When the constitution of India was promulgated and India chose to place the “Dhamma Chakra”, the wheel of the Dhamma, on the Indian national flag, a famous Buddhist monk, Lama Govind, wrote that the Dhammachakka represented the arising of Indian constitution from the deeper human experience and in accordance with human laws.
The Dhammachakka represents the fundamental reality of the human existence: the arising of suffering and the path to the end of the human suffering. The best context in which anything can be studied is therefore twofold: are we creating the patterns of suffering or creating patterns for ending the suffering?
Babasaheb Ambedkar who piloted the drafting of the Indian constitution was not only an erudite scholar but was also a wise and compassionate human being. He experienced human suffering deeply, not only the personal suffering but also the suffering that arises because of the social structures.
He fought the social suffering that arises out of the caste system and gender discrimination. When he drafted the constitution of India, though it appears a technical and political document, its basis is human and can lead to the end of the suffering. So when Gauri Lakesh claimed in the draft of the speech she left behind that the Constitution is our Dharma, we need to understand the context of her statement.
Let us first understand that the ideological underpinnings of Gauri Lankesh were against the Brahminism, which she openly criticised and castigated. The inhuman social structure that Brahminism creates immeasurable sufferings for India’s vast majority.
So the Brahminism is not India’s dharma.
If the constitution is India’s dharma, it must spell out the spiritual elements, which are enshrined in the constitution of India as liberty, equality, and fraternity.
These trinity of the principles were the basic foundational principles of the social movement that Babasaheb Ambedkar launched. In his seminal paper, the Annihilation of Caste, Babasaheb Ambedkar proves systematically that the liberty, equality, and fraternity is not possible in the Brahminical Hinduism.
He further claimed that he has taken these principles from his master, the Buddha. In a sense, India needs the compassion and the wisdom of the Buddha.
In a country that is increasingly getting divided into ideological lines what we need is the set of ethical principles that will unite our country and where can we find those set of uniting principles if not in the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
But these principles are not political slogans, they are to practice as the way of life and hence democracy as a way of life becomes a religion that promotes the welfare of people as human beings and not as belonging to any caste, race, culture, or gender.
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist