SAHIB SHRI KANSHIRAM’S -LIFE & MISSION.
(His 87nd birthday falls today on 15th March, 2020) Enlarged and up dated
The struggle for equality of status & opportunity for the Shudra, Ati Shudra, and Untouchables is as old as the history of Hinduism, claimed to be one of the oldest religions of the world. The inter religious, inter country and inter society domination struggle & hate is seen world over. But hate with in a religion for their own religion people is practiced only in Hindus. The Hindus were divided into four segments under the Hindu Religious laws each having no meeting point, despite the facts that they belonged to the same religion. The Hindus laid claims to possess most ancient knowledge books of the world, but show no mercy towards their religious downtrodden brethren. The fourth segment of the Hindus named Untouchables were forbidden to mix with other upper segments called Brahmins (Learned), Khatriyas (warriors) and Vaishs (Business, farming persons). Each set of segregated peoples belonging to Hindus were governed by different set of rules having strict proclaimed Devine religious sanctions under Hindu Religious code “ Manu Smiriti”. In these codes& stories devised from time to time to suit needs of Upper castes, untouchables were degraded to standards even below than that of animals. The dogs, the cats, the snakes, the crows the cows could enter houses of the Upper Caste Hindus but not Untouchables. Birds and animals cold take water from the village tanks and bathe there but not the untouchables humans. This continued for centuries and all Merciful Hindu Gods & Goddesses equipped with all types of dreaded weapons did not come to the rescue of the helpless and weak Untouchables, although untouchables too worshiped them with full devotion. The Hindus show lip service to all humanity but practically work for the welfare of the dominating upper castes. If any body raised any alarm against this in- human treatment to their fellow men, he was done away with. The Hindus were divided in over 6700 castes, sub castes, gotras etc. These low caste Hindus now called as Scheduled castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward classes together form above 80% if Hindu population.
Revered Kanshi Ram belonged to Hindu untouchable caste named Chamar. In India the chamras had nearly 1156 sub castes in 1891AD and were spread all over India. As per the 1911 Indian censes the population of Brahmins stood at number one & Chamars at number two, where as Rajputs stood at number three. Even now chamars are substantial in numbers in all parts of India. Saints like Guru Ravidas, Guru Maluk Das, Guru Ghasidas Chokhamela, brave martyrs of Sikh History like Bhai Jiwan Singh Rangreta, Amar Shaheed Udham Singh, great politicians like 10th Indian President His Excellency R.K.Narayanan,Babu Jagjivan Lal Behan Mayawati and many more belong to Chamars. In J&K State Late Babu Milkhi Ram, Late Babu Parmanand, Jagjivan Lal, Late Tilak Raj Atri, Chaman Lal Banal, B.R.Kundal former Chief Secretary J&K, many eminent doctors, engineers, social, political & administrative peers are from Chamars. In Indian Parliament & Vidhan Sabha Chamars are present in large number even now. Present day saints from Chamar communities have large followings. Many Chamars have spread all over world countries proving their worth of head& heart.
Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram was born on 15th March, 1934, to revered Shri Hari Singh father & mother Shrimati Bishan Kour of village Khawaspur in Ropar District of Punjab State. He was born in Sikh religion in Chamar caste included in the Scheduled Caste group, which is the largest group in Punjab, He was one of the seven children of his parents. In his family, he was the only graduate. He joined service in Poona Defense Lab. Maharashtra. Here he came in contact with one Dheema Vana, a suspended class IV Dalit employee of his office, who demanded Holiday on the birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar. Dheema Vana had a stanch faith & love for Dr. Ambedkar. After getting inspiration from Dheema , Kanshi Ram studied literature on & by Dr. Ambedkar It is said he read “Annihilation Of Caste” several times in single night. He then resigned from service to carry forward, the mission of uniting millions of Dalits, bond them through brotherhood bonds reminding them of their centuries old slavery & suffering He shook them to wake from their deep slumber so as to consolidate them into a force to be reckon with. He single handedly awakened in Dalits a sense of empowerment .He declared Dalit Samaj his family, all Dalit women his sisters & all Dalit men his brothers, he vowed to remain bachelor through out his life & not to acquire any property in his name. He bade good bye to his family, family life, family comforts for the sake of cutting slavery chains of his fellow brethren. This he kept as a Buddhist Monk’s word. He got converted to Buddhism to achieve the goal of making Dalit masses a united electoral force to acquire political power, he traveled through out the length &width of India on his bi- cycle along with his trusted lieutenants. He had vowed to get converted 2crors to Buddhism on 14th October 2006, but his sudden death a week earlier dashed his plans.
