If we wish to be free, we must fight. Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. — Patrick Henry (March, 1775)
History of India is nothing but the struggle between untouchables and so called upper castes. However the Indian historians have always misled us by not showing the true face of Indian History.
The glorious victory of few hundred untouchable soldiers over numerically superior Peshwas army in the battle of Koregaon, fought on 1st January, 1818, is one such chapter in Indian history whose significance has been carefully hidden.
On that day, when many were busy celebrating the new year, a small force of 500 mahar (an untouchable caste in Maharashtra) soldiers in the British army were preparing for a war against the most brutal Indian state of that times – Brahmin Peshwa rulers of Pune, Maharashtra.
In the history books, this battle is considered an important one and is known as second Anglo-Maratha war that resulted in the total destruction of Peshwa kingdom and sealed the victory of British Empire in India. However, there is a different historical dimension to this war that all of us need to be aware of.
This war was also between the Indian untouchables (who were condemned to live a life so miserable that you might not find any parallels in the world history) and Brahminism (manifested through brahmin rulers from Pune).
For mahar soldiers, this was not just another battle but it was their battle for self-respect, dignity and against the supremacy of Manusmriti. And these soldiers, just 500 of them, defeated the Peshwa army of over 30,000 in just one day. Their victory against a mighty force is perhaps unparallel in Indian history.
Maharashtrian society under brahmin’s rule followed worst form of social discrimination based on caste wherein the lower strata of society such as untouchables were confined to the stringent Brahmanical laws and subsequently their mobility and development were impaired.
The untouchables had to carry a broom stick attached to their backs so that when they enter into city, their footprints would not pollute the path. They were forced to put a pot around their neck to carry their spit in the pot. They were not allowed to hold any arms and education was completely barred. Untouchables were killed if they did not follow these restrictions. Bhima-Koregaon battle was the answer of the untouchables to the brahmin ruling class of the country.
By – Dr. K. Jamanadas
Today is Christmas, 25th of December. It is celebrated all over the Christian world as the birth of Jesus Christ. But for the whole world of Dalits, it is an important day as “Manu Smruti Dahan Din”, as it was on this day in 1927 that Manusmruti was publicly burned by Dr. Ambedkar, during the “Maha-Sangharsha” of Mahad Satyagraha, and is an important mile stone in Dalit struggle against Brahmanism. Let us all remember this day with pride.
Manuvadis had arranged that Ambedkar does not get a ground for meeting, but a Muslim gentleman, Mr. Fattekhan, gave his private land. They had arranged that no supplies of food, water or anything else could be bought, so everything was brought from outside by our men. The volunteers had to take a vow of five items:
1. I do not believe on Chaturvarna based on birth.
2. I do not believe in caste distinctions.
3. I believe that untouchability is an anathema on Hinduism and I will honestly try my best to completely destroy it.
4. Considering that there is no inequality, I will not follow any restrictions about food and drink among at least all Hindus.
5. I believe that untouchables must have equal rights in temples, water sources, schools and other amenities.
Dr. Ambedkar came from Bombay by boat “Padmavati” via Dasgaon port, instead of Dharamtar, though it is longer distance, because in the event of boycott by bus owners, they could walk down five miles to Mahad.
Some people later tried to say that Dr. Ambedkar decided to burn Manusmruti at the eleventh hour, as he had to withdraw the programme of drinking water from Chavadar Tank under court orders and persuasion by the Collector. That is not true, because right in front of the pendal of the meeting a “vedi” was created beforehand to burn Manusmruti. Six people were labouring for two days to prepare it. A pit six inches deep and one and half foot square was dug in, and filled with sandle wood pieces. On its four corners, poles were erected, bearing banners on three sides. Banners said,
1. “Manusmruti chi dahan bhumi”, i.e. Crematorium for Manusmruti.
2. Destroy Untouchability and
3. Bury the Brahmanism.
On 25th December, 1927, at 9 p.m., the book of Manusmruti was kept on this and burned at the hands of Bapusahib Sahastrabuddhe and another five six dalit sadhus.
