The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history, Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster. The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. - Milan Kundera.
In the month June 2012, the Government of Punjab announced that it will set up a ‘cow memorial‘ at a factory site in Joga town, Mansa District, where recovery of cow carcasses had sparked off riots. And a day after announcing a ‘cow memorial’, the Badal Government further announced it will constitute a ‘cow commission‘ to ‘prevent cruelties against the holy animal’. Mr. Badal even made a visit to the factory where cow slaughter was supposedly taking place and instructed the DGP to look into the cases of cow slaughter with interest and thoroughly. Mr. Badal and his party members didn’t even have the time to pay a visit to the blanket factory at Jalandhar which collapsed in April 2012 and which left more than 10 people dead and 100s badly injured. Not even a single statement came in favor of dead or injured in the one of worst factory accidents of Punjab’s history. Was it because people working at that factory were poor and their lives were not as important as the lives of cows? And recently, when a madman at a Wisconsin Sikh Gurdwara killed 6 people, Mr. Badal, CM of Punjab, decided to visit Wisconsin! Isn’t it strange that when in his home state, thousands Dalits are being tortured and when the crime rate against Dalits is going up day by day, he decided to visit Wisconsin to comfort Sikhs of Wisconsin? Is it because these people living abroad finance him and support his party during the election time and the poor Dalits don’t have as much money to donate? So Dalit voices are left unheard.
All these announcements didn’t come to me as surprise as I know who are working behind all these. For centuries, Hindu fundamentalists have always taken a keen interest in destroying Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism. RSS’s ‘secret agenda‘, (published by “New Age” weekly of Communist Party, dated 18th-24th June 2000, same was also reproduced by Aajka Surekh Bharat, Nagpur, Oct. 2000, P-44,) shows the same, ‘secret agenda’ in which it was advocated to members that they “teach false history, misguide minority communities, compel them to chant ‘Om’, divide Dalit unity, keep converting Dalits, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists into Hindus etc. There were 34 such points in that ‘secret agenda’, points which were against humanity, mankind & full of hatred. These days, Sikh organizations, Sikh temples etc are hijacked by Hindu fundamentalists and they are running these organizations as they want. Sikh leaders can be seen at Hindu functions, celebrating Hindu festivals, visiting Hindu temples and performing Hindu pujas. How can Dalits, who protected Sikhism at each and every step, trust such Sikh leaders who attend such Hindu functions where Sikhism is being ruined?
Recently, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar has been ranked as “The Greatest Indian”. You can watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J48dmpKoyPo or you can read about it at http://www.outlookindia.com/content10894.asp
An Appeal from Sakya Hostels
Visuddhaloka Welfare Association,
Manali New Town, Chennai
Greetings with love and compassion!
We are obliged for all your support to the Sakya hostels, without which it would not have been possible to turn this dream into a reality. In the year 2005, the people of Karuna Trust, UK came forward to support the Tsunami affected Dalit (Scheduled Caste) children who did not receive due attention during the relief and rehabilitation work undertaken by the NGOs and government. With Karuna Trust support through Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana (TBMSG), Nagpur, two hostels, one for 25 boys and one for 25 girls, were started in Thiruvallur District, Tamil Nadu.
We, the NTI Alumni Tamil Nadu, South India, initiated Visuddhaloka and take care of these children in the Sakya hostels. We provide food, educational materials, bedding, clothes, health care, sports and cultural items. For the last several years we have received no support from Karuna or Taiwan and are managing entirely on our own. It is not easy but we are managing and the hostels are still doing well.
However we are now faced with an emergency situation which is why we are writing to you. Since the beginning, we have run the hostels in rented houses. At present, we have been informed by the house owner that he wants to sell the main building where we have been running the boys’ hostel for the last 7 years.
If you want to destroy a society, destroy its history and the society will get destroyed automatically – Dr. Ambedkar.
