Buddha Jayanti and its political significance -by Dr. Babasaheb
Ambedkar (Published in Janata in Marathi on 17th May 1941: BAWS, Vol.
20, pp. 327-335)
There is no need to tell that Indians love festivals. They spend half
of the year in festivity and religious rites. They also give great
importance to celebration of birth and death anniversaries of great
people. The celebration of Krishnajanmastami, Ramanavami and Hanuman
Jayanti are testimony to these mental attitudes of the Hindus.
It will surprise the foreigners that Indians do not celebrate the
Buddha Jayanti in the same spirit though the Indians are fond of such
celebrations. Of all the great people born in India, the status of the
Buddha is the highest. The followers of the Buddha regard Him as the
great Sun who illuminated this world. Christians, though envious they
are of the Buddha, compare Buddha with the Light of Asia. Hindus also
regard the Buddha as the tenth incarnation of Vishnu. This famous person
was buried in the memories and Indians do not remember him at all.
There are many people who will know the name of Bajirao’s harlot,
Mastani. But I guess that the numbers of people who are familiar with
the name of the Buddha are far less than this. This famous person has
been forgotten to this extent is a matter of great shame and surprise.
In this situation, it is a matter of joy that in Bengal and other
provinces the celebration of the Buddha Jayanti has been started. This
is very praiseworthy. But we think that this event has a great political
significance. Therefore in order to make people aware of this
significance we have planned to introduce people the importance of the
life and mission of the Buddha.
Before 2500 years, King Suddhodhan of Sakya clan was ruling
Kapilvastu. The name of the family was Gautama. Kapilvastu was located
in what is now called United Province. It was located between Shravasti
and Ayodhya and 50 miles east of Faizabad. Suddhodhan had two wives. One
of them was Mayadevi and another was Prajapati. After marriage of
Suddhodhan and Mayadevi, Mayadevi conceived after some days. According
to social tradition, the first delivery was to be carried out in her
maternal home and therefore her father Subuddha sent a message to his
son in law for sending Mayadevi.
Therefore Mayadevi and her sister Prajapati left for her maternal
house with retinue. On the way they halted in Lumbini forest. On that
place Mayadevi underwent labour of birth of a child and she gave birth
to a boy in that forest. After giving birth to the boy, Mayadevi died in
a very short time. The boy was nurtured by Mayadevi’s sister Prajapati.
The boy was named as Siddhartha. Later on he became famous as the
As he was born in warrior class and ruling family, he was provided
education according to the situation of the time. He was not only
trained in warfare but also was he well versed in the Vedas. But
Siddhartha was more inclined to the life of solitude. He was not
specially interested in enjoying the royal life. Due to fear that
Siddhartha might become a Sanyasin, Suddhodhan decided to marry
Siddhartha to confine him to family life.
And therefore he married Siddhartha to daughter of Dandapani whose
name in the father’s house was Gopi and in law’s home was Yashodhara.
Yashodhara gave a birth to a boy whose name was Rahula. In order to
provide luxuries to his son, Suddhodhan built three palaces. He made all
the arrangements so that Siddhartha could live in comfort.
One day Gautama decided to wander in the village and to see the
social situation and therefore he left palace in his chariot. Entering
the city, he saw four events. First of all he saw an old man, suffering,
hopeless, toothless, wrinkled faced, white haired, back bent like an
arrow, with a stick in hand moving with ant’s speed whispering something
inaudible and with all the body shaking uncontrollably. When he moved
forward, he was another scene. A man suffering from heavy fever,
enervated and fainted, homeless he was lying on the road. On the further
journey, he saw a dead body carried in procession by his friends and
relatives. The fourth scene he saw was that of a Sanyasin with a
pleasant and peaceful mind carrying a begging bowl. These four scenes
had a terrific impact on the Gautama’s mind. By seeing this, Gautama
understood that there is a suffering in the world. Human life is
uncertain and mortal. If it were otherwise, man would have not suffered
diseases, never became old and would have never died!!!. And the fourth
sight of a Sanyasin is the aim of the life-Gautama thought. And as this
world is full of suffering, full of diseases, full of deaths therefore
there is no meaning to this worldly life, Gautama further thought.