Kanshi Ram was a great political, social mobilizer, he understood values of self-respect & collective wisdom of Dalit communities to gain political power to use it to their advantage. During record breaking Bahujan Rally in Brigade ground Kolkata, the Bahujan participants were beaten mercilessly by the West Bengal Police under the command of Jyoti Basu then Chief Minister. Sahib instructed on telephone at 2 in the morning to his workers of different state to stop all trains marching towards Kolkata. Soon trains were reported stopped at different stations in different States by Bahujan volunteers, many trains reached Kolkata late by hours. Mr. Jyoti Basu telephoned Sahib in the evening at Delhi, where Sahib had returned after the rally, begged pardon for the brutal incident, in which several Karyakartas were injured, some seriously . There after Mr Jyoti Basu arranged special trains for the Bahujan Rally participants for their return journey.
He coined value based slogans from time to time to give directions to Dalit masses; one such was “Jiski Jitni Sankhaya Bhari, uski utni Bhagidari”. Once he was asked to explain ,why he devised the slogan of “Tilak ( Mark on fore head used by Brahmins), Traju ( weighing scale used by business community) aur Talwar ( sword, used by Rajputs ,warriors), enko maro jutey char ( Give then four shoe beating)|” He explained that elite class which spreads hatred, ignorance for their personnel ends, business persons ,who indulge in undue profiting, adulteration, less weighting and warrior who use against weak and helpless need be treated with shoe beating not the one who work for the welfare of the society. He explained to his fellow men to be strong and courageous as “Only lambs are made sacrificial animals not lions”
He was perhaps one leader, who kept his promise, proved true to his words. He lived & died as a leader, with out any immoveable or moveable property, any bank account, house, land plot or flat in his name. To achieve his set goals, he lived as an ordinary Dalit, took meals in small hutments, wayside tabhas, slept on floor. On the night of 3rd & 4th April 1984, he was found sleeping on the bare broken stone metal at Nagpur, where he had gone to inaugurate the Marathi daily newspaper “Bahujan Times” his dream project. Sh. Kanshi Ram was convinced that to capture the Delhi’s political crown the seat of power, much has to done to strengthen the 85% Bahujan Samaj . To achieve this they should own a strong media of their own, as present vested interest median can only suppress and confuse his downtrodden masses. He used to keep awake for days & nights to equip him with literary knowledge, assimilate it into practical thoughts & to devise ways to use it for the advantage of his peoples, many of whom were ill fed, ill dressed, naked, illiterate, exploited and miss guided.
Those close to him tell how hard he worked to built up his first social & educative organization of employees of all SC’s, ST’s, OBC’s & minorities named BAMSEF on 6th Dec. 1978 & then prepared them to launch their Youth’s sangarash Simiti “ DS-4” on 6th Dec. 1981. To prepare solid ground to get rightful share in political power, he launched his Bahujan Samaj Party on14th April, 1984.Kashi Ram shook the conscious of those who are under represented in our Parliamentary system and were craving for a change. There by he consolidated masses to work for their own political organization BSP, many volunteered to work for BSP as “Mission Ka Kaam” His message was so inspiring to his peoples, that once a BSP volunteer was always so. Due to Kanshi Ram’s political vision soon BSP became a National Party & attained third position, leaving far behind many political parties, who were formed decades earlier. The election winning spree flourished & in UP assembly it won 66 seats out of 162 it contested in 1993. Kanshi Ram’s political maneuverability made Behan Mayawati Chief Minister of UP thrice in coalition with other parties, but he did not yield to undue pressure from other coalition partners even at the cost of loosing CM’s. Gadi The graph of winning seats in Lok Sabha elections also rose dramatically from zero in ( 8th ) to 04 ( in 9th); 03 (in 10th ); 11( in 11th ); 05 ( in 12th) 14nos ( in 13th ) 19 (in 14th ) 21 ( 15th) Lok Sabha. His continuous efforts in this direction bore fruits of winning clear majority in 2007 in UP Assembly elections with 208,in remaining 10 seats, standing Second and out of lost 111 seats 60 seats with a margin of less than 5000 votes. Behan Mayawati, now National President BSP was sworn in as Chief Minister of UP State with clear majority, but alas after the sad demise of Sahib.