On 26th July, a statue of Behan Mayawati was broken in Lucknow; a day later, three statues of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar were broken in Azamgarh and on 30th July, another statue of Dr. Ambedkar was vandalised in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. All this is not new and has been happening to Dalit leaders’ statues, Dalit idols or icons, Dalit places and Dalit history since ages. Numerous Dalit saints/gurus were killed – such as Sant Chakardhar, Sant Namdev, Sant Tukaram, Guru Ravidas, Sant Chokhamela; people even tried to kill Mahatma Jyotiba Phule & Shahuji Maharaj. Dalit history has been maligned and distorted since ages. Historians are supposed to be free from fear, to be sincere, open minded, open hearted truth seekers & also courageous enough to show the truth at any cost. But it is the misfortune of Dalits of India that historians have shown a distorted picture & never showed truth to the people. Being Dalit, we have been taught to hate ourselves, we have been taught that Dalits’ don’t have any history; we have been taught Dalits can’t do any good. Who taught you all this? Upper caste people did.
Dr. Ambedkar’s followers were putting up statues of him in slums and villages even when he was alive but the first official statue of Dr. Ambedkar was set up in 1962, in Mumbai (Bombay) at the Institute of Science crossing. And then came the moment when Dalits started asserting and in 1966, Dr. Radhakrishnan (President of India) inaugurated Dr. Ambedkar’s statue in the Parliament building complex (New Delhi). In Uttar Pradesh, one research study shows that the very first Dr. Ambedkar statue was installed with the contribution of Dalits in around 1966 on the outskirts of Allahabad, and Dalits of Kanpur didn’t take much time to install another statue on the same lines. We must not forget that many installations of Dr. Ambedkar’s statues were opposed by upper caste people with stone pelting or boycotts but Dalits showed courage and didn’t move back. Dalits knew that statues of Dalit idols will stand as a major feature in the Dalit-Bahujan movement. And in all those statues Dr. Ambedkar will stand aloft. How can we forget the struggle and sacrifice of our forefathers?
Statues of Dalit icons are built by Dalit people with their own money and contributions, not with the money from the state as Gandhi-Nehru statues are being made in India. So, why are Dalit icons’ statues being broken and damaged? Statues represent a crucial point in the aspirations of Dalits towards democracy, aspirations of Dalits towards equality and justice. Dalits gather around these statues, get organised, organising functions and all these gatherings give them strength to believe in themselves and get inspired by other fellow Dalits. All these attempts to demolish Dalit icons’ statues is an attempt to demoralise Dalits, deprive Dalits of their rich history and rob them of what Dalits have been able to gather after years of struggle.
It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep –Malcolm X.
After I wrote the last article on Untouchability & Satyamev Jayate, I got an email asking me -so do I think no upper caste person does any good for Dalits? It is a perfect time for this question. I had wanted to write on the same topic for some time now as there was a discussion going on in a forum on almost the same topic – do organisations owned/run by upper caste people really do any work for Dalits?
Before, I answer this question; can anyone tell me an instance in history where upper caste people ‘collectively’ have done anything for the upliftment of Dalits? You may point to some individuals who have done their bit but if you check out the history of India, there is no such instance where upper caste people ‘collectively’ have done anything for the betterment of Dalits. All that upper caste people want is power and upper caste people have perfected the art of projecting themselves as friends of Dalits. By winning the friendship/support of the Dalits, so called ‘progressive upper caste people’ are able to use Dalits as a pawn in the social-economic-political game. Dalits are nothing but a game played by ‘progressive upper caste people’, based on tokenism or false promises of equality. In this game, played on the rules of deception, only upper caste people have gained and Dalits have remained on the bottom rung.
Many so called ‘progressive upper caste people’ are just like foxes, they keep hiding their true nature and they misguide till the time comes to put their jaws on the misguided. Such people are more dangerous than the people who snarl openly against Dalits. I have never seen a ‘sincere’ upper caste person helping Dalits without any real motive.
