Gandhi’s reaction to Dr. Ambedkar’s Yeola Speech
Wardha, October 15, 1935
Interviewed by the Associated Press representative regarding Dr. Ambedkar’s Speech, Gandhiji said, “The speech attributed such a speech and the conference had adopted the resolution of complete severance from Hinduism and acceptance if any faith that would guarantee equality. I regard both as unfortunate events, contrary, Untouchability on its last legs.
I can understand the anger of a high-souled and highly educated person like Dr. Ambedkar over atrocities such as were committed in Kawitha and other villages.
But religion is not like house or cloak which can be changed at will. It is more an integral part of One’s self than of One’s body. Religion is the tie that binds one to one’s creator and whilst the body perishes as it has to religion persists even after death.
If Dr. Ambedkar has any faith God, I would urge him to assuage his wrath and reconsider his position and examine his ancestral religion on its own merits and not through the weakness of its unfaithful followers.
“Lastly, I am convinced, change of faith by him and those who passed the resolution would not serve the cause when they have at heart for millions of unsophisticated illiterate Harijans would not listen to him and them when they have disowned their ancestral faith, especially when it is remembered that their lives fort good or evil are intertwined with those of caste Hindus.”
Dr. Ambedkar’s views on Gandhi’s reaction
Bombay, October 16, 1935
“What religion we shall belong to have is not decided; what ways and means we shall adopt, we have not thought out; but we have decided one thing, and that after due deliberations and with deep conviction, that Hindu religion is not good for us,” declared Dr. Ambedkar when shown by the Associated Press representative Gandhiji’s comment on his Nasik speech.
“Inequality,” he said, “is the very basis of it, and its ethics is such that the Depressed Classes can never acquire their full manhood. Let none think I have done this in a huff or as a matter of wrath against the treatment meted out to the Depressed Classes at Kavitha village or any other place. It is a deeply deliberated decision. I agree with Gandhiji that religion is necessary, but I do not agree that man should have his ancestral religion if he finds that, that religion is repugnant to his notions of the sort of religion he needs as a standard for the regulations of the sort of religion he needs as a standard for the regulation of his own conduct and as a source of inspiration for his advancement and well-being.”
Asked when he proposed to get himself converted and whether it would be an individual action or mass action Dr. Ambedkar said, “I have made up my mind to change my religion. I do not care if the masses do not come. It is for them to decide. If they feel it is not they will not follow my example. My own advice is that Gandhiji should allow the Depressed Classes to chalk out their own line of action. Kavitha does not represent an isolated but it is the very basis of the system found in the ancestral religion of the Hindus.
Courtesy: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and is Egalitarian Revolution. Vol.17 (Part III) of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches)