14th June in Dalit History – Dr. Ambedkar returned to Bombay from America on 14 June after receiving Doctor of Law from Columbia University.
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14th June in Dalit History – Dr. Ambedkar returned to Bombay from America after receiving Doctor of Law from Columbia University.
5th June in Dalit History – Dr. Ambedkar conferred with honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by Columbia University
2nd June 1915: Dr. Ambedkar passed M.A. examination from Columbia University
Dr. Ambedkar passed M.A. examination from Columbia University (New York) with major in economics. The other subjects were sociology, history, philosophy, anthropology and politics.
5 June 1952: Dr. Ambedkar conferred with honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by Columbia University.
Dr. Ambedkar was was to have received the degree at the hands of General Eisenhower, who was then President of the University. But due to cabinet responsibilities and later electioneering the General would not make the trip.
Earlier on night of 31 May, Dr. Ambedkar was felicitated at a dinner party at the Cricket Club of India, Bombay (presently Mumbai), by Dr. V.S. Patankar, Principal and K.V. Chitre, Registrar of the Siddharth College. Dr. Ambedkar left Bombay for New York by a T.W.A. flight on 1 June. A large gathering of his followers and admirers gave him a send-off at the Santa Cruz airport. On 5 June, the convocation was held. Columbia University conferred on six persons the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. While awarding him an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, at its 198th commencement exercises. The University hailed Dr. Ambedkar “as a framer of the constitution, member of the cabinet and of the council of states, one of India’s leading citizens, a great social reformer and a valiant upholder of human rights”. He received the degree before a large crowd assembled to watch 6,848 graduates of Columbia’s 17 schools and colleges receiving their degrees.
Mahatma Jyotirao Govindrao Phule published Powada: Chatrapati Shivajiraje Bhosle Yancha on 1st June 1869 and Gulamgiri on 1st June 1873.
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Bombay Presidency Conversion Conference was held on 30th May 1936.
Bombay Presidency Conversion Conference (Mumbai Elaka Mahar Panshad) of Mahars was held at Naigaum (Dadar) to sound their opinion on the issue of Conversion. Mr. Subha Rao, popularly known as Hydrabadi Ambedkar, presided over the Conference. In the morning the Ascetics shaved their beards, mustaches and destroyed their symbols of Hinduism in an Ascetic’s Conference.
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on behalf of the Bahishkrita Hitakarini Sabha (Depressed Classes Institute of Bombay) raised issues concerning the state of education of the Depressed Classes in the Bombay presidency in front of Simon Commission (Indian Statutory Commission) on 29th May 1928 at Damodar Hall Parel, Bombay.
Full text of the same is available here.
26th May (1935) in Dalit History – Death anniversary of Mata Ramabai Ambedkar
Ramabai Ambedkar’s parents died when Ramabai was in her childhood, leaving behind two small brothers to take care of. Their uncle and maternal uncle proceeded with all the three to Mumbai. At Mumbai she married Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar. During her domestic struggle she lost her father-in-law Ramji. Ramabai Ambedkar did help Dr. Ambedkar during ups and downs in life. Then another tragedy followed with the demise of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar’s elder brother Anandrao.
Check also – Movie on Ramabai Ambedkar – Ramai
Afterwards, for higher education Babasaheb got the Sayajirao Gaikwad scholarship at Baroda. For higher education when Dr. Ambedkar had to leave for England, all the responsibilities to take care of home came to Ramabai, which she handled very well.
Ramabai used to encourage Babasaheb for higher studies and used to do household work and remit money to Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar. Ramabai went through difficult life but her sheer determination helped her win over her difficulties. Heap of troubles, difficulties were showered on Ramabai but she didn’t surrender, she was adamant in upbringing the poor and downtrodden of her society, she took over the struggle carried by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar and stood like a rock along with Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar to carry out the grand work initiated by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.
On 26th May, 1935, Mother Ramabai Ambedkar left this world. More than 10000 people attended the final procession.
Salute to Mother Ramabai Ambedkar on death anniversary.
