By Bhante Suniti Bhikkhuni
In the annihilation of caste, an undelivered presidential speech by Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar, he mentioned his tiresome efforts to write it. He wrote the reasons behind, him not being able to deliver the speech in his letter correspondence with the members of the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal. He published these correspondences to make us understand the behaviour and expectations of the Brahman reformers with the learned untouchable.
The opportunity for the presidential speech on the Brahmin's platform was proposed just after he declared that he won't die as a Hindu. Other religious leaders except the Hindu leaders approached Babasaheb and offered to get converted to their religion. But it was different for the Hindus, they never approached him to stop to leave the Hindu fold, but in another way, they tried to please him by offering to give the presidential position on such a platform which according to the Hindu sacred books is denied to untouchables even if they are learned. It looks like a conspiracy against Babasaheb, but he was not ready to remain as a Hindu and declared at the end of the speech that he had decided to leave the Hindu folds and that was final. As per my analysis, this seems to be the main reason to cancel the conference along with other reasons. Now, let us come to the real speech of Babasaheb where he explained in detail the real social, economical, political and religious situation in India. He was very much concerned about the inhuman behaviour of the so-called high caste people of the Hindus, with the low caste people and the untouchables. He questioned the reformers, as national congress who were for the political reform and the social conference for the social reform as well as the Arya Samajist who aimed at maintaining the Varna system yet dreaming of social reform. No one of the above reformers thought of denying or destroying untouchability and the inhuman behaviour with a large number of population in the name of following the caste and caste system. Their efforts were to save the Hindu religion which is nothing but a mass of sacrificial, social, political and sanitary rules and regulations.
For Hindus, dharma means “command and prohibitions“ which are mentioned in the Vedas and the Smritis. Babasaheb mentioned the inhuman behaviour during Peshva rule and incidences of atrocities with the Balais and other untouchables from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and asked National Congress whether they are fit to rule if such inhuman incidences are at the hike. Thus before going for political revolution, the social revolution must be the priority. Also apart from the social revolution, how religion plays an important role in politics, the example of Irish home rule is enough for an explanation. Reply of the Ulster to Mr. Redmond of southern Ireland speaks about the social problem - "Damn your safeguards, we don't want to be ruled by you on any terms." People who blame the minorities in India ought to consider what would have happened to the political aspirations of the majority if the minorities had taken the attitude which Ulster took.' but they were not able to gain anything, because the religion overpowered their mind and they accepted to be ruled by the communal as it was the declaration of the god. Thus denying for political revolution, the social revolution is the significance of the communal award. According to Babasaheb, the Communal Award is unnatural and that it is the result of an unholy alliance between the minorities and the bureaucracy. Some other examples of how the religious revolution helped in the political revolutions are the Muslim Empire was led through a religious revolution started by Prophet Mohammad. The political revolution led by Chandragupta was preceded by the religious and social revolution of Buddha.
While talking about Buddha and Guru Nanak, Babasaheb says that they totally denied the authority of the Shastras. Thus Babasaheb very strongly promoted to deny the Vedas, Shastras, Smritis and Shrutis. He says "I am sorry, I will not be with you. I have decided to change. This is not the place for giving reasons. But even when I am gone out of your fold, I will watch your movement with active sympathy, and you will have my assistance for what it may be worth."
Now let us see whether the above situations still exist. Do castes exist? Do the people of India who are Hindus but belong to lower caste are treated as untouchables? Caste atrocities decreased or increased? Can we find social reformers, economical reformers or the politicians today? Are Sadhus and Fakirs treated in the same way by the millionaires as it was treated at that time? Do the people treat others with equality, liberty and fraternity? Yes, starting from the last question we know that constitution of India is based on the fundamentals of equality, liberty and fraternity. According to Babasaheb, religion should have principles rather than rules, we will have to judge whether all the religions of India as Hindu, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism or Buddhists follow these principles? Every religion has its own organisation and platform to present their views and promote their religion according to the provisions given in the constitution of India.
(Article 25- freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion. Article 26- to manage religious affairs. Article 27- freedom from payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion. Article 28-freedom to attend religious instructions)
Dr. Babasaheb was invited to preside the conference, now it is a trend of inviting religious leaders on one stage in the name of Sarva Dharma Samabhav, where they praise each other or try to prove how their religion is greater than other religion. Even today we find educated people are attracted towards politics directly without going social. Very few are there who are concerned about social change. We can also see many social organisations but most of them are unsuccessful because they play politics among themselves, so no constructive work can be seen. Some do social work to attract people and then declare their own political parties, leaving behind the social change they started with. As said by W.C. Bonnerji, ‘The Hindus were concerned about the liberty of Hindu women not beyond her family life’, it is the same even now. Even today who converted from Hindus to other religions did not understood Babasaheb and thus their ultimate goal for the girls is marriage. After marriage, the women are forced to follow the rules of the family. These resemble the rules of the Hindus. Even if some girls of such families get higher education, they still live just family life and not utilize their education to grow further professionally and academically.
Regarding the situations of the people in the villages, still, untouchability is practiced by the so-called upper caste people, though the method of untouchability has changed. To give examples, the villagers are still not allowed to fetch water from the village well, not allowed to use the same cup for tea and coffee which the upper caste use. The bridegrooms are still killed for riding mare in their weddings. The school children are asked to sit separately at lunchtime to clean the toilets, because it is the duty of the so-called lower caste people. Even if they are intellectuals, they are called fools. The merit is always questioned. The scholarship is just on papers and students have to fight to get it. Other hostel facilities, food, stationeries, stipend and so on isn’t an easy access but has to be fought for. They are not given admission to the top universities in the name of merits, even if they score, they have to live with a stigma of reservation quota. Even today families are killed in the name of caste, the girls and women are raped and burned in front of the family members.
Isn't it the time now to ask the activists, whether they are studying the real situation of the society and their sufferings, including half of the population women. Do they have studied the path shown by Dr. Babasheb Ambedkar and finding out the solution to bring out the society from such a pathetic condition? If not, then are they fit to go into politics or gain political powers. Yes, those who understood the annihilation of caste, left the Hindu fold and embraced Buddhism with him to follow equality, liberty and fraternity. For them, these three words are the principals of life and so they are always against the atrocities with anyone irrespective of their caste and religion. They always stand in solidarity with them. For the casteless society, a nation is a priority, where the constitution of India plays an important role. Unless all religious people give priority to it, the nation won't develop. Thus, it is the duty of social workers to become activists and promote equality, liberty and fraternity. Remember these words of Babasaheb always “I will watch your movement with active sympathy, and you will have my assistance for what it may be worth”.