Dr Ambedkar Online Biography Project: Chapter3


 Chapter 3 : Birth

Major Ramji Sakpal and Bhimabai were blessed with 14th child on 14th April 1891. Bhimrao was their last child.  Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar  sometimes laughingly would say , “I am fourteenth jewel to my parents”.

Out of 14 children, 7 died even before reaching 2 years of age. Among the remaining seven, 3 were sons and 4 daughters. In the order their names are: Balaram, Ganga, Ramabai, Anandrao, Manjula, Tulasa and Bhiva (Bhima). Being mother, responsibility of nurturing and training children fell on Bhimabai. She was helped by servants sometimes. Major was not in position to employ servants always. Above that, Ramji was quite strict and disciplined; for example he was very particular on food and recipe. Convention was that entering Kitchen was only if one is bathed. Many a times Ramji could arrange meetings of his army unit in which invitation could be placed to numerous guests. Amidst children care, Bhimabai had to prepare food for all of them.

Ganaga, Ramabai, Manjula and Tulasa got married in right age. Ramabai married to Mavlankar. Lakhavedkar and Mavlankar were from similar army units. Malvankar was from Army Music-Band unit. He retired as Constable and worked with G.I.P as Auxiliary Force Band Master. Manjula married to Yesu Ramji Pandarikar. Pandarikar was in 22 infantry. His son was Ganapat. Tulsabai married to Dharma Kantekar. Dharma was in 109th infantry. His son was Keshav, Balaram and Anandrao who passed examination from Normal school. Balaram was Band Master  and later on he joined police department in Solapur as Band teacher. Anandrao did not enter the army.

Bhimabai got inflicted with brain decease in the interim period. The pain of it was so acute that in order to contain it she would prefer striking head against wall. During such times, all the children would surround her and cry heavily. Because of this deadly decease, she beacame bed ridden early. Ramaji would take care of household work. If the pain increased to unbearable levels, he could make the children and wife stay at her home in Murbad.

British India and Afganistan were on war in 1878. The Kandhar or Afgan war lasted till 1880. British India won the war. This was due to sole efforts of Mahar armymen and officers. There were military camps at Satara, Belagaon, Pune, Indore (Mahu), Gwalior, Baroda, Rawalpindi. From these camps the battle material and armymen were sent to Kandahar. The responsibility of new recruitments in army was with efficient officers from Army. 

Major Ramji was appointed for this job. Simultaneously he worked at Normal school. Many solders went to Kandahar were trained by Major Ramji. 6th, 15th and 18th infantry, forth royal and first grenadiers and related platoons that were sent to Kandhahar majorly consists of Mahars. These platoons were reasons behind  winning Kandahar war.

In 1879 Ramji Subhedar stayed at Rawalpindi Military Camp along with his family. With him were families of many Mahar officers. Women from these families would go top nearby river to wash cloths and vessels. One day, when all women went there as usual and were cleaning the cloths then a lot of wondering ascetics came there for bathing.

Hearing the Konkani language of the females, one old ascetic was pleasantly surprised. He continued staring at them and one middle aged woman in particular. He stood there and uttered all of sudden “Bhima, how come you here?”. Hearing those kin words from ascetic, Bhimabai got puzzled.  She thought, “Who is this ascetic and how does he knows my name. What answer should I give him?”. Having realised her confusion the ascetic came forward and said, “Bhima, do not worry, I am your brother-in-Law. I have renunciated the household and roaming around with the group of ascetics.” Then Bhimabai bowed with respect to the group. She requested,” I would ask my husband to invite you to our home. Please accept the invitation here and purify our home by visiting us.” They happily accepted the invitation. Bhimabai went to home hurriedly and told everything to Ramji. Major Ramji went around and brought the ascetics to home with all due respect. 

