1. Personalities who influenced Dr.Ambedkar the most
The life storey of Bharat Ratana Baba Saheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar is a saga of great struggles and achievements. Dr Ambedkar used to compare himself with Moses, who ( Moses) wanted to relieve the Israeli’s from forced labour and their unending servitude so led his peoples to Palestine. Dr Ambedkar led his peoples to break the yoke of religious, political social and economic barriers imposed by Hindu un-natural laws framed against his peoples called Shudhars, Ati Shudras untouchables, Namashudras etc. Dr Ambedkar catalogued, expanded and interpreted the code of laws of his country. He was opposed to Mahatma Gandhi in many ways, still keeping in view the Dr. Ambedkar’s contributions for the Indian Nation, Mahatma Gandhi described him as a man who has carved out in society a unique position for himself and he is not a man to allow himself to be forgotten. Perhaps he was born to cut the age old caste shackles of his peoples, which had reduced their life to even below of those of animals.
Life Sketch :-
Bharat Ratana Baba Saheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on 14 th April 1891 at Mhow a cantonment, now Dr Ambedkar Nagar, of Indore District in Madhya Pradesh state of India His parents revered Subedar Major Ramji Sakhpal and Mata Bhimabai were Mahar by caste. It is said that Mahars were the rulers of Marashtra (Mahar + Rashtra ) but because of Hindu agony backed by caste based values, they were reduced to the level of Untouchables, Sudras, Ati sudra, whose mere shadow touching was considered enough to pollute an upper caste Hindu. Child and Young Ambedkar personally faced worst type of caste hate. He was made to sit outside his classroom, went without water for hours. He worked over 18 hours a day and at times sky was his roof and the earth his floor. Bhimrao was married to Ramabai at the tender age of 17 years when his spouse was only of 9 years. Mata Ramabai stood like a rock by her Saheb till her death on May 27, 1935. Due to handwork of duo father and son Bhimrao earned world’s Highest academic Degrees of D.sc ( London ); PhD and LL.D (Columbia ); M.A ; D. Lit ( Osmania ) Bar –at- Law (London ) . Dr Ambedkar knew seven languages. Dr Ambedkar also served on highly prestigious positions as Labour member( Minister) of Viceroy’s Executive Council (1942-46 ) ; First Law Minister Of Independent India and earned the distinction of being selection as Chairman Of the Constitution Drafting Committee to draft Constitution for free India .He earned the proud citation or title of “ 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 and an insurmountable rock for his opponents. He contributed for the freedom of India, but more for the Dalits, who were slaves to the slaves in British India. He was highly praised by those who understood his odious cause for the liberation of his Dalit community persons including women , but also abused as traitor by those who never appreciated his mission of life and wanted to maintain status-quo in social, political, educational, economic and religious spheres even after independence. Bharat Ratna Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, was an economist, philosopher, jurist, anthropologist, Buddhist activist, a revolutionary, a prolific writer and a political leader with few equals world over. He was for vibrant change and often said “Consistency is a virtue of an ass”.
Personalities who influenced Ambedkar the most:-
A) Subedar Major Ramji Maloji Sakhpal( 1849-1916) : - He was revered father of Dr.Ambedkar and son of Maloji Sakpal a retired Havaldar in the Bombay Army of the East India Company. Dr. Ambedkar inherited Honesty, Hard working, dedication, urge to get higher education, mental strength, boldness and clarity in his conduct besides dedication to work for elevation of his fellow untouchables.
B) Kabir :- Sadguru Kabir was 15th-century Indian revolutionary mystic poet and saint , who caused indomitable influence in childhood of Dr. Ambedkar. Ambedkar’s formally Sakhpal family belonged to the devotional path shown by Sadguru Kabir ji a great Dalit Saint . Devotional songs of Kabir Ji were daily sung with love by the family, which effected the tender mind set of child Bhimrao. Kabir Ji’s verses including “Jat Pat Pushey Na koye, Har Ko Bhaje so Har Ka hoi” i.e Caste does not decide your fate, but your devotion to Lord is supreme. Kabir Ji was taken as Ambedkar’s Second Guru, first being Budha.
