Mumbai : On the 59th anniversary of Dhammachakra Pravartan Day, the day on which Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhism, FPJ spoke with experts on whether his dream of liberating Dalits and other backward caste people from social segregation has gained momentum.
“Dr. Ambedkar embraced Buddhism along with his followers in the year 1956 on October 14, on Ashoka Vijay Dashmi Day also known as Dusherra among Hindus,” said Nitin Lata Waman, social activist.
Convinced that Buddhism was a true part of Indian history and that to revive it was to continue India’s best tradition, Dr. Ambedkar, in quest for recasting Indian society wanted to initiate people into alternative culture of Buddhism.
“Buddhism is based on the principles of equality, liberty and fraternity. It protects human rights and dignity. Morality is the base of Buddhism. In real sense, Buddhism tells us about democratic value and opportunity to express ourselves,” says E Z Khobragade, former IAS officer.
Prof Dr Suresh Mane, founder Bahujan Republican Socialist Party feels, “Today the citadel of castesim is weakening day by day with social struggle, industrialisation and new ways of life.”
Buddhism gave an enormous sense of pride to the Dalits. “If we study the socio-economic, educational and cultural status of the people in 1956 and thereafter, we find that the people were poor, backward in every sphere and struggling for survival. But after embracing Buddhism, they have attained the feeling of being human and started progressing,” opines Khobragade.
Although Ambedkar had been a Buddhist for only seven weeks, during that period he probably did more for the promotion of Buddhism than any other Indian since Ashoka.
“Dr Ambedkar has bought together Dalits, tribals, backward and certain minority through Constitutional safeguards like reservation policy. At least to protect safeguard these sections are coming together. Barriers are weakening day by day. This weakening is moving towards Buddhism. This is greatest contribution of Dr. Ambedkar, whose main aim was to ensure the whole society should be free from caste, untouchability and other form of discrimination,” adds Dr Mane.
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