Saturday, April 29, 2017

Buddha, Ravidass and Ambedkar

Buddha,  Ravidass and Ambedkar

I wrote in my blog last week about the complementary approaches of the “Mala Ke Teen Moti” – a term used by one of my fellow enlightened BootanMandians, Pritam Ramdaspuri between the dalit icons Guru Ravidass and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and also Gautama Buddha. I am not surprised to note that it has generated a kind of debate, a healthy one at that, and the points made by me are
generally not accepted or digested both by the neo-Buddhists and Ravidassias on one hand and also by some of the Ambedkarites on the other. At the same time, it is a matter of satisfaction that most of the Ambedkarites and the young dalits at large tended to agree that it will be good and advisable to find and dwell on complementarities for the sake of unity and oneness for the greater good of the society.  There is no point in getting dogmatic and fundamentalist.  One can remain a Buddhist or Ravidassia and can still be an Ambedkarite.

One of my educated friends in Bootan Mandi who professes to be a Buddhist and Ambedkarite gave me the feedback and said that it would be a futile exercise to say that Gautam Budddha, Guru Ravidass and Dr. Ambedkar had anything in common. The likes of me, referring to my views on the subject, were trying to confuse people with these new theories. He said that who so ever is not Buddhist cannot be an Ambedkarite. Ravidassias or anybody else who professed to be a Hindu can neither be a Buddhist or an Ambedkarite. His puritan views did not care for social harmony and oneness but harped on the stated doctrines and principles of Buddha and Ambedkar including the 22 vows stipulated by Dr. Ambedkar at the time of his embracing Buddhism in 1956. There are many more who boast of being true Ambedkarites and Buddhists and are proclaimed and professed anti-Hindus.

One of my friends in Dubai who is a well placed engineer and a community activist and who professes to be an Ad-dharmi or Ravidassia also wrote me on the subject, as a good and awakened member of the community, and raised many questions on my blog on complementarities between Guru Ravidass and Dr. Ambedkar
Guru Ravidass Dham, Bootan Mandi, Jalandhar
and requested for my extended views. I promised to answer them, as a layman, from my personal perspective. I take the liberty of quoting my friend in Dubai to provide little more visibility to the issue:

Quote (as received)
Jai Gurdev Sir,
I have read your latest article About Guru Ravidas ji and Baba Saheb, its very informative and constructive article.
Sinc every long times I have some doubts which I want to clear and may be you will have answers to those oubts

You have mentioned that Baba Sahib dedicated his one book to Sant Ravidas ans Kabir. I have read ir too. I have collections of 52 writings of Baba sahib, Other than single line deication I have not found any mention of Satguru Ravidas ji by Baba sahe. Why ? There is no mention of Satguru Ravidas ji's phylosophy or awakening bani in Baba saheb's writings. Why?

Some one raised doubts about that single deication line also saying that it was entered later.

I always fail to understand that when baba saheb was advocating change of religion ( from hindu to any other) at that times adi dharam was being advocated by babu mangu ram ji in Punjab and that was also for all dalits. Why Baba saheb has not made any mention of Adi dharam too in his writings and why adi dharama was not considered as an option to leave hinduism? Did these two leaders ( Baba sahen and Mangu ram ji) ever met ? Both of them were concerned about dalit issues then how come that they have not joined hands ? what sort of relations were there or what were the main differences which kept them apart?

Sir, if idiology of Satguru Ravidas ji and Mahatma Buddha is same or similar, then why budhist community in india and particularily in punjab is bent upon converting adi dharmi and Ravidasias to budhism? why religious conversion among us is being pushed up o daily basis, I strongly believe that and grass root level more religions mean more factions in our smaaj, means more devisions and by having more devisions we can never have any say in Punjab politics. So why race of conversions among Budhists. avidasias and Adi dharmi is being pushed up?

Dear Sir, I have great respect for you and I think you can explain these point better than anyone else to me. My questions arised from my passion to learn more and not from any contradiction.


