Dr. Ambedkar as Modern Buddha

12Oct07

Dr Vasu is a voracious fan of Atrocitynews articles. We would like to bring in front of larger audience his angered comments on Dr Ambedkar’s leadership in contemporary world wherein Dr Vasu castigates Dr Ambedkar’s approach towards Buddhism as ‘sham’. NO wonders; Dr Vasu represents elite (celebrated brahminical) Buddhist camp who have least time to see change that is been brought in the lives of millions of millions by Dr Ambedkar’s deeds. His life and thoughts will continue to inspire modern world as a Modern Buddha; despite elite Brahminical clouds casting on the way.

Here Atrocitynews EDITOR of the WEEK clears the clouds set in by Dr Vasu’s ignorance. ATN Editor replies him pointwise; readers may add on:

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ATN Editor: It is good to read your comment, Dr VAsu on Atrocity News. Thank you so much, but without knowing your position and sources of your information on Dr. Ambedkar, Indian Buddhist movement, Indian ‘classed and treated as the untouchables’ and Indian situation, we did not publish it on the public forum. Your content is highly biased and in this light, it will be very important to deal with it on a personal basis first as one of the factors in writing that content can be your ignorance about situation in India and also lack of practice and study of “Buddhism”, needless to say, that of Dr. Ambedkar and his movement. Please follow my comments in blue below:

Dr Vasu: Ambedkar’s Buddhism is the very anti-thesis of the actual Buddhism taught by Gautama the Buddha and his enlightened followers in the different traditions.

ATN Editor: The myth of actual Buddhism: No one can safely claim what is the “actual Buddhism”, there is a basic Buddhism, which one can begin to use in one’s life to further one’s progress on the path of enlightenment. Even it is very difficult to come to “Basic Buddhism” and it will need a lot of digging in the debris of accumulated from the past and interpretations and commentaries by many individuals. In this light, if as a Buddhism, we should see what works for us in a given situation, which will help us to free from the “nagative” and “destructive” emotions. However, it is also important to deal with the ideas that entrap us perpetually and bind us to the speculative theories of “origin of the world” and “God” and “Soul”. This is what the Buddha is doing in many Sutras, including the famous Kalama Sutta in which the Buddha is asking humanity to look into their beliefs. The Buddha is also challenging us to look into how the languages and words can tyranise the humanity. Therefore, the basic Buddhism, is something that challenges our intellect, ideas and concepts and makes us deal with the real situation, which is the “existence of suffering” and way out of it. The Buddha asserted that suffering is not something personal, but it is also social and spiritual (Spiritual in terms of our inability to see the things the way they are). Gautama Buddha was a practical man and concerned with ending the suffering of humanity on various levels. And so was Ambedkar, however the reality of suffering that Ambedkar was dealing with was very different from that of the time of the Buddha. In a way, Dr. Ambedkar’s whole life and mission is nothing but fight against ending suffering of humanity. As a Metta Bhavana practice, here is an exercise for you. Imagine yourself carrying human excreta on your head and feel the feeling that might well in your heart. Try to bear with it. Try to deal with it and you will realise the brilliance of Ambedkar as to how he was dealing with the problem in India. If you say that Ambedkar’s Buddhism is anti-thesis ro actual Buddhism, the same statement can be easily extended to Nagarjuna, who made so many speculations about Shunyata, when the historic Buddha did not really talk much about it. Same with the Zen Buddhists, who would ask you to “kill” the Buddha. My point is to explain that there are various modes of communication, depending on the audiences and situation. Had this not been the case, the Buddha would have given only a few discourses. Buddha gave discourses in order to make people enlarge their experiences.

About Basic Buddhism, I have my own set of ideas and you can share your own set of ideas as to what might be the “actual Buddhism”. The threefold practice of ethics, concentration and wisdom is the basic. Not believing something which can not be experienced directly, such as God and Bramhan and Atma. Not to speculate but deal with how suffering originates and how it can be dealt at that instant of time, without speculating about the “arrow” and also make arrangements that “the arrow” will not hurt the humanity again and again. The “arrow” of caste is affecting Indian minds and even today many people are dehumanised and killed in the name of caste. The study published in 2006 proved that untouchability is still practiced in India. It will be wonderful to see how you will aproach the situation as it is today.

