Dr. B. R. Ambedkar biography– For a common man, it is quite difficult to go through the entire literature and comprehend the philosophy to its full extent. One more reason is that most of his original literature is in the English language. A third most important reason is the neglect of this genius by successive governments, he is absent from the school and college curriculums.
This youtube channel attempts to overcome this difficulty through a series of topical videos, where his entire philosophy, his thoughts and teachings, and their relevance, not only to India but to the world, are put before the audience in a systematic manner.
His entire philosophy, thoughts can be summarized in a few points which I am narrating to you.
Dr. Ambedkar says that every man should have a philosophy of life. Why does he say so?
Because, according to him, everyone must have a standard by which to measure one’s conduct in life. Thus, an individual’s own philosophy is nothing but a parameter of his conduct in life. Because he further adds, philosophy is not a mere idea or theory. It has practical applications in problems and conflicts of life.
He is of the opinion that whatever theories and principles the philosophy propounds must return to society as an instrument of religion for constructing the society.
He himself while reconstructing and restructuring Buddha Dharma, has emphasized social ethics and righteous relations between man and man. His ideal society is based on values of Liberty-Equality-Fraternity and Justice.
He has not attained his philosophy by meditating and contemplating in some solitary place. But it is borne out of his relentless struggle for human rights of the oppressed. He is a great humanist.
The main concern of his thought is the man, his welfare on this earth; and in this very life. He had clearly stated at Mahad Satyagraha, and I quote, “for ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. So It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for reclamations of the human personality”.
He fought many battles on social, political and religious fronts. He organized social movements like Mahad Satyagraha, Kalaram temple. He gave evidence to Southborough franchise committee and Simon commission participated in all the three Round Table conferences in London. His work at Bombay legislative council, assembly, his historic fight with Gandhi on the separate electorate, his fight for enacting revolutionary Hindu code Bill for the rights of the women.
While fighting for all these battles his main objectives, his only concern was the restoration of human rights, the human dignity of oppressed and downtrodden.
Philosophy of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar:
Most people know Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar as a Masiha of Dalits, emancipator of oppressed and downtrodden. Some bestow upon him a title ‘Architect of Indian constitution. Therefore many call him social reformer of India. Some call him a social and political scientist. Amartya Sen said, he is my father in economics. While for some of his admirers, he is modern Buddha.
Highly controversial figure of his time, and even today, the very name Dr. Ambedkar evokes both, extreme passion and extreme hatred. There is a very lovely parable, so I am sure all of you must have read it sometime or the other; and the reference of which you get in the religious literature of three religions of India, that is Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism.
In this parable, there are six blind men who have never seen an elephant. They try to describe the elephant by touching it.
One blind man touches the leg of the elephant and says the elephant is like a pillar. And second touches the ear of the elephant and says the elephant is like a fan. Similarly, the third one touches the stomach the elephant and says an elephant is like a wall. And the fourth one touches the trunk and says an elephant is like a thick snake. And so on.
So they are describing a part of the whole.
This parable perfectly fits Dr. Ambedkar and his thoughts. He isn’t just the emancipator of Dalits or not just the maker of the Indian constitution. These are mere facets of his thoughts and his contribution. So He has radical thoughts on whatever touches human life and its welfare, which will remain relevant for many millennia.
His thoughts on history, economy, polity, society, democracy, nation, nationalism are illuminating and enlightening. Confining him to Dalits and downtrodden is belittling him and doing a great injustice.
The main reason why common Indians or even scholars are unable to comprehend him fully is that the literature of Dr. Ambedkar is like an ocean, which not only is vast but it also has more depth than the ocean. His available literature is scattered in compilations which are given in this list.
- 22 volumes of writings and speeches of Dr. Ambedkar published by Govt of Maharashtra.
- 12 volumes of Constituent Assembly debates
- 4 volumes of the committee on constitution making
- The periodicals from Mooknayak to Prabuddha Bharat
- And some important biographies
Fight against cast system
He fought against Varna and Caste system throughout his life. The first rebel against Varna and Caste system of India, that is, Lord Buddha and other equally rebellious two great men against this discriminatory caste system i.e. Sant Kabir and Jyotiba Fule was given the status his Gurus by Dr. Ambedkar
Dr. Ambedkar was an iconoclast without parallel. There is no place for god, soul, heaven, hell, rituals in his philosophy. Change is a law of life. Everything is changing. He said that nothing is infallible. Everything must be put under the scrutiny, everything must be open for examination, with reason, rationalism, and scientific spirit.
He accepts matter in nature as real. In this way, he was closer to Materialism but still, he says no to Marxism. He maintained that religion is necessary for man. He was a socialist, he held that the individual is an end in himself.
In the Indian constitution, he made an individual as a unit and not the society. In his opinion, the main aim of the society is the full development of the individual. He was an economist par excellence. His economic thoughts not only have political or social dimensions but also have religious and moral aspects. He firmly believed that the state does not exist only to maintain law and order; or to prevent injustice, but it has a duty to create such a social and economic environment that shall make people happy and prosperous.
Dr. Ambedkar was a Pragmatist. He was very much influenced by his teacher John Dewey at Columbia, who along with William James and Charles Pierces, was one of the pioneers of the ideology of pragmatism.
This ideology emphasizes that usefulness, workability, and practicality of ideas and proposals is more important.
Buddha and his Dharma
It stresses the priority of action over doctrine, the priority of experience over fixed principles. Pragmatic action is more important to Dr. Ambedkar than idea and theory. He called upon Dalits not to be fatalistic and gave a clarion call to Educate-Agitate-organize.
This energized millions of Dalit masses who were convinced by religiously sanctioned social structures and institutions that their animal-like condition was divinely ordained, and there was no scope of any way out in this life. In 1954 while delivering a lecture on All India Radio, he said and I quote,
“My social philosophy may say to be enshrined in three words, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. I have not borrowed this philosophy from French-Revolution. The root of my philosophy is in religion and not in political science. I have derived them from the teaching of my Master Buddha.”
After careful scrutiny of all the religions of the world, he took refuge in Buddha. He not only had revived Buddhism in India but also restructured and reconstructed it. In 1942, he put forth the idea of New India. He envisaged New India as a Prabuddha India i.e. enlightened India.
New India that is Prabuddha India, will be modern India which is free of caste, feudalism and patriarchy and exploitation and superstition and dogma. Prabuddha India which will cherish the values like Equality-Liberty-Fraternity and Justice.
The prabuddha India will be India with the inquiry, rational and scientific attitude and scientific spirit. In his book ‘Buddha and his Dhamma’, he envisioned a new world and a new world order; which is based on morality, that is, righteous relation between man and man. I conclude my first video here. This was a brief introduction to Dr. Ambedkar and his thoughts.