Life and Mission of Dr Ambedkar

Shadow of Buddhism   

1. Increasing Popularity - After his great triumph in the Constituent Assembly, BRA returned to Bombay but brought with him a new battle cry, the Hindu Code Bill which he had revised & submitted to the C Assembly in October 1948. Work on revising & codifying Hindu Law had been going on for the last ten years. BRA transformed it & parts of the Code Bill relating to joint family & women’s property became a nightmare to most Members of the Select Committee.

As soon as BRA touched the Code & became its spokesman intelligentsia all over India was driven into two camps, on one side was Manu & other BRA. BRA started the war on 11/1/1950 when he addressed the 2nd session of the Siddharth College Parliament in Bombay. He said that it would be wrong to describe the bill as either radical or revolutionary. He said the Bill do not oppose orthodox practices while according sanction to new ways of progress. He said the govt must endeavor to prepare a Civil Code for the benefit of the country as a whole and the Hindu Code was a step in that direction. He said it was beneficial from the country’s oneness that the same set of laws should govern Hindu social & religious life. He said the modifications were based on Hindu Shastras & Smritis.

On this day he was presented with a golden casket containing a copy of India’s constitution by the Bombay SC Federation. He said he has been branded as a pro-Muslim & pro-British leader. He hoped that this work would help Hindus to understand him better & show how the accusations hurled at him were untrue. On January 29 he was honored by the Maharashtrian institutions in Delhi. BRA was now at the zenith of popularity.

2. Back to Buddhism: BRA now reassumed his old role of an iconoclast. Speaking at a meeting on the occasion of the Buddha anniversary in Delhi, he attacked the Godmen in Hinduism. He said that Buddha’s religion was based on morality, ethics where Buddha acted as a guide & not as a god where as Krishna said that he was god of gods, Christ said he was God’s son & Mohammad Paigamber said that he was the last messenger of god. In place of God in Buddhism there was morality. Buddha propounded the most profound meaning of the word ‘Dharma’. To Brahmins it was yajnas & sacrifices to God. In place of Karma Buddha substituted morality as the essence of Dharma. The social gospel of Hinduism was inequality whereas Buddhism was for equality & the Geeta upheld Chaturvarnya. He felt that the propagation of Buddhism needed a bible & opined that the majority of Bhikkhus of the day had neither learning nor service in them.

He was invited by the Buddhist Conference at Colombo, on his arrival he told the press that he come there to observe Buddhist ceremonials & rituals, and to find out what extent the religion of Buddha was a live thing. He showed disapproval of the some of the resolutions passed at the Conference.

BRA addressed delegates of Young Men’s Buddhist Association there on ‘Rise & fall of Buddhism in India’ - ‘Buddhism in its material force had disappeared. But as a spiritual force it still exists’. As regards Hinduism he said it went through three phases, Vedic religion, Brahmanism and Hinduism. It was during the Brahminism period that Buddhism was born. It was not true that after the days of Shankaracharya Buddhism was dead in India. It was going on for years together. In fact Shankaracharya and his teacher were both Buddhists he added. While he was digging material on the subject for the decline/vanish of Buddhism from India the reasons were – adoption of some rituals & practices from Buddhism by the Vaishnava & Shaiva cults, which were vociferous in their propaganda against Buddhism. During the invasion by Allauddin Khilji thousands of priests in Bihar were massacred and consequently some of them fled for their lives to Tibet, China & Nepal. In the meanwhile, the majority of Buddhists went over to Hinduism. The third cause was that Buddhism was difficult to practice while Hinduism was not. Reason four was that the political atmosphere in India had been unfavorable to the advancement of Buddhism he concluded.

But according to Hindu scholars the fall of Buddhism was due to many reasons. Owing to universalistic ambition its spread was everywhere but it had geographical center nowhere. It discarded all national gods & godmen & proclaimed Buddha the greatest of all gods. As long as it reacted as a reformative flank in India, Buddhism gained ground but when it began to act against the Vedic religion, which was the national religion of the majority, Buddhism lost sympathy in India. The Vedic Hindus fought the Muslims bravely and did not flee to any other country. But the Buddhists when attacked, having a center nowhere, fled to different countries and even it is said acclaimed the invasion of India by non-Hindus with the ringing of bells. Besides its godlessness, its over-emphasis on redemption, its sad tone, its unconcern with the world & neglect of family checked rather than fostered enterprise. The Hindu leaders thus warned the SC Hindus that if they converted to Hinduism in the hope that the outer Buddhist world would exert influence to improve their destiny in India they were sadly mistaken.

Addressing a meeting in Colombo he asked the untouchables there to embrace Buddhism. In Bombay BRA addressed a meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society Bombay Branch where he said that he had been interested in Buddhism since his boyhood. At the same meeting Dr V M Kaikini said that modern day Hinduism was nothing but a branch of Mahayana Buddhism with some special beliefs, rituals & caste system added to it. On 12/9/1950 he made a speech at the Buddha Temple in Bombay where he said in order to end their hardships people should embrace Buddhism & added that the present Hinduism was the same about a thousand years ago but after the Muslim invasion & on account of other causes it lost its purity & was mixed up with dross. In the end he said he would devote the rest of his life to the revival of Buddhism in India. BRA worked on the Hindu Code Bill but it was not taken up in Parliament even in December 1950.

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