In the short time allotted to me, I am asked to answer two questions. First is ‘why I like Buddhism ’ and the second is ‘How useful it is to the world in its present circumstances.’
I prefer Buddhism because it gives three principles in combination which no other religion does. All other religions are bothering themselves with God and Soul and life after death. Buddhism teaches Prajna (understanding as against superstition and supernaturalism). It teaches Karuna (love). It teaches Samata (equality). This is what man wants for a good and happy life on earth. These three principles of Buddhism make their appeal to me. These three principles should also make an appeal to the world. Neither God nor Soul can serve Society.
There is a third consideration which should make an appeal to the world and particularly the South East Asian part of it. The world has been faced with the onslaught of Karl Marx and the Communism of which he is made the father. The challenge is very serious one – That Marxism and Communism relate to secular affairs. They have shaken the foundation of the religious system of all the countries. This is quite natural for the religious system although today is unrelated to the secular system, yet is the foundation on which everything secular rests when the secular system cannot last very long unless it has got the sanction of the religion however remote it may be.
I am greatly surprised at the turn of mind of the Buddhist countries in South East Asia, towards communism. It means that they don’t understand what Buddhism is. I claim that Buddhism is a complete answer to Marx and his Communism. Communism of the Russian type aims to bring it about by a bloody revolution. Those who are eager to embrace communism may note that the Sangh is a Communist organization. There is no private property. There has not been brought about by violence. It is the result of a change of mind and yet it has stood for 2500 years. It may have deteriorated but ideals are still binding. The Russian Communism must answer this question. They must also answer two other questions. One is that why communistic system is necessary for all times. They have done the work which, it may be admitted the Russians could never have been able to do, but when the work is done why the people should not have freedom accompanied by love as the Buddha preached. The South East Asian countries must, therefore, be aware of jumping into Russian net. They will never be able to get out of it. All that is necessary to them is to study the Buddha and what he taught, a right and to give political form to his teachings. Poverty there is and there will always be. Even in Russia there is poverty, but poverty cannot be an excuse for sacrificing human freedom.
Unfortunately, the Buddha’s teachings have not been properly interpreted and understood. That his gospel was a collection of doctrines and social reforms have been completely understood. Once it is realized that Buddhism is a social gospel, the revival of it would be everlasting event, for the world will realize why Buddhism makes such a great appeal to everyone.
B. R. Ambedkar
26, Alipur Road,
12th May 1956.