C) Budha( c. 563 BCE or c. 480 BCE to c. 483 BCE or c. 400 BCE (aged 80):- The Budha philosophy influnced Ambedkar the most. He like Budha revolted against Vedas, Upnishadas, un-natural Brahminical division of the humans. He studied Bhudha deepely , so like Budha he always adopted just ways of his conduct negating Brahminical ways of salvation as religious rites, rituals, religious ceremonies, and sacrifices . He was firm believer like Budha that every individual was the maker or spoiler of one’s destiny. Budha never proclaimed himself as God, Avtar or His incarnation, so influenced the inner mind of Dr. Ambedkar. When he got convinced that Hinduism was immune to reform. He brought back Buddha to India by embracing Buddhism on 14 th October 1956 along with over three Lacs of men and women. Dr. Ambedkar lived for 22 days after conversion to Buddhism and during this small period Lacs of Dalits got converted to Buddhism. Both Buddha and Dr. Ambedkar believed “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. “. Dr. Ambedkar in his last days wrote a Master Book of 599 pages on Buddhism “Buddha and His Dhamma”. Dr. Ambedkar got greately influenced by Buddha ‘s universal guiding verse “Be thy own light”.
D) Jyotiba Phule (1827-1890):- Rashterpita Jyotiba Phule was the greatest Shudra of modern India, who made Hindu Untouchables conscious of their slavery to the Upper Caste Hindus. He gave the gospel that in India Social democracy was more vital than independence from foreign rule and or economic reforms . Phule started 18 school in Poona for girls against stanch opposition from the caste Hindus as education for women was sin in Hindu Manu Laws. He is considered as political Guru Of Dr. Ambedkar and both were convinced that all human are equal by birth so has right to equal opportunities for progress in all spheres. Both fought throughout their lives to break social and economical barriers erected to segregate men on their castes at birth.
E) Booker T. Washington(1856-1915): - During Dr. Ambedkar’s American stay, he was greatly influenced by the Constitution of U.S.A. and its fourteenth Amendment declaring freedom to Negroes. Dr. Ambedkar was influenced most by the life of Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African-American community .He founder and remained President of Tuskegee Institute, which disseminated among Negroes the gospel of education of the head, heart and hand and thus broke the barriers of bondage through which Negroes were crushed for ages physically, educationally, mentally, socially and spiritually. Booker T. Washington died in 1915 when Dr. Ambedkar was in America and passed his M.A. degree. Washington mobilized a nationwide coalition of middle-class blacks, church leaders, and white philanthropists and politicians, with a long-term goal of building the community's economic strength and pride by a focus on self-help and schooling. Dr Ambedkar learnt from the life story of Booker T. Washington the spirit of fight for the cause of freedom of his untouchable brothers’, who were treated even worse than Negroes, in Indian society.
F) John Dewey: - John Dewey was his mentor at Columbia University, whose philosophy helped shape Dr. Ambedkar towards a critical analysis of the hard problems facing the society. He advocated dynamic and pragmatic approach to drive the humanity out of the troubles it was confronted with. Both criticized the old philosophers, who advocated idealism and other obsolete things. John Dewey methods of inquiry had influenced Ambedkar to deal with hard and painful situations. Both were practical political scientists, so paid pointed attention to practical rather than mere academic politics. Ambedkar learnt from Dewey’s emphasis on education as means to change the world and not only to understand it. Both believed that Education should be capable of creating human values having universal application. Both established them selves on everyday life of an average man in their respective country. Dr. Ambedkar’s association with John Dewey provided the basis for a systematic study and analysis of problems relating to politics, economics, society religion and history .Ambedkar’s conclusion that , society is equally if not more, aggressive and tyrannical than the Government is based on deep study of these subjects.
G) J.S. Mill(1806-1873): -John Stuart Mill an English philosopher, civil servant political economistand feminist. He was one of the most influential thinkers in the history of liberalism.He contributed widely to social theory, political theory and political economy. He has been called "the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century. Mill's conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. John S.Mill was a member of the Liberal Party, he was the first Member of Parliament to call for women's suffrage . Women of United Kingdom above the age of 21 got voting rights in 1928 after a long struggle by reformists as J.S. Mill. Dr. Ambedkar was greatly influenced from the writing of Mill, a great political philosopher as he too had advocated freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of action. Mill’s philosophy molded the political philosophy of Ambedkar.
