|By Bahujan Sanghatak , New Delhi, Dt. 16 November, 1998
Malaysia (10-11 October , 98 ) : Addressing the First International Dalit Conference at Kuala Lumpur as a Chief Guest in the inaugural session, Manyawar Kanshiramji said,- “ My heartiest congratulations to you all for organizing this international conference which is a big step towards our supreme goal of forming a casteless society in India”.
1) I will not merely sit quite in anticipation that some day or the other caste will be annihilated automatically ; but as long as the “caste” is alive , I will continue to use it in the interest of my society.
2) What is more important ? To become MLA/MP or to run the movement of Babasaheb? According to me it was more important to run the movement of Babasaheb than to become MLA/MP. Therefore I chose to run the movement. For a moment a thought came to my mind that to run the movement effectively we should make our people MLAs/MPs. But the important question was which is the party that will give us MLAs/MPs who will also run the movement of Babasahab. After a lot of thought I reached to a conclusion that such MLAs/MPs can be elected only through our own party.
3) I have learned a lot from the people from Maharashtra. I have learned my half lesson for running the Ambedkarite movement from Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. The other half lesson I have learnt from the Mahars of Maharashtra. I have learnt from Babasahab how to run the movement. And from Mahars of Maharashtra I have learned how not to run the movement. To successfully run any movement it is not only sufficient to know how to run the movement but also it is necessary to know how not to run the movement. If you do not know how not to run the movement then you will never be able to know how to run it.
4) I do not like to talk much even though I have to talk very frequently. I do not like to tell about my work in words but I want my work and the results emanating from that work to speak for themselves. I want to tell all those fellow activists in the movement who do not agree to my work – “ I may be wrong, but why don’t you analyze the results that I have achieved, what you have to say about those results ?”.
5) Our intellectuals often think that the solution to all our problems is in Marxism, Socialism and Communism. I strongly believe that in the country where Manuvad is present no other ism can become successful. The reason being no other ism is ready to accept the reality of the caste.
6) Who is capable of giving reservations ? Only the ruling class of people can give reservations to others. Even to make your own society capable of reaping the benefits and to protect your interests , you have to become a ruling class. Therefore we have to prepare ourselves in the direction of becoming a ruling class in India. We have to become the rulers ……. It is the solution on most of our problems.
Annihilation of Caste
Kanshiramji said – In 1936 Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar was invited by the “Jat Pat Todak Mandal, Lahore” to present his essay on the subject of caste. But the organizers of the conference did not allow Babasaheb to present the essay. Later on Babasaheb published the essay in a form of book titled as “Annihilation of Caste”. When I first read this book in 1962-63, I felt that annihilation of caste is certainly possible. But later on when I started thinking deeply and began to study the subject of castes, caste system and behavioural patterns associated with the caste system, my understanding of caste began to change. My study of Caste is not merely based on reading books but it has emanated from my real life experience with the castes. There are millions of people who leave their villages and migrate to metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and other big cities. These people do not bring anything else with them; the only thing they bring with them is their caste. They leave behind in their villages their small huts, small plot of land, etc. But they can not leave behind their caste in the village, the caste invariably accompanies them to the cities where they begin to stay in dirty shanties along the side of railway tracks and nallahs. If the caste is so dear to the people then how can we annihilate the caste ? Therefore I have stopped thinking in the direction of annihilation of caste.
You have organized this convention as a precursor to march ahead in the direction of forming a casteless society. Even my aim is to form a casteless society. But caste is not something that can be annihilated just by your noble thoughts about annihilation of caste . Annihilation of caste is almost impossible. Then what should we do to form a casteless society ?
There is a specific purpose behind formation of castes.
The castes were not born without any purpose. There is a specific purpose and selfish interests hidden behind the formation of castes. As long as this specific purpose and the selfish interests exist , the caste can not be annihilated. You will never find Bramhins and other Savarna caste people organizing such conventions for “reformation of casteless society”. This is because the castes were formed by these same people with an ill intention to secure their self interests. Formation of castes has brought benefits to minuscule few savarna castes but on other hand the generations after generations of the 85 % Bahujan Samaj have been at the receiving end of this oppressive caste system. The Bahujan Samaj has been subjugated to the beastly oppression and inhuman humiliations. If the caste system has been beneficial to the Savarna Caste people then why would they vouch for it’s annihilation ? The debates, convention and conferences of these kind can be organized only by we people who have been victims of the oppressive caste system. The beneficiaries of the caste system would never be interested in the annihilation of caste. On the contrary they would work towards strengthening the caste system so that they continue to reap the benefits arising from caste system for the ages to come.
