With each passing year, many new dimensions of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar contributions to the nation have emerged.
At the same time, there have been attempts to drive a wedge in society esp among Scheduled castes and non Scheduled castes, ( some call them as Dalits & non-Dalits ) using some of his works. A tool that they use is to quote from the “Riddles of Hinduism” & “Riddles of Rama & Krishna”, part of Volume IV of Complete Works of Dr.Ambedkar. Generally , a believing Hindu who reads this feels not only disappointed but sometimes enraged. In the process, loses perspective of the overall contribution of Dr.Ambedkar to the society. They then make public utterances which can be construed as being anti-Ambedkar and thereby branded as Anti-Dalit. This is precisely what the “Breaking India Cottage Industry” wants.
Muslim leaders like Owaisi and organisations are in the forefront of many movements which seem to support”SC/ Dalit” cause. But, it is significant to note that Dr.Ambedkar in his book ” “Pakistan , or the Partition of India” clearly saw the designs of the Muslim leadership to break India and warned the “depressed classes” against the designs of the Muslim leadership.
Considering the fact that Maharashtra had gone through this turmoil once in the 1980’s, it would be worthwhile to consider the various forces then and how semblance was brought about in the society.
The publication of the above book was in 1987 by the Government of Maharashtra. The book was unpublished in Dr.Ambedkar’s lifetime. The book lead to mass scale protests by the Shiv Sena & counter protests by some Scheduled caste organisations ( under the name of Dalit organisations ) leading to a lot of turmoil in Maharasthra.
The Sangh ( RSS ) works towards the unity of the Hindu society. Naturally a disturbance of high proportion in the society was to be addressed on priority. The Sangh inspired “Samajik Samarasta Manch” took the lead to try and diffuse the tension in society.
Shri Ramesh Patange, founder Secretary of Samajik Samarasta Manch was entrusted with the work of the Manch. Dr.Shripati Shastry was the provincial secretary of the RSS, ( Prant Karyavah ).
Madhav Gadkari, the then editor of Loksatta wrote about it in his column The government, by publishing literature maligning Rama and Krishna, has hurt the feelings of Hindus, he said.
Madhav Gadkari moved about in progressive circles and was generally known to be in Sharad Pawar’s camp and an internal opponent to the then Maharashtra CM, Shankar Rao Chavan. His criticism of Dr. Ambedkar’s work had a distinctly political purpose.
Shri Patange observes
The Shiv Sena Pramukh (Chief) demanded that the controversial chapter should be deleted from the fourth volume of Ambedkars writings. His stand was that the calumny of Rama and Krishna had hurt the sentiments of Hindus, and we would no longer tolerate anybody at will coming and kicking us this way. He naively walked into the trap set by Sharad Pawar and Gadkari, and got enmeshed in it. The declaration of the Shiv Sena policy awakened the Dalits. Their leaders like Ramdas Athavale, Prakash Ambedkar, and Gangadhar Gadhe joined hands, and the socialist bands gathered around them. They did not obviously want to let go the opportunity to attack Hindutva through Dalits.
Dalits took out a huge procession on the issue of the Riddles chapter. Highly provocative speeches were made by their leaders. The Shiv Sena too, organised a huge procession, and inflammatory harangues were duly delivered. There was already a wide social gulf between Dalits and non-dalits (savarnas). The processions and counter processions widened the gulf. The rancour spread to far off villages too. Tremendous social tensions ensued. A single untoward incident might have resulted in our own people cutting each others throat. Once it is decided to politicize an issue, the question of social stability and solidarity becomes superfluous.
Regarding the RSS swayamsevaks, Shri Patange observes
” Strictly speaking, Sangh workers do not need any training in the “Samarasata” or brotherhood of Hindu society. They live it every moment in their Sangh work. Sangh Swayamsevaks and Sangh Karyakartas do not believe in caste nor do they harbour inequality in their minds and therefore their actions too are never tainted with it. “
Keeping in view the developments, an official view from the RSS was required to bring perspective to the issue.
On 18th Jan 1988, Dr.Sripati Shastri , State Secretary of RSS spoke
A noisy controversy has been raised in Maharashtra on the chapter, Riddles of Rama and Krishna written by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. It would be a great blunder to regard Dr. Ambedkar as the enemy of Hinduism by misinterpreting his controversial writings. To resort to this type of propaganda in respect of Dr Ambedkar is tantamount to distortion of his work and message. Dr Ambedkars lifetime mission was to reconstruct and reorganize the Hindu society on the basis of equality, freedom and fraternity. A thorough study of his entire life and literature should therefore be made before making any comments on him inthe present context.
