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What is the nature of #DalitMuslimUnity?


By – Dr. K. Jamanadas

This is in response to an article by Adv. Md. Karim (DV.June 1- 15, 97). It was a great misfortune that Dr. Ambedkar and Br. Jinnah could not work together, Adv. Karim says. He says Azad was a stooge. He says the anti Muslim activities are a symptoms and not a disease. He says Muslims are not a minority. He believes that population of Muslims could be more than presumed 15 percent. He also quotes authorities to show that Islam is an egalitarian religion. All this need not refuted and any Bahujan can agree with all these points. He avers that Muslim masses in India are in a need of allies to fight the existing system under the guidance of Islam He advises his Muslim brothers to help the Dalits in all spheres, and keep good contacts for future interaction. This is quite correct. But the main point is, what kind of unity is sought for. He says:

“The future of India lies in the unity of Dalits and Muslims – not under the banner of this party or that because no party is aiming at providing an alternative to the existing social, political and economic setup but under the invigorating and revolutionary message of Islam …”

Why no political party is thought to be neccesary? Is it an invitation for the Bahujans to adopt Islam? Is it a proletising work? If it is, well and good; nothing wrong in that; only that perhaps DV is not a forum for it.

Dr. Ambedkar on MuslimOur experience of mixing religion with politics is always counter productive. The combination does neither promote the religion nor the politics. The political meetings of RPI used to start with Buddhist prayers, the non Buddhists in the party, gradually, faded away. The religious sermons to Budhists used to end with request for support to RPI work, the non-RPI Buddhists stopped coming. I feel the two must not be combined, the religion and politics. I hope Adv. Karim does not wish to propagate religion from political platform.

What is the spirit of Islam

Do the Muslims consider Dalits as non-hindus? I think, it is the first neccesity that they must make a distinction between “Hindus” and Dalits. Dalit leaders have time and again declared that. Leaders of all Dalit parties, of all shades and colours. But Muslim leaders do not think about this. I think this is the main hurdle. Continue reading

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How the Buddhists and Jains were Persecuted in Ancient Brahmin India


“… Hiuen-Tsang, who visited India from 629 to 645 AD, describes the influence of a south Indian Brahmin queen on her husband who ordered the execution of many thousand Buddhists including 8,000 in Madurai alone. Kalhana’s Rajatarangani (written by a Shaivite scholar about 1149 AD and the first Brahmin account of India’s historic past from the time of Yudishthira) relates that Mihirikula, the Hun ruler was converted by Brahmins (in 515 AD) and unleashed a wave of violent destruction on Buddhist monasteries in Punjab and Kashmir. He reports (verse 290 in book 1) that “crows and birds of prey would fly ahead eager to feed on those within his armies reach”. He proudly proclaimed himself as the killer of three crores. … … – Buddhism that had been strong in India in the 7th Century was completely obliterated a century later.”

There are many who seem to believe that brutality and bloodshed were the sole preserve of Muslim rulers and that Hindu rajas lived in an idyllic ocean of peace and tranquility. Unfortunately, an examination of the history of the Indian sub continent does not support such an uninformed opinion.

Buddha Statue at Sarnath

Buddha Statue at Sarnath Destroyed by Brahmins

Gaining and retaining power is a brutal business all around the world, and has been so, all through history, with the possible exception within Buddhist societies where brute violence is rare. Many people genuinely believe that Hinduism has always been a tolerant religion that assimilated other peoples and ideas without bloody conflict. That is how they teach it! The ugly scars of brutality in the history of all peoples, are sanitized in school history books. The ruling powers, everywhere, want to play down the politics of past racial or religious persecution. This has the result in our case that many people hold the opinion that brutality and violence in India were exclusive to ‘invaders’ like the Greeks, Mongols, Turks and even the British. While these were the `invaders’ easily condemned by the history books, it can be mentioned that most of the Arya, Scythian and Jat tribes, who came to India probably from central Asia, could also be described as ‘invaders’.

For those tribes the word ‘invasion’ is an exaggeration. Most of north western India was fairly sparsely populated in ancient times and the great Indian cities (after the Harappan period) were mainly in the region of present day Bihar until the 6th century BC, so many alien tribes from less fertile areas of the north simply entered with little opposition, unnoticed even, by the local inhabitants. Pastoralists never made wars on each other and it was only with growing populations and urbanization that rulers of the evolving city states had to keep standing armies that were dedicated to protect but also attack for plunder!

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Few rare pictures of Jogendranath Mandal


Attending the first Labour Conference in Karachi in February,1949.

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Members of the working committee, Scheduled Caste Federation, on 2oth Nov, 1946 in Bombay. Dr Ambedkar and Jogendranath are present.

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Check also – 29th January in Dalit History – Birth anniversary of Jogendranath Mandal

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8th January in Dalit History – Buddhist Flag Day


8th Jan8th January

Read more about Buddhist Flag and what its different colors represent from here.

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Japan-born Buddhist monk battling the caste dragon


The room goes silent, and when I look up from my recording equipment, an otherworldly figure has entered the room. Its eyes sit deep in their sockets underneath a wrinkled forehead. A strong jaw completes the image of a figure imbued with an iron will. Its clean-shaven head drops in a bow, its thin, stone-like lips open and an old man’s coarse voice emerges from somewhere deep inside: “Konnichi wa.

The man standing in front of me, holding a staff and wearing a simple robe, is Surai Sasai, a Japanese Buddhist monk on a lifelong quest for justice in India. In a few moments he will address a large audience about his mission in the South Asian nation, where he has spent most of his adult life. I hear the murmur from the audience waiting in the adjacent lecture hall. The meeting, on a fine June day, is hosted by the famous Shingon sect of esoteric Buddhism, at the sect’s headquarters on Mount Koya in Wakayama Prefecture. Sasai sits down, and I feel a pang of insecurity. Can I ask a man like this anything, without the risk of offending him?

“He’s got the kind of face I’d never seen before,” says Mitabi Kobayashi, 43, in an interview some days later. Kobayashi is a filmmaker who has been following Sasai for the past 10 years. “I first saw it in a magazine in 1997,” he continues. “Thinking it must be a photograph from sometime just before the war, maybe a little later, I was stunned when I learned the picture was only 8 years old. When I learned later about his life’s mission, I knew I had to do a documentary on him.”


In a Kobayashi film from 2009, we see Sasai on stage back in India, speaking to hundreds of Indians in orange robes, preparing them for a mass conversion to Buddhism.

“You are about to make some severe vows!” he shouts, holding a microphone. “From now there will be no drinking, no sleeping with women!” The mass of shaved, dark-skinned men in orange seems undeterred and listen calmly.

Sasai’s quest in India has many elements of the classic “Hero’s Journey” monomyth: There is the search for the boon (justice and equality), the battle with the dragon (the caste system), the great sacrifice (giving up a comfortable life in Japan) and the sharing of the treasure with the community. Sasai is building his community among the Dalits, a people who have endured unrelenting discrimination for having been born into India’s “untouchable” caste. He claims to have converted 2 million Dalits, giving them a new chance in life. This has made him famous in Indian Buddhist circles.

