When someone tells me he is a fanatical Buddhist or a fanatical Ambedkarite, I consider him a Taliban who is out to spread hatred and unrest in society. This is because Buddhist or Ambedkarite ideology is inherently against fanaticism. The fact is that rebellion rather than fanaticism has been the essential ingredient of all egalitarian movements to date – they have succeeded with the co-operation of all. A movement that wants to end class discrimination should begin by ending class discrimination within itself – by taking along those members of the upper class who believe in egalitarianism. Similarly, if we want to end caste discrimination, we should take with us all those who want to join the campaign or support it, irrespective of their caste.
Just go through the life and philosophy of Kabir, Phule, Buddha and Dr Ambedkar. They only talked about an idea – and not any person or caste – being wrong or right.
Quest for positivity
The brainstorming sessions of Ambedkarites are dominated by what they want to negate or reject. They rarely, if ever, discuss what they want to accept. The fallout of this tendency is that the common man starts drifting away from the positive aspects. When I say this, I am talking about all egalitarian movements – whether of Dalits, OBCs or Tribals. Few people bother to explain what is good about the Ambedkarite movement. Instead, the movement has become a synonym of negativity. If this egalitarian movement limits itself to just conveying the social reality to the common man, it is only doing a postman’s job. Postmen never bring about a revolution, they never build a movement. A holistic approach is needed to bring about real change – by focusing on the positive aspects rather than on the negative ones. Instead of just harping on what is wrong, the movements should focus on what is right and why.
Today, Buddhism is fast losing ground, and there is a reason for it. Many people converted to Buddhism. Twenty-two pledges were administered to them. But even here, the emphasis was on what should not be done. The pledges regarding what was desirable and should be done were not given due importance. Today, what is monitored is who lights earthen lamps on Diwali and not who follows Panchsheel and who does not.
History tells us that there was a time when the whole of today’s India was Buddhist but later all Buddhist festivals were given a Hindu veneer. That is why Dr Ambedkar chose the Dussehra day as Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Day and today, Buddhists celebrate Dussehra as Ashok Vijayadashmi. Similarly, some historians believe that the goddess Mahamaya, worshipped in Dalit and Backward homes, is none other than Buddha’s mother. There are hundreds of such positive facts that can be shared with the people. The Buddhist missionaries do not propagate “Dhyan”. The key plank of their campaign is that Hinduism is bad, so quit it. They don’t say why Buddhism is good. Needless to say, positive publicity always fetches better results.
Published in the August 2015 issue of the FORWARD Press magazine
The Ambedkarite movement has given birth to many organizations including BAMCEF, RPI, BSP and AMBUS. They all have their own ideological straitjackets. The leader says FDI is bad and all members, without applying their minds, nod their heads vigorously in agreement. Here I am not talking about what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. What I am trying to say is that by simply listening to any Ambedkarite for a couple of minutes, you can guess quite accurately to which organization he or she belongs.
The elites point out that Ambedkarite organizations like RPI and BAMCEF have splintered: when they themselves couldn’t remain united, how would they unite the communities they claim to represent, goes the argument. This criticism is valid. Why could these organizations not remain united? The fact is that they never adhered to the teachings of Ambedkar, they never tried to practise what Buddha had preached. They only indulged in negative publicity. Ambedkar or Buddha never talked in negative terms. They presented even negative things in a positive manner. What does a common man want? Two square meals a day and a happy, peaceful life. Is the egalitarian movement doing anything to fulfil the needs of the common man? If not, then for a person with an empty stomach, who has neither peace nor happiness in his life, your negative talk is unadulterated rubbish. He is drawn towards positivity because it gives him energy and peace, and in it, he sees his future.