Caught in this thought web he returned home. Returning home he came
to know that Yashodhara delivered a boy. This is another binding
chain-Gautama thought. But his resolve of renunciation was firm in his
mind. And therefore he conveyed this resolve to his father. Not to say
that Suddhodhan tried to refrain Siddhartha from not taking this course
of action by a lot of persuasion and providing various entertaining
things. But Gautama was firm on his resolution. But he thought that he
should not go without informing his father. In order to express his
mind, he went to the palace to and told his father, “Please do not stop
me. Let your kingdom and your property be with you, O, Father! I do not
want anything.” Next day Suddhodhan called upon his ministers and
conveyed the situation. Hearing this, the ministers replied, “We will
keep an eye on him and we will not let him go.” It was not easy to
renounce home in this situation. Therefore he deferred his renunciation
that day. The next mid night he got up and told his charioteer Chhanna
and said, “I have to go, please go and bring my horse.” Chhanna refused
to take this order and requested Gautama not to go. But seeing Gautama’s
strong will, he brought Kanthaka, the horse. After a last glance at his
wife and son, Siddhartha left Kapilvastu on Kanthaka’s back.
After renunciation, Gautama became disciple of two teachers to
understand why there is suffering in the world. First of all he became
disciple of Alara Kalam and after that that of Uddaka Ramaputta. In this
way, he spent seven years in their company. But their teaching could
not satisfy Gautama. Therefore he left them and went to Uruvela in the
Magadha Kingdom ( Uruvela is now known as Bodhgaya). Like him there were
five persons who renounced family and now were taking refuge in the
forest. With them the Buddha started austerity to the severe extent.
After leading hard ascetic life for six years, his body became thin
and he had no energy to walk. One day when he was returning from the
Falgu river after bath, he fainted on the way. There was a cowman
residing nearby. His elder daughter Sujata saw Siddhartha fainted and
offered him rice milk from her house. After coming to conscious, Gautama
realized that ascetic life will not lead to the solution to the problem
of suffering in the world. As Gautama took food, his five companions
thought that the he is a fallen man now from the path and therefore they
deserted him and in that Buddhagaya, Buddha remained solitary.
One night beneath one tree while seated Gautama realized the cause of
suffering in the world and also way to end the suffering in the world.
He saw that human beings are treading two paths. One is that of sensual
pleasures and other is that of self mortification. Buddha saw that these
two paths are wrongs and they will not end suffering in this world. Due
to this vision, Gautama became enlightened and was therefore called the
“enlightened one”. After that he became famous as the Buddha and that
tree became famous as a Bodhi tree all over the world.
Due to result of this new vision, Buddha left the path of self
mortification. He did not enter in the family life again. But he
returned back to the society and for the welfare of the society started
preaching the Dhamma. He himself went across the length and breadth of
India and taught his Dhamma to all without distinction. He taught the
Dhamma for 40 years. At the end, when he was propagating his Dhamma he
arrived at Pava. In that village lived an ironsmith known as Chuda.
Chuda invited Buddha for a lunch and Buddha could not digest the food
and fell sick. In that sickness, the Buddha went to Kusinara village and
The Buddha was born in 563 BC as a prince and died in 483 BC as a founder of religion.