24th May in Dalit History – Death anniversary of Sant Ramanand Ji and Attack on Shri Guru Ravidass temple in Vienna (Austria)
On the 24th of May, 2009, six Jat Sikhs (upper castes) men armed with daggers and guns entered the Shri Guru Ravidass Gurdwara in Vienna (Austria), and started shooting, aiming at the two visiting Sants (Sant Ramanand Ji and Sant Niranjan Dass Maharaj Ji) from Punjab, India who were giving a sermon at that time. The bloodshed by upper caste Jat Sikhs resulted in the death of Sant Ramanand Ji, who died of gun wounds, and the serious injuries to Sant Niranjan Dass Ji, the spiritual head of Dera Sachkhand Ballan, a religious centre for Dalits in the Punjab devoted to Guru Ravidass Ji.
Both Sants were on a mission to preach and spread the teaching of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji, enemies of humanity attacked and seriously injured and killed inside Shri Guru Ravidass Gurudwara in Vienna, Austria. More than 30 followers of Guru Ravidas Ji were also injured and eleven of them seriously. An email reportedly received by Radio Akash in London, purportedly from the Khalistan Zindabad Force, claimed responsibility for the attack.
When news of the death Sant Ramanand Ji spread, the Punjab erupted in violence, a state curfew was imposed, and the army was called in to restore order.
After this unfortunate killings and attacks on Dalit leaders, Dalits in Punjab founded new religion, Ravidassia, and did get separate from Sikhism. At that time Akali Dal and SGPC did their best to please Dera Sachkhand Ballan, Jalandhar, so that Dalits don’t leave Sikhism but at the same time Akali Govt. arrested several Ravidas leaders campaigning for the new Ravidassia religion. Such a hypocrisy by so called Sikh leaders of the time. At present in Sikhism also one can see divisions as per caste system and so called Jat Sikhs think Sikhism is their personal property! Let me tell so called upper caste Jat Sikhs that Sikhism is not a property of anyone, it was founded to fight against injustice and caste discrimination but now there is no difference between Sikhs and Brahmins as both practice discrimination.
Sant Ramanand Ji is no more physically with us because of most unfortunate incidence at Vienna, Austria, but his noble thoughts shall always be with us to lead us on the right path.
Remember Bhagya Reddy Varma (May 22, 1888 – July 2, 1950) the “Father of Dalit Movement in Andhra Pradesh” on his birth anniversary. His original name was Madari Bhagaiah and he was founder of Adi Hindu Movement in Andhra Pradesh. Bhagya Reddy Varma was born in a Dalit, Mala caste family in the princely Hyderabad State to Madari Venkaiah.
Bhagya Reddy Varma founded around 26 schools in around Hyderabad region for Dalits. He established Dalit panchayat courts to settle disputes among dalits. He chaired All India conference of Schedules castes held at Lucknow on 27, 28 December 1930, to support send delegation to Round Table conference. Babasaheb Ambedkar was present in this meeting.
In 1906, he started Jagan Mitra Mandali to educate Dalits through popular folklore. Mandali worked on the social consciousness among untouchables. Later in 1911, he founded Manya Sangham, which tried to create awareness among untouchables through literature and lectures.
Bhagya Reddy Varma had launched a movement against devadasi system, forcing the Nizam to declare it a crime.
20th May in Dalit History – Birth Anniversary of Iyothee Thass – Great Social reformer and Buddhist Scholar
Lest We forget – Iyothee Thass (1845 – 1914)
Iyothee Thass was an intellectual and social critic of 19 – 20 century Tamilnadu. In the primordial collective consciousness of the Dravidians he sensed the Buddhist values of equality and compassion. Working them out he severely criticized the brahminic hegemony that brought in estrangement and caste division among the people. Though a man of secular credentials he upheld the ethico-rational sensitivity that genuine religion can cultivate in promoting justice, righteousness and truthfulness. In this paper a brief attempt is made to construct the reformistic work which done by Iyothee Thass Pandithar.
