(On the eve of Baba Sahib Ambedkar’s 123rd Jyanti falling on 14-04-2014)
Bharat Ratana Baba Saheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on 14 th April 1891 at Mhow to revered Subedar Major Ramji Sakhpal & Mata Bhimabai of Mahar Community. Mata Bhimabai died when Bhim was only six years old, so he was brought up in the care of his married sisters & his father’s sister Mirabai . It is said that Mahars were the rulers of Marashtra ( Mahar + Rashtra ) but because of Hindu agony & caste based values, they were reduced to the level of Untouchables, Sudras,Atisudra, whose only shadow was considered enough to pollute an upper caste Hindu. Ambedkar worked over 18 hours a day. Bhimrao was married to Ramabai at the tender age of 17 years when his wife was only of 9 years. Mata Ramabai stood like a rock by the side of her Sahib in the later life till her death on May 27, 1935. Some incidents left life long impressions on Bhim & became turning points of his later life. He sacrificed his life comforts for the just cause of his suffering brethren. While Bhim was in primary school his father remarried which was disliked by him, so he decided to go to Bombay (Now Mumbai) to get employed in some factory. For arranging money for traveling he decided to steal money from the purse of his aunt Mirabai with whom he used to sleep on floor at night. Bhim spent four sleepless night to steal the purse and when he succeeded in his efforts, he found only half an Anna (Rs 0.03 paisa), with which he could not go to Bombay. This gave him the first jolt of his life and in sight of what poverty was, so he decided to leave truant habits & concentrate on his studies to pass his examination as early as possible to become independent of his father & step mother. Bhim had seen poverty from a very near, which lost a life long impression on his tender mind. His father was living a single room in labor basti (colony) in Paral Bombay. Bhim had to study and sleep on floor of in this room which was used as store for all house hold luggage including utensils, as kitchen and night shelter for all family. His marriage was ceremonised in a fish market, after all shops were closed for the night. The mandap for marriage was on a raised plate form on the dirty nallah flowing near the market. As dowry Bhim got a metallic pan, which he kept with him through out his life as a memorial. This reinforced in him the determination to work for the woman empowerment. His commitment to this, forced him to sacrifice his Union Cabinet Ministry berth when all his efforts failed to get passed the Hindu Code Bill . Hindu Code will could not be passed due to stanch opposition from orthodox Hindu mindset organizations. Even
Dr. Rajindra Prashad first Indian President a stanch orthodox Snatani Brahmin, threatened to resign if the Bill was passed. This facilitated Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru too a Snatani Brahmin to back track his promise to Dr Ambedkar to get the Hindu Code Bill passed else he shall resign along with his cabinet.
He faced the stigma of Untouchability in his childhood. When Bhim was only seven years of age, he along with his elder brother Balram and little nephew were going from Satara to Goregaon to meet his father, who worked at Goregoan as cashier. They got down at Padoli railway station, but their father had not reached to receive them. So with the assistance of the station master, a caste Hindu, the children boarded a bullock cart to go to Goregoan. Only after going a few yards, the god fearing caste Hindu cart man came to know the well dressed children were untouchables, so he threw them down on the road saying they had polluted his cart & animals. As the night was falling, so the children begged to the cart man to help them. The cart man agreed on the terms that he will take double the fare and one of them shall drive the cart and he himself shall walk on foot behind the cart. On the way no body gave them even a drop of water.
Once when Bhim was mad with thrust and started drinking water at a public water place. On seeing these castes Hindus bate him black and blue. One day a barber turned Bhim out of his shop and refused to cut his hair, as by doing so his razor shall get polluted and no caste Hindu shall come to his shop. However this barber gladly performed buffalo- shaving with his razor. These insulting and rude behaviors cast an impression on young Bhim that he belonged to a caste which had no respect with the caste Hindus. He decided to oppose it with all his might in his later life . He first aroused the conscious of caste Hindus to change their mindset towards untouchable Hindus. When his efforts failed due the rigidity of the superstitious Hindus, he announced leaving the Hindu religion which later reinforced his mindset to embrace Buddhism succeeding in reviving Buddhism in India. Childhood caste hate reinforced his will to work for his downtrodden brethren to get them political, constitutional, Religious, educational& economical equal rights in Once a school inspector asked students “Name a thing which you can see but cannot touch”. When other students answered as the Sun, the moon, the stars etc, Bhim pointed towards a water pitcher said “Sir I see it but cannot touch it”
After Bhimrao( often called as Raja by his mates) passed his (F.A ) 12th class )from Elphinstone College one of his teachers Shri Karloskar, seeing Bhim’s poverty but his mind to have maximum education, took him to Maharaja Giakward for financial help. Maharaja Giakward asked a few questions, which Bhim answered correctly, so Maharaja granted a scholarship of Rupees Twenty Five per month. This was a great turning point in the life of a poor, helpless Shudra student, who in turn on later days opened two colleges one each at Bombay & Auragabad, which are presently Universities.