Mission of the Buddha
What are the fundamental teachings of the Buddha Dhamma? What did he
accomplish? Without understanding these questions, importance of the
Buddha can not be understood. However the detailed explanation is not
possible due to constraint of space; but it is not true that the
Buddha’s mission can not be explained in the brief. During the time of
the Buddha, the Brahmanism has three pillars. The first pillar was
infallibility of the Vedas, sacrifice was the second and the third
pillar was Chaturvarna dharma. Whatever is written in the Vedas is
infallible whether it is intellectually valid or not. Buddha was against
accepting that the Vedas are infallible and he considered it as the
first fetter. Instead of believing in the infallibility of the Vedas,
Buddha’s position was that the truth has to be accepted on intellectual
basis. In the Brahmanism, the stress was on attaining the God. Without
making sacrifices the God can not be attained and therefore sacrifice
was the considered as the religion. Even before the Brahmans used to
sacrifice human beings and the flesh of the human being was to be
consumed by the organizers. This norm did not exist at the time of the
Buddha however the system of animal sacrifice existed. Whoever has read
the literature of that period will know that the ancestors of the
Brahmans killed innumerable cows in sacrifices. One is forced to think
after reading this literature that the number of cows killed by the
Brahmans far outnumber the cows killed by the Muslims. The Buddha
attacked the belief of infallibility of the Vedas and in the same force
attacked the custom of sacrifices. One can say that Buddha’s position in
this regard was revolutionary. Buddha advocated that there is no
connection between the religion and attainment of God. The purpose of
the religion was related to human’s behaviour with another human. This
was the Buddha’s position. Buddha thought that attainment of the god is
not concern of the religion. On one hand, strive for attainment of god
and on another treat the neighbors with the contempt is the antithesis
of the religion. Buddha attacked the third pillar of Brahmanism that is
Chaturvarna Dharma vehemently. The essence of Brahmanism lies in the
Dharma of Chaturvarna. The concept of caste based on superiority or
inferiority of the birth is responsible for this belief in Chaturvarna
Dharma. In Brahmanism the lowered caste and the women do not have a
respectable position, they do not have means of livelihood and they do
not own anything and therefore these two classes are not free. This is
their condition when they are alive. This same condition will follow
them after their death. In Brahmanism there is no freedom even after
death for these two classes. According to tenets of Brahmanism only
those who can become Sanyasin can be free and these two classes (lowered
castes and women) were denied right to become a Sanyasin. Buddha did
not accept this unjust position. Buddha was opposed to the concept that
even if the Brahman is fallen he is worthy of worship by the three
worlds. Buddha wanted to remove this wrong propaganda. Buddha was the
greatest proponent of the social equality and like of him can not be
found elsewhere. There was no freedom for the women in Brahmanism,
Buddha opened the gates of freedom for them. Even for the lowered caste,
the Buddha accepted them as monks in his Sangha. Buddha not only
advocated the principle of social equality, but also made efforts to
make it possible. He not only made the women and lowered caste the
members of his order, but also made other lowered castes the members of
The above explanation is not sufficient; however it is useful for
readers to understand what the Buddha did for this country. The
principles of Buddhism were beneficial and very bright and it led to
huge spread of Buddha Dhamma all over the world. In south, it spread to
Sri Lanka and many islands in the Pacific Ocean. In the east, it went to
Burma, Assam, Thailand, China and Japan. In the north, it went to
Tibet, Nepal and Turkstan. Buddha Dhamma also went to Afghanistan. No
religion spread to this extent. There is another specialty of the Buddha
Dhamma. Not every religion spread due to its values and ideas. Islam
grew on the basis of wars. Christianity grew on the basis of law. Only
Buddhism spread with its values and ideas. It did not need the support
of sword or force of law. Buddha never forced people to follow his
teaching. People forced themselves to follow his teachings.
Despite of this, the question arises as to why Indians forgot the
Buddha Dhamma. Buddhism is still living outside India. There are many
Buddhists in the world. However in India Buddhism was killed. Due to
space constraint, the detailed reasons can not be enumerated. However it
is important to discuss in brief. The time can not forget the Buddha.
Buddha is eternal, deathless and timeless. How will his name vanish from
this world? China did not forget the Buddha. Japan did not. Burma did
not. Only India forgot the Buddha. It is clear that time is not
responsible for this, but the enemies of the Buddha are responsible for
this situation. Brahmans were the enemies of the Buddha. It is not true
that Brahmans were only opposed to the Buddha. They also opposed
Mahavir, the founder of Jainism. But the way the Buddha attacked
Brahmanism, Mahavir did not. The reason is that the Buddha was the
greatest opponent of Chaturvarna Dharma, Mahavir was not. Brahmans were
not very concerned about the Buddha’s attack on the Vedas or sacrifices.