Few days back, I watched the episode “Untouchability – Dignity For All” on the Satyamev Jayate show on 8th July, 2012. Many people rated it as a ‘great’ show but I don’t accept it as a ‘great’ show. It was just another show made with the intention of earning profits and TRP. There was nothing on the show which common public didn’t know apart from the clippings from Stalin K’s documentary – India Untouched. (And if you are a bit conscious on human rights, you would have already seen that documentary!) We all know Dalit students face discrimination; Dalit couples are killed because of inter-caste marriages, who doesn’t know that caste remarks are not uncommon in India? (Read “I have a Dream” for more detail, describing where Dalits face discrimination and what a Dalit dreams about.)
The episode started with the heart touching story of Dr. Kaushal Panwar, professor at Delhi University. She spoke about her upbringing and the caste discrimination she faced during her childhood and during her student life. Her life story is no different from that of most of the Dalits in India. Discrimination that Dr. Kaushal faced at JNU is of no surprise because even today Dalit students are murdered in professional colleges due to caste discrimination.
Next on the show comes Stalin K– he was the only man, apart from Bezwada Wilson, who impressed me on the show. Stalin K is the director of the documentary named “India Untouched” created in 2007 and he also runs an organisation named Video Volunteers. He has done a remarkable job, has travelled more than 25,000 km in India covering caste discrimination. The show took the readymade clippings from his documentary and presented it! I don’t think Aamir Khan and his team would have put any effort in producing this episode as everything was readymade and conveniently available. At one point Stalin K rightly pointed out – if you don’t know your caste you must be from upper caste because society don’t leave a single chance to remind you that you are from lower caste.
At another point on the show, someone from the audience compared ‘ragging’ to ‘caste discrimination’ and that point was praised by the host! What a joke! Unless ragging is based on caste it can’t be compared to caste discrimination. And ragging with Dalit students, unlike with other students, is played only on caste lines, so comparing ragging with caste discrimination is completely illogical and out of context when we are discussing caste based discrimination. For most of the times on the show, the host seemed to me an ignoramus. Was he pretending to be ignorant of all the facts, or didn’t he really know about all the discrimination– I couldn’t figure that out. I seriously doubt if Aamir Khan has read or knows anything about the Sachar Report!
Then there comes a so called progressive Brahmin on the show – Dharmadhikari! He praised Gandhi, and at the end prescribed a solution to the caste problem. His solution: we will not ask anyone about his/her caste and we will not let anyone know of our caste. What an incredible solution! How could Dr. Ambedkar have missed such a brilliant solution? I couldn’t figure out how letting no one know about caste or not talking about caste will solve the problem of caste discrimination? People ask each other – which part of the village do you live? Oh! Western part? You must be Dalit. Caste will still be there in society, whether we discuss it or not. At one point on the show, he was opining that with this episode, untouchability has been brought into the national level media and it will get the attention of higher authorities and at another point he was putting across just the opposite viewpoint: don’t discuss caste. How ridiculous!
Further, he said inter-caste marriages will solve the problem of caste discrimination. I seriously doubt the efficacy of this solution as did Dr. Ambedkar, who said:
Caste cannot be abolished by inter caste dinners or stray instances of inter caste marriages. Caste is a state of mind. It is a disease of mind. The teachings of the Hindu religion are the root cause of this disease. We practice casteism and we observe Untouchability because we are enjoined to do so by the Hindu religion. A bitter thing cannot be made sweet. The taste of anything can be changed. But poison cannot be changed into nectar.
Mumbai’s Way: Buddhism in the Daravi slums (Visits to Daravi slums with Dr. Arun Kamble)
You can also watch the same video from this link https://vimeo.com/9441279
My final words of advice to you are Educate, Agitate and Organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for the reclamation of the human personality. - Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
Abidhamma = Pertaining to Dhammas
Pariyatti = Study of the theoretical aspects of the Dhamma.
Sama-sam-buddha = One who rediscovers the teachings and teaches the masses as the historical Buddha did.
Vinaya Pitaka = The Vinaya Pitaka contains the rules for monks and nuns, monastic jurisprudence & the early history of the Sangha.
