Book Review – Ambedkar Mission Atey Bodhi Dham
The Punjab Chapter of the Samta Sainik Dal invited me to a book release function on July 2, 2017, of a recent Punjabi publication “Ambedkar Mission Atey Bodhi Dham” compiled and edited by Sohan Lal Sampla of Germany at Ambedkar Bhawan in Jalandhar. Sohan Lal Sampla is a staunch Ambedkarite and a Buddhist. The book in Punjabi is a simple narration of some of his visits tovarious countries like Japan, Hungary, among others to the see the commemoratory sites and venues pertaining to Gautama Buddha and the main reviver of Buddhism in India, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, in the contemporary times and also some of the articles of others like K.C. Sulekh, Sohan, Surinder Ajnat and Soma Sablok and also poems of Sohan Sehjal, Monika Ambedkar and Pammi Madhopuria. Sohan Lal Sampla has provided good and interesting information on his visits to Japan and Hungary not only about his impressions about these countries but also about his interlocutors and followers of Lord Buddha and Babasaheb Ambedkar. I must add, with due respect and regard to its author, that the book is not strong in its content but the motivation and spirit behind it is genuinely compelling.
It is not surprising that the book has been dedicated to his ideological and spiritual inspiration Lahori Ram Balley of Jalandhar, an ardent Ambedkarite and Buddhist. In a sort of introduction, Fateh Jung Singh of Chandigarh has appreciated and thanked Sohan Lal Sampla for publishing and free distribution of books with a view to spread the message of Buddha and Ambedkar.Sampla Sahib’s account of his Japan visit via China is interesting as it comes from a layman’s understanding and narration. He is impressed by the Japanese culture and tradition. His visit to the statue of Dr. Ambedkar in a prominent park in the city of Wakayama was of great satisfaction to him. Similarly his journey to Hungry gives a sense of over-whelming reception with regard to the fact that Dr. Ambedkar was increasingly being recognized in European countries and rightly so. His interaction with the leaders of the Roman-Gypsies and his elation to see Ambedkar High school in a prominent city in Hungry is clearly evident from his narration. A bust of Dr. Ambedkar, given by the Indian Embassy in Budapest, has been installed in the school. Sampla Sahib paid visits to various places of interest in India like the birthplace of Dr. Ambedkar in Mhow, Chaitya Bhoomi in Nagpur, and Ambedkar Smarak in Lucknow and pilgrimaged the important sites pertaining to Buddhism namely Lumbini, Sarnath, BodhGaya, Kushinagar etc. In the book, some interesting and informative articles on various issues of interest and concern like Poona Pact of 1932, Karva Chauth, Ravana, Raksha Bandhan etc. written by various writers have been included in the book. One may or may not agree with them but these made a good reading. Sohan Sampla’s movements of involvement and pride in the community affairs find a detailed mention in the book particularly his Cycle March to Delhi in 1964 along with The volunteers of Republican Party of India and participating in the Sit-down Hunger Strike in front of the official residence of the then PM Lal Bahadur Shastri and also his Jail Yatra in Jalandhar in support of the RPI agitation for the demands of the poor and under privileged of the country.
One can see and observe that Sohan Sampla and his family are fully dedicated to the community causes even after his migration to Germany many years before. He tends to distribute free of cost not only his own publications but also other literature on Dr. Ambedkar and Gautama Buddha. Yet another feather in the hat of SamplaSahib is that he, with a sense of paying back to the society, often offers financial help to various individuals and outfits connected with the community matters which has been much appreciated. Though I don’t know Sohan Lal Sampla personally yet I felt that people like him must be recognized and appreciated in the larger interest of the community. Hence this humble effort. Being a proclaimed Buddhist, Sampla Sahib does not believe in God as such. In one of the articles he has quoted likeminded poets like Allma Iqbal, Akbar Allahabadi and Mohan Singh respectively which I myself enjoyed:
ਬੈਠਾ ਕੇ ਅਰਸ਼ ਪੈ ਰਖਾ ਹੈ ਤੁਨੀ ਐ ਬਾਯਜ਼;
ਖੁਦਾ ਵੋ ਕਯਾ ਹੈ ਜੋ ਬੰਦੇ ਸੇ ਇਤਰਾਜ਼ ਕਰੇ
ਜੇਹਾਂ ਮੈਂ ਜੀ ਘਿਰ ਗਯਾ; ਲੈ-ਇੰਤਹਾ ਕਯੋਂ ਕਰ ਹੂਆ ,
ਜੋ ਸਮਜ ਮੈਂ ਆ ਗਯਾ; ਫਿਰ ਵੋਹ ਖੁਦਾ ਕਯੋਂ ਕਰ ਹੂਆ!
ਰਬ ਇਕ ਗੁੰਜਲਦਾਰ ਭੁਜਾਰਾਤ; ਰਬ ਇਕ ਗੋਰਖ ਧੰਦਾ,
ਖੋਲਣ ਲੱਗੀਆਂ ਪੇਚ ਇਸ ਦੇ ਕਾਫ਼ਿਰ ਹੋ ਜਾਇ- ਬੰਦਾ!