“The Shudra [low-caste] people were not treated as human beings, and conversion was their way out,” says Rakesh Sade, an Indian Buddhist and admirer who has come to listen to Sasai. “Religion should be for human beings, not the other way around. If it does not give us the right to live as humans, it is better to leave. Not even our children got decent treatment. They couldn’t sit in the classroom with the other pupils, but had to stay outside.”

The ill treatment of children is but one of endless examples of routine discrimination against the Dalits. To them, Sasai is a hero.


Born in 1935 in the village of Sugao in present-day Niimi, Okayama Prefecture, Sasai had difficulty settling into an ordinary lifestyle.

“Sasai likes to tell a story from the first days after the war,” says Kobayashi. “He was still a child, but he just couldn’t come to terms with what he saw as the ultimate stupidity and waste of the war effort. To make a point, he scribbled ‘Serves you right!’ on the walls of houses in his village, and he was rewarded with a good beating by the villagers.”

After high school, Sasai started to work as a salesman, selling medicine. “He was what we’d call a furiitā (part-timer) in Japan today,” says Kobayashi.

I ask Sasai how he views his life: “It was an existence of struggling in the mud, of inflicting wounds on myself again and again,” he replies in his weathered voice. “Today I can only say I am grateful for how life turned out.”

It is a gracious reply to a polite question. But Sasai was not born a saint, and perhaps that is what gives him his humanity. In fact, he has all the hallmarks of a maverick.

I see this side to him in a film clip from an earlier visit, when he gets hold of a wooden training sword and starts swinging wildly, in all directions, until he falls over, ending up a kimono-clad heap of laughter on the ground. Or, when we join him in prayer outside the lecture hall, and he all of a sudden starts some sort of cheer-leading, slogan-shouting thing, and all the Indians in hats gathered around him raise their fists in the air and shout back in unison — what exactly, I have no idea, but it sounds like a war cry. Or, when one of his disciples gets too excited and Sasai lashes out at him, in front of us all, “You need to learn how to use Buddha’s language properly!” addressing the poor man as omae, a rather rude form of “you” in Japanese.


Sasai has hundreds of thousands of disciples in India, where he started his missionary work in 1967. But that success did not come easily.

“India is not an easy land to live in, in one sense,” he says. “There are simple things you have to put up with, such as the food: chapati, day in and day out — chapati and dal (a stew of lentils or peas, etc.). But that is a small sacrifice. Most of all I have suffered because of my naivete. Men like me get taken advantage of, sometimes even by people they trust. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been fooled.”

Still, there is no bitterness in his voice as he continues: “But who can blame these people? They think completely differently about these things. They even laugh when they themselves are fooled.”

If Sasai has felt betrayed, there is also room in his heart for sympathy.

“This is a people that cannot live without religion,” he says. “Good religion or bad, they must have it! India is the land of religion. And I think one reason may be that they were not isolated in an island nation like us Japanese, but were exposed to all kinds of influences on a dynamic continent. That’s probably why they listen to and respect us monks, and I love that.”

But in spite of this openness, there are also conservative forces at play in India, and the odds against Buddhism breaking the caste system seem formidable. If the original teachings of Buddhism are really more about political reform than religion, as some argue, serious conflict may be brewing.

The Buddha himself is said to have been opposed to the caste system, and there is good evidence that in the third century, Emperor Ashoka followed in his footsteps. Ashoka, regarded as one of the greatest of India’s rulers, united the country under Buddhist edicts.

“Ashoka was anti-Brahmin and anti-Hindu,” according to Richard Gombrich, emeritus professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford, referring to the traditional caste of clerics and teachers. “This is why Indian school books never mention his opposition to the caste system and to blood sacrifices. They are, quite correctly, considered to be antithetical to Hinduism. So the Brahmins, very cleverly, totally forgot him and totally buried him.”

Will they also bury Sasai? In fact, they have already tried. In India, it appears his political clout is a double-edged sword.

“In Nagpur, everyone knows Sasai for his religious leadership. But he is also known in the rest of India for his influence on powerful politicians,” says Kobayashi. “Hindu opposition is a constant. There has been harassment of aspiring Buddhist converts, and even assassination attempts on Sasai himself.”


Although the Dalits have historically suffered terrible discrimination, some have managed to escaped their predicament. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb, was one of them. An influential social reformer, he became independent India’s first justice minister, helped draft its first constitution and sought to eradicate the injustices of the caste system. Shortly before his death in 1956 he converted to Buddhism and initiated a mass conversion of Dalits to unshackle them from what he saw as Hindu discrimination. This re-energized Buddhism in India after centuries on the brink of extinction.

The year after Ambedkar’s mass conversion, Sasai, struggling to find direction, met a Buddhist priest in Yamanashi Prefecture and decided to enter the monkhood. Eventually he was sent to study in Thailand, where further challenges presented themselves — in the form of two women he became infatuated with. Ashamed of his failure, Sasai decided he could not return home, and instead traveled to India in 1967 to seek the right path.

The trip did not go well, and a year later Sasai was ready to give up on India. But then, one night, a man appeared to him in a dream, introducing himself to Sasai as Nagarjuna, an ancient Buddhist philosopher. The man gave him directions to find the Steel Stupa, a sacred site in Buddhism, which seemed to point to the vicinity of the central Indian city of Nagpur.

On arrival in Nagpur, Sasai met a man who had organized Ambedkar’s mass conversion ceremony in the city in 1956. Shown a photo of Ambedkar, Sasai became convinced that it was the Dalit intellectual who appeared in the dream in disguise. But somehow, the image of Nagarjuna would not leave him.


If you walk through the immense burial grounds on Mount Koya past centuries-old crumbling graves slumbering in the shade of huge, ancient cedar trees, you will end up at a memorial hall called Oku-no-in, one of Japan’s most intensely spiritual places. There, entombed in the basement, is the mummified body of Kukai, the founder of the Shingon sect. Followers believe he has been in a state of unconscious deep hibernation since 835, waiting for the arrival of the next Buddha.

Kukai journeyed to China to bring home a scripture that is at the very core of esoteric Shingon Buddhism — the Mahavairocana Sutra. The sutra had traveled all the way from India, where, according to Shingon teachings, it was received by Nagarjuna several centuries earlier in the Steel Stupa. Kukai, it turns out, was the last in a lineage of eight masters of the sutra across the world.

And now, Sasai is here at Mount Koya to talk about the sutra’s place of origin — the Steel Stupa — which he claims he has found at the Mansell ruins, 14 km outside Nagpur. However, Sasai’s claims have had a mixed reception among Japanese scholars so far.

“They don’t seem to be too interested,” says Kobayashi. “Some came to investigate, but the research results often conflict with their own, so Sasai is stepping on their turf.”

Japan-born monk Surai Sasai leads a prayer ceremony at the headquarters of the Shingon Buddhist sect on Mount Koya, Wakayama Prefecture, on June 14. The portraits depict Buddha and Dalit social reformer Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. | CHRISTINA SJOGREN

Japan-born monk Surai Sasai leads a prayer ceremony at the headquarters of the Shingon Buddhist sect on Mount Koya, Wakayama Prefecture, on June 14. The portraits depict Buddha and Dalit social reformer Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. | CHRISTINA SJOGREN


In spite of his success as a religious leader in India, there has been surprisingly little interest in Japan in Sasai’s approach to Buddhism. But why is this?