Who is Iyothee Thass?
Born on 20 May 1845, Thass’s original name was Kaathavarayan. His grandfather had served as a butler to Lord Arlington. Kaathavarayan gained expertise in Tamil literature, philosophy, Siddha and had good knowledge of English, Sanskrit and Pali. After organizing the tribal people in the Nilgris in the 1870s, he established the Advaidananda Sabha in 1876. He launched a magazine called ‘Dravida Pandian’ along with Rev. John Rathinam in 1885. He issued a statement in 1886 announcing that the so-called untouchables’ are not Hindus. He established the Dravida Mahajana Sabha in 1891 and during the very first Census urged the so-called untouchables to register themselves as casteless Dravidians. This in fact makes Tamil Dalits the true descendents of the anti-Brahmin legacy which is today claimed by non-Brahmin non-Dalits. Iyothee Thass’s meeting with Olcott was a turning point not only in his life but also for the Tamil Dalit movement. In many ways, Thass was a forerunner of Dr B.R. Ambedkar.
Iyothee Thass and Buddhism
He led a delegation of prominent Dalits to Olcott and pleaded for his help in reestablishing Tamil Buddhism. With Olcott’s help Thass visited Sri Lanka and got diksha from Bikkhu Sumangala Nayake. On his return, he established the Sakya Buddhist Society in Chennai with branches in many places including Karnataka. Returning from his sacred pilgrimage to Colombo, Iyothee Thass issued a pamphlet in Tamil, entitled, Buddha: The light without distinction of day and night. In this, he systematically stated his project “Tamil Buddhism” a brief statement of Sakya Buddha’s life was followed by an exploratory survey of the Tamil epical-ethical literary tradition to explain the past glory, the fall and the present degradation of the Tamil lower caste and the antagonism between Brahmins and Sakya –Valluva (Parayar) Tamils; the emancipatory future for the original Tamils was sought to be projected as the modern rediscovery of the earlier Buddhist traditions through construction of Buddhist Temples, maintenance of Buddhist medical halls, Buddhist college, Buddhist young men association, celebration of Buddha’s birthday anniversaries and establishment of Buddhist charity fund to feed the poor. The pamphlet closed with an appeal to join these effort by singing the apprehend forms. The coming together of the initial group to implement project Tamil Buddhism was, thus, based on a common understanding of a collective-historical rationale and a social consensus in the modern sense of the term. However, not all the founding members of the society took ‘pancha silam’ and became Buddhist. The Sakya Buddhist society started its activities in 1898 with religious meetings on Sundays, semi-public lectures on socio-religious issues by learned men of all faiths and confessions and conversions to Buddhism that is, taking of pancha silam and enrolling as members, though in small numbers, yet continuously. Soon the Sakya Buddhists were recognized as an independent entity by other international Buddhist bodies and a flow of visitors, monks and lay people started and increased with passing years. Writing about those early years, Iyothee Thass says: “lectures are delivered every week in the hall of the society in addition to the occasional lectures delivered here and there in the city of Madras. Thus a great interest is aroused in the minds of people in the life and teaching of our Lord Buddha. And not a few have been the conversion to the faith of the master… Some 260 Buddhist visitors, bhikkus and lay men and women from Holland, china, Japan, Burma, Ceylon, Siam, Singapore, Chittagong, Benares, Calcutta, Bodh Gaya and other places have called and stayed here on different occasions”.
On 15th May, 1936 Babasaheb Ambedkar published Annihilation Of Caste book. Dr. Ambedkar was scheduled to deliver this speech to a conference in Lahore, but could not. The conference organizers cancelled his invitation as they felt the contents of the speech were too radical for the time. Dr. Ambedkar later released the speech in written format, and it became one of his most famous work – title, ‘Annihilation of Caste’. In this work, Dr. Ambedkar discussed the problems in ending the caste system in India, and how those problems could be countered.
If you’d like to read the text, Columbia University in the City of New York has designed a special e-text format of the speech for easy readability and cross-referencing at http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/ambedkar/web/index.html