Dr Vasu: The unequivocal first premise of Buddhism that can be explicitly deciphered from the tripitaka pali canons and the later scriptures in the theravada and mahayana traditions is that hatred can never be conquered by hatred and the end do not justify means. This is the unique message of the Buddha. Ambedkar buddhism is highly steeped in hatred, revenge and victim conciousness. Ambedkar’s buddhism is much closer to marxist interpretation of relgion with the substitution of class with caste than with Buddhism. Ambedkar literature is rife with hate speech, machiavellian politiking and sectarian propoganda to garner power than with genuine concern and compassion for the weak and suffering.

ATN Editor: This is begging the question and a case of creating a strawman. Had Ambedkar wanted not to cease hate by non hate, he would have as a reactionary methods, converted to Islam or Christianity and the whole Indian subcontinent would have been a zone of unending hatred. When Ambedkar is talking about caste system, he is very direct to speak against such an inhuman institution that dehumanises humanity and also treats human beings less than the animals. Ambedkar never justified violence, he said it time and again and you can refer to his famous speech “Buddha or Marx”. He criticises Marx for supporting violence and in fact he called Marxism, to use, Carlyle’s term, Pig’s philosophy, however he did not oppose Marx on “Exploitation” of one class by another class, but Ambedkar enlarged the scope and said that more than exploitation the Buddha is concerned about “Dukkha” or “human suffering”. If we accept the testimony of Tripitaka, the way our historic Buddha criticised the bad practices in the society can be just like Ambedkar’s so called hate speech and sectarian propaganda. The purpose of the historic Buddha and in our times that of Ambedkar is to awaken the humanity from its “deep slumber”. You cant be compassionate and sleeping at the same time.

Dr Vasu: The next myth perpetuated by Ambedkar and his followers is that the Buddha never beleived in the Law of Karma. The law of karma is the cornerstone of Buddhism as can be evidenced from the traditional buddhist literature and also through the current living traditional teaachings in the different schools of Buddhism in china, thailand, Sri lanka, tibet, japan, korea and many others.

ATN Editor: Ambedkar very much supported the doctrine of Karma, but it was a doctrine of Karma taught by the Buddha and not by other teachers of his times. The interpretation of Ambedkar makes Buddhism more practical and brilliance of Ambedkar lies in making Karma (ethical action/ or unethical action) a practical teaching. For him the Karma is not a ritual action, or not a residue of past that is clinging to you like a muck all the time, but it is a dimension of your consciousness that can be effectively used to make oneself an instrument of removing suffering of one’s own and that of society. Traditional Buddhists have begin to understand this now, I would like you to refer you to the great Thai Bhikkhu, Buddhadasa, who wrote a criticism of Buddhaghosha and tried to make even ‘Paticcasamuppad’ into a practice of ending suffering. Buddhists are now asserting that the consciousness is natural and the birth is biological and not just karmic!! A Buddhist will not accept the transmigration of “substance” from one birth to another at all.

Dr Vasu: The third myth perpetuated by Ambedkar and his followers is that Buddhism was a social movement against Brahmins. Indeed Buddha condemned the rituals, practices of discrimination in any form and the caste system. However majority of the buddha’s disciples were from the Brahmin Clergy as they were more exposed to the theological discourses of the times and were the first people to accept and follow the Buddha. Also among the later Buddhist masters we find many Brahmins like Nagarjuna, Naropa, Saraha, TIlopa and many others. Esentially Brahmin was a caste of the clergy and the theologicians and Buddhists were the Monks and Nuns. The people who were drawn into the fold were brahmins, kshatryias and many other castes. Read also the ‘Canto of the brahmin’ from the Dhammapada, wherin the buddha extols the ideals of a Brahmin and also condems the false practices of purported Brahminism. Infact the lifestyle and rituals of so called Brahminical yogis, vedantis, Jains and some other sects have an overbearing similarity with the buddhist asceticism. Note also the respect, awe and reverence that Buddha is held in the ancient and modern yogic, vedantic and tantric traditions of Hinduism.

ATN Editor: One of the aspects of the movement was against discrimination and it is still against the discrimination. The Buddha would have not founded the Sangha, had he not dreamt of an ideal society, which is casteless and classless. This is evident in one of the five dreams that Siddhartha saw before his enlightenment. The four birds of different colours (symbolising the four Varnas) coming in contact with the Buddha and becoming “white” birds. This is a Buddha’s dream of a casteless and classless society, we can further say that it is also a dream of raceless and genderless society. The Buddha described the Bramhins as the Kutadanta means sharp teeth-ed ones, just like vampires who suck the blood of the common people. Far from awe, the Bramhins hated Buddha so much that they have often called him thief and maya.