Instead of doing so, to conduct disinformation campaigns about him by using his writings, which he kept unpublished, would be the height of myopia
He further said in his speech that to create a gulf between Dalits and non-Dalits would be against the interests of our country. Mahatma Gandhi staked his life to prevent such rifts in the society. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar too, while working for the uplift of Dalits, did not resort to any step which might cause cleavage in society or would lead to unnecessary conflicts.
In today’s difficult times, it is exceedingly necessary to maintain social harmony and solidarity, to promote fraternity and friendliness in the society, and to ensure amity and cordiality. Efforts in this direction will be conducive to the interests and happiness of all of us.
Giving a note of caution, he added
Crores of people in this country have faith in Shri Rama and Shri Krishna. Dalit leaders should bear this in mind while projecting their views on them. Dalit brothers would not like this type of strong language being used in respect of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar whom they hold in faithful reverence. Similarly, unnecessary use of harsh words about Ram and Krishna would disturb social peace and harmony.
The show of strength against each other by Dalits and non-Dalits would benefit the enemies of society. Christian missionaries, Muslims and Communists are waiting for such an opportunity. The Hindu society, therefore, should not sentimentalize the Riddles issue and should look at it in the perspective of reason.
Finally in his speech, Dr. Shripati Shastri appealed to the wise and mature people in the society to come together to evolve a common platform & that that was the need of the hour.
The role that the Sangh played in that time had a great impact in being able to bring perspective to the whole issue and sensitizing the Hindus about the trap that was being laid out to divide them by using Dr.Ambedkar as a tool.
In the last 2 decades, after the internet revolution, the book is now made use of in a number of articles with each writer giving his/ her own angle. Even an anarchist like Arundhati Roy wrote a preface to a re-published book of Dr.Ambedkar ( Ambedkar abhorred anarchy ) . The preface was bigger in size than the actual book itself ! It shows that some selected portions will be used by those who want to use Dr.Ambedkar for their nefarious purposes.
These ideologues hide the fact that Dr.Ambedkar wrote in his Pakistan, Or Partition of India
“Hinduism is said to divide people and in contrast Islam is said to bind people together. This is only a half truth. For Islam divides as inexorably as it binds. Islam is a close corporation and the distinction that it makes between Muslims and non-Muslims is a very real, very positive and very alienating distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is a fraternity but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt and enmity.”
As expected they don’t talk about the fact that Dr.Ambedkar spoke highly of the Vedic period of society. He debunked the Aryan Invasion theory, a pet theory of the communists, missionaries of Abrahamic cults and the anarchists.
His study of Vedic literature led him to reject the Aryan Race Theory concocted by the British. In Who Were The Shudras? he writes:
“That the theory of the Aryan race set up by Western writers falls to the ground at every point goes without saying “
In his Annihilation of Caste, he extols the Vedic period stating
” I must admit that the Vedic theory of varna as interpreted by Swami Dayanand and some others is a sensible and an inoffensive thing. It did not admit birth as a determining factor in fixing the place of an individual in society. It only recognized worth.”
A pet topic of feminists who attack Hindu society is that the women had a low status in Hindu society from times immemorial. On the contrary, Dr Ambedkar sees the Vedic period and its continuation as one in which women enjoyed rights equal to men:
“That a woman was entitled to Upanayan is clear from the Atharva Veda where a girl is spoken of as being eligible for marriage having finished her Brahmacharya. From the Shrauta Sutras, it is clear that women could repeat the mantras of the Vedas and that women were taught to read the Vedas.”
It is important to look at the works of an individual in its entirety rather than in bits and pieces. It is possible not to concur with some opinions of a person and yet respect the contribution to the overall progress of the nation.
Wise and mature people in the society must come together to evolve a common platform & that is the need of the hour for the common progress of the society.
- Ayush Nadimpalli
. References :
- Manu, Sangh & I by Shri Ramesh Patange –
- Annihilation of Caste – Dr.Ambedkar
- Who Were the Shudras – Dr.Ambedkar
- Pakistan, Or the Partition of India