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International Multipurpose Co-operative Society of Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath(IMCSOIJGPB)-For The Welfare and Ultimate Bliss of Entire Great Minds-THE BUDDHA AND HIS DHAMMA- by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar-The Children’s Development Bank tips the balance in favour of street children
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                 by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

A question is always asked to me: how I happened to take such a high degree of education. Another question is being asked: why I am inclined towards Buddhism. Thesequestions are asked because I was born in a community known in India as the”Untouchables.(Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath)” This preface is not the place for answering the first question. But this preface may be the place for answering the second question.


The direct answer to this question is that I regard the Buddha’s Dhamma to be the best. No religion can be compared to it. If a modern man who knows science must have a religion, the only religion he can have is the Religion of the Buddha. This conviction has grown in me after thirty-five years of close study of all religions.

How I was led to study Buddhism is another story. It may be interesting for the reader to know. This is how it happened.

My father was a military officer, but at the same time a very religious person. He brought me up under a strict discipline. From my early age I found certain contradictions in my father’s religious way of life. He was a Kabirpanthi, though his father was Ramanandi. As such, he did not believe in Murti Puja (Idol Worship), and yet he performed Ganapati Puja–of course for our sake, but I did not like it. He read the books of his Panth. At the same time, he compelled me and my elder brother to read every day before going to bed a portion of the Mahabharata and Ramayana to my sisters and other persons who assembled at my father’s house to hear the Katha. This went on for a long number of years.


The year I passed the English Fourth Standard Examination, my community people wanted to celebrate the occasion by holding a public meeting to congratulate me. Compared to the state of education in other communities, this was hardly an occasion for celebration. But it was felt by the organisers that I was the first boy in my community to reach this stage; they thought that I had reached a great height. They went to my father to ask for his permission. My father flatly refused, saying that such a thing would inflate the boy’s head; after all, he has only passed an examination and done nothing more. Those who wanted to celebrate the event were greatly disappointed. They, however, did not give way. They went to Dada Keluskar, a personal friend of my father, and asked him to intervene. He agreed. After a little argumentation, my father yielded, and the meeting was held. Dada Keluskar presided. He was a literary person of his time. At the end of his address he gave me as a gift a copy of his book on the life of the Buddha, which he had written for the Baroda Sayajirao Oriental Series. I read the book with great interest, and was greatly impressed and moved by it.


I began to ask why my father did not introduce us to the Buddhist literature. After this, I was determined to ask my father this question. One day I did. I asked my father why he insisted upon our reading the Mahabharata and Ramayana, which recounted the greatness of the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas and repeated the stories of the degradation of the Shudras and the Untouchables (Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath). My father did not like the question. He merely said, “You must not ask such silly questions. You are only boys; you must do as you are told.” My father was a Roman Patriarch, and exercised most extensive Patria Pretestas over his children. I alone could take a little liberty with him, and that was because my mother had died in my childhood, leaving me to the care of my auntie.


So after some time, I asked again the same question. This time my father had evidently prepared himself for a reply. He said, “The reason why I ask you to read the Mahabharata and Ramayana is this: we belong to the Untouchables, and you are likely to develop an inferiority complex, which is natural. The value of the Mahabharata and Ramayana lies in removing this inferiority complex. See Drona and Karna–they were small men, but to what heights they rose! Look at Valmiki–he was a Koli, but he became the author of the Ramayana. It is for removing this inferiority complex that I ask you to read the Mahabharata and Ramayana.”


I could see that there was some force in my father’s argument. But I was not satisfied. I told my father that I did not like any of the figures in [the] Mahabharata. I said, “I do not like Bhishma and Drona, nor Krishna. Bhishma and Drona were hypocrites. They said one thing and did quite the opposite. Krishna believed in fraud. His life is nothing but a series of frauds. Equal dislike I have for Rama. Examine his conduct in the Sarupnakha [=Shurpanakha] episode [and]  in the Vali Sugriva episode, and his beastly behaviour towards Sita.” My father was silent, and made no reply. He knew that there was a revolt.

This is how I turned to the Buddha, with the help of the book given to me by Dada Keluskar. It was not with an empty mind that I went to the Buddha at that early age. I had a background, and in reading the Buddhist Lore I could always compare and contrast. This is the origin of my interest in the Buddha and His Dhamma.