After obtaining world’s highest Academic Degreed of M.A. PhD D.Sc., Bar at Law he joined service as Military Secretary to the Maharaja of Baroda. On reaching Baroda he was not accorded any reception befitting his official position. He and his elder brother, who had accompanied him, were not given any accommodation by any hotel. They took shelter in a Parsee inn, but only after a few days his luggage was thrown out from here too, when Parsees came to know that their guest was an touchable. So the World’s most learned academician was abused as arrant knave and despicable untouchable, only because being a low caste Hindu. Again he got spine shivering experience when poor illiterate but high Caste peons thought it polluting and sinful to hand over files or official papers to Doctor Ambedkar. They threw from a distance files and papers at him table. They rolled the mates when the Military Secretary, an untouchable got up to go out. Drinking water was not made available to him and he had to go to public library for taking water and spending his spare time. His note to the Maharaja was sent to the Diwan, who had shown his inability to help Ambedkar. He was hungry with sky was his roof & ground his floor. He decided to return to Bombay only after two months from mid September to mid November 1917. Subsequently Dr, Ambedkar resigned from the job and dedicated his whole life for the service of millions of oppressed peoples, who were denied all means of decent livelihood by their own religious rules books.
What results were produced by poverty & abuses on Bhim:- Due to handwork of duo father& son,Bhimrao earned world’s Highest academic Degrees of D.Sc (London );PhD&LL.D(Columbia ); M.A ; D. Lit ( Osmania ) Bar –At- Law (London ) .etc Dr Ambedkar knew seven languages. Dr Ambedkar also served on highly prestigious positions as Labour member of Viceroy’s Executive Council (1942-46 ) ; First Law Minister Of Independent India & earned the distinction of serving as Chairman Of the Constitution Drafting Committee to draft Constitution for free India & is so called “ father Of Indian constitution.” Some called him Mother of Indian Constitution as well. He proved an emancipator for Dalits, a torch bearer for the liberation of slaves’ world over & soft & kind for his peoples, but an insurmountable rock for his opponents. He contributed for the freedom of India, but more for the Dalits, who were slaves to the slaves of British India. Dr Ambedkar lost four children (three sons and one daughter) for want of appropriate medical treatment. This besides giving him grief made the world’s top economist, determined to break economic chains of his Dalit brethren. He was highly praised by those who understood his odious cause for the liberation of his Dalit community persons, but also abused as traitor by those who never appreciated his mission of life & wanted to maintain status-quo in social, political, economic & religious spheres even after independence. Many peoples from different shades of life have expressed their views on the working, personality, handwork, knowledge, experience, contributions, commitment to his mission of Dr Ambedkar to eulogized Doctor’s services to different fields. Dr. Ambedkar passed away in his sleep at 26 Alipore roads New Delhi on 6th of December 1956 and was cremated at Dadar Hindu Crematorium Bombay). Over ten lacs mourners witnessed the last rites and over one lac embraced Buddhism on the day. The pyre was lit by his only son Yashwantrao Ambedkar at 7.30 pm.
One of the major contributions of Dr. Ambedkar was to give fight to change the age old system of the Hindus to deny major chunk of their co- followers called the untouchables or Dalits, the right to have better prospects in the education social, economical, religious & political fields. By dint of his hard labour Dr. Ambedkar proved that given proper helping circumstances any body can excel in all fields including education irrespective of one’s caste, creed, religion, faith, sex or place of birth.. It was the partial treatment in the Hindu society which resulted in giving poverty to the Dalits and administrative rod to the Upper Castes. SO all human right to Dalits as to have equal opportunities for education, religion, economical & social status in the society were denied . He advised the society to encourage girl education & family planning to boost all out progress of the society. He introduced in the Parliament on 5th February 1951 The Hindu Code bill, which was opposed by many including the Hindu Mahasabha & other orthodox Hindus As Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee Dr, Ambedkar granted equal fundamental rights, including equal wages for equal work, equality before Law to all citizen irrespective of caste, creed, race, sex, religion or place of birth. His single handed efforts routed out by law the stigma of untouchability in the Hindu religion, although it is yet clinging the orthodox Hindus in a big way even after five decades of enactment of Law to ban it in all its forms.. He brought back Buddha to India when he embraced Buddhism on 14thOctober 1956 along with over three lacs of men & women. Dr. Ambedkar lived for 22 days after conversion to Buddhism and during this small period over Five Lacs Dalits got converted to their original faith. Danajay Keer a biographer of Dr. Ambedkar wrote “To visit Dr.Ambedkar, was to visit a speaking museum.”
V.P Singh Prime Minister of India , when Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian honour was conferred posthumously on Dr. Ambedkar on his 99th Birth Anniversary 14th April 1990, by the President Of India ,said “ It was a befitting though belated tribute to one of the builders of India” This award was received by Dr. Mrs. Savita Ambedkar widow of Dr. Ambedkar.
In the end I may quote from the saying of Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s views on Economic Progress and a word of guidance / warning to his community & countrymen:-
"The good things of this earth do not fall from heaven. Every progress has it bill of costs and only those who pay for it will have that progress"