H) Ranade ( 1842-1901) : He was a distinguished Indian scholar, social reformer and author. He was a founding member of the Indian National Congress and owned several designations as member of the Bombay legislative council, member of the finance committee at the centre, and the judge of Bombay High Court –
Life and work storey of Justice Ranade, father of Indian Socio- political revolution casted a great influence on Dr Ambedkar. Dr Ambedkar was called upon to deliver 101 birth anniversary address of Justice Ranade which fell on 18th January1940. Dr Ambedkar learnt about Ranade, when he retrieved from the old papers of his father, a petition drafted by Justice Ranade against banning recruitment of Mahars into Indian Army in 1892. Philosophy of Justice Ranade was summed up by Dr. Ambedkar himself as
A) We should not hold ideals purely imaginary.
B) In politics sentiments and temperaments of the people are more important than intellect and theory.
C) In political negotiations the rule should be what is possible, that does not mean that we should be content with what is offered.
Why Ambedkar agreed with the terms of Poona Pact of 1932 with Mahatma Gandhi and other Caste Hindus by sacrificing the benefits of the Communal Award can be accessed from his above said political philosophy.
I) Karl Marx(1818-1883) :- Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history, and his work has been both lauded and criticised His work in economics laid the basis for much of the current understanding of labour and its relation to capital, and subsequent economic thought Many intellectuals, labour unions, artists and political parties worldwide have been influenced by Marx's work, Dr. Ambedkar was also immensely influenced by Karl Marx’s theory of class struggle as he was aware of the merciless exploitation of the poor all over the world. But in India poor were exploited both by rich and Higher Caste Hindus alike. While explaining difference between Class and Caste Dr. Ambedkar observed “Downtrodden peoples of India are first to be fired and last to be hired ”. Dr Ambedkar was of the firm view of uniting of the exploited peoples and make them realize being slaves, so they shall revolt against the prevailing exploitation orientated higher castes controlled system. But Dr. Ambedkar differed with Marx on the point that suffering was not only from the economic factors but from social factors as well. Ambedkar had experienced religious tyranny more severe and organized than state tyranny and poverty ridden upper caste Hindus were equally or even more cruel towards poor untouchables. Had the economic gradation universal truth, then poor upper caste people would not have joined hands with the exploiters of downtrodden poor. But the upper caste poor and illiterates are even more hate infested towards untouchables than others. Had there been any meeting grounds on the basis of economic conditions of upper and lower caste people the caste exploitation would have since died.
II. Dr. Ambedkar as an education, Labour, Political and social and woman reformist
Crusader of Dalit Education
Ambedkar was convinced that education besides being means of livelihood was a powerful weapon to liberate the Dalits from ignorance and to strengthen their fight against injustice and humiliation. He considered education as prequalification for any organization and movement of Dalits. So he gave his Golden slogan to Dalits “Unite, Educate and Agitate” . He picked up lessons from the strong note of Bernard Shaw ,” Honest education is dangerous to tyranny and privilege; the system like Capitalist system kept in vogue the popular ignorance, Churches which depend upon it for priestly authority, privileged classes and ambiguous conquerors and dictators, who have to instill royalty and romantic hero worship, all use ignorance and education as underpinning for general faith in themselves as rulers” So to negate the ill effects of illiteracy of his peoples and to equip them with quality education he opened Mallind Mahavidhalaya Aurangabad ( Maharashtra); Sidharath College Of Commerce And Economics Bombay; and Siddhartha Law College Bombay. Ambedkar built his house “Raj Girah” in Bombay to house a library. Mr. John Munther wrote in his book Inside Asia(1938) that the personnel library of Dr. Ambedkar had 8000 books ,the biggest in the whole world. Dr. Ambedkar personnel library had 50,000 books in 1956. In comparison even collective knowledge of 500 educated adults fell short of Dr. Ambedkar‘s wisdom.