The audience sitting in this conference hall may not have been direct victims of the caste system but we have certainly been born among the people or society that has been victim of the caste system and therefore we all need to necessarily think towards formation of casteless society. But when we talk of annihilation of caste then first of all we need to accept the existence of caste system. We can never annihilate the caste by ignoring it’s presence or by undermining it’s relevance in the contemporary India.
It may be true that lot of us still nurture a feeling of formation of a casteless society but simultaneously it is also true that the urge for forming a casteless society is dwindling by passage of time. So what do we do till the time the caste is not annihilated completely ? I believe that until the time we are not able to form a casteless society, we need to use caste to annihilate caste. If Bramhins can use caste for the benefit of their society then why can not we use it for the benefit of our society ?
Caste – Two edged sword
Caste is like a sword with two edges which can attack from both sides. If you use it from one side it cuts enemy from that side; if you use it from other side it cuts from the other side. Therefore I have began to use this two edged sword of caste system in such a way that it benefits the people of Bahujan Samaj and it takes away the benefits that the savarna castes have been reaping from caste system. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar has given the political and social rights to the Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes based on the castes. He has used the very basis of caste to secure the political rights of separate electorate from the Britishers. But he had to forgo those hard earned rights on the adamant insistence of Mohandas Gandhi who used his cheap tactics of fast unto death to blackmail Babasahab.
Many people ask me as to why I do not start an agitation for separate electorate just like what Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar did. So far I have never wasted even single minute on the issue of separate electorate. If the right to separate electorate could not be obtained during the time when Britishers were in rule in India then how can I secure those rights when the Manuwadis are the rulers of India. Today this is totally impossible.
Specialist on Caste
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar taught the SC/STs how to make use of the weapon of caste. Therefore he was able to secure many constitutional rights for our people from the Britishers. But after the departure of Britishers there are just three people who succeeded in using the weapon of caste. The first person was Jawaharlal Nehru, second was Indira Gandhi and third person is Kanshiram.
Nehru applied the weapon of caste like a skilled warrior and succeeded in it. Nehru was an expert in the art of using castes for maintaining the Manuvadi dominance and Bramhnical hegemony. After him Indira Gandhi became expert in exploiting the weapon of caste so that the Bramhnical Social Order is continuously benefited. But today if you ask any Congressman in Delhi whether he receives any benefits from the caste, he will answer in negative. He will say that he does not know how to get benefited from the caste and that only Kanshiram knows how to make use of caste for the benefits of his people ( Laughter ).
If you can stop Bramhins from using caste for their own selfish interests then he will think twice before he uses the sword of caste against us. I have learned how to make use of this two wedged sword of caste in the interest of my society. Castes which today to us seem to be a problem, can become ,if used tactically, a solution to our problems. The thing which is today our problem can become an opportunity for us provided we learn to make appropriate use of it for our own benefits.
We must always be ready to learn a lesson from history. We have to accelerate our work of taking ahead the Ambedkarite movement. In 1932 Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar asked for separate electorate for Dalit/Adivasis. But in 1942 he raised a demand for separate settlements because he wanted that the Dalits should not be dependent on the hindus in any way. They should live their lives with full independence. But what is the real picture in India today ? Today there is 45 lakh hectare tilled agricultural land. Our people toil in the fields and produce crops. But in the field they toil they do not have any property rights. They become victims of exploitation and injustice of Manuvadi landlords. To escape from the exploitation and oppression of the land lords our people leave villages and migrate to big cities in search of respectable life. In the process they end up living in the dirty shanties , under the bridges , along side of railway tracks ,on bank of nallahs and at many other dirty places where they are forced to live a life which is worse than that of animals. Such Distress Migration has resulted into nearly 10 Cr people leaving behind their villages, their tiny plots of land , their small huts and their meager belongings , to leave in cities. Ten years ago the number of people who stayed in cities was 5 Crores. Today this number has risen to 16 Cr. 10 Cr people in big cities stay in dirty slums, on roads and at other filthy places. I call these people “Indian Refugees”. Who will address the problems faced by these people ? The Rural development Ministry and Urban development Ministry of Government of India should be addressing the multitude of problems faced by the Indian refugees. Barring these 10 Cr Indian refugees, the Government of India makes some plan or the other for the development of the other people. But no one looks into the problems faced by these Indian refugees. No budgetary provisions are made in our annual budget for these 10 Cr people. There is no separate department or ministry for such a large number of people. The Indian government has formed separate department and ministry for the Pakistani refugees who came to India in 1947 , the refugees from Kashmir and refugees from other places. Government of India spends Crores of rupees on the welfare of such foreign refugees ; but no government ever has paid attention to the problems of these 10 Cr Indian refugees.