One scene in Kobayashi’s film about Sasai’s 2009 visit to Japan is quite revealing. In the documentary, there is a Buddhist meeting, and the monks are gathered to dine, filling the room with cigarette smoke, drinking generously from beer bottles. Apparently unable to accept this behavior, Sasai is eating alone in an adjacent room.

Attitudes toward wealth are another source of contention.

“I feel Buddhism in Japan is basically dead,” says Sono Kumar, an Indian Buddhist who took part in the June event at Mount Koya. “As a monk, you should not marry, have sexual relations or crave for money. Here they wear a robe to the temple and jeans at home. I feel they use their religion for business. I ask people about this but they never have any good answers.”

What does money mean to Sasai? During his 2009 visit, Kobayashi’s camera gives us a glimpse of a man both happy to see the progress of his homeland and alienated by it.

“In Japan, you need money to live,” he says, looking out at the landscape whizzing by outside through the shinkansen window. “But in India, it’s not all that important. After all, you can basically lay down and sleep wherever you like.”

At this point, I thought I could trace a hint of sadness in his stony face.

The Indians I spoke to stressed that education is central to the task of making people appreciate the deeper values of Buddhism. Sasai agrees.

“It is extremely hard to get people among the older generations to open up to new thinking,” he says. “A grandmother or grandfather may convert on paper, but it will take three generations before you can talk about ‘Buddhists’ in the true meaning of the word. The young are freed from the Hindu view of the world. They haven’t studied the Hindu scriptures. So you must be patient and wait for real change.”

Educated Indians have been coming to Buddhism in significant numbers recently, but many apparently prefer “lighter” forms of it, and use it chiefly as a means of stress relief. Sasai is confident, however, that his grass-roots movement will make a difference:

“India’s history is about to change,” he enthuses. “Buddhism is truly coming back in earnest. It’s nothing less than a revolution! And it’s all thanks to one man — Ambedkar.

“I am just a clown, someone who dragged himself out of the p—- and crap and was lucky enough to find meaning in India. But consider Ambedkar’s contributions to the constitution, to equality, to bringing back into the limelight the worldview of the Buddha. Finally, many of the underprivileged in India can live a decent life.

“And it may take another 100 years or more before it happens, but one day India will wake up and and once again find itself a Buddhist nation.”

Source – Japantimes

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Why Science Declined In Ancient India?


Why Science Declined In Ancient India?

By – Dr. K. Jamanadas

A learned medical specialist from Nagpur, in a recent article in lay press, while describing ancient medical sciences in India, has remarked that fall of science of surgery was because of ‘ahimsa’ taught by the Buddha. Though the remark was as an orbus dictum, it shows not only his ignorance of Indian history and of Buddhism, but also desire for making false charges on Buddhism due to, may be, his contempt for the Buddhists. The surgery was never considered ‘himsa’ by the Buddhists, nor for that matter by anybody. Certainly fall of sciences was not because of ‘ahimsa’ of the Buddha.

Modern science is undoubtedly a contribution of the west. That way, in all societies, there were attempts of obstruction to progress of science. In India they got more success. There was a time in Indian history when Indian science was not only famous in the country, but it was so all over the world. If the progress of Indian science would have been maintained unhindered after the sixth century A.D., we Indians, today, would have been foremost in the scientific field.

Golden era of Science in India

From the ruins of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, it is clear that there existed a pre Aryan urban civilization of Dravidians, which went by the name of Nagas. It shows great development of town planning, water supply and urban facilities, sanitary drainage and granaries.

Gold used for ornaments in Harrapan culture was from Kolar gold mines, the only source available, which is proved by a committee of metallurgical experts under sir Edwin Pascoe, who performed chemical analysis, under the direction of Sir John Marshall. So gold mining was a flourishing industry of the time. This also shows the communicating links between south and north, Vindhyas and forests of Dandakaranya were no bar.

The copper used in Harrapan civilization was imported from Rajputana, and tin from Hazaribagh. It used various types of stones quarried all over India, and some imported from outside.

The modern number system of 0 to 9 with use of decimal point is the contribution of Indian mathematicians. It spread to Europe via Arab countries.

Mauryan India also achieved remarkable success in fields of Engineering, town planning, architecture and art. India’s first irrigation dam belongs to this era and was aptly called “Sudarshana”, i.e. beautiful in later inscriptions of Rudradamana.

We know the importance of Ashokan pillars for aesthetic beauty, craftsmanship and religious declarations, but it was also known for the science of polishing of stones to such an extent that it became the distinguishing mark, the structures with high polish being ascribed to Ashokan period. Such gloss and polish, Marshall says, “no modern mason can produce”, Vincent Smith calls it “the despair of modern masons”, Tom Coryat and Whittekar described it as of brass, Chaplain Terry as a pillar of marble, and Bishop Heber as pillar of cast metal.

In the first and third centuries A.D., two important texts were composed on medical science, namely Charak Samhita and Sushrut samhita, which show the advanced stage medical knowledge in India.

Susrut Samhita, which is a text of surgical science, describes more than one hundred instruments of surgery. It also describes the plastic surgery procedures, specially the operation of rebuilding of nose, what we today call as rhinoplasty.

At the time of invasion of Alexander, India was famous for medicine and surgery.

In Buddhist books, we find mention of Jivaka who operated on the brain of a merchant. He was appointed by Emperor Bimbisara as a physician for Lord Buddha and cured him of constipation by making use of inhaling fragrance of medication on a lotus flower. The science of Inhalers in modern medicine is pretty recent. He cured diseases of head, a fistula by ointment, jaundice and performed surgery on brain and intestinal “entanglements” as per the Vinaya texts, which Radha Kumud Mukharji calls were “not given to exaggeration like a work of fiction”.

Ashoka had sent medical missions to five Hellenistic States of Europe for humanitarian service, with aushadha, mula and phala, as per Rock Edict 2 and 13.

Education of medicine was compulsory in Nalanda Mahavihara and even I-Tsing had to undergo a course.

Up to seventh or eighth century A.D., Indian physicians and surgeons were respectfully appointed in Baghdad.

Indian medical books were popular in China. A Chinese work composed in 455 A.D., is derived from Indian text. A number of medical books are found in Chinese Buddhist collection. A text on Children’s Diseases, named “Ravana-kumara-charita” was translated into Chinese as late as 11th century.

Indian Medical science and arithmetic was highly valued in the west. Greek and Iranian physicians knew Indian medical texts. It is recorded that Barzouhych, a subject from Sassanid King Khusro I’s court (531-579 A.D.) visited India for study of medicine.

Meharauli iron pillar, which is standing in the courtyard of Kutub Minar at Delhi, belongs to fourth century A.D. It is standing there, defying the ravages of times, for centuries but not a spot of rust or corrosion on it. Its composition was examined by a committee of experts, who held that, it was beyond the capacity of any Iron foundry in the world of that time to manufacture such a masterpiece.