Tipitaka = “Path” or “Way of Dhamma”. This book consists of a collection of 423 verses grouped into 26 chapters.
Paccekabuddha = A silent Buddha.
Arahant = Fully enlightened person.
Dhamma = Teaching & doctrines of the Buddha, called as Dhamma because they explain & describe nature of things, the way things are, and the way they operate.
Bodhisatta = A person who is seeking to be a Buddha
Nibbana = A Bliss of No-Craving
4 Stages in the realization of Nibbana
Sotapanna – Stream-entrant
Sakadagami – Once returner
Anagami – Non returner
Arahant – The Holy One
Buddha = Gyan/Vigyan/Tarq/Bodhi,
Dhamma = Gyan ka Marg/Astangik Marg/Madhyam Marg,
Sangha = Gyan ke Marg par chal rahe/chalchuke log
Today, I got stumbled upon news that RBI is considering national iconsfor Indian currency. The name of Dr. B R Ambedkar has been recommended for Indian currency. It reminded me of the time of my childhood, when first time in my life I had seen the Rs. 1 coin with Dr. Ambedkar’s photo on it. I was filled with the joy and kept that coin in the closet, never to lose it. I know this is not only with me but millions other Dalits also want to see Dr. Ambedkar on Indian currency and experience same joy. Few years back, I even came in contact with family who had actually provided RBI the picture of Dr Ambedkar for Rs. 1 coin. It was wonderful feeling knowing the journey and I’m sure almost same feeling evokes in Dalits when they see picture of Dr. Ambedkar on coins. I’ll say if any person deserves to be on Indian currency then that person should be Dr. Ambedkar. Nobody else deserves that place on Indian currency. We must make sure RBI don’t forget Dr. Ambedkar’s name in later stage. So, I request everyone in capacity to make our voice reach higher authorities that we love Dr. Ambedkar more than any other icon in India so we want Dr Ambedkar’s picture on Indian currency.
Dr Ambedkar’s Role in the Formation of Reserve Bank of India
Did you know Reserve Bank of India (RBI) came into picture according to the guidelines laid down by Dr Ambedkar? RBI was conceptualized as per the guidelines, working style and outlook presented by Dr Ambedkar in front of the Hilton Young Commission. When this commission came to India under the name of “Royal Commission on Indian Currency & Finance”, each and every member of this commission were holding Dr Ambedkar’s book named “The Problem of the Rupee – Its origin and its solution.”
(The legislative assembly passed this under the name of RBI act 1934, its need, working style and its outlook was presented by Dr Ambedkar in-front of Hilton Young Commission. Read, “Evidence before the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance” and “The Problem of the Rupee – Its origin and its solution.”)
Now, walking through the streets of India, on most of the “State Bank of India’s” (SBI’s) street hoardings it shows Rabindranath Tagore as “The banker to this nation”, as if Rabindranath Tagore is the brand ambassador of SBI!
What hurts many of us is the picture of Mr. Gandhi on the Indian currency. We need to ask everyone what’s the contribution of these two leaders (Rabindranath Tagore and Mr. Gandhi) towards Indian currency, finance and economics, and who deserves to be there on the signposts or on Indian currency?
If a man with God’s name on his tongue and a sword under his armpit deserved the appellation of a Mahatma, then Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a Mahatma. – Babasaheb Ambedkar
Writing about who deserves the place on Indian currency reminds me of a Hollywood movie “Do the Right Thing” directed a way back in 1989 by Spike Lee. Movie revolves around the demand of Afro-Americans to place some pictures of black heroes on the “Wall of Fame” in a pizza shop (where all pictures are of Italian heroes as pizza shop owner is from Italy and very proud of that) as the pizzeria is situated in a black neighbourhood and sells pizza to black people.
At the end of the struggle Afro-Americans succeeded to have a picture of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, shaking hands on the “Wall of Fame.”
(excerpts from article “Why weren’t we told?”)
P.S. Please spread the message, Like the post and share it with your friends. We want picture of Dr Ambedkar on Indian currency!