Whenever life throws up challenges and puts our spirits down, our hearts and minds are on the lookout for an inspiration. An icon who offers hope. An icon whose struggle that one can relate to and derive strength from. If there exists such an icon who resides in the hearts and minds of millions of Indians, it is none other Babasaheb Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, for he remains an eclectic personality and a man of wisdom, who continues to be relevant in our personal and social lives.
But over time, this great man has been appropriated by the political class and ideological groups that he vehemently opposed. What is saddening is that this revolutionary leader, who set the path for all Indians, has been reduced to a caste leader. As we mark the 129th anniversary of Babasaheb, it is high time we break the shackles tied to this man and bring out the unknown or rather deliberately concealed ideas and wisdom of this man.
Babasaheb Ambedkar: A scholar par excellence
Most of us know Ambedkar as the person who gave shape to our Constitution. When he was appointed as the Chairperson of the Drafting Committee, he was 57. But his scholarly prowess could be seen just when he was 25 years old. His doctoral thesis on Castes in India brings out a scientific understanding of caste in which he elaborates on its origins, mechanism and development.
Often we hear the terms like ‘Manuvaad’, ‘Brahmanvaad’ and ‘Jativaad’ from our friends who claim to be champions of equality and justice while all they do is peddle hate against one particular community. If one reads Ambedkar in totem, it would be easy to call out this bluff. While he is severely critical of Manu in the initial portions, he however goes on to say that it would have been impossible for one man (Manu) to ordain the law of caste. He says that Manu was an upholder of the institution, but could not have ordained the present order. Ambedkar says that Manu’s work ended with the “codification of existing caste rules and the preaching of Caste Dharma.”
For all the hatred that is perpetrated against one community, especially in Tamil Nadu, the following quote from Ambedkar might come as a total surprise to the Dravidian machinery (politicians, intellectuals and media) that thrives on singling out this community for all the misdeeds in society. Speaking about Brahmins, here is what Ambedkar had to say:
“Thespread and growth of the Caste system is too gigantic a task to be achieved by the power or cunning of an individual or of a class. Similar in argument is the theory that the Brahmins created the Caste. After what I have said regarding Manu, I need hardly say anything more, except to point out that it is incorrect in thought and malicious in intent. The Brahmins may have been guilty of many things, and I dare say they were, but the imposing of the caste system on the non-Brahmin population was beyond their mettle.”
One of the greatest books ever written in the history of humankind would undoubtedly be “Pakistan or Partition of India: Indian Political What is What” reading which will give an understanding of not just modern Indian history but also contemporary Indian politics. In this book, Dr.Ambedkar provides an unapologetic take on the subject and analyses every point of view with such astuteness. Dr.Ambedkar doesn’t pull any punches in the discussion about Islam, Muslim League and Congress.
Such was his grit, nuance and scholastic approach towards every subject that he was an authority on – be it law, economic, society or religion.
Babasaheb Ambedkar: A believer in the cultural and spiritual unity of Bharat
For every nationalist, there will always be two legends who they revere – Swami Vivekananda and Babasaheb Ambedkar. That is because both of them believed in the spiritual and cultural unity of this great country. In his paper that he presented at the Colombia University Babasaheb details out the cultural unity of India. According to Ambedkar, India possessed a “deeper and a much more fundamental unity – the indubitable cultural unity that covers the land from end to end.” He says that spirituality is the binding fabric of this nation. Swami Vivekananda too says that the “national union of India must be a gathering up of its scattered spiritual forces”. He adds that “a nation in India must be a union of those whose hearts beat to the same spiritual tune”. Thus one can say that the idea of India that Babasaheb and Swami Vivekananda envisioned was that of an India that is rooted in spirituality and religion and that the unity of this land transcends race and language.
Contrary to the language spoken by the Dravidian and Left groups, Ambedkar opposed geographical nationalism as a basis for defining nationhood. He also refuted the Aryan Invasion theory, a subject that is dear to heart for the “Dravidian” machinery (media, cinema, politicians, intellectuals). According to Dr.Ambedkar, both Aryans and Dravidians are the original descendants of India. This was the same position taken by other personalities like Swami Vivekananda and Dayanand Saraswati. Having studied the Vedas, Ambedkar comes to a conclusion that there is no evidence in the Vedas of any invasion in India by Aryan race. Rig Veda was seen by Ambedkar as having a “sense of unity and consciousness” that merged different tribes to form an Indo-Aryan nation. Not just that, Ambedkar had even called for making Sanskrit the official language of India. The proposal moved by late LK Maitra in the Constituent Assembly, was supported by Ambedkar. Had he been alive today, he would bury his hand in his face looking at the anti-Sanskrit rhetoric being perpetrated by the Dravidian machinery.
A timeless legend
If there existed a man in flesh and blood, who not just emancipated the lives of the oppressed but also breathed life into a new nation, it is Babasaheb Ambedkar. He is a man to whom no amount of titles would do justice to the legend that he is. Babasaheb was not just an epitome of knowledge. He was a visionary. If not for Babasaheb and the Constitution he bequeathed upon us, India wouldn’t have had a President and a Prime Minister rising from such humble backgrounds. Had Babasaheb been alive today, he would have certainly felt proud about this Government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 as both these actions provide for equality and justice for the Dalits.
Honouring the legend, the present Modi Government has taken various initiatives. Be it the BHIM app or the world class Dr.Ambedkar International Centre in Delhi or developing the five major landmarks associated with Babasaheb’s life into the “Panchteerth”, this Government has rightfully accorded a place to one of the greatest Bharat Ratna. As we remember Babasaheb on his birth anniversary, let us strengthen our resolve to establish equality and social justice.