Dr. Vasu: The fourth myth is that ‘hinduism’ or the culture of indians at that time which worshipped such gods as indra, brahma, shiva were antithetical to the Buddha’s teachings. Infact the Buddhist worldview and cosmology is quite similar to the popular traditions of vedas, yoga, sankya except for finer technical details which can be no subject for political discourse but rather belongs to the realm of ontology. This can be evidenced in places where buddhism was exported from India like in Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, China and Japan. They have a host of ‘hindu’ gods, myths, stories which is also part of the buddhist package.

ATN Editor: One can clearly note that the Buddha was up against the supernatural powers and the self proclaimed gods on the earth. Wherever possible he used the helpful myths of his time to communicate the highest truth to the masses, per se he never advocated that they are essential elements in the process of enlightenment. In short, it can be said that its a brilliance of enlightened mind to use and also not use what is beneficial for the humanity. This is what Ambedkar did. In the modern society, these myths are not helpful at all, because the scientific methods teach us the most uptodated cosmology. We can not say that Mt. Meru is the centre of the universe, it is a mythical cosmology. The sooner the humanity gives it up, the better. We should examine the past clearly and let it not become the rival of the present.

Dr Vasu: The essence of Buddhism is social transformation through individual transformation by transcending the conditioning imposed by society like caste, class, creed, nationality, ethnic identities and so on. Ambedkar’s Buddhism just reinforces conditioning to a far greater extent and can be no means of liberation to either the followers or the ones who are targeted by them. In a nutshell the Buddhism of Ambedkar is a sham.

ATN Editor: You are right in pointing to the essence of Buddhism very clearly. However without a particular society, individual transformation is an impossibility for the masses. Had Buddha not created a society, it would have been difficult for us to even walk the path of the enlightenment. If you see it clearly, then you will realise that “outer” conditions are very important, if not essential for individual liberation and therefore right form of society or creation of it is as important as individual transformation. The Buddha was a social critique and he challenged all the notions that entrapped humanity, he was also called sham by the people, who could not understand his vision, of his times. You are right in judging Buddhism of Ambedkar as “sham” because it is clearly evidenced from your content that you have not read Ambedkar fully, nor you are aware of Indian situation, even if you are, you might have a very limited experience.

We would like to invite you to India and see for yourself what Buddhism really is.



3 Responses to “Dr. Ambedkar as Modern Buddha”

  1. Dear Dr Vasu,whether you are Indian or not we donot know but as for your writing on Buddhism showed you have very limited knowledge on Buddhism.for 170 millions dalits Buddhism is a scientific based religion and if you can not proof it we are not going to accept it.We believe their is one god why to worry for that .We are saving our borthers from hindu hell ,you might say what about other hindus who are worshiping 33 crores of congenital abnormal god and godeses.at the moment we have fire in dalits house so we are saving the dalits people from the fire first then we will save other brothers.

  2. 2 prasant kumar pradhan

    Dr.Ambedkar is the real Buddha of the modern times.He was the reviver of the great Indian tradition of spiritual revolution and rational discourse.He opened the hypocrisy of the feudal casteist so-called intellectuals.The same attempt was made by Buddha in 6th century b.c when he showed the world the hollowness of the brahamanical knowledge which had actually a few scope to claim itself cosmopolitan in nature, or which had actually lost its applicability due to the mis-interpretation of the vedic knowledge by a few frogs of awell who had a very limited sense of rationality to understand the Vedic wisdom.Ambedkar did exactly the same thing.He broke the intelectual hegemony of the traditional hereditary priests who were merely ordinary human-beings,not wisemen.For the growth of Indian wisdom the contributions of non-Brahmins was also notable.Except a minor part of the Indian knowledge ,rest were the product of the wisdom of common non-brahmin. Upanisad were the product of the kshyatriyas and vaishyas, who were not the product of sacrifice fire as claimed by the Brahmans but , they were the leaders of the common people who were cunningly accepted by the priests as parterners of exploitation.Ambedkar wanted the people to withdraw the support from these modern inhuman in the guise of priesthood who had nothing to do with god or punya.Ambedkar has been the true pioneer of modern India whose writting/speeches and life journey inspires many-largely could potentially withdraw Indians from clutches of inhuman caste traditions. Buddha was of the same calibre in 2500years ego.


  1. 1 Tibet » Blog Archives » HOUSE COMMITTEE ADDS GOD TO GENOCIDE LIST!

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