Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shri Bhagwan Das - A Tribute

Shri Bhagwan Das (April 1927 ) passed away ( attained Parinirvana ) in New Delhi on November 18, 2010. He was a renowned scholar, intellectual, researcher of the philosophy and mission of Lord Buddha and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. His contribution to the dalit literature is considerable. The dalit community has lost one of his worthy sons in the death of Shri Bhagwan Das.

I had two opportunities to see him in action long time before. I heard him speaking at a function at the Ambedkar Bhawan at Nakodar Road in Jalandhar in late sixties when I was a young student. I read him many times in the columns of the Bheem Patrika which is edited and published by Shri Lahori Ram Balley, an associate of Shri Bhagwan Das in his research and immense contribution to the Buddhist and Ambedkar thought. The second time I met him at the House Warming ( Greh Pravesh) function of one of my colleagues who was also a Buddhist in Munirka DDA flats in New Delhi amidst the peace giving chants of ' Buddham Sarnam Gashameen'. I was impressed by his personality and knowledge.

Bhagwan Das was a self made man. He educated himself with great effort and dedication from a mere Matriculate when he started working in the Royal Air Force and a Clerk in the Department of Labour and the Controller of Accounts to an MA and then a law Graduate in Delhi. Apart from his intellectual pursuits, he was a successful practising lawyer at the Supreme Court of India. He worked with Dr. Ambedkar as his Research Assistant. Bhagwan Das compiled 4 volumes of the speeches of Dr. Ambedkar and published them as 'Thus Spoke Ambedkar'. As a true disciple of Ambedkar, he was a crusader against social inequality and discrimination. In 1983, Bhagwan Das gave a testimony against the caste system and untouchability in India before the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. I recently saw a documentary ' Navayana ' - Bhagwan Das - In pursuit of Ambedkar which is good and informative. The passing away of Bhagwan Das is an irreparable loss to the community and the society at large.

हजारों साल नर्गिस अपनी बेनूरी पे रोती है;
बड़ी मुश्किल से होता है चमन में दीदाबर पैदा!

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