The Bahujan Samaj owes a deep debt of gratitude to the Bahujan Revolutionary CHHATRAPATI SHAHU MAHARAJ who was the ruler of Kolhapur state in Maharashtra from 1884 to 1922. He was born on 26/6/1874. Maharaj of Kolhapur wanted to exterminate the stifling and strangulating structures of caste system and untouchability which are the immoral institutions created by the brahminical class. By undertaking the responsibilities of the “Satya Sodhak Samaj movement” which was started by RASTRAPITHA JOTIBA PHULE, Shahu Maharaj toiled untiringly to uplift the Bahujan Samaj. He cautioned the Bahujan Samaj by showing the flagrant injustice happened to them by the despotic rule carried by the brahminical gluttons who seized hegemony in every sphere. Shahu Maharaj proposed communal representation and he viewed it as one of the weapon of liberation for the Bahujan Samaj. Writing to Lord Sydenham, Ex- Governor of Bombay in 1918, he said “the principle that majorities have no need of separate representation doesn’t hold good in a province where a selfish minority is likely to get the power, which is sure to be used to hold the majority (Bahujan Samaj) in perpetual vassalage.” Shahu Maharaj instigated many programs in order to liberate the Bahujan Samaj from the cloak of brahminical hegemony. The programs are as follows:
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5th May in Dalit History – Death Anniversary of Iyothee Thass – Great Social reformer and Buddhist Scholar
This article was first posted at Round Table India and is written by Bala J.
We may say that great minds think alike when two scholars who lived in two different times and places reach a similar conclusion on the same problem. The traditionally educated nineteenth century Tamil scholar, Pandit Iyothee Thass as well as the twentieth century western educated intellectual from Maharashtra, Babasaheb Ambedkar, embraced Buddhism to show that it was the only way to annihilate the caste system. Both of them identified that the caste system had originated with the fall of Buddhism; therefore, believed the revival of Buddhism could perhaps liberate the people from the evil system of caste.
Pandit Iyothee Thass (1845-1914)* was born in a Dalit family in Royapettah in Chennai. He was a Siddha practitioner and a well-versed Tamil scholar having scholarly expertise in the traditional knowledge on astrology and palm-leaf manuscript reading. In 1870, Iyothee Thass founded Adhvaidhananda Sabha (considered to be the first institution-building activity in his life), in Uthagamandalam, where he was brought up. In 1891, he established an organization called the Dravida Mahajana Sabha, and on 1st December 1891, he organised the First Conference on behalf of the Sabha at Ooty in Nilgiris district. In that conference, ten resolutions were passed including the one on enacting a criminal law to punish those who humiliated untouchables by calling them Pariahs, creating separate schools and providing scholarships for matriculation education for untouchable children; providing employment for educated untouchables, and representation for untouchables in District Boards and Municipal Boards (Tamilan, 14 October 1908).
The resolutions were sent to the Indian National Congress and the Mohammedans’ Association on 21st December 1891. In 1896, Reverend John Ratnam and Iyothee Thass jointly started a journal called Dravida Pandian. Another interesting piece of information is that, in 1882, Reverend John Ratnam and Iyothee Thass established a movement under the name of Dravida Kazhagam, (G. Aloysius, Nationalism without a Nation in India, Oxford, 2000); but this fact has been concealed so that no one now remembers Iyothee Thass as the pioneer of the Dravidian movement or anti-Brahmin movement.
Returning to Buddhism
Pandit Iyothee Thass exhorted Dalits to embrace Buddhism for annihilating the system of caste. With this objective he constructed an alternative history with the help of Tamil literature and folk traditions of Tamil. He demonstrated that the untouchables were the native Buddhists and untouchability was imposed upon them because they opposed the orthodox practices exemplified by the Hindu Brahmins. He asserted that Buddhism was the first anti-Brahmin movement in Indian history. So he called on the Dalits to return to their original religion, Buddhism.
Everyone knows that last year during election campaigns Modi had said Taxila was part of Bihar. But in reality, Taxila, which is in Pakistan, is nowhere near Bihar! Next in the election campaign Modi had said, Buddha was born in Bihar, but in reality Buddha was born in Lumbini, Kapilavastu, which is in Nepal.