Since these 10 Cr Indian refugees have left behind their villages, land and other belongings , bringing only their castes to the cities, my work has become very easy. These 10 Cr refugees are considered as a big problem by the Manuvadi rulers. But for us these Indian refugees are a big strength, they are the vehicles of our empowerment. The very “caste”on the basis of which Crores of such people have been living a degraded , humiliated lives and thrown in the gallows of backwardness, we will use the same “caste” to free these crores of people from the injustice and exploitation meted out to them. After the forthcoming state assembly elections in Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, we will carry out a “ Indian refugees’ agitation”. I will not merely sit quite in anticipation that some day or the other caste will be annihilated automatically ; but as long as the “caste” is alive , I will continue to use it in the interest of my society.
Let me now tell you about my experience of using the caste in the interest of our society. Today by organizing the people who have been the victims of the draconian caste system( Bahujan Samaj), I am training these people to make use of caste for the betterment of our society. I am inspiring them to carry forward the mission of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. I am preparing and enabling my society which comprises of the victims of the “caste” to make use of this double edged sword of “caste” in their own interests. Today every Manuvadi party and their leaders are afraid of my use of “caste”. All these Manuvadi parties are trying to stop this “ Kanshiram magic”. First Rajiv Gandhi tried then V.P. Singh , Narsimharao, etc tried to stop me. Today the similar efforts are being made by the BJP. But all these people are playing their own games and I am playing my own ( claps).
Bahujan Samaj Party has to get recognition throughout India.
The Manuvadis beneficiaries of the ‘caste’ have formed ‘caste’ so that they can perpetually rule over Bahujan Samaj. They have been protectors and saviours of ‘caste system’ to ensure their perpetual monopolistic rule over Bahujan Samaj. The creation of any system is more difficult than it’s retention. Once you build a system , keeping the system up and running is not very difficult task.
If you want to annihilate ‘caste’ then you have to prevent the Manuvadis from reaping the benefits of ‘caste’. As long as the Manuvadi beneficiaries of ‘caste’ are left scot-free to use the ‘caste’ to their own benefits , the Bahujan victims of ‘caste’ will continue to suffer from ‘caste’. Therefore you will have to learn to use ‘caste’ in the interest of the Bahujan Samaj and you will have to prevent the Manuvadis from reaping the benefits of ‘caste’. You should not ignore the presence of the ‘caste’ in the Indian society; whereas you should accept the existence of ‘caste’ as a naked truth. BSP has emerged has 4th largest national party in India by successfully making use of ‘caste’. In India there are about 70 recognized political parties. We are ahead of 66 of these political parties. Today only Congress, BJP and CPI(M) are ahead of us. When we formed BSP in the year 1984 , the other parties used to say that BSP would remain as a regional party within UP. But today BSP has secured recognition not only in UP but also in MP, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana. Seeing this success of BSP all the savarna hindu castes ( Manuvadi samaj) has become very sad. And even I am also not happy. They are sad because BSP is speedily gaining strong ground in other states; whereas I am sad because BSP has not been able to become a recognized party in all the states of India. I want BSP to become recognized party in all the states, and even in Maharashtra.
Why is Bahujan Samaj dependent in independent India ?
In the year 1997 , the manuvadi ruling class in India decided to celebrate the golden jubilee of India’s independence. There may be many reasons for them to celebrate ; but the 85 % Bahujan Samaj which continues to remain dependent on others even after 50 years of independence, has no reason to celebrate. Even today our people in the villages do not possess their own land, they work as farm labours in the land of manuvadi landlords. 10 Cr people have migrated to cities because in the villages they were dependent on others. When we established Bahujan Samaj Party, the Dalits, backwards were dependent on manuvadi parties for tickets. They used to run behind these parties for getting tickets. The political parties, if not anything else are the tickets printing machines. We thought as to why we should not possess one such machine and therefore we established Bahujan Samaj Party on 14th April, 1984.
