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4th February in Dalit History – Dr. Ambedkar met Gandhi in Yervada Jail


04 Feb 1889: Phules adopted son, Dr.Yashwant was married to Radha the daughter of Sasane.

The Satyashodhak Samaj (The Truth-Seekerís Society) was established on 24 September 1873, and Savitribai was an extremely dedicated and passionate activist of the Samaj. The Samaj undertook the programme of arranging marriages without a priest, without dowry and at minimum costs. The first such marriage was arranged on 25 December 1873. Later, this movement spread across the newly emerging nation. The first report of the Samaj proudly notes that Savitribai was the inspiration behind this revolutionary initiative of a constructive revolt to reject 21 centuries old religious traditions. The marriage of Radha, daughter of Savitribaiís friend Bajubai Gyanoba Nimbankar and activist Sitram Jabaji Aalhat was the first‘Satyashodhaki’ marriage. Savitribai herself bore all the expenses on this historic occasion. This method of marriage, similar to a registered marriage, is still prevalent in many parts of India. These marriages were opposed by priests and ‘bhatjis’ (Brahmans) all over the country and they also went to court on this matter. Savitribai and Jotirao had to face severe difficulties but that did not deter them from their path. On 4 February 1889, at the age of 16, they also got their adopted son married in this manner. This was the first inter-caste marriage in modern India. The Satyashodhak marriage required the bridegroom to take an oath of giving education and equal rights to women. The ‘mangalashtake’ (the Mantras chanted at the time of the wedding) were to be sung by the bride and the bridegroom themselves, and these were in the form of pledges made by the bride and the groom to each other. Yeshwant was married to Radha (this is another Radha) alias Laxmi, daughter of Satyashodhak Samaj leader Gyanoba Krishnaji Sasane in this manner. To ensure that they got better acquainted with each other and with each other’s likes and dislikes, Savitribai had made Radha stay in the Phule household even before the marriage took place. She also made provisions for Radha’s education.[1] 

04 February 1933: Dr. Ambedkar met Gandhi in Yervada Jail[2].

Dr. Ambedkar was accompanied by S N Shivtarkar, Dolas, Upsaham, Kowly, Ghorpade and Keshavrao Jedhe. In a happy mood Gandhi got up and welcomed the visitors.

After a while, the conversation turned to the question of temple entry. Gandhi requested Dr. Ambedkar to lend this support to the Dr. Subbarayan’s Bill and that of Ranga Iyer.  Dr. Ambedkar flatly refused to have anything to do with Subbaraya’s Bill, since the Bill did not condemn untouchability as a sin. It only said that if a referendum favored the temple entry, temples should be thrown open to the Depressed Classes, but nothing of the right to worship the deity in the temples. He told Gandhi that the Depressed Classes did not want to be Shudras in the order of the caste system and added that he honestly could not call himself a Hindu. Why, he asked, he should be proud of the religion which condemned him to be a degraded position. If that system was to continue, he had no use of the benefits of the temple entry. Gandhi said that according to him, the caste system was not a bad system. He continued: “Let the touchable Hindus have an opportunity to expiate their sins and purify Hinduism. Do not be indifferent to this question. If the reformation takes place, the Untouchables would rise in society.” Dr. Ambedkar differed from Gandhi. He was convinced that if the Untouchables made progress in the economic, educational and political filed, temple entry would follow automatically.

531

Discussing the propriety of two Bills – Dr. Subbarayan’s Bill and Ranga Iyer’s Bill.

Dr. Ambedkar: The one-paragraph Bill (Dr. Subbarayan’s Bill) is a very simple one. It’s fair point lies in admitting that this custom is immoral. There is no such admission in the second Bill (Ranga Iyer’s).

M K Gandhi: No, it is there in its preamble.

Dr. Ambedkar: But it is not clear…. I also think that the two Bills do not go together…

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