From Periplus we know that the sword made of Indian steel is proverbial in Arabic literature, showing the highest skills and knowledge of metallurgy. The famous Damascus blade was made from Indian steel.

Ancient South Indian bronzes are praised even now in the whole world not only for their craftsmanship but also for metallurgy. Sultanguanj colossal Buddha in copper is a metallurgical masterpiece and a marvel, still preserved in Birmingham museum.

Jawaharlal Nehru describes how the Roman Emperor scolded his daughter for wearing so little clothing on her person, while in fact she was fully clad in Indian made muslin clothing, showing the high degree of skill in textile industry.

It is recorded that, “the Roman beauties, decked in even seven folds of Muslin, and parading themselves on the highways of Rome, became a menace to its morals.” and import of Indian textiles had to be banned by Roman Parliament. The ban on imports was necessary also because of balance of payment crisis. Pliny estimates one million pounds sterling drain per year. It resulted in favourable trade balance for India, with a stable gold currency for the Kushana empire.

India was also famous for paints and dyes, which were the products for export. The pictures of Ajanta are famous not only for aesthetic beauty, art and history but also for quality of paints and pigments used.

The science and art of ship building suffered most during “kali varjya”. The sea worthy people of south India were great voyagers. They built ships of huge tonnage, traveled to far east, established settlements, colonies and even kingdoms and propagated their faith both brahmnic and Buddhist. All these qualities became futile after imposition of ban on sea travel.

Dhanvantari

In the medical field, the scholars of present time, seem to have forgotten about Jivaka, Nagarjuna, Sushruta, Charaka and Vagbhata. They appear to give more importance to Dhanvantari. The picture presented of him is not as a medical teacher, but as an imaginary mythological puranik god who sprang up from the churning of ocean of milk by the devas and danavas. Why the former historical dignitaries are ignored in preference to him will be clear if we bear the fact in mind that all leading names in ancient medicine were Buddhists. So they had to invent a god for Ayurveda.

However, there is a minor medical work going by name of Dhanvantari. It is a Nighantu or a medical dictionary. It is mentioned in Amarkosha, and hence in original form must have preceded the Amarkosha; but its extant form it must be ascribed to a later date. Amar, writer of Amarkosha, was according to tradition one of the nine jewels at the court of Vikramaditya, whose very identity it has not yet been possible for scholars to fix beyond all doubt. He is “known as a poet, and was certainly a Buddhist who knew the Mahayana and used Kalidasa”, as per Winternitz, His date is uncertain but he probably flourished before the eighth century A.D.

Aryabhatta

Aryabhatta, born in 476 A.D., flourished in the centre of Buddhist heart land, i.e. Capital of Magadhan empire, at Pataliputtra. and his Aryabhatiya was composed in A.D. 499. He was first to treat Mathematics as a distinct subject and he dealt with evolution and involution, area and volume, progressions and algebraic identities, and intermediate equations of the first degree. He also arrived at a ‘remarkably accurate value of PI, viz. 3.1416’

Aryabhatta was also the first to hold that the earth was a sphere and rotated on its axis. For this, he gave a beautiful analogy that to a person travelling in a boat, trees on the shore appear to move in oppoite direction, similarly because earth is rotating on its axis towards east, it appears to us as if the sun moves from east to west. He also explained that the eclipses were not the work of Rahu and Ketu or some other ‘rakshasa’, but were caused by the shadow of the earth falling on the moon. As we will see later, both these views were rejected and severely condemned by later astrologers like Varahmihira and Brahmagupta.

One of the most important features of Aryabhatta’s mathematical system is his unique system of notation. It is based on the decimal place value system, unknown to other ancient people, but now in use throughout the civilized world. Whether Aryabhatta invented the system or merely improved on an existing one cannot be definitely stated. But with the doubtful exception of Bakhshali manuscript, which is referred by some to c. A.D. 200, the earliest use of the system occurs in Aryabhatiya, and it is found in all later mathematical works.

Thus till that time, which was the golden era of Buddhism and decline had yet to start, India was in no way inferior or behind any other country of the world, in the field of science.

Buddhist rulers and science

In third fourth century B.C., in the Asokan times, there was great advances in veterinary science. For treatment of elephants, “Palkapya samhita” and for treatment of horses, “Shalihotra samhita” were written. We find in his edicts, mention of hospitals established by him for men and animals even in far off places in south India. All this shows the growth of Veterinary science in India.

All these show that Indian science was well advanced up to sixth century. One has to ponder over what were the reasons which not only obstructed the progress of science, but also destroyed what was already achieved. One has to understand the history, literature and puranas, and social conditions to find these out.

It is clear from the dates, that the age of progress of science in India was the age of glory of Buddhism. Acharya Charak was the ‘rajvaidya’ in the court of Buddhist emperor, Kanishka, of first century A.D. Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna was also their contemporary. He was also famous physician. The contribution of Charak to “Charak Samhita” is as important as Nagarjuna’s contribution to “Sushrut Samhita”.

Whatever knowledge of ayurveda was being spread through the oral traditional method of Guru sishya teaching was revised and reduced to writing in the times of Buddhist rulers.

During the early centuries of Christian era, medical science was on zenith. In this development, the contribution of Buddhists was enormous. Through them, the knowledge spread all over the other foreign countries.

Role of Buddhist faith

As a matter of fact, science spreads only when it is free from the fetters of traditions. Lord Buddha had given that freedom to Indian society, that freedom of thought and action. Liberated from the severe caste rules, society was taking keen interest in progress of scientific pursuits.

Jivaka, discussed above, was an infant found on a dung heap, and still could reach such an illustrious position, only because of Buddhist environment. We know in brahmanic tradition, admission to school was based on caste as is seen by examples of Karna, Ekalavya and Satyakama Jabaala.

The situation was quite opposite in Brahmanic teaching institutions, In Brahmanic Gurukulas, there were no criteria for admission apart from the caste of the prospective student and whims and fancies of the teacher. Examples of denial of admission to very meritorious candidates on the basis of caste are seen. Glaring example is of Eklavya. Not only the guru Dronacharya denied admission to Eklavya, but demanded Eklavya’s thumb as gurudakshina for education NOT imparted by him. Many people feel it is irony of fate and mockery of awards, that such a name is associated with highest sports awards in this country today, without any protest from the sufferers of the system.

Second example is of Karna, who got admission to Parashurama’s class, which was exclusively reserved for the brahmins, on false statement of caste. Benefit of his knowledge, labeled as unlawfully obtained, was withdrawal when his caste became known, which ultimately lead to his death.

Example of Satyakama Jabala is mentioned by many orthodox people to erroneously show that education in Upanishadic times was open to low caste people. This is a wrong inference drawn from his story. Satyakama was asked by his guru his caste. His mother sent a word to the guru that she did not know the exact father of the child as she had relations with many people. This frank statement, the guru declared, can only be a statement of a son of a brahmin. So the admission to the gurukul was done on the basis of brahmin caste. Not only that, the test applied by him, and his presumption of brahmin caste, was derogatory to non- brahmins, because it was his belief that only brahmins could speak such a truth and non-brahmins could not have uttered such truth.

