Babasaheb Ambedkar is arguably one of the most eminent personalities the Republic Of India has ever seen. While India was collectively fighting against the colonial rule, Ambedkar saw social democracy as the desired goal. Babasaheb, through his literary contributions, has left his imprint on the Indian society, and how it ought to be. Every social activist or social reformer admires the hard work Ambedkar put in to attain social equality. This is precisely why in all demonstrations against casteism, or women’s rights, the slogan ‘Jai Bhim’ resounds in everybody’s ear. As the year’s progress, an ideology has evolved, associated with his name known as Ambedkarite Ideology.
This article primarily talks about the ideas he propagated to reform society. Being a very knowledgeable man, he had understood the harsh inequalities in society from the grass-root level. As the article progresses, it highlights the criticisms of Babasaheb as far as the Hindu fold was concerned. This article also talks about Buddhism and how it was very inclusive in nature. It will also draw a comparison with Hinduism and how imperative it is to bring social change in the Hindu society.
Ambedkar fought against casteism, patriarchy, and Brahmans with their shadow always hanging over the lives of the majority of the population. Ambedkarite ideology can be looked at as an ideology striving towards egalitarianism, an ideology solely focusing on uplifting the marginalized and suggesting solutions to bring equality within the society. Indeed a revolutionary figure, it is important to understand why so many people idolize him.
Ambedkar and the Caste System
The Ambedkarite Ideology propagates that the caste system is far from an egalitarian one and staunchly endorses discrimination against Dalits and women. His ideology imagines a place where the institution of caste is crushed by the people of India, there is unity, humility, and most important egalitarianism.
Ambedkarite Ideology is of the view that, if the society gets rid of the institution equality will prevail and elitism will eventually decline. On one hand, the caste system makes the society exceedingly right, and on the other Ambedkarite Ideology tries to cultivate the belief that society is ever-changing, accommodative of the changes, and it’s transitioning being extremely smooth. Apart from giving a sociological lens to the discrimination, Babasaheb also gave a political narrative about the same by demanding a separate electorate for the downtrodden. It is important to note that the goal of reservations that has come to fruition is essentially because of the work of Babasaheb Ambedkar.
What dispirited Babasaheb was the fact that the institution was spreading all across the country at the speed of light. Although much of this is due to the technological advancements but partly also because of the process of Sanksritisation, a phenomenon given by M.N. Srinivas. Refers to the emulation of practices exercised by the upper castes by the lower castes. For example, wearing a red sacred thread. It legitimizes Brahmanical rule and the ostracisation of the lower castes. A paradoxical phenomenon which guarantees structural change. On the contrary, there is no structural change but only positional change.
Ambedkarite Ideology and Women
While extensively talking about Dalits, Babasaheb also threw light on the plight of women. The growing class/class divide and strengthening patriarchy, the writings of Ambedkar have become very significant as far as modern feminists are concerned.
Labelled as an inferior gender, women have gone through tumultuous times. Often being violated by their partners, religious texts such as the Dharmshastras and Manusmriti also contribute to the violation. Ambedkar wanted to uplift women and proposing The Hindu Code Bill is a case in point. This bill aimed to amend the hitherto rules about marriage, divorce, and property. He worked for social integration and overtly expressed his desire to get rid of the evil practices of the caste system.
Subsequently, Babasaheb has become a source of inspiration for many reformists since his quest for women empowerment also entails the issues of people at the lowest rungs of the caste system. The process of Sanskritization as mentioned above has quite a few criticisms. One very strong criticism is the exclusion of women in the Brahmanical order. Now that emulation takes place, the marginalization of women is becoming prevalent in every corner of the country.
Religion Through the lens of Ambedkarites
On many occasions, Ambedkar had fancied drifting away from the Hindu fold and highlighted as to why Buddhism is a religion that every other religion should look up to and inculcate their beliefs. Ambedkar, in one of his essays, sheds the light on two main distinctions between Hinduism and Buddhism. The first distinction is that of morality.
Babasaheb believes that morality exists in Buddhism in its purest form and Dhamma by the Buddha is a testimony to this. He then draws a parallel by commenting that Hinduism is primarily based on the notion of Karma and morality doesn’t seem to exist. The second distinction is about inequality.
While the Hindu social order is based on systemic inequality, Buddhism, as a religion, strove to eradicate that by always emphasizing on the upliftment of the entire society and not just one particular section. The foundations of the Hindu order were based on social stratification, whilst legitimizing Brahmanical supremacy. Shudras could also be a part of Buddhism and become a part of Bhikkhus while women were also incorporated in the same by becoming Bhikkhunis.
An ardent supporter of Buddhism, Babasaheb Ambedkar appreciates the religion because of the closeness it maintains with humanity, equality, and compassion. It can be said that it works on the reality principle and not on superficial beliefs as the Hindu fold does. Buddha never proclaimed himself as the god but only as a man preaching to attain enlightenment.
Babasaheb not only criticized Hinduism but also censured Islam and Christianity since they believed that they were the messenger of gods or labelling themselves as Parmeshwar meaning ‘God of Gods’. Ambedkarite Ideology also regards Buddhism as an ideal religion because it has clear demarcations between Margadata and Mokshadata.
The Ambedkarite Ideology is based on a liberal environment and stressing upon the importance of questioning. That’s why Ambedkarites question the political system, social system, and the economic system. Similarly, Buddha did not want his disciples to blindly follow his teachings and were allowed to question, deliberate, and even scrap his teachings.
Struggling for equality, Ambedkar has popularly been labelled as a person who favours particular castes. This statement is extremely ironic since Ambedkar has always been against castes and the Annihilation of Caste is a testimony to this. Babasaheb was also termed as an escapist because he left his religion instead of creating a solution within it. However, that is not true. He did propagate Buddhism simply because it respected every person. Gender, caste, and creed were not determinant factors. His heroic efforts to combat casteism and equality haven’t gone down the drain. Comparing it to his times, women do have some rights however they still need to come at par with the privilege men have in society.