Not just a platform ticket
In March 1985 we distributed 237 tickets for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. That time I told all our candidates that our tickets are merely platform tickets and that you will not be able to reach Lucknow with help of these tickets. That time there wasn’t any quarrel for getting our ticket. But today our tickets are in great demand. Today in UP every BSP candidate secures more than 1 lac of votes. Today our tickets are no more just the platform tickets but one can reach not just Lucknow but also Delhi with the help of our tickets. Today why are our tickets in so much demand ?
Congress made BSP popular.
On basis of 1984 Loksabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, Congress had won 410 assembly seats out of 425. But in the 1985 assembly elections they won just 265 seats. Congress had to lose 145 seats because of the presence of BSP. Congress got frustrated because of these losses and they carried out a campaign calling BSP a “party of Chamars”. This campaign indeed helped BSP to consolidate our ground in UP. Our party became very popular among the Chamar community of Uttar Pradesh. In 1985 election we secured merely 2 % votes. Our vote percentage went on rising in every subsequent elections. In 1989 it went on to 9%, in 1991 – 11%, in 1993 – 20. 6 %. In 1996 Loksabha elections we got 29% votes. We achieved this success not by ignoring the ‘caste’ but by accepting the existence of ‘caste’ and by utilizing it in our interests. Today Congress is unable to get benefited by making use of ‘caste’ whereas we have increased our strength manifold by appropriately using the caste reality; we will continue to strengthen ourselves in future to come.
Lesson from Maharashtra
Today here many people from Maharashtra are present. I have learned a lot from the people from Maharashtra. I have learned a half lesson for running the Ambedkari movement from Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. The other half lesson I have learnt from the Mahars of Maharashtra. I have learnt from Babasahab how to run the movement. And from Mahars of Maharashtra I have learned how not to run the movement. To successfully run any movement it is not only sufficient to know how to run the movement but also it is necessary to know how not to run the movement. If you do not know how not to run the movement then you will never be able to know how to run it.
Mahars have not been able to appropriately use the double edged sword of caste. They say that now they have become Buddhists and they are no more Mahars. But simultaneously they kept on fighting for the benefits of reservations in capacity of being Mahars. They began to demand reservations for the people who have become Buddhists. . Mahars carried the ‘caste’- a bad breath of Hinduism to Buddhism. ‘Caste’ is that bad breath of Hinduism which has polluted the whole world.
100 years of Reservations
On 26th July 1902, the Maharaja of Kolhapur- Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj implemented reservations in jobs in his kingdom for the Dalits and backwards. On 26th July 2002 we will complete 100 years of reservations. 100 years of reservations is sufficient. Now I consider it my responsibility to empower my people so that they will not ask for reservations but they will become capable to give reservations to others. It is easy to understand and say this thing but it is not easy to make it happen.
Who is capable of giving reservations ? Only the ruling class of people can give reservations to others. Even to enable your own society capable of reaping the benefits and to protect their interests , you have to become a ruling class. Therefore we have to prepare ourselves in the direction of becoming a ruling class in India. We have to become the rulers ……. It is the solution on most of our problems.
But the question is how the victims of the ‘caste’ can become the rulers ? Should we become MLA/MP or should we run the Ambedkar movement ? I have nither seen Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar nor have I heard him when he was alive. I have learned Ambedkarism from the leaders of Maharashtra. Mr Bajirao Kamble who was wearing a blue cap and sitting in front of me was one of those people who gave me lessons in Ambedkarism. When the Ambedkarite leaders from Maharashtra began to crawl behind the Congress for tickets, it resulted into many skirmishes between me and them. They were saying that if they stick to Ambedkarism then they can not become MLAs and MPs. I asked them what is more important ? To become MLA/MP or to run the movement of Babasaheb? According to me it was more important to run the movement of Babasaheb than to become MLA/MP. Therefore I chose to run the movement. For a moment a thought came to my mind that to run the movement effectively we should make our people MLAs/MPs. But the important question was which is the party that will give us MLAs/MPs who will also run the movement of Babasahab. After a lot of thought I reached to a conclusion that such MLAs/MPs can be elected only through our own party. And therefore I left Mumbai and came back to Lucknow.