Buddhism and Science

Kurt F. Leidecker, President Buddhist Center of America, and others very aptly observe in “Buddhism and Science”,

” Perhaps one reason (for progress of science) is that Buddhist thinking has always enjoyed the greatest freedom untrammeled by dogmatism and authority of any kind, not even that of Buddha himself. We have his words in the Kalama Sutta which should be given in the hands of any who write and pronounce judgment on Buddhism.”

“Science observes, describes, establishing the truth on ocular demonstration and verification by experiment which anyone may undertake without the least faith in ultimate results.”

“Whatever progress has been made in the western world in science and technology, was made not because of faith and belief in supernatural, but largely by rejecting it or being indifferent to it.”

“Science is based most assuredly on analysis, that is, scrutinizing every phenomenon and examining every part of it and finding out how it came about. That is exactly what the Buddha did.”

“The fact is that in the history of Buddhism there has never been any altercation with scientists, and no war has ever been declared on science. Warfare between science and Christianity? Yes, there has been too much of it. Warfare between science and Buddhism? Never.”

Crusade against Science

There were wars against science in the western world also. But it is in India that the antagonists of science won the war. Brahmins opposed Buddhists, and their relations were so strained on the issue of caste supremacy, that they became bitter enemies of each other. They opposed every thing in which Buddhists were experts, even the science. Dr. Ambedkar very rightly said, “It must be recognized that there never has been a common Indian Culture, that historically there have been three Indias, Brahmanic India, Buddhist India and Hindu India, each with its own culture. It must be recognized that the history of India before the Muslim invasions is the history of a mortal conflict between Brahmanism and Buddhism.”

In the far off counties, the Buddhists were getting name and fame, but at home in India, there were efforts to dig out and uproot their moorings. Later when Buddhist became weaker due to internal differences and contradictions, the brahmins put themselves in citadel, in which the new arrangements were made by which they declared as inferior and degraded all those things, which Buddhists were good at and for which Buddhists were famous for all over the world.

Even science was not spared from this fate. A famous scientist of modern India, Dr. Neelaratna Dhar aptly observes that, the progress of science was obstructed by the decline of Buddhism in India. The help and support received from Buddhist Universities and monasteries to chemical and medical sciences in the hospitals was stopped. After the fall of Buddhism, Brahmins dominated and they denounced, condemned, denigrated and maligned all those things in which the Buddhists had excelled.

In the fight against the Buddhists, kali varjya was clamped on this society. Hinduism got rearranged, and in its new concept, foreign travel was forbidden. All vocations relating to science were declared sacrilegious, blasphemous, heretical and disrespectful. Caste rules, rules of high and low, rules of untouchability and inequality all were made more and more strict. All knowledge and science was made more secret, secluded, hidden and concealed and every new thought and invention was opposed.

Due to ban on travel to foreign lands, India got cut off from the rest of the world. The society was not like a frog in the pond, before; but due to severance of bonds of communications with the outside world, the stupid injunctions of priests became the words of authority. There is a phrase in Marathi saying, whatever priest tells is east and whenever he says is the new moon day. In such circumstances, it was natural that all scientific progress got suffocated.

The various vocations were graded according to basis of caste hierarchy, white collar jobs were kept by higher castes and the rest of population, the shudras i.e. the working class, the marathas or kunbis, the malis, the telis, the gawalis, the lohars, the sutars, the mangs, the mahars, the chamars, the paradhis, the gonds, the bhils etc. etc. all ‘shudras and ati- shudras’ in Mahatma Phule’s terminology and ‘bahujans’ in todays terminology, were made the beasts of burden to carry out all activities requiring toil and sweat. By this the prestigious castes lost all links with practical aspects of technology and means of production. All niceties of life, food clothing housing and attendant luxuries, wealth, comfort, and prosperity was concentrated in the hands of three varnas, and to provide these the shudras had to toil and sweat their blood out. All the productive work which is done in western countries by choice, option and preference was done in India as a burden, a charge, an obligation, a stress through a feeling of frustration and pressure of compulsion due to ‘purva karma’, the deeds of past life. The society was made to believe that those people who do not work with their hands are more civilized, sophisticated, cultured, noble, dignified and worshipable, and have attained that position because of the good deeds they had done in the past lives; the good deeds meant, of course, the preservatin of chaturnarna.

Lord McCauley, some times, is unnecessarily blamed for creating the army of white collared babus. The reality is that this germ of white collared arrogance was already in this soil.

Role of Mahabharata

In this important text of Hinduism, medical science, architecture, manufacture of weapons, painting, sculptor, agriculture and animal husbandry has been condemned time and again. In one place it is even said that, the food given to a vaidya, i.e. a physician, in a shraaddha becomes unacceptable to the pitars like blood and pus. It is clear that till the time of Mahabharata all these vocations were declared mean, contemptible, lowly, humble and ignoble.

There are three types of treatments in ayurveda, they say. Where rasas are used is ‘daivi’, where fruits are used is ‘manushi’ and the surgery, some modern authors say, was a ‘aasuri or rakshasi’ knowledge. This is the brahmanic interpretation of later times. If similar sentiments prevailed in the earlier times we would not have seen the prosperity of surgical knowledge at the time of Jivaka and Sushruta etc. Because of this feeling, surgery was despised and hated more and more and so it went to hands of the lower castes in the society.

It is said by Dr. Satya Prakash that science of obstetrics and maternity surgery was well developed at the time of Sushrut. When none in the outside world could think of surgical instruments, Sushrut describes various operations of maternity with these instruments. His advises about maternity are similar to modern ones.

The famous Jivaka of Buddha’s time, was expert in maternity science. He was called Kumar Bhrutya Jivaka. Till the Buddhists dominated, the art and science of maternity in ayurveda flourished. After the fall of Buddhism, when brahmins dominated, they declared this science as dirty and it passed on to the women of low castes. It remained with them till the British came, and still in villages these dayees of low castes, i.e. midwives, prevail even today.

The feeling of high and low was so great in the Brahmanas, that even the gods had been divided into castes, high and low. Ashwani kumars were declared shudra gods, not eligible to take part in drinking soma by Indra, who was considered ksatriya. As they were physicians, this profession degraded them to the status of shudras.

In west, all the scientist were sons of ordinary working class people, like carpenter, blacksmith, cobbler, barber etc. These professions were never considered degraded. With us, the working class was always degraded castes. If they had been given some encouragement and motivation in technological fields, science in India would have flourished.

The science develops by spread of thought, but in India, there was more of secrecy to guard it from lower castes. Nobody having any useful knowledge wanted to part with his knowledge. It was within Guru and his disciple to start with. When writing came in, around beginning of Christian era, the texts were written in such a script that they were understood by only a few. Example of Varahmihir can be quoted who ordained that only selected disciples should be given such knowledge, and see that it does not pass even to his son. How much knowledge is lost in darkness, nobody can guess.