But they had a different view on Chaturvarna Dharma. If Chaturvarna is
eradicated, Brahmanism will be eradicated. Brahmans knew this. In fact,
they considered Chaturvarna dharma as their breath. The attack on the
Chaturvarna dharma was therefore attack on the Brahmans. One can say
that the Buddha’s movement was the anti-Brahman movement of that time
and the Buddha was the leader of that movement. The Brahmans conspired
to destroy the Buddha and His Dhamma by all means. They left their vedic
gods and made warrior gods as their own gods. Brahmans started worship
Rama, the way the Brahmans worship Jedhe (Jedhe was a leader of non
Brahman movement) these days. With one god they could not satisfy, they
started supporting another warrior class god, Krishna. Now that Brahmans
started worshipping our gods, thinking thus, the non Brahmans thought
that there is no point in continuing fight against them. Thus the
Buddha’s movement against Brahmans was weakened. The Brahmans started
advocating that though the Buddha is yours, we accept him as the
reincarnation of Vishnu. People became happy. Now that the Brahmans
accept the Buddha as the tenth reincarnation of Vishnu the matter is
over. Now what is the point of fighting? On one hand the Brahmans tried
to pacify the non Bramhans and on the other hand they started imitating
the Buddha Dhamma and started misguiding people that Brahmanism and
Buddhism are the same. The Buddhists built the Vihars. Vihars are the
signs of burning fire of Buddhism for the Buddhists. The Brahmans
started constructing their temples next to the Buddhist Vihars. With
this outer change people forgot making differentiation between Buddhism
and Brahmanism. And at the end when the Muslims invaded India and
destroyed the Vihars, the monks fled to other countries in their absence
the Brahmans started destroying Buddhism and started addressing the
Buddhist caves as Pandav leni and broke the images of the Buddha and
converted them into phallus of Shiva.
It is understandable that the Brahmans opposed Buddhism as it was
their main opponent. How would they entertain a thought of celebrating
Buddha Jayanti? However the non Brahmans should not have forgotten the
great man who tried to liberate them from the clutches of blind faith,
who tried to liberate them from the slavery of magical spells, who tried
to bring them on humanistic way, who tried to make them humans, who
gave up his royal life for their welfare, who fought for their self
respect, who made this country glorious by his deeds. It is great pity
that the non Brahmans forgot such a great man. They should have kept the
Buddha’s memory alive.
We do not want to tell that this is the only reason the Indians
should celebrate the Buddha Jayanti. Our reason is different than the
above stated reasons and it is a very solid reason. The educated class
amongst the Hindus desire to establish democracy in politics based on
Hindu culture and for the Hindus. They are striving for this. We pity on
the intellect of such people. The people who want to establish
democracy in this country might be stupid or cunning. But this stupidity
and cunningness can not last long. Faced with experiences, it will be
clear that Brahmanism and democracy are two opposite things. For the
establishment of democracy there is a need to eradicate Chaturvarna
Dharma. In order to kill the germs of Chaturvarna there is no medicine
powerful than the Buddha Dhamma. Therefore we think that in order to
purify lifeblood of politics all Hindus should celebrate Buddha Jayanti.
It is important and in their benefit.
Politically India is like a sick man. When we remember India, we
imagine a picture of a man whose belly is big, his hands and feet
reduced to mere bones, face paled, eyes deeply buried in the socket and a
skeleton. He has no power to run the democracy but he has a great
desire to run it. In order to satisfy this desire, power is important.
This power can not be achieved without medicine. But what use is the
medicine! Every one knows that in order to take medicine, it is
necessary to clear the stomach. All the impure elements should be
removed. Without this the medicine will have no effect. The stomach of
Hindus is not clean. The filth of Brahmanism is stored in their stomach
for a long time. The doctor who can wash this filth will help in
establishing democracy in India. That doctor undoubtedly is the Buddha.
