Life and Mission of Dr Ambedkar

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Old Age    
    
1. What did BRA achieve - BRA was now 63. His weak constitution could not cope with the rebellious surge in his brains to wrest & wring from the constitution the good he expected for his people who were landless, shirtless, shoeless & hungry. He was aware that his hopes for a better future of his people remain unfulfilled. Opinions may differ on his frequent volcanic attacks, but it would be unrealistic to say that BRA was crying wolf too often.

What had BRA achieved for the untouchables? Their story of their past life was dark. It was for the first time in the history of the past 2500 years that the sun of a better future rose on their horizon. BRA their kith & kin focused world attention on their civic, social and political rights & liberties, made untouchability a burning topic, raised it to international importance. He awakened in them a sense of dignity, self-respect and a burning hatred for untouchability that was worse than slavery. He infused courage in them, which enabled them to voice their grievances and to stand up for justice, equality & liberty. His heroic struggle raised them to political equality with other communities in India. The Untouchables were emerging from the dust, getting government jobs, becoming more politically conscious, organized big conferences and their leaders established institutions of importance. Unfortunately those who progressed tried to become second class Brahmins.

Yet it was an indisputable fact that the SC still suffered social & economic hardships & land & legal impediments in rural areas. Research scholars observed that their housing conditions – small huts mad of tin or coconut leaves had a direct bearing on their moral & health. However, the disease was being cured gradually. The one leader in a liberated India who unceasingly cried for the speedy abolition of untouchability was Veer Savarkar.

2. BRA’s Contribution to Hinduism - BRA was a great teacher who taught the common man to have belief in his potential power, to rouse it up, to develop it and to stand on his own feet. To him nothing was more sacred than learning. No man was born a dullard. He recalled to students the glorious traditions & untiring industry, high aims & sense of public life of Ranade, Tilak & Gokhale. ‘You must have a firm belief in the sacredness of your goal’. Blessed are those who are awakened to their duty to those among whom they are born. Glory to those who devote their time, talents & their all to the annihilation of slavery.

BRA did not like that his hungry men should envelop themselves in the coil of Bhakti, the cult of devotion, opium of helplessness. He asked the common man not to resign himself to his fate & accept his position as a divine dispensation. BRA tried to divert the minds of his people from the thought of life after death to their present life of degradation. He wanted them to enjoy material amenities & to bring themselves upto the cultural level of the majority. At the same time to the more advanced man he warned that material comfort is by no means the solvent of all human ills. Man does not live by bread alone, he is a cultural being.

That is why people regard the life of BRA, who was one of the greatest Protestant Hindu leaders of Modern India, as a phase in the renaissance of Hinduism & in the reorganization of Hindu social order. The first renaissance in Hinduism was inaugurated by the Upanishads with their stream of new thoughts when the gods, priests & sacrifices receded into the background. With the resurgence of orthodox priests & idea of sacrifices, decadence set in again with added vigor. At this time Buddha came forward to rejuvenate & reorganize the social & religious system of the Hindus. He attacked priest craft, the institution of sacrifice & stood for the abolition of the ramifications in society.

With the rise of Shankaracharya, Hinduism slowly absorbed Buddhist principles but tightened its hold on the caste system & karmakand. Then came another revival with the spiritual teachings of Ramanuja, Kabir, Nanak, Chaitanya and Namdeo. The fourth phase began with the rise of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Phule, Ranade, Dayananda & Vivekananda carried forward by Savarkar on a rationalistic basis. Gandhi’s contribution was more of a humanitarian nature than of a social one. BRA’s movement saw the fifth phase of the renaissance of Hinduism & reorganization of the Hindu social order. He was the first greater leader from the oppressed people during the history of over 2,500 years of their slavery. He started a mental revolution unprecedented in the history of Hinduism, to purify & revolutionize Hinduism, to reorganize & revitalize Hindu society & to save it from decadence / degradation. His contribution, therefore to Hinduism & India would be greater than that of most of the modern Hindu leaders like Dayananda & Vivekananda, for unlike them he has contributed to the constitutional & political thought & development of this country.

BRA demanded liberation of Hindu society from casteism & priest craft. According to his social philosophy, every Hindu must have the liberty to associate in all legitimate ways with his co-religionists. The Hindus must build a common Social Code. BRA was for one national language, the Hindi & one common script, the Nagari. Thus his social philosophy appealed to Hindus to liberate Hinduism & solidify Hindu society, and to revitalize Hindu thought and abolish the caste system & touch me not-ism.

3. BRA the person - By temperament BRA was cyclonic. At the least provocation he flew into anger. The next moment his anger would cool down. It will not be far from the truth if one says that BRA was a not man of the family. He called himself asang, unfit for familiarity. Constant tours, study and public appointments kept him engrossed all the time. There might be none around him who did not suffer rebukes at his hands at some time or the other. Some eminent men described him as a British Bulldog and Sarojini Naidu called Mussolini. His ability, integrity, great learning & untold sacrifice inspired devotion & confidence. Yet his imperious life was an empire which had lost many cities under the debris of forgetfulness & neglect. BRA did not show enthusiastic familiarity with or admiration for anybody. His truthfulness was shattering.