There are also comments from a sober and balanced perspective of a senior diplomat colleague who is concerned and interested in community matters. I quote him also:

Quote (as received)
My dear Ramesh Ji, 
         I compliment u on ur article bringing out the confluence of thoughts of Guru Ravidas ji & Dr BRA  for the oppressed people of the tyranny of caste system in India.
        All great souls interpret the environment of their epoch in terms of seeking justice & faiir play in society.
        It is important to strike a balance in our approach...must think of the forces determining the future.
        No purpose is served by generating needless hostitility and demeaning other reformers of Hindu society...dubbing Swami Dayanand a foxy Brahmin, Gandhi a hypocrite Bania & Sikh Gurus as castist Bhapas!
         The wounds hv been deeper   but time has been a healing has to be the golden key and a torch!


Yet another comment from one of my blog followers from Mumbai and I quote:

Quote (as received)
Joginder Pal Mumbai
Thanks Ramesh Chander Saheb for the precise & beautiful article attempting to examine Buddhism, Ravidas Baani & Ambedkarism with a positive frame of thinking. This level of analysis & comparison was missing in the period immediately after exit of Dr Ambedkar in 1956.
I would like to add something in this regards that Buddhism came into existence as a result of strong absurdities of Hindu religion which were forced on the people with the shear bulldozing force as the religious dogmas. Buddha, himself being Kshatriya challenged the dogmas & superstitions & enacted Humanist & Religious Thinking that was later on called Buddhism. But due to onslaught of Extremist Sanatan sect, Buddhism was virtually wiped out from 7th Century till start of age of arrival Saints which was wrongly branded as Bhakti Kaal. In fact Kabir, Ravidas, Namdev, Nanak never believed in or preached Bhakti but propogated a rational humanist, social & political life and in fact went to jail many times during their life time. Begumpura --,Aisa Chahun Raaj --, Madho Avidya Hitkeen etc are not Bhakti Songs but were suggesting the ruler what type of governance should be there which in political term is called Constitutionalism. These saints gave their Baani but could not reach a common platform till writing of Guru Granth Sahib. As regards Ambedkar, he had declared that he took birth as Hindu which was not in his hand but will not die as one. The vested interest & discriminatory policies of prevailing Sikh religion in Thirties under Master Tara Singh drove away Ambedkar from Sikhism. For next 20 years Ambedkar could not take a decision regarding his conversion and was in fact had to embrace Buddhism, less that two months of his death. Dr. Ambedkar was a religious person but for a religion with Humanist & rational approach. Unfortunately there was nothing comparable to Guru Granth Sahib at that time. Even Ravidassia Dharam was not there but in any case that also does not fit as per Ambedkar requirement. Mangu Ram Muggowalia had a better proposal in the shape of Ad-dharmi concept that for the first time brought Mool Niwasi concept amongst the downtrodden class. So Ambedkar preferred Buddhism. This is a fact that great Gurus like Ravidas, Nanak, Namdev. Kabir etc. never referred to Buddh or Buddhism in their Baani. But once drifted away from Sikhism, Ambedkar embraced Buddhism.
As regards your inference, which I agree that there is no difference between the preaching of Guru Ravidas & Ambedkar philosophy. With Buddhism still not crossed one crore mark & highjacking of Bahujan Movement by Chamars every where, there appears to be no future for SC's numbering over 25 crores coming under one banner, what to talk of Bahujan Samaj of 100 crores.
Please excuse me if I have unintentionally submitted anything that may disturb any of our friend including yourself Ramesh Chander Saheb whom I always treat in highest esteem.

Now I come to my take on these comments by my friends. First to answer my friend from Dubai, I have no comments to make that Dr. Ambedkar’s dedication or mention of Guru Ravidass in the preface of one of his books was a later addition by some vested interest. The only thing I know for certain, after reading or understanding Dr. Ambedkar who followed the spiritual legacy of his family pertaining to Sant Kabir and Sant Tukaram. Guru Ravidass who was also one of the leading lights of the Bhakti movement was not much known in Western India and that is why Dr. Ambedkar did not have, perhaps, much exposure to Guru Ravidass and his teachings. I did not mean that Dr. Ambedkar had no inclination or understanding of Guru Ravidass.  Later, he developed fascination and liking for Buddhism and that is known history. I agree with Ambassador Bal Anand’s terminology to describe Dr. Ambedkar as “Thinker’s thinker”. Ambassador Bal Anand dedicated his latest book “Expressions of Freedom” to the Thinker’s Thinker. I have no standing and reason to question and contest Babasaheb’s decision to renounce Hinduism and embrace Buddhism.  There is nothing to underline as conflicting between Guru Ravidass and Dr. Ambedkar, to my mind.