Now, today on Buddha Purnima speech, Modi said following –
Seems like he is reading books published by terrorist organisations like RSS. How can one accept all this? All this is utter lie and no one with right mind can accept this. Modi is trying to erase true history and is trying to propagate fake ideas. In reality, Buddha died a natural death, all this is lie what Modi is preaching. Check out what Dr. Ambedkar had written about the end of Buddha in The Buddha and His Dhamma. Modi has definitely hurt the sentiments of Buddhist community in India again and again.
Further, in the same speech today, Modi said that Buddha described women empowerment as – in next birth all women will be men! In reality, there is no such reference that Buddha said all this. Buddha never believed in rebirth, then how can Modi say and quote some book, written by some RSS person that in next birth women will be men? It is really shameful. Next, according to Modi, Buddha said – in next birth lower caste people will be born as higher caste people! What a shame again, there is no such thing Buddha ever said, Buddha and Buddhism doesn’t believe in caste, it is only in Hinduism. In other words, what Modi is saying that if we are reborn, we will still have caste system and caste discrimination!! Buddha was against any kind of discrimination, how we can accept what Modi is saying? This is degrading the great personality of Buddha, who stood against all kinds of discrimination.
Apart from the all this, Modi mentioned in his speech that wherever he has gone (abroad), he makes sure that he goes to Buddha temples there. But in reality it must be remembered that the main reason for all this is that in western or any other developed country, if India has any good image, it is because of Buddha, not because of any other fake God. People in those countries feel safe in the hands of Buddha but it’s shameful that India doesn’t value it’s great personalities. Leave aside giving importance to Buddha, people like Modi malign Buddha.
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On the eve (Sunday, 3rd May, 2015) of Buddha Purnima Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Behan Mayawati paid tribute to Lord Buddha and said Lord Buddha worked for the casteless society and his teachings are still valid.
It must be remembered here that it was not the first instance that Behan Mayawati has remembered Lord Buddha. She has been working continuously on the ideas of Lord Buddha and has played a vital role in the establishment of Gautam Buddha Nagar, Noida. During Behan Mayawati’s government, she made many memorials and educational institutes on the name of Lord Buddha. such as Gautam Buddha University.
Apart from that no-one can forget Behan Mayawati’s role in the creation of Dalit-bahujans history eg. Dr. Ambedkar Park at Lucknow. If we want to make India Buddha-may, we need BSP in power, so I request everyone to support BSP and it’s activities. Only when we will have power and we will have our own government we can do anything for our icons and our ideals.
(Published in Janata in Marathi on 17th May 1941: BAWS, Vol. 20, pp. 327-335, translated by Mangesh Dahiwale)
There is no need to tell that Indians love festivals. They spend half of the year in festivity and religious rites. They also give great importance to celebration of birth and death anniversaries of great people. The celebration of Krishnajanmastami, Ramanavami and Hanuman Jayanti are testimony to these mental attitudes of the Hindus. It will surprise the foreigners that Indians do not celebrate the Buddha Jayanti in the same spirit though the Indians are fond of such celebrations. Of all the great people born in India, the status of the Buddha is the highest. The followers of the Buddha regard Him as the great Sun who illuminated this world. Christians, though envious they are of the Buddha, compare Buddha with the Light of Asia. Hindus also regard the Buddha as the tenth incarnation of Vishnu. This famous person was buried in the memories and Indians do not remember him at all. There are many people who will know the name of Bajirao’s harlot, Mastani. But I guess that the numbers of people who are familiar with the name of the Buddha are far less than this. This famous person has been forgotten to this extent is a matter of great shame and surprise. In this situation, it is a matter of joy that in Bengal and other provinces the celebration of the Buddha Jayanti has been started. This is very praiseworthy. But we think that this event has a great political significance. Therefore in order to make people aware of this significance we have planned to introduce people the importance of the life and mission of the Buddha.