During the period of 25 years since the formation of BSP, the INC Govt. programs of multi-nationalism & New Economic order under late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, or Rath Yatra Of Sh. LK Advani culminating in demolishing of Babri Masjid on 6th Dec 1992, could not sway away Dalits from Kanshi Ram’s Programme of gaining political power to have share in running the affairs of union of India. Credit goes to Kanshi Ram that Dalits having over 80 % Indian population forming SC’s, ST’s, OBC’s and other minorities, have not challenged the Constitutional arrangements, avoided violence against the state or other ethnic groups. Kanshi Ram’s formula that numbers, not violence work in democratic India is a great Nationilst’s doctrine for which Kanshi Ram shall be long remembered.
His love for the Nation is reflected in his love for the deprived section of the society which constitute over 85% of Indian population. He was not against any caste or class but against “ism” which spreads ill will among persons by their ill conceived techniques. Sahib was simple but unpredictable personality, he could go to any length to safeguard the interests of his Bahujan Samaj.
Like every one else, he had to leave the mortal frame of body, although it is painful for those who were left behind to bear the unbearable shock. Destiny player the same with Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram Ji . He was not keeping good health for quite some time, but the brain stroke he suffered in Hyderabad during a meeting on 15th March, 2003 proved fetal. He was shifted to New Delhi Batra Hospital and remained under expert treatment for over three years. Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram declared Behan Mayawati as his political heir & National President of BSP on 18-09-2003
The unfortunate end of Sahib’s worldly journey came on Monday the 9th October, 2006 at 12. 20 at 11, Hanuman Road New Delhi, the official residence of Behan Mayawati. National Personalities like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Lalu Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan and other paid their homage to the Messiah of Dalits. His funeral was attended by lacs and he was cremated at Nigam Bodh Ghat New Delhi on 9-10-2006. He left behind his wish that his mortal remains be not immersed in any river but kept in BSP Party HQ’s at Delhi & Lukhnow.
He qualified his death as per the hymn of Kabir Sahib “Jab Ham Aye Jagat Main, Jag Hansa Hum Roay, Asi Karni Kar Chaloo, Hum Hansain, Jag Roay” (On child’s birth, child cries but locality celebrates birth with joy, One must work for the good of the society, so that at the time of death the locality mourns but the person dieing feels joyous so sayeth Kabir.).
Let us see how far his party & comrades are able to keep the Dalit masses united, to realize the dreams of sahib who achieved it with life long labour of sufferings. If his comrades slip from his ideals, it shall be a sad commentary & bad luck for his now united masses. Sycophancy or Chamchagiri should be kept away from the Dalit affairs. Politics of Chamchagiri has brought ruins to the Dalit cause, so said Sahib. But alas in a span of less than two decades many of ills hated by Sahib Kansh Ram have entered Dali Politics. Chamchagiri ( sycophancy ) and non commitment to Community welfare commitment which Sahib hated most have become order of the day in his party politics. Dalit leader ask votes in the name of Sahib Kanshi Ram and Baba Sahib Bharat Ratna Dr.B.R. Ambedkar during elections but do not adhere to the principles dear to Dalit icons. The Party Of Kanshi Ram which won formed single handed formed government in 2007 with 208 seats stands reduced to mare 18 seats that too after forming Mahagathbandham with its one time bitter enemy the Samajvadi Party. Also it again touched zero in 2014 Lok Sabha after 1984( 8th ).. The Party ( BSP) which rose to soon form its own governments Indian Uniou has only 24 sets in all Indian States(2019 ) and UTs(07) out of total 4121. Many people describe the position his party leadership
BSP Netagiri Essi Bani Jasey pair Khajoor, Banchiton Ko Saya Nahi Fal Lage Atti Dour.
Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram shall be long remembered for his visionary saying “ NUMBERS, NOT VOILANCE SHOULD BE RULE IN DEMOCRATIC INDIA” Dalits should win race to New Delhi Gadi by democratic means only, leaving no space for violence against any political or ethnic group. Dalits should live with spine up, so were the dreams of Sahib. As per the doctrine proclaimed by Guru Ravidas,Guru Kabir Sahib Shri Kanshi Ram qualified as a practical Darwesh, Sanyasi Gyanashwer, Tyagi, Yogi, Pundit , Fighter for cause of deprived society a crusader for peaceful political ,social change and above all a human.
Jammu Er. H.R.Phonsa
Retd. Executive Engineer
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