Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: The Revolutionary Social Reformer
(Based on speeches given in various districts on the occasion of inauguration of Ambedkar Bhavan)
Our nation and society have been fortunate to have inherited a history, culture and civilization dating thou- sands of years back. Each moment of the past years has been source of inspiration for us. Our capacity and ability to understand our great inheritance will decide our future. In continuous every age, it has to be accepted that at every stage of human development, each stratum of society has had its own importance and existence.
Despite everyone having equal opportunities of development, there were many examples of people who were not successful. In spite of many diversities and opposition, there are a series of inspirational incidents which continue to nurture new forces in today’s society.
If we look back at our scriptures, history and great lives, it is clear that, in the achievement of every age, the great people of that age had made efforts to include people even from the lowest strata of society. The success of these achievements was only due to these efforts.
Even Lord Rama had to rely on the support of Kevat to cross the banks of the river Saryu. There is no reason to believe that the very incarnation of God, Lord Rama would have encountered any difficulty in building a bridge to go to Lanka or to endure the Vanvas (confinement to forests) of fourteen years. Yet, even He took the help of monkeys for this task.
Lord Rama had put Mata Shabri on the same pedestal as Mata Kaushalya. If there is any pillar of strength, to which the victory of Mahabharat can be attributed to, it has to be Lord Krishna.
The very Lord Krishna who in His child hood could show the entire Universe to Mata Yashodha in His mouth, had to rely on the support of the cowherds welding their sticks, while lifting the Govardhan mountain. Even a personality like Lord Krishna had to rely on the cowherds. If we look at history, the role of the smallest strata of society is omnipresent in the success of every great person like Chatrapati Shivaji, Ma harana Pratap or Guru Gobind Singhji.
There is no greater teacher of truth than history. Therefore, it is necessary for us to learn what is essential from history. Gandhiji’s word, “Harijan,” is not enough to cover the ambit and scope of the word “Dalit”. Dalits constitute a human community which is socially neglected, untouchable, poor and destitute.
This community has its own way of life and its own value system. They have their own pride and culture.
They also have their likes and dislikes, emotions, love, sensitivities and life values. The sorrows and pains of this community are different from those of other communities. When I was a dent of history and social science, I had heard stories of customs wherein a person belonging to Valmiki community had to tie a broom on his back so that if he passed through a village, his footprints would not remain on the ground!
Such grave tortures were meted out by our ancestors on the one ancestors s of these brothers. This resulted in revolts erupting among Dalits who had suffered such exploitation andhumiliation. They developed a feeling of hate and anger due to the rigid tradi tions and blind beliefs of the society, as well as their continuous oppression by those who were spreading inequalities and imbalances in the society. Many great people had tried to give voice to these emotions.
In the modern age, the Dalit community has given several so cial reformers who contributed to the foundation of Modern Bharat. Amongst these names, the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar as a revolutionary social re former is at the forefront. We are pained when we look at the prevailing situation of our society today!
We need to arouse our inner consciousness. Social Revolution An incorrect belief that performing menial labor is undignified has crept into our society. Until we are able to remove this evil from its very roots, the situation will not change. Our social reformers have always been concerned about this matter.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was one of the great reformers, who initiated the fight for the equality of the last person of the social strata. Even before Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the Dalit community produced many social reformers.
In this series of social revolutionaries, one inspirational name is that of Vir Megh maya, who managed to educate and en lighten the society.
His personality was such that he was able to influence the government of the day, in addition to the Dalit community. He sacrificed his entire life to ensure that society does not suffer.
This great person, who possessed all the 32 virtues described in our scriptures, gave a new lease of life to society. From the visionary foresight of Vir Meghmaya, one can imagine the in the tensity of the evil of untouchability created in our society. Even his demands from the government were noteworthy.
He demanded the facility of worshiping Tulsi and the Pipal tree. In fact, in these small demands, one could see the vision and direction of the times to come. Otherwise, why should some body think like this? We might think of asking for a two acre plot of land, so that our children would be prosperous.
Vir Meghmaya did not raise any demand for his personal and material benefit. In fact, he thought about the happiness about the entire society. He is an example of the kind of Navratnas that existed in our society. It was his desire to integrate the entire Hindu community.
The very thought that my community should not get detached from the cultural mainstream, which came to the mind of Dr. Ambedkar in the 20th century, in fact, first came to the mind of Vir Meghmaya, nearly a thousand years ago.
We should realize that the history of social revolution does not end with Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi. Vir Meghmaya was also a part of the history of this revolution, to whom history owes a golden page. Struggling for a Fearless Society Babasaheb was a fearless revolutionary.
His pain was endless. In the background of the tyranny of a so called golden society, he wanted to uplift the Dalit community, but not through a feeling of revenge. He did not say that one should grow by hurting or killing others. “I will inspire the whole society to present my truth and exis tence with all their might. This emotion was seen in his entire thinking.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was such a personality who fought for the deprived. He fought for the rights of the Dalits. He struggled for their self respect and dignity. If there was some body who could sit amongst the Dalits and tell them the harshest of truths, that was Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. This required immense courage and he dis played this. Those who have studied the life of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar would be aware of this fact.
The Dalit ladies used to feel that if they wore jewels just like the women of higher classes, they too would appear like them. About 100-150 years ago, they used to wear with pride, jewelery made of gold, silver or even polished metal. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar told them to stop presenting this facade.
According to Babasaheb, “There is no need for this facade. Just be what you are with self – confidence and courage. Stand up with a straight look in your eyes and you too can be great.
Babasaheb had the courage to say this. He used to tell the Dalits to first study and struggle, and then do anything else. He was also aware of the contribution that women could give to social transformation. Hence, in the 1942 Convention of the Fed’s Schedule Caste, he invited
20,000 untouchable women. “Be clean. Stay away from evils. Educate your chil dren well and eradicate their inferiority complex. If you follow this advice of mine, then you will be on the path of progress and you will be able to take the society on the path of development. “Dr. Babasaheb did not stop by saying only this.
He further said,” You are the Lakshmi of the house. You have to be cautious that nothing unfortunate be falls the household. “I think that in order to ensure the happiness of the family, not only Dalit women but the women of the entire India should accept this advice of Babasaheb. He talked to the Dalit men not only of education, but also of good values and character.
He told on one occasion, “Our mind should be pure. There should be an attraction towards good values. Just because we are studying, does not mean that it is enough. Along with education, one’s character should also improve. Education without character is worthless. Character is an im portant facet of dharma.
“At the time of prevailing circum stances, the mean persecution of the Dalits, changed the very goal of Babasaheb’s life. He became an intellectual rebel. On one hand, the upper classes enjoyed special privileges and rights, while the lower classes were cursed with poverty throughout their life. They lived a deprived life worse than animals.
This reality sent shivers through him. He adopted the path of law and politics to change this situation. He struggled to bring transformation into the financial and social life of Dalits and people who were suffering and persecuted.
This was a struggle against the prevailing inequalities and imbalances in the society.
The pain and suffering of the deprived class of the society was evident in his struggle. Ambedkar became a social revolution, he no longer remained an individual, but became synonymous with the entire struggle.