Before 2500 years, King Suddhodhan of Sakya clan was ruling Kapilvastu. The name of the family was Gautama. Kapilvastu was located in what is now called United Province. It was located between Shravasti and Ayodhya and 50 miles east of Faizabad. Suddhodhan had two wives. One of them was Mayadevi and another was Prajapati. After marriage of Suddhodhan and Mayadevi, Mayadevi conceived after some days. According to social tradition, the first delivery was to be carried out in her maternal home and therefore her father Subuddha sent a message to his son in law for sending Mayadevi. Therefore Mayadevi and her sister Prajapati left for her maternal house with retinue. On the way they halted in Lumbini forest. On that place Mayadevi underwent labour of birth of a child and she gave birth to a boy in that forest. After giving birth to the boy, Mayadevi died in a very short time. The boy was nurtured by Mayadevi’s sister Prajapati. The boy was named as Siddhartha. Later on he became famous as the Gautama Buddha.
Buldhana’s Ashish Gawai, 17 is now All India Topper in JEE Mains 2015. What merit these Brahmins and so called upper castes talk about? All this smashes the fake logic of so called upper castes people that merit this, merit that, blah, blah..
If topper would have been from Sharma, Thaukar, Dwivedi or Trivedi, he would have been all over the place! Ashish Gawai belongs to Dalit-Buddhist community hence has been ignored by media and everyone. Our community faces discrimination at each and every step. Shame on Indian media and people who discriminates and heartfelt congratulations to Ashish Gawai. Hope one day media and India will stop considering caste in every situation and give credit to everyone.
Read a news report about it from here.
Also check Sasikanth Senthil IAS top scorer in Main Exam 2008 from our community.
A video in Marathi on IIT – JEE 2015 Topper Ashish Gawai
This article was first posted at Round Table India.
If you want to destroy a society, destroy its History and the society will get destroyed automatically – Dr. Ambedkar
Nobody till now has questioned winners; neither will anyone in the future ask them, how have they won? Fiction is “generally accepted falsehood” or “non factual literature”, whereas the History is “systematic continuous record of events”. Dalit history has been maligned and distorted since ages. Historians ought to be freeless, sincere, open minded, open hearted, truth seeking & also courageous to show the truth at any cost but it is the misfortune of the Dalits of India that historians have always presented a distorted picture & never showed the truth to the people. Being Dalit, we have been taught to hate ourselves, we have been taught that Dalits’ don’t have any history; we have been taught Dalits can’t do any good. Who taught you all this? The upper castes did. Hence, almost everyone confuses history with fiction & historians have made people blind, deaf & dumb – have disabled people from thinking rationally. Historians have made us believe and worship fictitious characters such as Krishna and Rama.
A few years ago, the Punjab School Education Board came up with a 4th standard book in which Guru Ravidas was shown worshiping King Rama and Sita. But in reality, Guru Ravidas was against idol worship and he never worshiped any of these two deities. Not only this, the names of Guru Ravidas’ parents, his date of birth and even the Guru’s name were wrongly published! Further, it was taught to us that Guru Ravidas was a disciple of Ramanand but nowhere in Guru Ravidas’ bani (teachings) will you find Ramanand’s name mentioned even though the names of other saints such as Saint Kabir, Saint Namdev etc., are mentioned in his bani. A few days back, Mohan Bhagwat from RSS was claiming that Dr. Ambedkar believed in RSS’ ideology!
Earthquake that couldn’t shake caste bias – Dalit victims of Nepal earthquake still waiting for any help
Caste has such strong foundation in Asia that no tsunami can wash it, no earthquake can shake it and no flood can carry away the filth of it. Once again Dalits have been left out of any relief work in Nepal earthquake. According to the latest news from The Indian Express (29th April) Dalits are still waiting for any help from Government. Dalits houses have been devastated by earthquake but no Government is helping them. It is not the first time that Dalits have been ignored by Governments in natural calamities. One can check out from Gujarat earthquake to Tamil Nadu Tsunami to Kosi River floods in Bihar, who has suffered the most? Dalits. Dalits suffer the most in natural disasters and Dalits’ experience in natural calamities isn’t very good; Dalits have always been left out of rehabilitation.