To prepare his peoples to safe guard their Human Rights through spread of his message more effectively he started Journals namely Mook Nayak ( Leader of the Dumb), Bahiskrit Bharat ( Excluded India), Samta ( Equality) Janta (Peoples) during his life time. His only surviving son Jaswant Bhaiya was interested in printing of the literature written by his father, so he established a printing press at Bombay (now Mumbai) named as "Buddha Bhhushan Press".
Indian Women Liberator
The woman was considered lowest of the low in the Indian society, so Ambedkar fought a very difficult battle for their cause. He blew bugle of fight against discrimination and exploitation on the basis of one’s caste, creed , sex or place of birth.. His principle of life was to speak, work and fight for the just cause of oppressed, depressed, exploited, illiterates including women. He worked lifelong for the welfare of ill fed and ill treated men and women irrespective of their caste or social status, place of birth affiliations. He did not care for his personnel and family life discomforts for this sacred cause . On March 19/20, 1927 he addressed a huge meeting of depressed classes, including women, and gave strong call for liberation of women. He advised them to attend more to their development of mind and the spirit of self help; He said that education was as necessary for development of women as was for men. He declared “As you are, so shall be your children”. While addressing largely attended Depressed Classes Women conference on 18-19 July 1942, he said, “He measured the progress of a community by the degree of progress made by the women of that community. He advised, let every girl who marries, stand by her husband, claim to be her husband’s friend and equal and refuse to be his slave. He advocated avoiding early marriage and producing too many children. Give proper education to your children, so that they live a dignified life”. Dr Ambedkar advocated for equal wages for equal work without discrimination on the basis of sex or caste, besides grant of paid maternity leave to expecting mothers. While strongly supporting proposed maternity benefits to women in Bombay Legislative Council in 1928 he said “---- it is in the interest of the Nation that the mother ought to get a certain amount of rest during the pre-natal period and also subsequently”. As Labour member( Minister) of Viceroy’s Council Dr. Ambedkar worked to reform Labour Laws. Equal pay for equal work was his doctrine. The present day Labour Laws are based on the concept of Dr. Ambedkar the First Law Minister of Independent India was disappointed due to non passage of the Hindu Code Bill, as was conceived by him and promised support by Pt. Nehru under opposition from Hindu chauvinism . He sacrificed his Cabinet Law Ministry and resigned on September, 27, 1951 as a matter of protest. This is a rare worldwide historical example where a Central Minister of a Government had resigned for the cause of women of that country.
To register his strong resentment against Manu Smiriti, Hindu Law Book, which closed all doors of education and dignified life avenues for Shudars including Hindu women, Dr. Ambedkar burnt it in full public view on 24 December 1927 with promise to give new Laws based on the doctrine of equality for all men and women irrespective of their Caste, creed, place of birth, sex and economic status. This promise he fulfilled by becoming the Father Of Indian Constitution based on the Law of Equality for all so as to promote Fraternity among them . Ambedkar regarded the waging of a battle against social bans as his religion. Dr. Ambedkar a great believer in living with human dignity, was denied water from common source as student, college professor, military Secretary Of Baroda State, so organized his fight for right to draw water from the Chavdar public water Tank at Mahad for his peoples on 20th March 1927. He was driven out of temples. Untouchables organized a peaceful march to have entry into Kala Ram temple at Nasik, but Caste Hindus resisted their entry by closing all the fourteen doors of the temple. So on 2 March 1930, a long march was organized under leadership Of Ambedkar to have forceful entry, where large number of untouchables including Ambedkar himself was injured from stone pelting of Brahmins. Finally when superstition infected Caste Hindus resisted reforms in their religion to make it scientific based universally acceptable relgion Dr.Ambedkar declared to leave it. He was convinced that Hindu religion was immune to any reform. He embraced Buddhism on 14 October, 1956 along with is reported ten Lac followers at Nagpur Dhamma Diksha Bhoomi.
