Buddhism in Modern India – Great Conversion Movement Started By Babasaheb Ambedkar


Buddhism in Modern India is growing. The growth of interest in Buddhism is due to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. If it had not been for his Great Conversion movement, Buddhism would have been a ceremonial relic in the modern history of India.

Buddhism is emerging from the grassroots with an energy hitherto unknown in the entire Buddhist history. While people who took refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha came from the discriminated and exploited communities by the Hindu Social Order, they have shown what is possible through the Dhamma in a few decades time.

The foes of majority grassroots level Buddhists in India come from many diverse backgrounds

The Right-wing Hindus

Thought their ideologue (Savarkar) could not find any history before the Buddha advocated a very strange form of caste-based Hindu nationalism. His conception of was that the national caste is Hindu, and the religious caste is Bramhin. Now, this is a very sharp trick. The history of castes as shown by P. L. Narsu and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is nothing but the history of conflict for values, the value system stressed by the Shraman tradition and that of Brahman tradition. Right-wing Hindus do not want to show that Buddhism is not Hinduism. Buddhism and Hinduism can never be compatible because their worldviews are different.

The triumph of the anti-caste movement lies in leaving that container of caste and embracing the worldview of liberty, equality, and fraternity that Buddhism offers. The Right-wing Hindus will do anything to destroy the history of Buddhism in India. For Buddhism is the greatest challenge to their propaganda of Golden Vedic Age and supremacy of the Hindu culture. India was great and achieved the pinnacle of development at the time of Ashoka. If there was any Golden Age in India, it was at the time of Ashoka.

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Gandhi was a Sanatani Hindu. He stood for the supremacy of Hindu scriptures and religion. He advocated a strange form of society in which Varna will remain intact and castes should be destroyed. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar has written a clear critique of this view. However, from the Buddhist point of Buddha had nothing to do with Hindus, because Hinduism didn’t exist at that time at all. Lal Mani Joshi in his path-breaking book Discerning the Buddha shows how the Hindu leaders created a false picture of Buddhism including Gandhi.

The fact that caste cannot be annihilated except annihilation of its source should make any serious anti-caste person examine the source of such an inhuman classification of human beings. As Buddhism challenges this classification into such castes, distorting Buddhism and claiming it as a part of Hinduism is a crime not only against Buddhism but against the humanity.

Elite Buddhists

There is growing number of people who fancy Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy but completely neglect the fact that Buddhism is a social philosophy as well. They are often seen that as claiming superiority over the grassroots majority Buddhists. They often have connections and close to the establishment. They use Buddhism to further their own agendas: the geopolitical agendas, the selfish agenda for lust for power, and economic agenda.

Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist

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