Tag Archives: Today in Dalit HIistory

30th May (1936) in Dalit History – Bombay Presidency Conversion Conference


Bombay Presidency Conversion Conference was held on 30th May 1936.

Bombay Presidency Conversion Conference (Mumbai Elaka Mahar Panshad) of Mahars was held at Naigaum (Dadar) to sound their opinion on the issue of Conversion. Mr. Subha Rao, popularly known as Hydrabadi Ambedkar, presided over the Conference. In the morning the Ascetics shaved their beards, mustaches and destroyed their symbols of Hinduism in an Ascetic’s Conference.

Say No To Hindu Temples

Say No To Hindu Temples

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26th May (1935) in Dalit History – Death anniversary of Mata Ramabai Ambedkar


26th May (1935) in Dalit History – Death anniversary of Mata Ramabai Ambedkar

Ramabai Ambedkar’s parents died when Ramabai was in her childhood, leaving behind two small brothers to take care of. Their uncle and maternal uncle proceeded with all the three to Mumbai. At Mumbai she married Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar. During her domestic struggle she lost her father-in-law Ramji. Ramabai Ambedkar did help Dr. Ambedkar during ups and downs in life.  Then another tragedy followed with the demise of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar’s elder brother Anandrao.

Check alsoMovie on Ramabai Ambedkar – Ramai

Mata Ramabai Ambedkar

Mata Ramabai Ambedkar

Afterwards, for higher education Babasaheb got the Sayajirao Gaikwad scholarship at Baroda. For higher education when Dr. Ambedkar had to leave for England, all the responsibilities to take care of home came to Ramabai, which she handled very well.

Ramabai used to encourage Babasaheb for higher studies and used to do household work and remit money to Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar. Ramabai went through difficult life but her sheer determination helped her win over her difficulties. Heap of troubles, difficulties were showered on Ramabai but she didn’t surrender, she was adamant in upbringing the poor and downtrodden of her society, she took over the struggle carried by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar and stood like a rock along with Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar to carry out the grand work initiated by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.

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On 26th May, 1935, Mother Ramabai Ambedkar left this world. More than 10000 people attended the final procession.

Salute to Mother Ramabai Ambedkar on death anniversary.

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6th May in Dalit History – Death anniversary of Shahu Maharaj – A Bahujan Revolutionary


Sahuji Maharaj

Sahuji Maharaj

The Bahujan Samaj owes a deep debt of gratitude to the Bahujan Revolutionary CHHATRAPATI SHAHU MAHARAJ who was the ruler of Kolhapur state in Maharashtra from 1884 to 1922. He was born on 26/6/1874. Maharaj of Kolhapur wanted to exterminate the stifling and strangulating structures of caste system and untouchability which are the immoral institutions created by the brahminical class. By undertaking the responsibilities of the “Satya Sodhak Samaj movement” which was started by RASTRAPITHA JOTIBA PHULE, Shahu Maharaj toiled untiringly to uplift the Bahujan Samaj. He cautioned the Bahujan Samaj by showing the flagrant injustice happened to them by the despotic rule carried by the brahminical gluttons who seized hegemony in every sphere. Shahu Maharaj proposed communal representation and he viewed it as one of the weapon of liberation for the Bahujan Samaj. Writing to Lord Sydenham, Ex- Governor of Bombay in 1918, he said “the principle that majorities have no need of separate representation doesn’t hold good in a province where a selfish minority is likely to get the power, which is sure to be used to hold the majority (Bahujan Samaj) in perpetual vassalage.” Shahu Maharaj instigated many programs in order to liberate the Bahujan Samaj from the cloak of brahminical hegemony. The programs are as follows:

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5th May in Dalit History – Death Anniversary of Iyothee Thass – Great Social reformer and Buddhist Scholar


This article was first posted at Round Table India and is written by Bala J.

We may say that great minds think alike when two scholars who lived in two different times and places reach a similar conclusion on the same problem. The traditionally educated nineteenth century Tamil scholar, Pandit Iyothee Thass as well as the twentieth century western educated intellectual from Maharashtra, Babasaheb Ambedkar, embraced Buddhism to show that it was the only way to annihilate the caste system. Both of them identified that the caste system had originated with the fall of Buddhism; therefore, believed the revival of Buddhism could perhaps liberate the people from the evil system of caste.