On the morning at around 6.30 a.m, Dr. Ambedkar’s wife Savita Ambedkar got up as usual, when she had a look at the bed she saw Dr. Ambedkar’s leg resting on the cushion as usual. She soon realized that he had departed. She sent her car for Nanak Chand Rattu (assistant of Dr. Ambedkar) and he came. On his arrival Mrs. Ambedkar collapsed in the sofa crying that Babasaheb had departed the world. Rattu could not bear the thought, and with a trembling voice he exclaimed, “What! Babasaheb has departed this world. Rattu attempted to stimulate heart action in the mortal remains by massaging his limbs, moving his arms and leg, pressing upward the diaphragm and putting in his mouth a spoonful of brandy; but they failed to stimulate respiration. He had passed away in sleep.
Mrs. Ambedkar now louldly mourned her husband, and Rattu wept bitterly over the dead body of his master, crying “Oh! Babasaheb, I have come, give me work.”
(Four year earlier Dr Ambedkar had written to his chief lieutenant Bahurao Gaikwad that he would not live long, and so Bahurao Gaikwad should prepare his mind for the event. )
Rattu then broke the shocking news to circles closest to Babasaheb and then Ministers of the Central Government. The news spread like wild fire. Many of his admirers and lieutenants and followers ran to 20 Alipore Road, and soon a throng of mourners collected outside his residence to have a last glimpse of the great man.
The Bombay associates of the leader were intimated through Siddarth College, and they were also informed that the body was being flown to Bombay that night.
5 Dec 1956: On the morning of 5 December, Dr. Ambedkar woke up a little late. Nanak Chad Rattu, his assistant was there till then, and after Dr. Ambedkar’s waking up, he took permission from him and left for office. Only his wife (Mrs. Savita Ambedkar) and his doctor, Dr Mavlankar, from Bombay remain in the house. In the afternoon, Dr. Savita and Dr. Mavlankar went to market. They had to do some shopping before Dr. Mavlankar’s return to Bombay, so they got late in returning home.
At 6 o’clock in the evening when Rattu came back from his office to Dr. Ambedkar’s house. Mrs. Ambedkar had not returned from the market till them. At this Dr. Ambedkar felt that he was neglected, and he was beginning to feel angry due to this. Ratu realized this. Gathering his composure, Dr. Ambedkar gave Ratu some work to type. Ratu was about to go to this room, when Mrs. Ambedkar returned from the market. Dr. Ambedkar could not control his anger, and he said some harsh words to Mrs. Ambedkar, He also said that he wanted to divorce Mrs. Ambedkar. Dr. Savita Ambedkar saw that Dr. Ambedkar was angry and anything she would say would only provoke him further. So, she told Ratu to try to calm Dr. Ambedkar. Ratu tried to pacify him, and Dr. Ambedkar calmed down after a little while.
That evening at 8’o clock, a deputation of Jain followers met Dr. Ambedkar as per the scheduled appointment . Dr. Ambedkar was thinking of calling them the next day; but since they had come, he said, he should have a talk with them. After about 20 minutes he went to the bathroom. With his hand on the shoulder of Rattu he came out of the drawing room, flung himself into the sofa and sat with his eyes closed.
The Jain leaders stood up as a mark of respect and then sat down. There was complete silence for some minutes, the Jain leaders gazing on his face intently. After Dr. Ambedkar rose his head, they discussed for a few minutes questions concerning Buddhism and Jainism. . He was presented a book ‘Jain Buddha’ at that time. Actually, they had come to invite Dr. Ambedkar to a function that they were organizing the next day. They gave their invitation to him and Dr. Ambedkar accepted it and assured them that if his health permitted, he would definitely take a part in the function.
Dr. Ambedkar was busy in his conversation with the Jain deputation, when Dr. Mavlankar who had come there especially to look after him, left for Bombay according to his pre-decided programme.
