Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar struggled his whole life to publish his writings. Most of his books were published by Thacker and Co., a publisher from Bombay. It’s a little-known fact that Dr. Ambedkar didn’t had any money to publish his last book “The Buddha and His Dhamma”.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar on 14th September 1956, exactly a month before he left Hinduism and embraced Buddhism, wrote a letter to then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who in his whole life treated Dr. Ambedkar badly, asking for help in the publication of the book – The Buddha and His Dhamma.
Read below the conversation through letters exchange between Dr. Ambedkar and Nehru. Nehru with full of arrogance and hatred asked Dr. Ambedkar to set up a stall and hawk his own books!
A letter to Jawaharlal Nehru regarding the book ‘Buddha and His Dhamma’
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar had written a letter, on 14th September 1956 to Pandit Jawahadal Nehru regarding a book on “The Buddha and his Dhamma”. It is as follows –
My dear Panditji,
I am enclosing herewith two copies of a printed booklet showing the Table of Contents of a book on “The Buddha and His Dhamma” which I have just finished. The book is in the press. From the table of the contents you will see for yourself how exhaustive the work is. The book is expected to be in the Market in September 1956. I have spent five years over it. The booklet will speak for the quality of the work.
The cost of printing is very heavy and will come to about Rs. 20,000. This is beyond my capacity and I am, therefore, canvassing help from all quarters.
I wonder if the Government of India could purchase about 500 copies for distribution among the various libraries and among the many scholars whom it is inviting during the course of this year for the celebration of the Buddha’s 2500 years’ anniversary.
I know your interest in Buddhism. That is why I am writing to you. I hope that you will render some help in this matter.
B. R. Ambedkar,
26, Alipur Road, Civil Lines,
Jawaharlal Nehru’s Reply
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had responded to the letter of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. He expressed his inability to purchase the Book “Buddha and His Dhamma”. He referred this to Dr. Radhakrishnan, the Chairman of Buddha Jayanti Committee.
Following is the reply by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru-
Shri Jawaharlal Nehru,
Prime Minister of India,
September 15, 1956.
My dear Dr. Ambedkar,
Your letter of the 14th September.
I rather doubt if it will be possible for us to buy a large number of copies of your book suggested by you. We had set aside a certain sum for publication on the occasion of the Buddha Jayanti. That sum has been exhausted and, in fact, exceeded. Some proposals for books relating to Buddhism being financed by us had, therefore, to be rejected. I am, however, sending your letter to Dr. Radhakrishnan, the Chairman of the Buddha Jayanti Committee.
I might suggest that your book might be on sale in Delhi and elsewhere at the time of the Buddha Jayanti celebrations when many people will come from abroad. It might find a good sale then.
(Signed) Jawaharlal Nehru
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan informed on the phone to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar expressing his inability to do anything in this regard. Further, Dr. Ambedkar was kept out of the committee to observe the 2500th birth anniversary of the Buddha.