Science deals with physical world, but we were taught that world is unreal only the god was real. This raised the armies of sadhus, who were interested in philosophy and bhajan kirtan and their subject was in the world here after. They were not interested in science as world was ‘mayajal’ for them.

With perhaps a solitary exception of Bhaskaracharya of 12 to 14th century, there was not a single activity in the sphere of scientific knowledge, roughly from sixth century, up to 19th century when the British came,

Some people like to blame Islam for this decline in science. It is wrong to say so. Decline had started much before the Muslims came. We became slaves afterwards, we were withered and wrinkled much before that time due to our internal weaknesses. The reasons of decline of science in India are also the reasons for its defeats and political fall and are responsible for the slavery, this land suffered for centuries.

Creation of Illiteracy

India is supposed to have largest number of illiterates in the world. Many institutions are fed on State revenue for the ‘noble’ cause of so called ‘adult’ literacy. But nobody tells us why India remained illiterate for centuries. It was Dr. Ambedkar who brought this fact in light. He averred that, without formal education the accumulated thought and experience relating to a subject can not be learned by a student and he will not get new perception and his horizon will not widen. This requires schools, books and planned materials and literacy. Formal education was confined to study of to Vedas alone, in schools meant only for brahmins, as they propagated that there was no knowledge outside Vedas. Education of rest was neglected by the state. Children of vaishyas learned rudiments of business geography and arithmetic from fathers in course of business, and so did the shudra craftsmen from their parents. This education was domestic and practical. Due to this illiteracy became inherent part of Hindus. Manu and others made laws to this effect. Those who had right to study the Vedas had right to read and write, others were deprived of this right. So according to laws of Manu, reading and writing has become the right of few high caste men and illiteracy has become the destiny of low caste multitudes. This is how literacy was prohibited and general ignorance prevailed among the masses.

Fate of Aryabhatta

One need not confuse between astronomy and astrology in ancient India, because both went by the name of ‘jyotisha’. If the study of astronomy would have progressed in normal way, we would have achieved tremendous progress in space technology. But the blind faith in stars and imaginary ‘loka’s led to ruin of this science.

We know that Vedas declare that earth is stationary and sun is moving. We know the word ‘achalaa’ for earth, we also know the horses for the ‘ratha’ of sun. In spite of such ideas in Vedas, astronomers like Aryabhatta in fifth century declared, as mentioned above, that earth is moving and sun is stationary, and explained how lunar and solar eclipses take place. The priestly class saw danger to their livelihood, if Vedas were found fallible. They organized a crusade against Aryabhatta, in two ways.

Brahmagupta (c. 598 A.D.) criticized and asked, if earth is moving, where is it going to and by which way. Varahmihir (c. 600 A.D.) wrote, if earth is moving the birds would not reach their nests in the evening. If the earth is rotating fast towards east, the flags would always fly towards west, and if it is rotating slowly, it would not complete rotation in 24 hours. Same arguments were repeated by another acharya, Lallacharya in seventh eighth century. He also said if earth moves towards East, the arrow shot in the sky would fall on the West and that the clouds would move West. If earth is moving slowly, how would it complete rotation?

Even Bhaskaracharya (some time between 1114 and 1400 A.D.) totally denied that earth can move. He said Earth is fixed. As Sun and fire are hot, as Moon is cold, as water flows, as stone is hard, similarly it is natural that earth is fixed. So much so that word ‘achalaa’ became a alternate term for earth.

Thus Aryabhatta was ridiculed and criticized with wrong logic. Not only that, but in 10th century a fraud was committed, a fake copy of ‘Aryabhatiya’ was prepared declaring earth as ‘achalaa’, and later it was declared that this is his real text of Aryabhatta. The fraud is clear as the real point is, if Aryabhatta had originally said, in the first place, that earth is ‘achalaa’, why was he ridiculed, condemned and denounced for about five hundred years.

Thus astronomers, or so called ‘jyotirvids’ were denounced from all angles whenever opportunity presented. They were declared mean, lowly and contemptible, they were declared polluted, they were denied all respect and their means of livelihood were withdrawn. They were prohibited from being called to yadnyas, mahadanas and shraadhas. The rearer of goats, painters, vaidyas and watchers of stars must not be respected though they might be learned like a brahaspati, so says Atrisamhita. Mahabharata says those brahmins who study the stars must not be allowed to sit in the line with for meals in shraadha. (Anushasan parva, 90, 11/12) Manu III. 172, 167 declared those as lowly, contemptible and unfit for yadnas and shraadha. Nirnaya sindhu 3, and Vivek sindhu 3, also declare them unfit for being called in yadnyas and shraddha. They are also condemned and ridiculed by Brihit samhita (2-2).

These ‘daivadnyas’ not only deceived the masses but also the rulers, and condemned the ‘jyotirvids’. They were cunning and talked glibly. Varahmihir says, he should be clever, bold, quick witted, irrepressible, smart and shrewd. They were very near the political powers and so nobody could touch them.

Still the public respected the jyotirvids, so the brahmins changed the meaning of the word jyotirvidya, which now meant those who study the ‘effects’ of stars on human beings contrary to the original meaning of study of stars, and themselves became ‘daivaidnyas’, – the knowers of fate. This stopped the progress of astronomy which died a natural death.

Not only that, daivadnyas later declared the means of controlling and changing fate by shanti, mantras and yadnya etc. Varahmihir describes the many qualities for daivadnya, like shantik – mantras for removing calamities, poustik – mantra for increasing health wealth etc., abhichar – means of punishing the enemies.

Still the common people criticized these fortune tellers. So they declared such critics as ‘nastika’, ‘mlencha’, ‘chandala’ etc. and pronounced them of ‘sankara yoni’. This stopped all progress of astronomy. Everybody knows that ‘varna sankara’ is a big abuse of ancient India, and a greatest punishment in civil life. These people were boycotted and were compelled to lead an isolated life of a beast.

Thus astronomy or mathematical Jyotish was driven away by the ‘falit’ jyotishya, which provided bread and butter to brahmins and is still doing it. This ‘falit’ jyotishya has made Indians mere fatalists. Whereas in other countries, everybody exerts his own effort to change the unfavorable surrounding environment, we, in India, are more in search of Rahu and Ketu. Even today, the same thing prevails, and we find the dignitaries changing the direction of entrances to their residences and timing the oath ceremonies to match the timings of the stars. For the first time after centuries, Aryabhatta was honoured by Indian scholars, when the first ever Indian satellite was sent to orbit was named after him.

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Why only science suffered

Dr. Gorakh Prasad writes that after Bhaskaracharya, it was considered a sin to make any progress. To find errors in old texts and correct them and to search for new things was totally banned. When such a thing was brought up, the brahmins of Kashi opposed vehemently.

Some people unburden themselves by putting blame on ‘foreigners’, meaning Muslims, for this fall of science, but history tells us that our other activities, other than science, did not change much. Why only science suffered? Not that we had no scholars. There were fights, disputes and clashes in ‘shastrartha’. The very word ‘shastrartha’ applied to debates, denotes that no new facts are to be discussed, whatever is to be discussed must be to find the real ‘artha’ i.e. the meaning, of the old ‘shastras’.

The philosophical texts abounded by constant churning. Puranas and smritis were compiled, edited and reedited. Various commentaries were written amending old laws. And a lot of discussion took place on poetry. The literary innovations of metre and rhyme is plentiful in the drama and poetry of the time, and the intricacies of art and ‘alankaras’ were invented, which no other country has done. Poets and scholars spent their effort and capacity in observing most minute details of female anatomy and portraying it in texts, and such poets are compared with literary merit of Shakespere. Then why this ban on science alone?

The reason becomes apparent when you view the society in proper perspective. The society was divided into six thousand castes, all placed one above the other, with brahmin at the top, who also did every thing to maintain its supremacy. The real reason of fall of science was that, the science and technology brings comfort to common masses, which our acharyas did not want. They were self centered in their own domination over the masses and their Rajput – ksatriya masters were after life of comforts and luxury throughout the period of alien rule. The threat to these comforts was considered danger to the ‘dharma’. It might be an interesting subject for study, as to what were the various things which were considered as ‘danger to dharma’ in course of our history. If these gods on the earth and their disciple rulers would have thought of broader welfare of masses, and incorporated these problems in their agenda, the science would not have suffered, neither the country would have been slave for centuries under a fistful of individuals of alien faith.

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19th July (1954) in Dalit History – Dr. Ambedkar’s blue print for spreading the Buddhism in India


19th July 1954 in Dalit History: Dr. Ambedkar made a proposal for a campaign for spreading the Buddhism in India at Buddhist Sasana Council of Burma (present Myanmar)

In his July trip to Burma in 1954, Dr. Ambedkar made a proposal for sponsoring a campaign for Buddhist conversion in India. Speaking to the Buddhist Sasana Council of Burma, he argued that the ground wa fertile in India and presented a memorandum to the Council.

The memorandum is as follows:

MEMORANDUM I

Record of my talk to the Buddhist Sasana council of Burma

An enlarged version

1.      To spread Buddhism outside Burma be one of the aims of the Sasana Council then India is the first country they should make the centre of their effort. No other country; will yield so much as India will.

2.      The reason is obvious. India is a birth-place of Buddhism. It flourished in India from 543 B.C to 1400 A.D i.e. for nearly 2000 years. Although the Buddhist Religion has vanished the name of the Buddha is still held in great veneration and the memory of His Religion is still green. In India Buddhism may be withered plant. But no one can say that it is dead at the roots. He is regarded by the Hindus as an Avtar of Vishnu. In India we don’t have to restore veneration for a new prophet or (X) has to do for his Gods among the Jews. All that we have to do is to bring back his religion. Such easy condition for a   (X) sffort cannot be found in any other country. In them there are well and long established religions and Buddhism would be regarded as an intruder without a passport. So far as India is concerned the Buddha needs no passport nor does he require any visa.

3.      Thirdly there are sections among the Hindus who are eager to leave Hinduism and go over to Buddhism. Such are the Untouchables and the Backward Classes. They are against Hinduism because its doctrine of Chaturvarna which is best described as the doctrine of graded inequality. In the present stage of their intellectual awakening these classes are up in arms against Hinduism. Now is the time to take advantage of their discontent. They prefer Buddhism to Christianity on three grounds.

(i)  Buddhism is not a religion which is alien to Indians

(ii) The essential doctrine of Buddhism is social equality which they want;

(iii)  Buddhism is a national religion in which there can be no room for superstition.

4.      There should be hesitation in launching the movement on the ground that the majority of the people entering Buddhism in its early stages will be coming from lower classes. The Sasana council must not make the mistake which the Christian missionaries in India made. The Christian Missionaries began by attempting to convert the Brahmins. Their strategy was that if the Brahmans could be converted first the conversion of the rest of the Hindus would not be difficult. For they argued that is the Brahmins could be converted first they could go to the non-Brahmins and then “When the Brahmins have accepted Christianity why don’t you. They are the heads of your religion”. This strategy of the missionaries proved fatal to the spread of Christianity in India. The Brahmins did not become Christians. Why should they? They had all the advantages under Hinduism. The Christian missionaries in India realized their mistake and turned their attention to the Untouchables after wasting hundreds of years in their effort to convert the Brahmins. By the time they turned to the Untouchables the spirit of nationalism had grown up and every thing alien including Christianity was regarded as inimical to the country. The result was that the Christian missionaries could convert very few untouchables. The Christian population in India is surprisingly small not- with standing the missionary effort extending over 400 years. They might have converted the whole of Untouchables and the backward classes if they had begun with them first.

5.      Attention may be drawn to the entry of Christianity in Rome. For it is very instructive. From the pages of Gibbon’s decline and fall of the Roman Empire it is clear that Christianity entered first among the lower classes or as Gibbon says among the poor and despised section of the roman population. The higher classes came in later on. Gibbon ridicules Christianity as a religion of the poor and the down-trodden. In holding his view Gibbon was thoroughly mistaken. He failed to realize that it is the poor who need religion,. For religion, if it is a right religion, gives hope of betterment to the poor who having nothing else need as a soothing action. The rich have every thing. They need not live on hope. They live on their possessions. Secondly Gibbon failed to realise that religion if it is of the right type ennobles people and elevates them. People do not degrade religion.

6.      I will now turn to the preliminary steps, which has to be taken for the revival of Buddhism in India.   I mention below those that occur to me:

(i) The preparation of a Buddhist Gospel which could be a constant companion of the convert. The must of a small gospel containing the teachings of the Buddha is a great handicap in the propagation of Buddhism. The common man cannot be expected to read the 73 volumes of the Pali Canon. Christianity has a great advantage over Buddhism in having the message of Christ contained in a small booklet, The Bible. This handicap in the way of the propagation of Buddhism must be removed. In regard to the preparation of Buddha’ Gospel care must be taken to emphasize the social and moral teachings of The Buddha. I have to emphasize the point because I find that in most Buddhist countries what is emphasized, is meditation, contemplation and the Abidhamma. This way of presenting Buddhism to Indians   would be fatal to our cause;

(ii) The introduction of a ceremony like Baptism in Christianity for the laity. There is really no ceremony of conversion i.e. for becoming a lay disciple of the Buddha. Whatever ceremony of conversion there is, is far becoming a Bhikku, for entering into the sangha. Among the Christians there are two ceremonies; for baptism showing acceptance of Christianity; and 2. For ordination i.e becoming a priest.  In Buddhism there is no ceremony like baptism. This is the main reason why people after becoming Buddhist slip out of Buddhism. We must now introduce a ceremony like the Christian baptism which every lay person must undergo before he can be called a ‘Buddhist’. Merely uttering the panch shila is not enough. Many other points must be added to make person feel that he is ceasing to be a Hindu and becoming a new man;

(iii)  The appointment of a number of lay preachers who could go about and preach the Buddha’s Gospel among the people and look after the new convert and see how far they are following the Buddha Dhamma. The lay preachers must be paid. They may be married persons.

(iv) The establishment of a Buddhist Religions seminary where persons who wish to become preachers could be taught Buddhism and also comparative study of the other Religions

(v) The introduction of congregational worship in the Vihara every Sunday followed by a Sermon;

7.      In addition to these preliminary steps it is necessary to do some other things which require to be done in a big way as aids to our propagation campaign. In this connection I make the following proposals;

(i) Building of big Temples and Viharas in the four important towns; 1. Madras; 2.Bombay; 3. Calcutta and 4. Delhi

(ii) Establishment of high Schools and Colleges in the following towns 1. Madras; 2. Nagpur; 3. Calcutta and 4. Delhi

(iii) Inviting essays on Buddhist topics and giving prizes to the first three sufficient in value so as to attract people to make their best efforts to study Buddhist literature. The essays should be open to all Hindus; Muslims and Christians; to men as well as to women. This is the best way of making people interested in the study of Buddhism.

8.      Temples should be so big as to create the impression that some thing big is really happening. High schools and colleges are necessary adjuncts. They are intended to create Buddhist atmosphere among younger men. Besides they will not only pave their way but bring a surplus which could be used for other missionary work. It should be remembered that most of the Christian missions find funds for financing their activities from the surplus revenue which is yielded by the schools and colleges they run.

9.      I have set out above what preliminary steps must be taken. I feel I must also set out what precautions must be taken in launching the movement for the revival of Buddhism in India if Buddhism is not to disappear again.

10.  Buddhism has not disappeared from India because its doctrines were found or proved to be false. The reasons for disappearance of Buddhism from India are different. Buddhism was in the first place overpowered and suppressed by the Brahmins. It is now sufficiently known that the last Maurya emperor, decandent of emperor Ashoka, was murdered by his Brahmin commander-in-chief, by name Pushya Mitra who usurped the throne and established Brahmanism as the State Religion. This led to the suppression of Buddhism in India which is one of the cause of its decline. While the rise of Brahmins brought about the suppression of Buddhism in India, the invasion of Islam brought about its complete destruction, by the violence it practiced in destroying Viharas and killing Bihkkus.

11.  The danger to Buddhism from Islam no longer exists. But the danger from Brahmins exists. It will be its toughest opponent. A Brahmin will remain a Brahmin no matter what colour he or what party he joins. That is because Brahmins want to maintain the system of graded social inequality. For it is this graded inequality, which has raised the Brahmins above all and to be on the top of every body. Buddhism believes in equality. Buddhism strikes at the very root of their prestige and power. That is why the Brahmins hate it. It is quite possible that if the Brahmins are allowed to lead the movement of revival of Buddhism they may use their power to sabotage it or misdirect it. The precautions to exclude them from position of power at least in the early stages of our movement is therefore very necessary.

12.  All these proposals raise question of finance. This question, it must be frankly said, cannot be solved by India. The only people who could help are the Buddhists in India, who in the early stages must (are) very few. The burden must, therefore, be borne by the Buddhist countries outside India which I feel they can easily do by diverting their Dana to this purpose.

Sd/-

B.R.Ambedkar.

Civil Lines,

26 Alipore Road

Delhi, the 19th July, 1954.

But the Burmese were not willing to sponsor this, and Dr. Ambedkar was ready to undertake it on his own. He thus began writing a book intended as a simple, eloquent and rationalistic Buddhist gospel – The Buddha and His Dhamma.

19th July

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Dr. Ambedkar’s letter to Buddha Sasana Council, Rangoon (Burma)


19th July 1956: Dr. Ambedkar wrote a letter to Buddha Sasana Council, Rangoon (Burma)

The letter is as follows –

The Honorable Secretary

Buddha Sasana Council,

Rangoon (Burma)

Dear Sir,

You will remember our talk in Kathmandu and New Delhi regarding the ways and means for financing the movement for spreading Buddhism in India. The need for financing the movement I have already explained in a Memorandum which I had sent to the Sasana Council dated the 19th July 1954. I am enclosing herewith a copy of the same for ready reference. Since then there has been further contact with the Trade Secretary of the Burmese Embassy in New Delhi on the same subject. I am, now in a position to state our proposal and that put forth by the Trade Secretary of the Burmese Embassy.

Our proposal: My proposal is:

(i)  that it would form a Partnership firm;

(ii) that this firm should be appointed by the Burma Government as their Trade Agent for supplying to the Burma govt. certain goods;

(iii)  It would be quite satisfied if the firm is a appointed Trade Agents for only two goods; (1) cotton goods; and (2) jute.

(iv) that the firm should be paid of remission on the total annual purchase made through the firm;

(v)  that the management of expenses of the firm be borne by the Embassy;

(vi) That the profits made by the firm after payment to the partners shall be credited to the Buddha Maha Sabha in trust for carrying on the work of conversion and of providing temples, training preachers and maintaining them, issuing literature in vernacular etc.

II- BURMA TRADE SECREATARY’S PROPOSAL

(i) that the Secretary buys goods by inviting tenders;

(ii) that during the system over our firm should also submit tenders;

(iii)  that the Secretary is considering the tenders would show as much favour as he can to our tender.

III ARGUMENT OF THE TRADE SECRETARY

The argument of the Trade Secretary is that our proposal involves a payment of 2% to the firm which is an extra burden on the Burmese people for which there is no justification. In other words the tender system is cheaper and cannot be departed from.

IV OUR CASE AGAINST THE TENDER SYSTEM.

Our contention is that the tender system is not cheaper to the Burmese government. On the other hand it is much more costlier to the Burmese government. This will be clear if we examine what items are included in a tender. The price quoted in a tender includes the following items

(1)   the market price;

(2)   plus the merchant’s profit.

In addition to these two items the tender would includes

(3)   Interest on investment made to secure

The goods on for delivery in time;

V- Our quotation:

1. our quotation would be based on ex-Mill price as against market price which would include middle man’s profit; besides the tenderer’s profit plus interest on his investment;
2. our quotation will not include any extra charge such as profit or interest.

We will be trading in the name of the Burma Government and the Burma Government will be entitled to look into our papers and claims every item of profit that we might have made.

Takings these facts into consideration it will be seen that my proposal is far more economical to the Burmese Government. On a calculation made by the Burma Government will save 6/7 percent by accepting my proposal, than the tender system.

VI- IMPOSSIBILITY OF TENDER SYSTEM

It is impossible for me to accept the tender system. The tender system means would require an initial investment of 20 to 30 lakhs. For in order to ensure prompt delivery it would have to make purchases in advance,. No merchant would wait till the tender is paid which would take few months. Further no bank would give us credit. There is also the risk of our tender not being accepted in which case the mill owner may auction the goods purchased and if there is a loss I shall have to bear it.

For these reasons the tender system will not suit me. We are hoping to earn money for the movement. We have not money to invest.

I, therefore, hope that you will persuade the Burma Government to accept our proposal and help the movement for spread of Buddhism as you are in duty bound to it

I have started the movement in right earnest. I wish to strike the iron while it is hot. If I fail the blame must lie at the door of the Buddhist Countries for failure to rise to the occasion.

Civil Lines,

26 Alipore Road

Delhi, the 19th July, 1956.

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