After the Jain deputation left, Rattu pressed his master’s legs. Dr. Ambedkar asked him to anoint his head with oil. He did so. Dr. Ambedkar felt a little relaxed. Suddenly a gentle, pleasant, musical tone was heard; and it took little time for Rattu to know that his master was, with his eyes shut, singing a song, the fingers of his right hand striking the arm of the sofa. Slowly the song became distinct and louder. Its lines became firm as Dr. Ambedkar recited ‘Buddham Sarnam Gacchami’ with full concentration. Ratu felt happy on seeing this. Afterwards, Dr. Ambedkar told Ratu to put on a record of the same song on the radiogram and with devotion Dr. Ambedkar accompanied the song. While the song was playing on the radiogram, he asked Ratu to take out a few of his books including the preface and introduction to The Buddha and His Dhamma and keep them on the table besides to his bedside so that he could work on them during the night.
After some time, Dr. Ambedkar’s cook Sudama came out and said that supper was ready. Dr. Ambedkar said that he would have simply a little rice and nothing else. He was still under the spell of the song. The servant came a second time and Dr. Ambedkar rose up to go to the dining room. While walking with his head on the shoulder of Rattu, he took out some books from different almirahs and told him to place these books too on the table. After his dinner, he came into his room. There he kept humming the song of Kabir ‘ Chal Kabir tera bhav sagar dera’ for some time. Then he got up and went to his bedroom. There, he looked at the books that he had asked Ratu to keep. He worked on the preface of The Buddha and His Dhamma and fell asleep by keeping his hand over the book.
Watch an incredible documentary on the “Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World“. In this video you will travel around the world visiting important Buddhist places. You will see -
1. Bodh Gaya (India)
2. Boudhanath Stupta, Kathmandu (Nepal)
3. Temple of the Tooth, Kandy (Sri Lanka)
4. Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok (Thiland)
5. Angkor Wat (Cambodia)
6. Giant Boddah Po Lin, (Hong-Kong)
7. Hsi Lai Temple, Los Angeles (USA)
Watch many more videos at http://www.youtube.com/dalitjade
Walking with the Buddha is a documentary on life of Lord Buddha & places associated with Lord Buddha.
Walking with the Buddha – Part 1
Walking with the Buddha – Part 2
It is probable that the tendency towards self-government evidenced by these various forms of corporate activity received fresh impetus from the Buddhist rejection of the authority of the priesthood and further but its doctrine of equality as exemplified by its repudiation of caste. It is indeed to the Buddhist books that we have to turn for an account of the manner in which the affairs of the early examples of representative self-governing institutions were conducted. It may come as a surprise to many to learn that in the assemblies of Buddhists in India 2500 years and more ago are to be found the rudiments of our own parliamentary practice of the present day. The dignity of the assembly was preserved by the appointment of a special officer – the embryo of “Mr. Speaker” in our house of commons. A second officer was appointed to see that when necessary a quorum was secured- the prototype of the Parliamentary Chief Whip, in our own system. A member initiating business did so in the form of a motion which was then open to discussion. In some cases, this was done once only, in others three times, thus anticipating the practice of Parliament in requiring that a bill be read a third time before it becomes law. If discussion disclosed a difference of opinion the matter was decided by the vote of the majority, the voting being by ballot.
– Marquess of Zetland, a former Viceroy of India, Author of “Legacy of India “
The Pilgrimage of Char-Dham was once known for visiting the four places viz. Lumbini, where Buddha was born; Bodh Gaya, where he attained realization; Saranath, where he gave his first teachings; and Kushinager, where he passed away. Over the years now the concept has completely been changed to visiting char-dham of Sankaracharyas.
Lots of evidence are available which mention that the Great place of Buddhist Worship viz. Tirupati Temple, Ernaculam Temple, vithoba of Pandharpur, Jagannath of Puri and many more were successfully converted to Hindu Temples.