He had the vision of Buddha but humility was not conspicuous among his merits. His proud self-confidence often verged on boastfulness. In his relaxed mood he talked endlessly. His talks gave his visitors both entertainment & arguments. Besides a strong sense of humor he had an irresistible taste for country jokes & idioms. At times one got more jokes from him in one hour than one got from all other politicians in five years. Though grave & fierce in appearance BRA was a foundation of emotions. When his youngest son died, BRA was so overwhelmed with grief that he would part with the dead body for days. When his first wife passed away his grief knew no bounds.

In his old age BRA found time to hear music for which he had a liking. BRA’s house was not a detached villa that gave you an appearance of seclusion. His vast library, rich clothes, his enormous pens, his grand card, the numerous varieties of shoes & boots were the living marks of his conquering personality that marched on removing all obstacles till he felt he had secured all that he was capable of winning in the world in which he lived. Big & varied types of fountain pens had an irresistible fascination for BRA. Rich dress & best cut interested him.

The bookworm in BRA had no time for social life. Once in a while he went to see pictures. Though an expert cook BRA never insisted on any particular dish. When he was angry with family members he remained without words & food. His handwriting had an elegant style, which indicated firmness, clarity & display. He loved fine dogs & would bring one from the farthest corner of the country if his eyes fell on a charming breed.  To visit BRA was to visit a speaking museum. His conversation was illuminating, entrancing, vigorous & communicative. His talk ranged over many subjects, which were stored in his prodigious museum.

The time factor was a legend that revolved round BRA’s name. None could encroach upon his time. Two great Indians of our age utilized every moment of their life as life’s greatest treasure. They were Gandhi & BRA. To BRA love of books was the greatest means of education & self-development, and the highest type of recreation & enjoyment. Company of books gave BRA supreme joy of life & serious aloofness. The cause of Indian independence drove Tilak into politics, the cause of the Untouchables drove BRA into politics. Goethe said we know accurately when we know little, for with knowledge our doubts increase. He had no flash of a Savarkar or of a Nehru. But when he proved his point, he quoted one after another all the great thinkers on that particular topic to support his point. BRA’s thirst for books was ever growing & flowing like the river Ganges. BRA bitterly wept at the thought of loosing his eyesight, for then life would be meaningless. Great was his joy when he wrote a book.

4. BRA the Man - All that is great in men comes through labor, ‘You have no idea of my sufferings & labor, you would have been wiped out’ said BRA to one journalist. Three personalities influenced the life & actions of BRA. Besides stories from the Mahabharat & Ramayan, which he heard with rapt attention in his childhood, the life of Buddha, the teachings of Kabir and the struggle of Phule contributed tremendously to the building of his personality. These personalities gave him his soul force and Western education gave him his weapons.

But the combination of idealism & practical life, by knowledge & experience, BRA belonged to the race of Ranade, Bhandarkar, Tilak & Telang who unfurled the Indian flag of learning in the world of learning & research. There was Tagore, Bose & Radhakrishnan but that was a different order. BRA was the last link of the batch of scholar politician, the type that was dying out in India and making politics poorer. Yet BRA had one more advantage over the scholar politician save Tilak. BRA led a stormy political life, launched political struggles and passive resistance movements and was in the firing line when it was necessary. He faced cruel attacks & returned merciless blows. In a moment he knew how to begin the fight & thundered / threw thunderbolts into the camps of his opponents. That is why he was rated amongst the best brains, was regarded as one of the dozen most astonishing men & one of the bravest sons of India.

BRA was a powerful speaker both on the platform & in Parliament. Galvanic & embarrassingly brutal to a fault in his speech, he showered a fusillade of pistol shots at these opponents. Like all positive men of character & mission, BRA had his idolaters & detractors. He had a reputation for great personal integrity & fearless intellectual honesty. Yet it was a fact that he paid bills stingily. BRA’s hold over his people was unshakeable. One striking feature about BRA was his marvelous combination of obstinacy & resilience & his ability to seize an opportunity by the forelock which quality succeeds in politics. It was resilience & not expediency that made him shed his obstinacy without compromising his stand or conscience. He was shrewd enough to know that dawn does not come twice to awaken a man. He had the gift of catching the ball as it bounced.

BRA did not accept the Geeta at all, to him it was an irresponsible book on ethics, a compromise of all errors. He believed in the necessity of religion. He believed in God in the sense that some unknown power might be influencing human destiny. This faith in God, he, however, unified, since he took an active interest in the revival of Buddhism, with the worship of the image of the Buddha before which he knelt & said prayers morning/evening. As a front rank leader, BRA kept himself away from the controversies over provincialism. But when points came up for discussion, he proudly said that Maharashtrians never acted as traitors to the country, he also said that they would be last people to be scared by the threat of the proposed Pakistan since they had once in their living past routed the Muslim forces in battlefield & battlefield.

BRA was a leader of the masses. Tilak was the first leader of modern India who influenced the middle class and spread his influence over the masses. Gandhi moved the masses while BRA moved the lower strata of society. BRA represented more a cause than an organization. BRA did not try to organize his party on modern lines. There was no regular annual conferences or general meetings. Where & when he sat was the venue of conference & the time for decision. The office bearers had to fall in line with this arrangement. His followers were attracted by his integrity, ability, sacrifice & learning. When he wanted his people to assemble he simply gave them a clarion call and the organization sprang up like the crop in the rainy season.

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