22nd January in Dalit History – Periyar was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for the publication of his book ‘Ponmozhigal’ (Golden sayings)


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22 January 1932: Birth of Vasant Moon.

Vasant Moon was born in Nagpur city of Maharashtra state. Since his childhood he lived in the proper upbringing. In Maharpura area of Nagpur, he completed his primary and secondary school education. As he grew, he became more careful about his studies. Vasant Moon had started collecting books on dalit movement since his school days. He used to buy old books from weekly Burdi market (an area in Nagpur), the market which was very close to Patwardhan High School where he did his schooling. There was hardly any resercher of dalit movement who could do his/her research without Vasant Moon.[1] He was honoured withBhim Ratna award by The Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, United Kingdom in 1993.[2]

For a few months he worked as a Deputy Accountant General in Post and Telegraph office before he had completed his Masters in Arts. He wrote a few small dramas and staged them in his town Maharpura. Later on, he got a job of County Commissioner. First he worked in Madhya Pradesh, and then worked in other cities of Maharashtra. He was so committed to his community that he could never forget it up to his death. Not only his own family but also his entire neighborhood was his family. He got everything in it. He was associated with Wamanrao Godbole (the man whom Dr. Ambedkar gave the full responsibility of organising the Buddhist conversion of 14 October 1956) during the historic Buddhist conversion ceremony at Deeksha Bhoomi led by Dr. Ambedkar. He converted from Hinduism to Buddhism on the 14 October, 1956 in the historic conversion at Nagpur. He was associated with the Samata Sainik Dal during his youth. Though he lived his entire life almost in cities he was staunch follower of Dr. Ambedkar and was a well known dalit activist. Such was his devotion to Dr. Ambedkar’s mission that he built a library in Nagpur as a monument. He assisted world famous writer, Eleanor Zelliot for her Ph.D thesis in his library.[3]

Mr. Vasant Moon’s complete work of Dr. Ambedkar gives insight into the ideas, thoughts and philosophy of the great man, which is valuable and an outstanding service to the Nation. Moon is well known for his painstaking work on the editions of twenty collected volumes of Dr. Ambedkar`s Writing and Speeches in English and his autobiography. These were published by Education Department of Maharashtra Government. Till he was alive 17 volumes were released and he had proof read volume 18, 19 and 20 in the manuscript form. After his death, Mr. Hari Narke who was then working on literature of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule took over remaining task of Vasant Moon.[4]

Moon has written historical and social books. Life of women in Buddha`s Period (1989) is one of his powerful pieces of writing. In this, he has shown the life style of women during that particular period of Buddhism. He asserts that the period of Buddhism was favourable, convenient, and the time of equality for women. In that period, there did not exist any oppressive, unequal and separate laws for men and women. In the beginning of that period, there may have been such separate laws and their practice to some extent. Before Buddhism, there was no equality between men and women. In the course of time, the equality came in to existence during the Buddhist period. After this period of Buddhism, again the unequal things crept into the society. Therefore, according to Moon, the Buddhist period was the first period in Indian which for the first time, women were given full freedom and were treated equally. In the same period the duties of a daughter, wife, mother, widow, woman laborer, and nun were considered ideal. So, he shows the egalitarian nature of Buddhism through this book

His next book was ‘Buddha Dhamma Pradeep’. The title of the book itself shows that it too is about Buddhism. Moon points out that religion like Hinduism and Christianity have faith in the existence of soul and Buddhism says that there is no soul. The book deals with the renunciation of Lord Buddha and its proper causes. It differentiates between the duties of followers of Buddhism and those of its nuns and monks. At the end of the book the concept of non-violence is explained in detail by Moon. He says, according to Buddhism, there are two ways of killing living beings- a desire to kill and a need to kill. If a person happens to have any desire to kill any living beings, it is violence. But if it is his or her need to kill, then it cannot be called the violence.

Read -  The Symptom of the Hindu Mind and the Malady of Indian Society

His another important book is Dalit Movement in the Central Provinces Before Dr. Ambedkar(1987). It portrays how the Dalits in that particular part of India strove for social, political, religious, and educational development.

He has also written a book “Vasti“. This book is about his childhood and the atmosphere in Nagpur around and before Indi’a Independence and the people who were following Dr Ambedkar for their libaration.[5]

His wife, Minaxi Moon, is a literary figure too and runs a magazine “Maitarnee“[6]

22 January 1947: The constituent assembly adopted the following resolution.

  1. This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Soverign Republic and to draw up for her future governance a Constitution;
  2. WHEREIN the territories that now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian States, and such other parts of India as are outside British India and the States as well as such other territories as are willing to be constituted into the Independent Soverign India, shall be a Union of them all; and
  3. WHEREIN the said territories, whether with their present boundaries or with such others as may be determined by the Constituent Assembly and thereafter according to the law of the Constitution, shall possess and retain the status of autonomous Units, together with residuary powers and exercise all powers and functions of goverrnment and administration, save and except such powers and functions as are vested in or assigned to the Union, or as are inherent or implied in the Union or resulting therefrom; and
  4. WHEREIN all power and authority of the Soverign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of government, are derived from the people; and
  5. WHEREIN shall be guaranteed and secured to all the people of India justice, social economic and political : equality of status, of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality; and
  6. WHEREIN adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes; and
  7. WHEREBY shall be maintained the integrity of the territory of the Republic and its soverign rights on land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilized nations; and
  8. This ancient land attains its righful and honoured placed in the world and make its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.

The above resolution was moved by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 December 1946.

Jinnah, Periyar and Ambedkar

Jinnah, Periyar and Ambedkar

22 January 1950: Periyar was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for the publication of his book ‘Ponmozhigal’ (Golden sayings).

22 January 2011: The dominant castes ordered boycott of 15 dalit families in Rampar village of Surendranagar district of Gujarat.

Their temple entry was only symbolic to end untouchablity, but they were fined and had social osctracism. They were not allowed to travel in tempos, have flour from village mills or purchase groceries. So then they decided to have own tempo, flour mills and shops and took loan from bank.  These dalit families have set a shinning example by setting up their own economy against all odds. Read the full story on

http://idsn.org/fileadmin/user_folder/pdf/New_files/India/Gujarat_Dalits_thumb_nose_at_upper_castes_Article.pdf

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[1] Raju Kamble, http://www.ambedkar.org/News/vasantmoon.htm accessed on 21 January 2013

[2] C Gautam, General Secretary, The Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK, http://www.ambedkar.org/News/vasantmoon.htm accessed on 21 January 2013

[3] Vipassna Teacher, Ven. Bhikkhu Vinyabodhi, Birmingham UK,http://www.ambedkar.org/News/vasantmoon.htm accesseed on 21 January 2013

[4] Inference from: C. Gautam, General Secretary, The Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK, http://www.ambedkar.org/News/vasantmoon.htm accessed on 21 January 2013

[5] Pankaj Meshram, http://www.ambedkar.org/News/vasantmoon.htm accessed on 21 January 2013

[6] Dr. K Jamanadas, http://www.ambedkar.org/News/vasantmoon.htm accessed on 21 January 2013

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