The lifeblood of Hindus can not be purified by celebrating Rama Jayanti,
or Krishna Jayanti or Gandhi Jayanti. Rama, Krishna and Gandhi are the
worshippers of the Brahmanism. They are useless in the establishment of
democracy. The Buddha can only help in establishing democracy. Therefore
it is important to remember the Buddha and take his medicine for
cleansing the political and social lifeblood of the Hindus. Therefore we
think that people should chant this greatest mantra for establishment
Buddham Saranam Gacchaami!
Dhammam Saranam Gacchaami!!
Sangham Saranam Gacchami!!!
you all on the occasion of Dhamma Chakra Parivartan Deen - 14 Oct in
the remembrance of Sunday 14 Oct 1956. Keep Rising, Keep Growing and
Keep moving Babasaheb’s mission ahead and ahead till all our downtrodden
brothers and sisters secure their human rights.
Some of the facts
which many people wanted to know. [ I had concluded the same points
during the discussion of this issue on oct 2004 at BC and other yahoo
1. Dr. Babasaheb has started celebrating Buddha Jayanti
since 1950 but never ever said anything about “Ashoka &
2. Dr. Babasaheb has written volumes of
literature ( published/un- published ) but never ever mentioned anything
about “Ashoka VijayaDashmi” .
3. Dr. Babasaheb has declared
officially on Sept 23rd, 1956 to all Janata that he is going to take
Buddhism on Sunday 14th Oct 1956. He has given interview to PTI ( Press
Trust of India ) on 23rd Sept saying…On “Dasara” day he is going to
embrace Buddhism. It is to be noted that Babasaheb has said “Dasara”
word but not “Ashok VijayaDashmi” .
4. Babasaheb initially
decided to take Buddhism on Buddha Jayanti which comes in month of May
every year and that year(1956) 2500 was getting completed. Due to
unavoidable circumstances and insistence of Nagpur group, the place has
been shifted to Nagpur and the committee decided to hold program in such
a way that MAXIMUM people should come for the same.
So being chosen
as a Sunday it was not guaranteeing that everyone will get holiday on
this. Because , during that time frame many of our people used to work
in MILLS and in farms. When the organizing team learned that, on Dasara
all the mills and other private firms are going to be closed, they
decided to choose that day as Schools, Colleges, Government, Private
firms will be closed. This will ensure that MAXIMUM people can attend
5. Babasaheb has given speech on Oct 15, 1956
around 2 hours. I believe any one can say 2 hours is big enough to think
and talk about anything he wanted to say to his people. He has
explained the importance of choosing Nagpur but has not said any single
word about “ASHOKA” nor “VIJAYDASHMI” . Any logical person could think
rationally that, Babasaheb is known to be master of HISTORY and how can
he forget to give any little importance of “ASHOKA” and “VIJAYADASHMI”
if at all it is TRUE ???
But, WE don’t see any references of this
two words in his entire speech where as he has spent more than 5 minutes
for giving importance of choosing “Nagpur” as a place for this
6. On 16th Oct 1956, he went ahead and
executed similar program at Chandrapur. But again what we found - “No
where he has mentioned about “ASHOKA” and “VIJAYADASMI” .
26/27 Oct 1956, “Prabuddha Bharat” newspaper published “Deeksha
Visheshank” a special supplement on Oct 14, 1956 function and Babasaheb
was alive that time. This special supplement is full of all the
pictures, points, minute-to-minute information what happened-how it
happened-what has talked etc…everything. …in number of pages. BUT,
still this special supplement also doesn’t talk about these “ASHOKA”
and “VIJAYADASMI” two words….
8. Babasaheb was alive for 52
days after this historical conversion and no where we found any point
about these two words “ASHOKA” and “VIJAYADASMI” .
I hope, above
points are substantial enough to deny any correlation of “ASHOKA”,
“VIJAYDASMI” with Babasaheb’s historical conversion day.
