Approving Idol Worship (Heroism) and Ambedkarism


Apparently, Dalit-Bahajans are approving a new way to recognise and praise their ideals. It is one of the most important things to rethink on the vision of Baba Saheb Ambedkar.  The Buddha once in a conversation with Kalama people, talk which is famous as Kalama Sutta in Buddhist literature said that do not simply accept anything as ultimate truth just because your teacher, father, or any religious books said, accept the things after you apply your own experience and observation.

Buddha in his whole life was never in favour of idol worship. He rejected all Shastra, idol worship and hero worship. But later after his Maha Parinirvan (death) disciples treated him as a God. Now you can see even caste Hindu added him in their Purana as an incarnation of the Vishnu. The man, Buddha, who relentlessly fought against superiority complex now, is treated as superior. Simply the same thing is happening with Dr Ambedkar after his death, many consistently treated and popularised his image in the way which was his not the true self.

Let’s see how Dr. Ambedkar getting appropriation socio-politically.  Dada Saheb Kanshiram, the founder of Bahujan Samaj Party, who literally and metaphorically raised Dr. Ambedkar on to a pedestal, conferred this demi-god status first upon Dr. Ambedkar in 1980 (N. Ramchandra). In recent time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress and many other left parties and even organisation like RSS and VHP have been adopting Dr. Ambedkar as an idol into their pantheons of political Gods.

For getting the attention of Dalit-Bahujan vote bank these political parties are ready to do anything and encourage idol worship of Dr. Ambedkar. Many of these political parties are in a race to convert Dr. Ambedkar into a God rather than recognise him as a crusader for social justice, political philosopher, and humanitarian beacon light. Nobody is ready to walk on the path Dr. Ambedkar showed.

Although these parties accepted Dr. Ambedkar as an icon they never ever accepted his ideas of casteless society. He was fully against of such heroism or idol worship.

In Dr Ambedkar’s words – I am no worshipper of idols, I believe in breaking them.

BJP consistently believes on fascism while Dr. Ambedkar believed in social democracy. “Democracy is not a form of government, but a form social organisation”, said Dr. Ambedkar.

BJP treats Mussolini and Hitler as their great hero but Dr. Ambedkar had discarded the heroism at all.  The fraternity was the centre point of his political philosophy of democracy.  Dalit-Bahujans are now accepting the same way of RSS. Once Modi said that Dr. Ambedkar is Vishwa Manava. Is it his bhakti towards Dr. Ambedkar or a political mind game?

Many of our Dalit-Bahujan do not understand the inside story of RSS and BJP way of appropriating Dr. Ambedkar. They politicised Dr. Ambedkar as a brand but no policy form for his vision.

Dr. Ambedkar said,”In politics, bhakti is a sure road to degradation and eventually dictatorship.”

Socially, Dalit-Bahujans have separated themselves into two groups. One who worship Baba Saheb Ambedkar rationally and walking on his idea of casteless society or Prabuddha Bharat and other who just worship him blindly as their god and destroying his ideology by inserted Brahminism.

Read -  Quotes of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

The iconoclastic and irreligious Ambedkar stood against exactly the kind of deification that has been foisted upon him (N. Ramchandra). For caste Hindu, idol worship become pertinent sources for keep caste slavery alive.

You cannot separate caste from idol worship because both are inter-connected.  You can not destroy caste because idol worship religious communities in its religious ideology. (Kancha Ilaiah)

Upper castes confined wealth, power, and education and spiritualism with them. The Broken Dalit Bahujans were segregated from their right and social justice. Dr. Ambedkar was worried about furthering their shallow political ambition at further cost to social democracy. As he asserted that religion is a form of slavery. In the journey of his struggle from caste elimination to social equality,   we must understand Dr. Ambedkar’s vision of discarding heroism or idol worship.

On November 25, 1949, at constituent assembly in a speech, Baba Saheb Ambedkar drew the distinction between political democracy on the one hand and social democracy on the other. Political democracy established through the adult franchise, one man one vote and one value. But still, social system needs to replaced by democracy. It can only possible through eradicating caste. This can be destroyed through the elimination of idol worship and religious rituals.

In Buffalo Nationalism, Kancha Ilaiah says in the history of mankind has one group, the upper castes of Indian been able to oppress so many, the Dalit Bahujans or the oppressed majority for so long the system whereby they have done so is spiritual fascism. Then further he wrote Hindu religion has constructed all its symbols animate and inanimate around racist and casteist productive cultural values.

Idol worship and cultural values of Hinduism help maintain the hegemony of caste hierarchy. Many of us adopted the way of worshiping and parsing Dr. Ambedkar for his contribution towards us but at the same time, we forget our responsibility and an unfulfilled dream of Baba Saheb’s Prabuddha Bharat.

It very much important that accept him as ideal but not as a God.

And for all of us, Buddha and Baba Saheb Ambedkar are ideal but we are seeking our immediate ideals, such as our mother, father and teacher. Off-course they are our guide but the ultimate ideal must be Buddha and Baba Saheb Ambedkar to whom every one follow. Then it can be possible to bring a rational social order and ceases superior complex. In above context, Kancha Illaiah says ‘caste will be irrelevant when idol worship become irrelevant’.

Author – Abhayveer

Kalinga Mitra Trust Odisha and Member of Tri Ratna Buddhist Order, Nagarjuna Training Institute, Nagpur

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