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Relevance of Aajivak religion

Ambedkar was also out-maneuvered by Gandhi vis-avis the Poona Pact. Under this pact, Dalits were placed under the Hindu umbrella, whereas they were never an part of the Hindu religion or its Varna system. Thus, their problems got worse confounded

Dalitbahujan and women’s discourse are centre-stage these days. The resonance of these discourses can be heard far and wide in Hindi literature. The initiation of Dalitbahujan and women’s discourse has ensured that sooner or later, the slavery of these two classes would come to an end.

In my view, the brilliant Aajivak thinker Dr. Dharmaveer is the initiator of these discourses. Dr. Dharmaveer’s ideology is influenced by the thoughts of Makkhali Gosala, Sadguru Raidas and Kabir, all of whom, basically, were Dalitbahujan thinkers. In his various books and articles, Dr. Dharmaveer has explored the religion that was once an integral part of the Dalitbahujan tradition. Marshalling facts and logic, he has sought to prove that Aajivak – propounded by Makkhali Gosala – was that religion.

Ghoshal had also written a book titled Dishachar, which is the religious scripture and the guiding light of this religion. Unfortunately, the Dalitbahujans could not preserve this scripture and hence became slaves of the Dwij castes.

Aajivaks have no belief in the concept of rebirth. Aajivak Kabir (1425-1505) said Bahuri hum kahu ko aavhinge (Why will I come again and again). This creates a basic divide between the Aajivaks and the Dwijs, for the Varna system, caste inequality, rituals and superstitions – all are extensions of the doctrine of rebirth.

There was a time when the Aajivak religion held sway over the entire country. Dr Dharmaveer writes, “From the eighth to the fourteenth centuries, all the workers, farmers and artisans who had not embraced Islam, were not Hindu, Buddhists or Jains. They were followers of the Aajivak religion”. Remember, at that time words like Dalitbahujan or Harijan were not in existence. Aajivaks’ embracing Islam also did not make much material difference as Islam also does not believe in rebirth. In that sense, even after becoming Muslims,
the Aajivaks preserved their tradition. Then came Kabir with his call of ‘Na Hindu Na Musalman’ (Neither Hindu nor Muslim). Thus, Aajivaks still had hope. Kabir had turned Aajivak and he enjoyed the unstinted support of the great Sadguru Raidas, who was like his elder brother. But since the community lacked the needed strength, the Aajivak religion could not be rejuvenated. Nevertheless, Kabir was a great Aajivak, who named his book Bijak.


The Aajivak and Dwij streams ran parallel to each other but as Aajivaks had forgotten their religion, they were bound to slip into misery – and slip they did. Religion is the biggest and the most powerful organization in the world. The castes which do not have any religion are called Dalits, Tribals and Backwards.

Ambedkar’s mistake

Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar also realized this fact but since his study of history and philosophy was not deep enough, he fell for the Buddhist religion. That only worsened the condition of the Dalitbahujans.

Ambedkar was also out-maneuvered by Gandhi vis-a-vis the Poona Pact. Under this pact, Dalits were placed under the Hindu umbrella, whereas they were never a part of the Hindu religion or its Varna system. Thus, their problems got worse confounded.

Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar

Dr. Dharmaveer says that it would have been better had Ambedkar opted for the ‘Aadi’ religion, which was being led by Swami Achootanand at that time. Had he done so, the condition of the Dalitbahujans would have been better today. The Aadi religion had spread all over the country before Independence. Under the leadership of Mangu Ram, the Dalitbahujans had declared themselves ‘Aadyadharmi’ (believers in Aadi religion) in the 1931 census. As has already been said, Dr. Ambedkar falling for the Kshatriya Buddhist religion blocked the rise of Aajivak religion. And this, when Ambedkar’s maternal and paternal grandparents were followers of Kabir. Dr. Ambedkar used to hum the Shabads of Kabir.

Aajivaks should also remember that if Dr Ambedkar is addressed affectionately as Baba Saheb, it is in consonance with Kabir being called Kabir Saheb and not because of the legacy of a Kshatriya (Dwij) Buddha. The neo- Buddhists, suffering from a deep inferiority complex, are out to prove that Baba Saheb was a Bodhisattva, who is inferior to Buddha. On the other hand, Dr Dharmaveer says that Buddha is nothing before Baba Saheb. Dr Amedbkar towers above Buddha. In fact, Buddha stands with a begging bowl before
Ambedkar, who was a great Aajivak.

Today, Dr Dharmaveer is making Aajivaks aware of these facts. The Dwijs are dumbstruck and it is time for the Aajivaks to celebrate. Fortunately for the Aajivaks, Ghoshal’s ‘Ttheory of destiny’ has survived. The Brahmins, to prove their rebirth theory, tried to link it with fate. But this theory is not about fate but about the destiny of life. Dr. Dharmaveer has discovered it and he is interpreting it He is telling Aajivaks that Niyati (destiny), Sangati (harmony or compatibility) and Bhav (notions or ideas) are our mantras.


Published in the October 2014 issue of the Forward Press magazine

Forward Press also publishes books on Bahujan issues. Forward Press Books sheds light on the widespread problems as well as the finer aspects of Bahujan (Dalit, OBC, Adivasi, Nomadic, Pasmanda) society, culture, literature and politics. Contact us for a list of FP Books’ titles and to order. Mobile: +919968527911, Email: info@forwardmagazine.in)

The titles from Forward Press Books are also available on Kindle and these e-books cost less than their print versions. Browse and buy:

The Case for Bahujan Literature

Mahishasur: A people’s hero

Dalit Panthers: An Authoritative History

The Common Man Speaks Out

Jati ke Prashn Par Kabir

About The Author

Kailash Dahiya

Kailash Dahiya is a Dalit poet, critic and art reviewer

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