What happened after Babasaheb ?
Babasaheb has created structure of RPI and second level of our then
leaders including Dadasaheb Gaikwad, B. C. Kamble, Rajabhawoo
Khobragade, Babu Haridas Awale etc..arranged 4 days conference on
1-2-3-4 oct 1957 at DeekshaBhoomi.
10. Somehow these then
leaders formed RPI on 3rd Oct 1957 [ That time Dasara Came on that day ]
and celebrated it. Many people where gathered during that event. As all
of us knows that everyone lean towards political party to gain many
things…huge of people were present during that conference and it turns
to be DCPD celebration. But all though, Adv. Babu Haridas Awale, B. C.
Kamble and Mr. Wamanrao Godbole ( Chief of the Organizing committee of
that historical conversion function ) gathered on 14th Oct 1957. This
should be noted correctly.
11. Other leaders who went ahead and
joined congress followed Bramhnical calender and obey their thoughts
and sometimes even get confused when they see two dates for “Dasara” in
12. Babasaheb has written preface to “The
Essence of Buddhism” by P. Narasu [ Tamilnadu ]. This book contents says
2500 years completed to Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana on Mid night of 13 [
Talking about B.C. ] . According to 1956 [ A.C.] Mid night of 13 means
morning of 14 Oct 1956. [ This explanation - denies the fact that
Buddha’s birth, Enlightenment and Mahaparinirvana has happened on SAME
day. But as per the international standard the way International people
follow 25th December every year for Yeshu, on full moon basis
International Buddhist people follow month of May to do the same. ]
As Babasaheb Mahaparinirvana happened exactly after 52 days - 6th Dec
1956, we have to stick with the calender dates. Otherwise we might need
to calculate his Mahaparinirvana every year from the day Dasara comes.
Going into the history “unnecessary” and wasting time is all what our
people have done so far, otherwise Baba’s MOVEMENT could have been
better shape and we all could have lived happily.
15. Last but
not the least, if someone wants to disagree with my above analogy then I
would ask them to prepare your own “Buddhist” Calender and declare
dates rather than following “Hindu panchang - Kalnirnay etc…”. Lets
follow 22 vows given by Babasaheb and pay tribute to this GREAT LEADER
by becoming his true follower.
On 14th October 1956 Dr B. R. Ambedkar accepted Buddhism along
with his 5 Lacs follower in the holy land of Nagpur. He has given basic
22 vows, rules to his followers to observe strictly.
The 22 vows are:
- I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh nor shall I worship them.
- I shall have no faith in Rama and Krishna who are believed to be incarnation of God nor shall I worship them.
- I shall have no faith in ‘Gauri’, Ganapati and other gods and goddesses of Hindus nor shall I worship them.
- I do not believe in the incarnation of God.
- I do not and shall not believe that Lord Buddha was the incarnation
of Vishnu. I believe this to be sheer madness and false propaganda.
- I shall not perform ‘Shraddha’ nor shall I give ‘pind-dan’.
- I shall not act in a manner violating the principles and teachings of the Buddha.
- I shall not allow any ceremonies to be performed by Brahmins.
- I shall believe in the equality of man.
- I shall endeavour to establish equality.
- I shall follow the ‘noble eightfold path’ of the Buddha.
- I shall follow the ‘paramitas’ prescribed by the Buddha.
- I shall have compassion and loving kindness for all living beings and protect them.
- I shall not steal.
- I shall not tell lies.
- I shall not commit carnal sins.
- I shall not take intoxicants like liquor, drugs etc.
- I shall endeavour to follow the noble eightfold path and practise compassion and loving kindness in every day life.
- I renounce Hinduism which is harmful for humanity and impedes the
advancement and development of humanity because it is based on
inequality, and adopt Buddhism as my religion.
- I firmly believe the Dhamma of the Buddha is the only true religion.
- I believe that I am having a re-birth.
- I solemnly declare and affirm that I shall hereafter lead my life
according to the principles and teachings of the Buddha and his Dhamma.