Shri Sant Ram B.A. (14th Feb, 2015 to 5th June,1988 ) A Dalit Hero.
Shri Sant Ram B.A. a Dalit potter who makes earthen wares (Khumhar,Kumbhkar) by caste. His caste was neither very low as untouchables nor high like Brahmins but falls in fourth category of Hindu caste classification a Shudra,which is touchable as far his work but untouchable for social status. He was born on 14th Feburary 1887 at Puranni Bassi Hoshiarpur( Punjab). His father Shri Ramdas Gohil was a businessman and perhaps one of the first Indian to go to trade between Ladakh to Yarkhand Turkestan in the Tarim Basin in Turkestan of the old ( Xinjiang Province of China at present) ,so he was quite rich. Sant Ram’s mother’s name was Malini and she was second wife of his father. His father had re-married after the death of his first wife . Shri Ramdas Gohil had seven sons and a daughter. Shri Ramdas had given good education to his children a rare thing for Dalits of those times. Shri Sant Ram got education in his village school, Jalander and at Lahore( now in Pakistan). He faced caste hate in a big way in his school and in college hostel. He was asked by high caste students not to dine with them while sitting on the same mat in the hostel. Sant Ram Ji was married to Gangadevi( Gango) in 1899 when he was of 12 years age They had One son named Vedbarat three daughters two of whom died in fancy. Their surviving daughter was named Gargi. Sant Ram passed B.A in 1909 from Lahore University. He stood first in his class in Persian and was awarded. He served as teacher for some time and then worked with a forest contractor at kinnaur ( HP). He was a devoted Arya Samaji sect of Soami Dayanand Saraswati. He was perhaps first Dalit journalist and started “Usha” monthly magazine in 1914 from Lahore. Due to paucity of funds and start of first word war this magazine was stoped in April,1915. He also was publisher of Arya Samaj Urdu monthly magazine “ Arya Musaffir”. Between 1912 to 1963 he wrote nearly 77 books, booklets assay’s on different subjects and was also awarded several times. He knew English Punjabi, Hindi, Marathi, Guajarati and Bengali languages. When he wanted to start social work for uplifting Dalits and conversion back to Hinduism to those Dalits who had converted earlier to Islam and Christianity( Shudikarn) he did not get the required support from the Hindu Arya Samaji leaders who wanted external dressing only of caste system and did not want to uproot or annihilate it. Sant Ram distanced from it devoting himself for Dalit upliftment social work. To abolish caste system he worked to establish in 1922 his own organization “Pat-Todak Mandal” with some other likeminded Arya Samaji persons. It has enrollment of about 500 persons. One of the plank of his organization was to promote inter caste marriages and to get abolished caste system from within the Depressed classes also. Since Arya Samajis did not co-operate with Jat-Pat Todakl Mandal ideals too, so Sh. Sant Ram made it an independent organization to continue his efforts for achieving his set goals.
Shri Sant Ram ji writes in his biography “ Mere Jivan Ke Anubhav” that Jat Pat Torak Mandal deputation headed by him met Mahatma Gandhi at Lahore in 1933- 34. While talking Mahatam Gandhi supported Jat Pat ( Caste system) .He said in Jat Pat one has ease to find employment in his ancestral profession which was difficult without it. Sri Sant Ram questened why Mahatama Ji was not opposing caste system which has ruined the untouchables. Mahatam Ji in turn asked you tell me why he ( Mahatma) was not opposing caste system directly while opposing the British regime. On this Sant Ram replied that now not only upper caste Hindu businessmen and religious Mathaderaj (headmen) were supporting Mahatma’s movement by donating Lakhs but even Muslim and Christens are supporting you in a big way. In case Mahatma opposes caste system not a single Marvari Seth( Bussiness magnet) will support him with a Futi Kodi ( counterfeit penny coin). During this conversation Seth Jamna Lal Bazaj and Kasturba Gandhi were also present.Countering Mahatma’s support to caste system for getting ensured parental job access , Sant Ram ji asked Mahatma why he was not engaged in selling grocery his ancestral business and instead had adopted a Brahmin’s profession of preaching. On this Mahatma .
Shri Sant Ram wrote on 28th February 1941 a letter to Mohammad Ali Jinnah ( Later Quaid-i-Azam of Father on Nation) Pakistan) asking him that in England there are many Christen convert Muslims like Lord Hundle. But they never claim that their economic, social and political interests including their history, language or their religious icons are different than Christians. But when a Hindu gets converted as Muslim in India next day all his economic, social and political interests including his history, language or religious icons change overnight. He says next day that his icons are Mahmood and Abul Quasim not Rama and Krishna. Why so?
Mohammad Ali Jinnah replied this in a public meeting in presence of over 20,000 audiences on 2 March,1941.When a person converts from Christianity to Islam he is nor boycotted religiously, socially, economically, even inter caste marriages continue. His inter dinning is not boycotted. But In India when a Hindu gets converted as Muslim the next day Hindus boycott him religiously, socially, economically. His inter dinning or inter marriages are stopped completely. So the wins of Hindus are our (Muslims) defeats. Our social boycott is the reason of all out conflict of our interests with Hindus.
Shri Sant Ram writes in biography that he was convince by the thoughts of Baba Sahib Dr. Ambedkar that Caste cannot uprooted till the Hindu religious motivations are not destroyed completely. So Shri Sant Ram invited Dr. Ambedkar through his letter dated December 12,1935, to preside over 1936 annual convention of the Jat-Pat Todak Mandal to be held at Lahore and also deliver his presidential address. Dr. Ambedkar wrote the Presidential address, but the Mandal committee wanted some changes in it, to which Dr. Ambedkar did not agree. The convention was cancelled sin die and the presidential address was published by Baba sahib as “Annihilation of Caste” in 1936 itself and this book is considered as one of the best books written by the author. It has gone into so many reprints since then. Sant Ram himself translated it into Hindi and published in the Kranti an Urdu monthly magazine. Had Sant Ram sided with caste Hindus and Congress party he would have got benefitted many a ways,but he preferred to side with the just interests of Dalits and live his life in his way. Sant Ram authored many books as well. He breathed his last on 5th June 1988. He shall be long remembered for his fight for the cause of Dalits.