Which all castes supported Babasaheb ?
I have studied deeply the ‘caste’ as reality in the Indian society. I studied those castes which had supported Babasaheb. Babasaheb’s movement was supported by the Mahars of Maharashtra, Pariahs of Tamilnadu, Malas of Andhra Pradesh, Jatavs of Uttar Pradesh and Chandals( Namo shudras) of Bengal. But when Babasaheb himself could not win the election in 1952 and 1954 , his supporters began to think if Babasaheb himself can not win then how can we win and become MLAs/MPs ?
After that I even delved into electoral victories of Babasaheb. In 1946 Babasaheb had won from the Jaisor and Khulna seats from Bengal. How did this happen ?In both these constituencies the population of Chandals was 52%. They thought rather than sending any one else , it is better to send Babasaheb to the constituent assembly. Babasaheb was able to win because the Chandals has majority votes with them. Mahar, Pariah, Jatav, Mala, etc castes did not have numbers as large as the Chandals and therefore these castes did not win elections and thus they began to leave the movement of Babasaheb.
The fight of Babasaheb was for all the castes that were victims of the ‘caste system’. But were only Mahars, Pariahs, Malas, Jatavs, etc.castes, the victims of the ‘caste’ ? Were only these castes the victims of the Manuvadi social order ? The answer is No. These castes were not the only victims of ‘caste’. 6000 castes are the victims of ‘caste’.
According to Mandal Commission report, there are nearly 1500 castes among the SCs, 1000 castes among the STs and 3743 castes among the OBCs. The number of such castes is more than 6000. These are all such castes which have been victims of the Manuvadi social order. Some of them have been victimized less and some have been victimized more. But the truth is that all these 6000 castes have been victims of the manuvadi social order. Should not all these castes organize together to fight against the exploitative ‘caste system’ ? Among these castes some castes are bigger and some are smaller in terms of population. If all these castes remain divided among themselves then they will remain as minorities. But if these castes organize among themselves by creating a feeling of fraternity, they can become a majority – Bahujans. These people are 85 % of country’s population and thus they constitute of a very big strength in the country.
Creation of fraternity among the Bahujans castes is a necessity of time
When Bahujan Samaj Party was established in 1984, at that time Bahujan Samaj had not been formed in the country. Bahujan Samaj Party can become successful only if the Bahujan Samaj is formed. Therefore we have began to organize the 6000 Bahujan Castes by creating a fraternity among them in order to form a Bahujan Samaj. In last 10 years we have been able to connect together just 600 castes which forms just 10 % of the total number of castes that we want to reach to.
Just by bringing together 600 castes, our party has become 4th largest party in India. If we add 400 more castes then the number of castes that we have brought together will go up to 1000. And if we succeed in adding 400 more castes in our fold then we will become the number one party in the country. I do not like to talk much even though I am compelled to talk very frequently. I do not like to tell in my words but I want my work and the results emanating from that work to speak for themselves. I want to tell all those fellow activists in the movement who do not agree to my work – “ I may be wrong, but why don’t you analyze the results that I have achieved, what you have to say about those results ?”.
Bringing together so many castes on one platform was a mammoth task in itself. Lot of people have been engaged in making severe criticism of those people who have been instrumental in bringing the 600 castes together. Many have advised not to undertake such an impossible task in hand. But when the people who started the noble work of bringing together the divided castes, no force in the world was able to stop them from doing so. The people that carried out the task of joining together people from different castes ; did their work with all the sincerity and dedication at their command. If we have succeeded in bringing together 600 castes then why won’t we succeed in bringing many more castes together ? We will certainly succeed. By bringing together all the victim castes, we can capture the political power and become the ruling class.
Capturing the Master Key
Babasaheb has said that “political power is the master key using which you can open all the doors of your progress and self respect”.
