Sunday, February 7, 2021


AMBEDKAR SMT. MATA RAMA BAI (RAMA) Updated and enlarged (Bowing our heads in her memory, folded hands, on her 123rd Birth Anniversary today the 7th Feb,2021) By:- Er.H.R.Phonsa It is said rightly, "Behind every successful man there is a woman". It was so in the case of Goswami Tulsidass, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Tilak, Gandhi, Veer Savarkar, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, and Dr. B R Ambedkar and may other personalities who made history of sorts. The success of Dr. Ambedkar had incalculable contribution of his noble wife Smt.Ramabai Ambedkar. She was intelligent, kind, poise, obedient, chaste, religious, and possessed with high character besides having simplicity of style and taste. This saintly woman although lived in extreme poverty but without a whisper of complaint on her, face always turning her eyes towards God for the safety and prosperity of her husband. She was gentle by temperament, sober in manners, weak in constitution but modest in speech. Revered Ramabai a sober and an intelligent girl came from a good but poor family. She was the second daughter of Shri Bhiku Walandkar, a resident of Walang village near Dapoli, Konkan in central India. Shri Bhiku Walandkar worked as a porter at Dopli. He used to carry fish loads on his head from seaside to the bazaar. His earning was so meager that he could hardly make both ends meet. Dapoli is a place where child Bhim was admitted in his first school when he was 5 years old, as his father Subedar Ramji Sakpal had migrated there after his retirement. Ramabai was born on February 7, 1898. Her childhood name was Ramibhai and she had two sisters Gorabhai, Meerabhai, and one brother named Shanker Dhutrey. Shanker Dhutrey also called Shanker Walangkar worked in a press. These unfortunate children lost first their mother and after some time their father too in childhood and were brought up by their maternal and parental uncles in Bombay (now Mumbai). Bhima later called Bhimrao Ram ji Dass Ambedkar and Ramibai (later Ramabai) were married when they were 16 years and 9 years old respectively: The marriage ceremony was performed shortly after Bhim passed his matriculation examination. The marriage pandal ( Platefarm) was an open shed of the Byculla Fish market in Bombay, after the day market was closed. At night, the bridegroom and his relatives were lodged in one spacious corner of the open shed, with Ramibai's relatives in another corner. The small stone platforms in the market served as benches where a small gutter of dirty water flowed underneath their feet. The marriage place was vacated in the early morning before sunrise to enable the merchants to carry their daily business. Ramibai was renamed Ramabai after marriage and later earned the distinction of being called Mata Ramabai Ambedkar. Ramabai Ambedkar was illiterate at the time of her marriage but her husband later taught her simple reading and writing. Educationally there was world of difference between the two but they loved and respected each other from the core of their heats. Love, faith, sincerity, sacrifice and understanding between the two persons formed unbreakable chain to live happily despite both being educationally poles a parts. Bhim used to call his wife affectionately as "Ramu" and she called him "Saheb". She was deeply proud of her husband and Bhim respected her immensely. Dr. Ambedkar was always busy in reading and could devote very little time for household affairs. At times she used to press her Saheb's feet in the evening, when he was reading and she slept on the floor under his feet. Ramabai ensured that nobody disturbed him during his study or working. She abundantly cared for the health and welfare of her husband. When Ambedkar was in America, she lived a life of destitute but without any regret. It is rare historical example of courage and conviction of a wife who used to make cow dung cakes and carry them on her head, to use them as cheap household fuel. She sold in market some of these cakes, to supplement her income. This she did despite taunts from neighboring women. Her husband was also in acute financial crisis who was struggling to obtain world's highest academic degrees (including Doctorate of Science) in foreign lands. Despite financial crisis for studies and at home Ambedkar became Barrister reinforced by a London Doctorate of Science, an American Doctorate in Philosophy and Studied in Bonn University, which reflected immense sacrifices of his wife. When Ambedkar was preparing to go America for higher studies, the neighboring women advised Ramabai to stop her husband from going abroad, as he may marry a Mem (English woman) and would desert her. But Ramabai had