बुद्धं शरणम गच्छामि ! धम्मं शरणम गच्छामि ! संघम शरणम गच्छामि !
जय भीम ! जय बुद्ध ! जय भारत !
Leberty, Equality and Fraternity !
Educate, Agitate and Organize !
Loading

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Why Ambedkar chose Buddhism

ASHOK VOHRA

Both his followers and adversaries usually wonder as to why BR Ambedkar chose to convert to Buddhism rather than any other religion, especially Christianity or Islam — the two prominent religions in India.

For Ambedkar, preference for Buddhism was not an impulsive decision. He said that it was after 35 years of comparative study of different religions that he concluded that “Buddha’s dhamma is the best” and that it is the “most scientific religion”. He did not like Lord Rama because of “Rama’s conduct in the Shurpanakha episode, in the Bali-Sugriva episode, and his ‘beastly’ behaviour towards Sita”. He disliked Bhishma, Drona and Krishna because “Bhishma and Drona were hypocrites. They said one thing and did quite the opposite. Krishna believed in fraud. His life is nothing but a series of frauds”.

What impressed Ambedkar about Buddha was his personality, his leadership qualities, his humanism, his compassion for all, including the adversaries and enemies, his tolerance of the intolerant and his sense of equality and equal treatment for all. Buddha preached what he practised. “Whatever rules the Blessed Lord had made for the members of the sangha were voluntarily and willingly accepted by him to be binding on him also.”

In the hymns of the Rig Veda, as Ambedkar put it, “we see man’s thoughts turned outwards, away from himself, to the world of the gods”. Buddhism “directed man’s search inwards to the potentiality hidden within himself”. Whereas the Vedas are full of “prayer, praise and worship” of the gods, Buddhism aims at “training of the mind to make it act righteously”.

Ambedkar was drawn to Buddhism as compared to Christianity. Unlike Christ who praised a life of poverty, Buddha “did not comfort the poor by praising their poverty nor did he sublimate poverty as a happy state for man to live in”. On the contrary, he advocated acquiring wealth by a householder “by work and zeal, gathered by the strength of the arm, earned by the sweat of the brow; justly obtained in a lawful way”. With the riches so earned, a prosperous person makes himself and his surroundings happy. A rich man alone can satisfactorily perform his obligations in the world. Finally, according to Buddha, wealthy householder can lead a “life of blamelessness”.

Founders of all religions claim divinity for themselves. Christ claimed to be the son of God, and upheld the view that “there was no salvation for a person unless he accepted that Christ was the son of God”, thus “making the salvation of the Christian depend upon his acceptance of Christ as the Prophet and Son of God”. Likewise, “Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam, claimed that he was a Prophet sent by God”. Salvation in Islam depends upon the acceptance that “Mohammed is the Prophet of God”, and further acknowledgement “that he is the last Prophet”.

Buddha made no such claim. He claimed himself to be “one of the many human beings — an ordinary person. He claimed no divine origins either for himself or for his teachings; nor did he claim that his teachings were infallible. All his teachings, he stated in unambiguous terms, could be questioned and must be tested on the touchstone of reason and experience of an individual. His teachings should at the most, he taught, be treated as hypothesis. These hypothesis have to be verified in the light of one’s own observations and lived life experiences.

Buddha had preached the scientific temper some 2,500 years ago when he, a few months before he passed away, said to his disciples that they should accept something not because he or their preceptor had said it, not because it is a tradition, not because it is given from the scriptures and so on, but only if they themselves had understood that it to be so meritorious and blameless. He has given his followers the right to use their own good reason to decide what is beneficial for the good and happiness of all, and then to accept it.

Salvation in the Semitic religions depends on faith and not on knowledge. That is why knowledge has never been a part of the Christian ideal man. On the contrary, Buddhism treats knowledge as essential for salvation, and ignorance as one of the two main causes of failure to attain it (craving or attachment being the other). As stated above, faith has no place in Buddha’s teachings. Its place is taken by rational understanding.

On the aesthetic front too, Ambedkar was impressed by Buddha’s teaching, “Be in the company of the lovely”. Buddha said, “Monks, I know not of any other single thing of such power to cause the arising of good states if not yet arisen, or the waning of evil states already arisen, as friendship with the lovely”. Buddha upheld that the whole of this holy life lies “in friendship, in association, in intimacy with what is lovely”. Because of his fondness for the beautiful, Ambedkar said “Buddha might well bear an alias and be called Buddha, the Lover of the Beautiful”.

Above all, Ambedkar was impressed by the scientific support for Buddha’s doctrine of anicca (transitoriness). “Modern Science”, according to him, “echoes the Buddhist doctrines of transitoriness (anicca) and egolessness (anatta)”.

Finally, Ambedkar preferred Buddhism to other religions because it alone has the glory of having rightly judged the intrinsic greatness of man’s capacity to work out his salvation without extraneous aid. It lays stress on knowledge and self-rule as a prerequisite of salvation.

Buddhism is the earliest ethical system where man is called upon to have himself governed by himself. Buddha did not lay emphasis on any external authority for ethical, religious or moral development and growth. On the contrary, he commanded his followers to be a lamp, a beacon unto themselves — appa dipo bhava.