Our friends from Maharashtra had been fighting since 25 years for changing the name of Marathwada university. They had to do this because they do not have the political master key. In 1989 Rajiv Gandhi came to Lucknow and he laid down the foundation stone for the Dr Ambedkar University. On one hand the Congress party is refusing to change the name of Marathwada university in Maharashtra and on the other hand the same Congress party is laying down a stone for the Dr Ambedkar University at Lucknow. Why this has happened ? The people of Uttar Pradesh have never raised a demand for Dr Ambedkar Univesity at Lucknow. This was the demand of people from Maharashtra.Then why is this demand of people from Maharashtra being fulfilled in Uttar Pradesh ? Why was congress so eager to start a Dr Ambedkar University at Lucknow ? This had happened because the people of Uttar Pradesh were extending their hand towards the political master key. Therefore the ruling class wanted to hide the master key in guise of the university.
By capturing the power in UP we have formed not just one university but many universities for which the people from Maharashtra have been fighting for long time. In 1994 we laid a foundation stone for Shahu Maharaj university at Kanpur. In 1996 we formed Mahatma Phule university and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar university. Apart from this we acquired 200 acre land at Noida for Gautam Buddha Univesity. We created 17 new districts to fasten the process of development and more importantly to honour our heroes by giving their names to these newly formed districts. It becomes very clear from this that you can use ‘caste’ to acquire political master key and make use of this master key to secure a life of self respect and take them along the path of progress.
Our society has to shed away their “Dalit mentality”
I have so far talked at length about the ‘caste’. Now I want to talk something about the Dalits. I rarely go out of India. My party men and other friends were thinking that I may not go to attend the convention at Kuala Lumpur because I am so much overburdened by the vows of Dalits in India. But I get more upset by looking at the Dalit mentality of the people. Dalit mentality is the biggest weakness of the dalits. Dalit mentality has become a sort of a feeling of destitution. A person with a mentality of a beggar can never become a ruler. Similarly without shedding away the Dalit mentality, no society can become a ruling class. The hands which are used to ask/beg have to strive to become the ones which will give, i.e. they have to become a ruling race. If we can not become the ruling class then there can not be any other shorter and easier solution to all our problems. So how you can become ruling class without shedding away your Dalit mentality ? Therefore you have to shed away your Dalit mentality. If you become rulers then you yourselves can find the solution to all your problems.
Manuvad can destroy all other isms.
Our intellectuals often think that the solution to all our problems is in Marxism, Socialism and Communism. I strongly believe that in the country where Manuvad is present no other ism can become successful. The reason being no other ism is ready to accept the reality of the caste.
It is the responsibility of these intellectuals as well as mine that we evolve our own ism keeping in mind the presence of Manuvad and accepting the ‘caste’ as reality of Indian society. Manuvadis often talk about the problem of unemployment in India. They are worried about the unemployment of 1 Cr unemployed youth belonging to the “upper” castes. But these people have no worries about the multiple problems faced by the 10 Cr Indian refugees who are illiterate and unskilled.
No party is worried about the plight of these 10 Cr people. But these 10 Cr people are our people. Therefore only our party is worried about the plight of these 10 Cr people. Only our party can find a solution on the problems of these people. We can easily solve the problems of the Bahujan Samaj by becoming the ruling class.
We have become 4th largest party in India by bringing together 600 castes and by creating a fraternity among these castes. By reaching to 1000 castes and by bringing them in our fold we can become the ruling class in this country. I have a strong belief that in next 3 years we will become the rulers and the political master key will be in our hands.
I do not support the idea of imposing my thoughts on others. I am just narrating my experience to you. It is up to you whether you want to take advantage of it or not.
By becoming rulers you can march ahead effectively towards formation of a casteless society. I can tell this one solution to all your problems. Why would the beneficiaries of ‘caste’ want to destroy it ? The people who are victims of ‘caste’ and who have suffered because of it will have to take this task of destroying the ‘caste’. The caste system can be destroyed only by the rulers themselves provided they have a will to do.
You will think that I am talking about some impossible and unachievable things. But in my life I have always taken seemingly impossible tasks in my hand and have achieved a success in those tasks. This is what is called ‘Kanshiram magic’. Today this ‘Kanshiram magic’ has began to occupy a national form.
Therefore my only message to you all is that you should march ahead in the direction of formation of casteless society by means of right thinking . At the end I would like to tell you that you can form a casteless society by capturing the political master key because only the ruling class can form a new social order.
Jai Bheem, Jai Bharat.
( Bahujan Sanghatak , New Delhi, Dt. 16 November, 1998).
Tag Archives: Buddhists
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.
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, 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.