The urge to write this book has a different origin. In 1951 the Editor of the Mahabodhi Society’s Journal of Calcutta asked me to write an article for the Vaishak Number. In that article I argued that the Buddha’s Religion was the only religion which a society awakened by science could accept, and without which it would perish. I also pointed out that for the modern world Buddhism was the only religion which it must have to save itself. That Buddhism makes [a] slow advance is due to the fact that its literature is so vast that no one can read the whole of it. That it has no such thing as a bible, as the Christians have, is its greatest handicap. On the publication of this article, I received many calls, written and oral, to write such a book. It is in response to these calls that I have undertaken the task.


To disarm all criticism I would like to make it clear that I claim no originality for the book. It is a compilation and assembly plant. The material has been gathered from various books. I would particularly like to mention Ashvaghosha’s Buddhavita [=Buddhacharita], whose poetry no one can excel. In the narrative of certain events I have even borrowed his language.

The only originality that I can claim in is the order of presentation of the topics, in which I have tried to introduce simplicity and clarity. There are certain matters which give headache[s] to the student of Buddhism. I have dealt with them in the Introduction.

It remains for me to express my gratitude to those who have been helpful to me. I am very grateful to Mr. Nanak Chand Rattua of Village Sakrulli and Mr. Parkash Chand of Village Nangal Khurd in the district of Hoshiarpur (Punjab) for the burden they have taken upon themselves to type out the manuscript. They have done it several times. Shri Nanak Chand Rattu took special pains and put in very hard labour in accomplishing this great task. He did the whole work of typing etc. very willingly and without caring for his health and [=or] any sort of remuneration. Both Mr. Nanak Chand Rattu and Mr. Parkash Chand did their job as a token of their greatest love and affection towards me. Their labours can hardly be repaid. I am very much grateful to them.


When I took up the task of composing the book I was ill, and [I] am still ill. During these five years there were many ups and downs in my health. At some stages my condition had become so critical that doctors talked of me as a dying flame. The successful rekindling of this dying flame is due to the medical skill of my wife and Dr. Malvankar. They alone have helped me to complete the work. I am also thankful to Mr. M. B. Chitnis, who took [a] special interest in correcting [the] proof and to go [=in going] through the whole book.


I may mention that this is one of the three books which will form a set for the proper understanding of Buddhism. The other books are: (i) Buddha and Karl Marx; and (ii) Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India. They are written out in parts. I hope to publish them soon.

B. R. Ambedkar

26 Alipur Road, Delhi


Below is an excerpt from Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s writing called β€œBuddha or Karl Marx”:


The Buddha is generally associated with the doctrine of Ahimsa. That is taken to be the be-all and end-all of his teachings. Hardly any one knows that what the Buddha taught is something very vast: far beyond Ahimsa. It is therefore necessary to set out in detail his tenets. I enumerate them below as I have understood them from my reading of the Tripitaka :

1. Religion is necessary for a free Society.

2. Not every Religion is worth having.

3. Religion must relate to facts of life and not to theories and speculations about God, or Soul or Heaven or Earth.

4. It is wrong to make God the centre of Religion.

5. It is wrong to make salvation of the soul as the centre of Religion.

6. It is wrong to make animal sacrifices to be the centre of religion.

7. Real Religion lives in the heart of man and not in the Shastras.

8. Man and morality must be the centre of religion. If not, Religion is a cruel superstition.

9. It is not enough for Morality to be the ideal of life. Since there is no God it must become the Jaw of life.

10. The function of Religion is to reconstruct the world and to make it happy and not to explain its origin or its end.

11. That the unhappiness in the world is due to conflict of interest and the only way to solve it is to follow the Ashtanga Marga.

12. That private ownership of property brings power to one class and sorrow to another.

13. That it is necessary for the good of Society that this sorrow be removed by removing its cause.

14. All human beings are equal.

15. Worth and not birth is the measure of man.

16. What is important is high ideals and not noble birth.

17. Maitri or fellowship towards all must never be abandoned. One owes it even to one’s enemy.

18. Every one has a right to learn. Learning is as necessary for man to live as food is.

19. Learning without character is dangerous.

20. Nothing is infallible. Nothing is binding forever. Every thing is subject to inquiry and examination. 21. Nothing is final.

22. Every thing is subject to the law of causation.

23. Nothing is permanent or sanatan. Every thing is subject to change. Being is always becoming.

24. War is wrong unless it is for truth and justice.

25. The victor has duties towards the vanquished. This is the creed of the Buddha in a summary form. How ancient hut how fresh! How wide and how deep are his teachings!