Pandit Iyothee Thass (1845-1914)* was born in a Dalit family in Royapettah in Chennai. He was a Siddha practitioner and a well-versed Tamil scholar having scholarly expertise in the traditional knowledge on astrology and palm-leaf manuscript reading. In 1870, Iyothee Thass founded Adhvaidhananda Sabha (considered to be the first institution-building activity in his life), in Uthagamandalam, where he was brought up. In 1891, he established an organization called the Dravida Mahajana Sabha, and on 1st December 1891, he organised the First Conference on behalf of the Sabha at Ooty in Nilgiris district. In that conference, ten resolutions were passed including the one on enacting a criminal law to punish those who humiliated untouchables by calling them Pariahs, creating separate schools and providing scholarships for matriculation education for untouchable children; providing employment for educated untouchables, and representation for untouchables in District Boards and Municipal Boards (Tamilan, 14 October 1908).

The resolutions were sent to the Indian National Congress and the Mohammedans’ Association on 21st December 1891. In 1896, Reverend John Ratnam and Iyothee Thass jointly started a journal called Dravida Pandian. Another interesting piece of information is that, in 1882, Reverend John Ratnam and Iyothee Thass established a movement under the name of Dravida Kazhagam, (G. Aloysius, Nationalism without a Nation in India, Oxford, 2000); but this fact has been concealed so that no one now remembers Iyothee Thass as the pioneer of the Dravidian movement or anti-Brahmin movement.

Returning to Buddhism

Pandit Iyothee Thass

Pandit Iyothee Thass

Pandit Iyothee Thass exhorted Dalits to embrace Buddhism for annihilating the system of caste. With this objective he constructed an alternative history with the help of Tamil literature and folk traditions of Tamil. He demonstrated that the untouchables were the native Buddhists and untouchability was imposed upon them because they opposed the orthodox practices exemplified by the Hindu Brahmins. He asserted that Buddhism was the first anti-Brahmin movement in Indian history. So he called on the Dalits to return to their original religion, Buddhism.

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22nd April in Dalit History – Death anniversary of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia – Founder of Ad-Dharmi Movement


Mangoo Ram was born on January 14, 1886 , in village Mugowal, Hoshiarpur district, where this father,Harman Dass, had left the traditional Chamar caste occupation of training and preparing hides and attempting to sell tanned hides commercially. Mangoo Ram’s mother, Atri, died when Mangoo Ram was three, so the father began to depend heavily on his sons – Mangoo and an older and a younger brother for assistance. Because the leather trade required some facility in English, Mangoo Ram’s father was forced to rely on literate members of upper castes to read sales orders and other instructions to him. In payment for their reading instructions for an hour, he would have to do a day of crude labour. For that reason, Mangoo Ram’s father was eager to have his son receive an early education.

When Mangoo Ram was seven, he was taught by a village Sadhu (Saint) and soon after attended a variety of schools in the Mugowal area (Tehsil Mahilpur of district Hoshiarpur). He also attended school in a village near Dehra Dun , where his older brother has settled. In most of the schools, Mangoo Ram was the only Scheduled Caste student. He sat at the back of the class, or even in a separate room, and listed through the open door. When he attended high school in Bajwara, he was forced to stay outside the building and listen to the classes through the windows. Once when he came inside during a heaving hailstorm, the Braham teacher beat him and put all the classroom furniture, which he had “polluted” by his presence, outside in the rain to be literally and ritually washed clean. Nonetheless, Mangoo Ram was a good student: he placed third in his class in primary school. But whereas the other good students were encouraged to become patwaris (village record-keeper) or to seek higher education, Mango Ram was encouraged to leave school and help his father at a more proper “Chamar task”. In 1905, he did quit school; he married, and for three years helped his father develop their leather trade into a thriving business.

Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia

Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia

In 1909 America as in the air. Scores of upper caste farmers from Mangoo Ram’s area of Hoshiarpur had gone to the United States , and those who had not gone were talking about it. Mangoo Ram decided to go also. He persuaded his father that it would be good for the business – he would send money back from America – and his father responded by giving him some savings from the family business. Amid assurances from some of the local Zamindars (“landowners”) and two Chamar friends set off for the new world.2

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