The writer is professor at Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi

Thankful Reference:
http://www.dailypioneer.com/DisplayContent.aspx?ContentID=322271&URLName=Why-Ambedkar-chose-Buddhism 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the excellent explanation! I fully agree with Dr. Ambedkar's clear and incisive reasoning. Sadly, the light of reason that once shone brightly across India thanks to the Buddha has become diminished over the last few centuries. I hope more Indians would think along these lines and create a new renaissance in India! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very clear and precise explanation.Thank you

    ReplyDelete

Please write your comment in the box:
(for typing in Hindi you can use Hindi transliteration box given below to comment box)

Do you like this post ?

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails

लिखिए अपनी भाषा में

Type in Hindi (Press Ctrl+g to toggle between English and Hindi)

Search in Labels Crowd

22 vows in hindi (1) achhut kaun the (1) adivasi sahitya (1) ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANYby Dr B R Ambedkar (1) ambedar (1) ambedkar (34) ambedkar 119th birth anniversary (2) ambedkar 22 vows (1) ambedkar and gandhi conversation (1) ambedkar and hinduism (1) ambedkar anniversary (2) ambedkar birth anniversary (2) ambedkar books (18) ambedkar chair (1) ambedkar death anniversary (1) Ambedkar in News (1) ambedkar inspiration (1) ambedkar jayanti (3) ambedkar jayanti 2011 (1) ambedkar life (3) ambedkar literature (11) ambedkar movie (3) ambedkar photographs (2) ambedkar pics (3) ambedkar sahitya (10) ambedkar statue (1) ambedkar vs gandhi (2) ambedkar writings (1) ambedkar's book on buddhism (2) ambedkarism (8) ambedkarism books (1) ambedkarism video (1) ambedkarite dalits (2) anand shrikrishna (1) arising light (1) arya vs anarya true history (1) beginners yoga (1) books about ambedkar (1) books from ambedkar.org (10) brahmnism (1) buddha (32) buddha and his dhamma (14) buddha and his dhamma in hindi (2) buddha jayanti (1) buddha or karl marx (1) buddha purnima (1) Buddha vs avatar (1) Buddha vs incarnation (1) buddha's first teaching day (1) Buddham Sharanam Gacchami (1) Buddham Sharanam Gachchhami (1) buddhanet books (6) buddhism (43) buddhism books (18) buddhism conversion (1) buddhism for children (1) buddhism fundamentals (1) buddhism in india (4) buddhism meditation (1) buddhism movies (1) buddhism video (7) buddhist marriage (1) caste annhilation (1) castes in india (1) castism in india (1) chamcha yug (1) Chatrapati Shahu Bhonsle (1) chinese buddhism (1) dalit (2) dalit and buddhism (1) dalit andolan (1) dalit antarvirodh (1) dalit books (1) dalit great persons (1) dalit history (1) dalit issues (2) dalit leaders (1) dalit literature (1) dalit masiha (1) dalit movement (2) dalit movement in Jammu (1) dalit perspectives on Religion (1) dalit politics (1) dalit reformation (1) dalit revolution (1) dalit sahitya (2) dalit thinkers (1) dalits (2) dalits glorious history (1) dalits in India (1) dhamma (16) dhamma Deeksha (2) digital library of India (1) docs (1) Dr Babasaheb - untold truth (1) Dr Babasaheb movie (2) federation vs freedom (1) four sublime states (1) freedom for dalits (1) gandhi vs ambedkar (1) google docs (1) guru purnima (1) hindi posts (8) hindu riddles (1) hinduism (1) in hindi (1) inter-community relations (1) Jabbar Patel movie on Ambedkar (1) jati varna system (1) just be good (1) kanshiram (1) literature (4) lodr buddha tv (1) lord buddha (1) meditation (9) meditation books (1) meditation video (6) mindfilness (1) navayan (1) Nyanaponika (1) omprakash valmiki (1) online books about ambedkar (1) pali tripitik (2) parinirvana (1) pics (3) Poona Pact (1) poona pact agreement (1) prakash ambedkar (1) Prof Tulsi Ram (1) quintessence of buddhism (1) ranade gandhi and jinnah (2) sahitya (1) sampradayikta (1) savita ambedkar (1) Sayaji Rao Gaekwar (1) secret buddhism (1) secularism (1) self-realization (1) Suttasaar (1) swastika (1) teesri azadi movie (1) tipitaka (1) torrent (1) tribute to ambedkar (1) Tripitik (2) untouchables (2) vaisakh purnima (1) video (7) video about ambedkar (1) Vipassana (5) vipassana books (1) vipassana video (3) vipasyana (3) vivek kumar interview (1) well-being (1) what buddha said (13) why buddhism (1) Writings and Speeches (1) Writings and Speeches by Dr B R Ambedkar (11) yoga (5) yoga books (1) yoga DVD (2) yoga meditation (2) yoga video (4) yoga-meditation (9) अम्बेडकर जीवन (1) बुद्ध और उसका धम्म (2) स्वास्तिक (1) हिंदी पोस्ट (24)

Visitors' Map


Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!

web page counter