International Multipurpose Co-operative Society of Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath (IMCSOIJGPB) will publish 1000 copies of The Buddha and His Dhamma written By Baba Saheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in small parts as leaflets. All the members of the society has the right to do the same preferably in different languages.


June 7, 2008

The Children’s Development Bank tips the balance in favour of street children

An innovative international scheme is giving the young traders of Asia a helping hand in their daily fight for survival

Children queue up to bank their savings

Ram Singh does not look like a banker - but then, this barefoot 13-year-old who fends for himself on the streets of Delhi works for an unconventional bank.

Ram manages the accounts at the Fatehpuri branch of the Children’s Development Bank (CDB), a multinational co-operative run for street children by street children. His office is the corner of a night shelter on a teeming back alley close to the Old Delhi railway station. It opens for an hour every evening to allow child workers to deposit and withdraw cash and even to take out small loans.

At 7pm on a Saturday, Ram is updating his ledger book, while about 25 of his customers are fixated on a Bollywood action film playing on TV in the middle of the richly graffitied hall. Their attention is broken when a large rat bounds across the room, sending several of the smaller boys in pursuit.

Ram’s story is typical of the CDB’s clientele: he says he left his home in Uttar Pradesh, a poor state in northern India, for Delhi because his local school was no good and he wanted to follow his older brothers to the big city. β€œIt was time I earned my own money,” he says. He thinks he was about seven at the time.

Similar tales - often relayed, like Ram’s, with something of a swagger - are common. Estimates suggest that as many as 400,000 children work on the streets of Delhi - mostly as hawkers, ragpickers and lackeys for small businesses - a figure roughly equivalent to the population of Bristol. Across the whole of India, it is reckoned that at least 18million minors lack proper homes. The vast majority of them, of course, are complete strangers to financial services.

Rita Panika, of Butterflies, the non-governmental organisation that founded the first CDB in 2001, says: β€œIf they do not have anywhere to put their money, it often ends up being stolen - by bigger children or employers who offer to look after their pay and then refuse to hand it over.” Mindful that they had better use what they earn fast, street children often spend surplus cash on solvents to sniff, or just gamble it away. The CDB allows them to use their cash more wisely and, it is argued, gives them a greater say over their lives.

For instance, the children vote among themselves to decide who will manage the accounts. Those elected (such as Ram) are taught the basic principles of banking - but all involved pick up important life lessons, the scheme’s organisers say.

β€œThe bank helps children to prioritise their needs and think about how they use their money,” Ms Panika says. β€œMost importantly they learn that it is important to have goals and to work towards them.”

The first CDB branch was founded in Delhi 2001. The organisation has more than 8,250 members, all aged between eight and 18, in 12 locations - including branches in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The average account holds Β£2.50 - a useful sum if you are a minor fending for yourself in South Asia.

Savings go towards projects of varying size. Hani, 14, is withdrawing 20 rupees (24p) to buy a shirt. If he has two, he tells The Times, he can wash one while wearing the other. Amit, 13, has just returned from his home town in Uttar Pradesh, after taking 750 rupees back to his family. One lad saved a seven-figure sum and bought a shop.The bank can also provide a safety net for the young entrepreneurs. Hemaut, who says he is 13 but looks much younger, is withdrawing 80 of his 100 rupees.

It is a large chunk of his capital but this afternoon the boy, who has been on Delhi’s streets for two years, was caught going about his daily trade - selling coconuts on the city’s buses. An official stole all the money he had on him - 150 rupees - and took his stock. He will use the 80rupees to buy some plastic pens with lights on them, which he hopes to sell tomorrow.

Remarkably, there is no sense that Hemaut feels cheated - neither by the crooked bus inspector nor by the cards life has dealt him. β€œIf it was not for my bank account, I’d be in real trouble,” he says.

Big numbers, small sums

β€” As many as 150 million children live on the world’s streets

β€” A child in Delhi earns about 40 rupees (50p) a day

β€” Most street children are boys and one in twenty who are members of the CDB send money back home

β€” Most Indian street children earn money by selling cheap goods, often at traffic lights or on trains, or by ragpicking (sifting through rubbish). Begging is common

β€” A Human Rights Watch report found that β€œIndian street children are routinely beaten by police”


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