unflinching faith in her Saheb and replied to those ladies that she knew her husband well , he cannot do so". Despite Ramabai's little education she was an expert housewife and knew well how to run her house hold affairs. On getting money for monthly household expenses from Ambedkar, she used to divide the money into 30 parts keeping each part separately. Daily she opened one part and used it, so as not to run penniless on last dates of the month. Her economical habits and faith on her husband enabled the couple to construct their palatial house namely, Rajgriha in Bombay. However, even after moving into Rajgrih, it did not affect her simple habits. The wedlock of this ideal couple was blessed with four sons and one daughter, Out of their four sons namely, Ramesh, Gangadhar, Yashwant and Rajratna and one daughter Indu, only one son Yashwant Ambedkar (Father of Sh Parkash Ambedkar, MP) survived others died mostly in fancy. This gave the couple great pains and sorrows. On the death of his youngest son Rajratana on Ist July 1926, Dr Ambedkar wrote on 16th August to one of his friends, "There is no use pretending that I and my wife have recovered from the shock of our son's death and I don't think that we ever shall with the loss of our kids ,the salt of our life is gone". After a long period of mourning and on the insistence of his well-wishers, Dr Ambedkar settled down on the work for emancipation of downtrodden but Ramabai Continued in grief. This acted upon her health badly and she fell gravely ill. She being highly religious even during illness continued observing fasts. On Saturdays she took only water and black grams, worshipped God for showering blessing on her husband. Her thoughts, mind and eyes were devoted to the service of her Saheb. At this she would say, 'Saheb what is there in having so many Degrees, can't we live happily with lesser education?' Perhaps she did not know that the emancipation of millions of untouchables was possible only with knowledge of Dr Ambedkar which he acquired before plunging into the war to break the age-old slavery chains of his brethren. His opponents claimed to be the only qualified and intelligent persons being off springs of those who had debarred untouchables from acquiring any academic qualifications for ages. But in Ambedkar they found a person who counted one among the six world's top qualified persons of his times. He earned world’s highest academic qualification,knew ten languages and could seven fluently. On Ramabai's insistence Dr Ambedkar took Ramabai to Pandharpur for pilgrimage of Vithal Ji Maharaj, in whom she had great faith. However, being untouchables they were not allowed to go near the temple, so they had to stand at a distance from the temple idol to offer prayers. This irritated the self-respecting Dr Ambedkar and he said, "What of that Pandharpur, which prevents its devotees from seeing the image of God, by our own virtuous life, spotless Character and sacrifices for the cause of downtrodden humanity, we shall create another Pandharpur. By saying another Pandharpur he meant leaving Hinduism which was immune to reforms. He kept his promise by leaving Hindu religion and embracing Buddhism and re-establishing Buddha in His land of birth after centuries. But alas, happened long time after the passing away his loving wife. Illness at last over powered the weak body physique of Ramabai Ambedkar. She was even taken to Dharwal by Dr. Ambedkar for change, but this too did not help in improving her health. No medicine could give her relief and at last on 27 May 1935 unfortunate happened. She passed away at her residence. Thus came the end of nobility of mind and purity of heart. Fortunately Dr Ambedkar was by the side of her deathbed. About 10,000 people rich and poor, educated and illiterate, important and common attended her funeral procession. Her son Yashwantrao Ambedkar preformed all last rites at the bidding of a Maha priest Sambhoo More, who was Baba Saheb's colleague since their school days. After the death of Ramabai, Dr. Ambedkar was a completely broken person. Over a week, he kept weeping like a child and it was difficult to console him. He put on a dress of a hermit and got his head tonsured. The saintly saffron robe indicated a hermit with world negating attitude. On repeated requests and advice of his trusted friend and well-wishers he again took in his hand the oar to sail across his suffering fellowmen to cut their age old chains of slavery. Revered Mata Ramabai Ambedkar shall be remembered for ages to come for her services to the emancipator of millions suppressed, oppressed Dalits. Source of information:- Dr. Ambedkar and His Associates by Er.H.R.Phonsa

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