Then all ascetics started singing religious couplets in front portion of Ramji home.  The acetic said to his elder brother Ramji,” We ascetics are today here, tomorrow elsewhere. We have renunciated everything. Don’t prepare food for us. Give us only the fruits and permission to leave this place”. Major then offered fruits and sweets to ascetics. Ascetics touched them and kept them. Bhimabai requested the group,  “Please come inside and see our children”. Then the brother ascetic said, “No , I have vowed to come out of shackles of blood relations permanently. How can I come again in the trap of worldly things? In our three generations, three people have renunciated. All three have deeply meditated with purity. Their only wish was  a person to come in our family who can make named of the clan such a way that it would end the sufferings of untouchable community and perfect the religion. It is probability that such a person will come in third generation. Third generation means present generation of yours. In this generation Ramji is the only person in a family who is quite loving. None other is of his sort. So Ramji is the one who can be father of such person”.  He continued, “ For speaking these statements, destiny arranged our accidental  meeting” . After saying so the acetic demanded co-conut, rice, Kunku and turmeric powder. That time all the acetic cheered-up and all of them left the place. Major Ramji then distributed sweets among people as holy `Prasad’.

Ramji and Bhimabai trusted the fortune but he could not sustain his faith in those words owing to the fact that within 1880 and 1887, their newly born two girls died. After which the intensity of Brain-disease increased and Bhimabai got bed- ridden. She thought her life would end soon and she was not prepared to convince herself on fortune. Major Ramji resorted to many medical advices & treatments for Bhimabai but all in vein. The disease got escalated. When the suffering would rise, Bhimabai would be sent to her parental home in Murbad that would ease Major a little bit. But in 1888 Bhimabai health worsened further so major Ramji sent her to Murbad. During this time Bhimabai dreamt many strange dreams. Sometimes she would dream a woman with sword and spears in her hands. She would stair at her with big eyes. Sometimes she could dream a lady in white sari who would throw flowers at Bhimabai however not a single flower to fall on her body. The meaning of the dreams Bhimabai could take as – Family Goddess Bhavani  is angry as she was not been visited and  worshiped for so many years. She thought if she was worshiped, she might get pleased and would favour her family. So Bhimabai wrote similar content letters to Major but as usual Major was so busy in his military work, he did not find time to visit the Goddess Bhawani.

Ramji slowly turned pessimistic on the fortune told by ascetic. However he had enough children, he wished only one. He wanted a child who can make his name and name of his clan. He did not think of war-hero but a  Sun like intellectual who would help generations and generations. Due to which friends of Major Ramji would consider Major as crazy and saw his talks as impossible happening. Meanwhile Major was on official military tour to Satara for training purpose. He was roaming around the hill ranges and jungle. All of sudden when he was walking across the Banyan tree, a big cobra came onto him. ‘10’ number was visible on it’s prang. It had long hairs on the body as well. Major Ramji would have easily taken out the sword and cut the animal into pieces but he didn’t do so. He stood still with two hands joined in reverence. He thought of testing for himself, “if the future told by Ascetic is true the Cobra will not harm him and if its wrong  snake would bite me”. Eventually the snake did nothing and crawled on the tree. It stayed there in the winding posture. Major stood there for while and again joined hands in reverence and left the place for the training camp. Major Ramji was always filled with a thought that my son should be like bright Sun due to his lustrous deeds.

In1888 Major Ramji was transfered to Mahu Cantonment Area where he was positioned as the Principal of the Normal school. There only Bhimabai delivered a wonderful child. The child was named as Bhim only on the name of mother Bhimabai due to simple reason that the child was most adorable to her mother. Major Ramji was very curious to see any body sign of great human on the child. One thing he noticed consciously was long earlobes and short ears. He got satisfied with that. Slowly as and when the child grew up; Major could notice the other body signs clearly and it became reasons of Major’s further happiness. Bhim was called ‘Bhiva’ and same name was used in school afterwards.

1890’s period was of major upheavals for socio-religious and political reasons. Many schools of thoughts and associated revolutionaries were active in this period. In the same period first flag of Dalit movement got rowed. The birth of Bhimrao was added nourishment for further struggle.

……..in continuation

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2 Responses to “Dr Ambedkar Online Biography Project: Chapter3”

  1. 1 satish bhagwat

    to all is the good

  2. 2 Vidyanand

    The info is great..
    i was trying to find that how many sisters babasaheb had..?
    Lastly i got the answer in depth here.. its a great material with minute depth n artistically written..
    However, i will be pleased if u convey me the exact (in all, out of 14) no. of sisters babasaheb had..
    Also its a curiosity to know that what happened to all the memebrs of babasaheb family..

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