declared for the revival of
Buddhism in India and Asia were a Buddhist
Bible few leading dedicated Buddhist-Bikshu or
monks, and support from Buddhist countries. A
book on Buddha and his Dhamma by Dr
Ambedkar was published in 1957 which is based
chiefly on Pali sources with modifications as the
removal of the miraculous and the idea of reincarnation, re-defining Buddhism solely as ethical,
rational and one the most humanitarian religion. Dr
Ambedkar did enormous efforts to create a body of
Buddhist monks, the strong leadership which
follows the colossal conversion movement. He
stressed on the study of Buddhism, producing local


leaders, college students, government servants, who
conduct ceremonies, interprets Buddhist beliefs in
right perspective, hold meetings, and occasionally
conduct pilgrimages, translate Buddhist writings into
local vernacular languages. Dr Ambedkar visited
Burma, Ceylon and Nepal and participated in the
Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists.
Baba Saheb lectured on Buddhism and Communism
stressing the former as a better way to peace,
equality, fraternity and justice than communism for
all the Asian continent. Monks from Thailand,
Burma, Ceylon, Tibet, and Japan since then kept
intermingling with Buddhist groups in Maharashtra
delivering and image of Indian Buddhist connection
with world religion.
Baba Saheb was starting Buddhist seminary at
Bangalore to train preaches for propagating the faith
in South India. A plot of five acres of land was
donated by Maharaja of Mysore when Dr Ambedkar
met him at Bangalore in June 1954. The World
Buddhist Council had promised him financial and
technical help. He divulged on BBC London May
1956 on Why I like Buddhism and how it is useful
to the world in its present circumstances, because it
teaches Prajna ( wit against superstition) Karuna
(love and compassion) and Samata (equality).
Unlike communism fast expanding in Asia,
Buddhism brings about bloodless revolution and
transform the life of humans. Amartya Sen,
economist from India, a noble prize winner said that
Ambedkar is father of my economics, his
contribution in the field of economics is marvelous
and will be remembered forever. President Barack
Obama addressed the Indian Parliament in 2010 and
referred Dalit leader Dr B R Ambedkar as the great
and revered Human Rights champion and main
author of Indias constitution. Baba Sahebs
Buddhism does not differ in its originality, sheen,
and ingenuity from what it emerged during Ashoka
reign in its full splendor and enormity. Buddha and
His Dhamma, Ambedkarite Dalit Buddhist
movement is most realistic, sensible, down to earth
and modernistic enlightenment which suits the times
of post constitutional adoption of India embodying
the preamble of justice, equality and fraternity
delivering the freedom of conscience, liberty of

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speech, right to expression and dignity to the
individual. Baba Sahebs charisma glimmers the
hope of 80 lakhs Buddhists in India and millions
more of those struggling for their emancipation from
social, political and economic discrimination.
A K Singh is the member of Indian Forest
Service 1997 serving in the Ministry of
Forest, Ecology and Environment of the
Government of Karnataka Views portrayed
here
are
personal
and
opionated
Contact:9481180956. aksinghifs@gmail.com
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