Here is what Dr. Ambedkar had said about the discrimination in charity almost 70 years back and this is still true,
“Go into the field of charity. With one or two exceptions all charity in India is communal. If a Parsi dies, he leaves his money for Parsis. If a Jain dies, he leaves his money for Jains. If a Marwadi dies, he leaves his money for Marwadis. If a Brahmin dies, he leaves his money for Brahmins. Thus, there is no room for the downtrodden and the outcastes in politics, in industry, in commerce, and in education.”
It is unfortunate when relief and rehabilitation should be done without considering caste or creed, in reality it doesn’t happen. Research has shown time and again that in large scale disasters, communities at the bottom of the caste hierarchy are also the last to receive relief benefits, if they receive it at all. Government of Nepal, India and all other relief and rehabilitation agencies must ensure that Dalits are not left out of relief and rehabilitation.
Voiceless victims are crying for help and it is our duty to raise your voice against injustice happening to Dalits so that they do get timely help and they are not left out in rehabilitation process. Further, please support Dalit organisations such as EDWON — Empower Dalit Women of Nepal working in Nepal for relief and rehabilitation of earthquake victims, don’t donate to any other (manuwadi) organisation because they don’t help Dalits at all.
In the wake of the earthquakes in Nepal and the ongoing aftershocks, if you are looking to help, I would like to suggest EDWON — Empower Dalit Women of Nepal. EDWON is collecting money for a rebuilding fund for Dalits and tribal whose lives and homes have been decimated at the epicentre of earthquake in Gorkha. If you decide to donate, know that your contributions will go directly into the hand of Dalit and tribal women’s groups in their rebuilding efforts and will circumvent upper-caste village headmen. Many big relief organizations do not have this focus. If you have any question please send a message here.
Today in Dalit History we focus on the powerful legacy of freedom fighter Jogendra Nath Mandal. His crucial role in the founding of India and Pakistan came from his strategic position as the significant Namashudra leader of United Bengal.
As the Indian subcontinent was moving towards independence, Dr. B.R Ambedkar and the Congress Party of India clashed bitterly over the rights and representation of scheduled castes. Ambedkar was an unyielding critic of the Congress party’s positions on many issues, which he believed were not in the interest of the scheduled castes. Thus when members were being elected to the Indian Constituent Assembly, the Congress party in Bombay saw to it that Dr. Ambedkar was not elected. However, Jogendra Nath Mandal, who had been nominated from Jaisur and Kulna (undivided Bengal), sacrificed his seat to Dr. Ambedkar so that he could become part of the 296 member constituent Assembly. In doing so, Mandal ensured there was at least one Dalit present in the drafting committee of the Indian constitution.
As a leader of the Namashudras, Mandal found common cause with the Muslim League, in their demand for Pakistan. His reasons were, “First the economic interests of Muslims in Bengal were generally identical with those of the Scheduled Castes…and secondly that the Scheduled Castes and the Muslims were both educationally backward.” He hoped that in Pakistan, Dalits would be equal, as freedom from the oppression of Caste Hindu landlords and moneylenders would cease. For M.A. Jinnah, the 1st leader of ‘Pakistan’ had assured them freedom to practice any religion; In his speech of August 11, 1947 he said, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” Thus on August 15,1947 Mandal became a member and a temporary chairman of Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly, and agreed to serve as the Minister for Law and Labour. He also served as the second minister of commonwealth and Kashmir affairs.
Sadly, his time in Pakistan was not peaceful as he could not stop the increasing violence against Dalits in the country. First, his demand to have two more Dalit members as ministers was also ignored by Liaquat Ali Khan, then Prime minister of Pakistan. Second, he countered the proposed Objectives Resolution that defined Pakistan, an Islamic state, which disregarded the rights of ethnic and religious minorities. Later in October 1950, he resigned and went to Calcutta (now Kolkata) in independent India.
Mandal later tried to enter the Indian political sphere in 1967 but failed in his attempt as he was one of the founding members of Pakistan. He contested in the Barasat constituency in the year 1967 and was defeated. Jogendra Nath Mandal died on 5 October 1968 at the age of 64 years in Bangaon in the state of West Bengal, India.
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