Let us salute those who organised Manusmiriti Dehan, burnt Munusmiriti and witnessed this scene on its 92nd anniversary.
Ninety two years ago today, that is, on December 25, 1927, Babasaheb Ambedkar burned Manusmriti as a symbol of rejection of the religious basis of untouchability.
Why it was thought to burn Manusmiriti
Manusmititi is a Hindu Law book which denies/denied all human rights to untouchable( Now called Scs, STs, OBCs) and all women irrespective of her caste affiliations. The event was arranged during the Mahad Satyagraha. Mahad Satyagraha was perhaps first fight world wide to exert right to take water from public water bodies by human who were classified as Hindus Shudras. It was also a fight of Untouchable to declare that they they will fightto gain humanity and dignity which was denied to them till then. For Babasaheb committed advocate for untouchable and women’s rights and emancipation — it was a political action to burn Manusmriti in full public view as Baba Sahib was convinced that the book entailed the rules preaching inhumane treatment not only towards women but also “Untouchables”, in all walks of life both in private or public spheres. It was clear revolt against Brahinism by their religious brothers untouchables.
The actual burning of Manusmiriti on 27th Decemember 1927 was joined among others by Saraswati Brahmin Gagadhar Neelkanth Sahasrabuddhe affectionately called as “Bapu” by his Ambedkarite admirers. He was a committed volunteer of the Samaj Samata Sangha founded by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar. He also served in the Social Service League as its chief. When Manusmriti was publicly burnt on 25th December 1927, at Mahad, Mr. Sahasrabuddhe alias Bapu Ji played very dedicated role along with many trusted lieutenants of Baba Saheb. R.K Kshirsagar in his book “Dalit Movement in India and its Leaders” writes that Gagadhar Neelkanth Sahasrabuddhe alias Bapu saheb was a Brahmin by caste, social worker and actually he burnt the Manusmiriti in full public view at Mahad where besides many others P.N. Rajbhoj, B.K. Giakward, Mr. Sitaram Shivtarkar and Dr. Ambedkar were present with their thousands of followers. Bapu Saheb Sahasrabuddhe was the Secretary of the Municipal Kamgar Sangha (Worker’s Union) led by Dr. Ambedkar. He served as the editor of the Janata till 1955. This fortnightly paper later weekly was initially started by Dr. Ambedkar on 24th November 1930 as a special tool to support and publicize policies and programs of Depressed Classes Movement. The weekly was later renamed as Prabhuddha Bharta on Dr Ambedkar’s directions on 4th February 1956. Another site (www.ambedkar.org) article “Manusmiriti Dahan Din” by Dr. K. Jamanadas has mentioned that a "vedi" was created beforehand to burn Manusmriti. Six people were labouring for two days to prepare it.
How the act was performed:
A pit six inches deep and one and half foot square was dug in, and filled with sandle wood pieces. On its four corners, poles were erected, bearing banners on three sides. Three sides Banners said,
1. "Manusmriti chi dahan bhumi", i.e. Crematorium for Manusmriti.
2. Destroy Untouchability and
3. Bury the Brahmanism.
On 25th December, 1927, at 9 p.m., the book of Manusmriti was kept on this and burned at the hands of BapuSaheb Sahastrabuddhe and another five six Dalit sadhus. At the meeting there was BabaSaheb's historical speech.
The main points of speech: We have to understand why we are prevented from drinking water from this tank. He explained Chaturvarna, and declared that our struggle is to destroy the fetters of Chaturvarna; this was the starting point of the struggle for equality. He compared that meeting with the meeting of 24th Jan. 1789, when Loui XVI of France had called a meeting of French people’s representatives. This meeting killed king and queen, harassed and massacred the upper classes, remaining were banished, property of the rich was confiscated, and it started a fifteen year long civil war. People have not grasped the importance of this Revolution. This Revolution was the beginning of the prosperity of not only France but whole of Europe and has revolutionized the whole World. He explained French Revolution in detail. He then explained that our aim is not only to remove untouchabilty but to destroy chaturvarna, as the root cause lies there. He explained how Patricians deceived Plebeians in the name of religion. The root of untouchabilty lies in prohibition of inter-caste marriages, that we have to break, he thundered. He appealed to higher varnas to let this "Social Revolution" take place peacefully, discard the sastras, and accept the principle of justice, and he assured them peace from our side. After the Manusmriti was burned four resolutions were passed and a Declaration of Equality was pronounced. He further declared, that if unfortunately, this burning of Manusmriti does not result in destruction of "Brahmanya", we will have to either burn the "Brahmanya-grast" people (i.e. affected by Brahmanism), or renounce Hinduism.
Let each Dalit on this historic day, the 25th December have self introspection whether he/she has adhered to the advice of their emancipator, if not why not. They must evaluate the loss they have suffered for not following ideals of their liberator.They must think of correction in their actions so far ignored. Their emancipator Baba Sahib Dr. Ambedkar lost his kids, wife his life comforts for welfare of his people. He died under debit. They need to mend their ways for the good future of their generations. Let the Dalits know that till Baba’s written Constitution is alive they are alive. They should save it as their first religious act