Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar was an orphan who was given the name and surname by the man who raised him and recognised early that this boy will change the fate of this country.
He, after his Bar examination in 1923, returned to India, to start his legal practice. He was an economist as well, a graduate from London School of Economics. An erudite, he predicted early that the caste system in India will be an obstacle in its growth. He was convinced that it can be eradicated with education to all as it was in the minds of people and the original scriptures had a different interpretation. To quote him: “Caste is a notion; it is a state of mind.”
Dr Ambedkar breathed his last on December 6, 1956, a day that’s celebrated today as his ‘Mahanirvana Day’. On this day, every year Chaityabhoomi in Dadar, where he was cremated, turns into a pilgrimage where lakhs throng to pay obeisance to their hero’s shrine.
To accommodate these pilgrims, Shivaji Park is converted into a residential commune. Tents, toilets, and bath facilities are set up on the ground for visitors from all over the country. Quite often the amenities set up are not enough for the crowds that visit. And they resort to staying on the footpaths of the vicinity.
As a solution to this predicament, some years ago, PM Narendra Modi gifted the land of Indu Mills that’s next to the existing shrine of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Idea was to have multistorey buildings that housed dormitories, lavatories, baths, kitchens, dining rooms etc. for the lakhs that visited every year without disturbing the neighbourhood or taking away their ground from them.
Unfortunately, the land is being used to build another shrine! Shrine that will have a huge statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and a library and yes, a few rooms as well.
In building another shrine and propagating his worship, his so-called followers are forgetting his basic principles.
Dr Ambedkar converted to Buddhism, because Buddhism, at that time, didn’t promote or believe in idol worship like Hindus. He spent his entire life talking about the futility of idol worship. He believed in ‘nirgun’, a supernatural energy that rules the universe, but disbelieved in the ritualistic worship of Hindu gods. He preached that making gods out of people and worshiping them, or worshiping any idol is encouraging inequality in human beings… and that should be avoided under any circumstance.
Ironically, his followers have resorted to worshiping his idol! His busts and full figures are sold on roads from 3rd December to 7th December at Shivaji Park. A second shrine with his full figure statue is being erected – means a second worship place.
He advocated freedom as a philosophy. He believed that freedom of mind is the real freedom. To quote him: ‘A person whose mind is not free, though he may not be in chains, is a slave.’
His inclusion of reservations for castes had a disclaimer and footnote that defined the number of years for reservation. He believed that education would uplift the lower castes and the entire caste system will be eradicated by then.
However, unfortunately, this point was used politically in later years and amendments were continuously made to include more sub-castes and delete the clause of years.
Dr Ambedkar had himself said, ‘I will burn the constitution if I find it being misused.’
Today probably is the day he would have done that, had he been alive.
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