Second question pertains to Ad-dharam floated by Babu Manguram Muggowalia. I understand from my verbal chats and discussions with some knowledgeable people in and around Jalandhar that Dr. Ambedkar and Babu Manguram Muggowalia met each other a couple of times in 1930s and 40s. The Ad-dharam could not take off beyond some pockets in Doaba in Punjab and Babu Manguram did not have any recognition beyond Doaba as a leader. While studying and preparing to renounce Hinduism, Dr. Ambedkar must have studied all the options, as is known in case of Sikhism, but finally he settled for an ancient religion and way of life having roots in India i.e. Buddhism. It was obvious. There was equation or comparison between Ad-dharam and Buddhism. We must understand this ground reality. Moreover, I understand that Ad-dharam was sidelined by the political leaders like Acharya Prithvi Singh Azad, an Arya Samaji and Master Gurbanta Singh as Congress followers to oppose Dr. Ambedkar. Babu Manguram, I think, tended to go with them. This could be another political factor which dissuaded Dr. Ambedkar to associate him with the Punjab leadership.

The third question is why the neo Buddhists are cajoling Ad-dharmis or Ravidassias and others to become Buddhists? Why anybody shall get perturbed on this? Hindus are trying for Ghar-Wapsi, Muslims are trying to convert Kafirs to their faith, and Christians are trying to add to their flock. The neo Buddhists are all the more justified, right or wrong, to ask their brethren to come along as desired by their common benefactor, Dr. Ambedkar.  The newly floated Ravidassia Dharam is also doing its best to give new identity to the community as the Ad-dharam did in the past. There is no answer to these senseless pursuits, to my mind. The vested interests sitting in the Deras, Dhams, Budh Vihars in collaboration with self appointed social and political leaders of the community are engaged in carrying forward their limited agenda. The things are getting complicated and messy with every passing day. Let us have one identity for dalits irrespective of their spiritual or religious affiliation as Buddhist, Ravidassia, Ad-dharami, Kabirpanthi, Balmiki, Mazhabi etc.

In this regard, I would tend to go by the thinking of my senior diplomat colleague and align to the main stream of the society. Education and time would set things in perspective in due course. I would also tend to agree with my friend Joginder Pal from Mumbai that all the three i.e. Gautam Buddha, Guru Ravidass and Dr.
Ambedkar stood for a humane society with equitable and just order. There is no conflict in their approach. In the contemporary times, Babasaheb Ambedkar showed us the way by leading from the front. He was not an anarchist. He was a nationalist. He was spiritual in thought and action. He was a rationalist. He stood for the good of the society by creating harmony and fraternity and more so for the suffering and exploited masses. Let us stand united behind the mission and philosophy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar irrespective of our spiritual persuasions. There is no other way. 

छुपाके आस्तीन में बिजलिअं रख ली हैं गुरदु ने;
अनादिल बाग़ के गाफिल न बैठे अशिआनो में !


  1. 'Divide & Rule' policy, as wrongly attributed to Britishers, in my opinion. Sanatan Dharam, one of the oldest Religion in world appears to be the creator of this policy, starting with four varnas & misled the people as to how different varnas people born from different body parts of Brahma. And ultimately, to deal with the possible threat of number, they divided us in over 6700 different castes, that is even today big obstacle in our joining hands on common platform to fight age old exploitation.
    Although we are still struggling and are able to partially come out of Varna/Caste system & this effort should continue.
    We should be liberal to allow our people to follow their spiritual leaning towards Ravidassia, Buddhism, Sikhism, Kabirpanthi etc as per their belief but we should be one on Ambedkar Ideology for education, social & Political development of deprived section of our community.
    In nut shell, I agree with Ramesh Chander saheb to unite on Ambedkar platform.

  2. thanks joginder pal ji. Our catch word "United we stand and divided we fall"