Dispute with Gandhi
Although on Gandhi’s instance Ambedkar was made Chairman of the Drafting Committee of Free India’s Republic Constitution .Ambedkar held divergent views on various matters concerning Indian community, particularly Minorities than Gandhi Ji. Shri M.K. Gandhi was called Mahatma by all but Ambedkar, who said, “Mahatmas have come and Mahatmas gone but problems of untouchables have remained the same”. Mahatma Gandhi a Sanatani Hindu held the views that in free India Hindus should be given time to reform themselves and express their repentance for the past sins of ill treating untouchables. The removal of untouchbility and economic reforms for untouchables should not create ill will among Hindus. Education to Dalits and initiation of other economic reforms for them in free India shall remove the age old stigma of untouchbility automatically. Gandhi opposed Separate Electorates for Scheduled Castes and went on Fast unto death in Yarwada jail in Poona against it.
Ambedkar was convinced from the ill treatment met to him in person and his depressed brethren by Upper caste Hindus needs surgical treatment. Although Ambedkar pleaded to British Government to give freedom to India as it had failed to watch the interests of Depressed classes by siding with caste Hindus on this subject, but he held interests of his peoples more dear than granting of even freedom from the British Raj. He was pleader of equal rights and welfare measures in free Indian as a matter of right for the Slaves of Slaves of British India viz. Depressed India. He opposed Gandhi and Congress for the opposition to main demand of separate Electorates granted under Simon Commission or Communal Award, but still saved Mahatma’s life by signing Poona Pact 27th August1932 under duress, for larger National interests. Ambedkar opposed the half hearted welfare measures initiated by the Congress Party for the Scheduled castes and held the view that these were mere propaganda stunt than having motto of solving their religious, educational, social and economic problems and free them from the stigma of obligations. Ambedkar wanted Constitutional Rights for his peoples so that they could stand with erect spine. Despite being a central Minister in Cogress Ministry after india attained independence,he was never even an ordinary member of this party. He had advised his people not to join or align with this party.
Ambedkar, himself was a par excellent Constitutional expert. He had equipped himself with world’s highest academic Law degrees. He worked as Law professor Bombay College for a short time. He has tremendous insight into intricacies of education, law, social sciences, economics and religious principals. He held the view that public representatives should not only be experts (Gyanwan) but should have imbibed in them virtues (Sheel). He said “Gyan with out Sheel is dangerous” He gave free Indian Republic the world’s voluminous Constitution based on the principals of equality to all so as to have fraternity among its citizens. He was for the State to be a Welfare State. His doctrine of non negotiable fundamental Rights was unique. The removal of stigma of untouchbility by law cut the very root of Hindu caste gradation responsible for the degeneration of the society. Law of Reservation in services for the candidates from SC’s, STs, OBCs( later) and also for elected representatives from these communities provided not only means of livelihood but livelihood with dignity.
As a Parliamentarian: - His ability as a representative of Untouchables was displayed in the three Roundtable Conferences in London, where ways and means were discussed for the future Indian Constitution. He gave in sight of the miserable plight of his people’s viz. Untouchables in British India and pleaded for Indian Freedom with equal rights based on Human Rights. His crusade for liberation of his peoples got firm roots with his election as member of for Bombay Legislative Council on 17 Feb. 1937 and it continued till his death on
6th Dec 1956.While speaking on the role of people’s representatives he said” No hungry man is going to be sympathetic to a critic who is going to tell him” my dear fellow although I am in power, although I am in authority, although I possess all legal power to set matters right, you must not expect me to do a miracle because I have inherited a past which is very inglorious------” If this Government will not produce results with a certain time, long before the peoples became so frustrated, so disgusted with Government, as not to have a Government at all. To the parliamentarians of our country Dr Ambedkar cautioned ” I suppose, Unless we in Parliament realize our responsibilities and shoulder the task of looking after the welfare and good of people with in a reasonable time that this Parliament will be treated by the public outside with utter contempt. It would be a thing not wanted at all”.
India shall be great only by following the path shown by this great son of India His adeals if followed in the right spirit shall help making State as a welfare State and to strive by all practical means to create situation for flourishing of fraternity among its peoples with out discrimination of Caste, creed, sex, economic, social, religious and place of birth affiliations.
Compiled by:- Er. H. R. PHONSA ( Jammu)