Written in , it is an audacious denunciation of Hinduism and its caste system. Ambedkar — a figure like W. Du Bois — offers a scholarly critique of Hindu scriptures, scriptures that sanction a rigidly hierarchical and iniquitous social system. The hatchet was never buried.
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Putting the Ambedkar—Gandhi debate into context for those unfamiliar with its history and its protagonists will require detours into their very different political trajectories. For this was by no means just a theoretical debate between two men who held different opinions.
What they said and did continues to have an immense bearing on contemporary politics. Their differences were and remain irreconcilable. Both are deeply loved and often deified by their followers. He challenged him not just politically or intellectually, but also morally. It has even been the subject of a Hollywood blockbuster that won eight Oscars. Mahatma Gandhi does have his bitter critics, but he still tops the charts. For others to even get a look-in, the Father of the Nation has to be segregated, put into a separate category: Who, after Mahatma Gandhi, is the greatest Indian?
He is chosen more for the part he played in drafting the Indian Constitution than for the politics and the passion that were at the core of his life and thinking. You definitely get the sense that his presence on the lists is the result of positive discrimination, a desire to be politically correct. History has been kind to Gandhi. He was deified by millions of people in his own lifetime. It has entirely reinvented him. Which is why a critique of Gandhi need not automatically be taken to be a critique of all Gandhians.
Gandhi has become all things to all people: Obama loves him and so does the Occupy movement. Anarchists love him and so does the Establishment. Narendra Modi loves him and so does Rahul Gandhi. The poor love him and so do the rich. The trouble is that Gandhi actually said everything and its opposite. To cherry pickers, he offers such a bewildering variety of cherries that you have to wonder if there was something the matter with the tree.
Thus every village will be a republic or panchayat having full powers. It follows, therefore, that every village has to be self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs even to the extent of defending itself against the whole world In this structure composed of innumerable villages there will be ever-widening, never-ascending circles.
Life will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose centre will be the individual always ready to perish for the village Therefore the outermost circumference will not wield power to crush the inner circle but will give strength to all within and derive its own strength from it.
Then there is his endorsement of the caste system in in Navajivan. Caste puts a limit on enjoyment. Caste does not allow a person to transgress caste limits in pursuit of his enjoyment. That is the meaning of such caste restrictions as inter-dining and inter-marriage These being my views I am opposed to all those who are out to destroy the Caste System. Does that mean that Gandhi reformed? That he changed his views on caste? He did, at a glacial pace.
Though he was given to apologizing and agonising publicly and privately over things like the occasional lapses in his control over his sexual desire, he never agonised over the extremely damaging things he had said and done on caste. Still, why not eschew the negative and concentrate instead on what was good about Gandhi, use it to bring out the best in people?
It is a valid question, and one that those who have built shrines to Gandhi have probably answered for themselves. After all, it is possible to admire the work of great composers, writers, architects, sportspersons and musicians whose views are inimical to our own. The difference is that Gandhi was not a composer or writer or musician or a sportsman. He offered himself to us as a visionary, a mystic, a moralist, a great humanitarian, the man who brought down a mighty empire armed only with Truth and Righteousness.
What do we do with this structure of moral righteousness that rests so comfortably on a foundation of utterly brutal, institutionalised injustice? Is it enough to say Gandhi was complicated, and let it go at that? Did he really ally himself with the poorest of the poor, the most vulnerable of his people? In , when Ambedkar met Gandhi for the first time, Gandhi questioned him about his sharp criticism of the Congress which, it was assumed, was tantamount to criticising the struggle for the Homeland.
BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi. Their conflict complicates and perhaps enriches our understanding of imperialism as well as the struggle against it. He is the Saint of the Status Quo. How are you going to compel people to recognise the status due to a man, in accordance to his worth, who is occupying a lower status based on his birth?
Annihilation of Caste
Written in , it is an audacious denunciation of Hinduism and its caste system. Ambedkar — a figure like W. Du Bois — offers a scholarly critique of Hindu scriptures, scriptures that sanction a rigidly hierarchical and iniquitous social system. The hatchet was never buried. No Hindu who prizes his faith above life itself can afford to underrate the importance of this indictment. The annotations illumine the whole book. She manages to convey an intimate and deeply felt sensitivity to the history that produced Annihilation of Caste.
May 15, 1936: Ambedkar published ‘Annihilation of Caste’. What was his conflict with Gandhi?
After returning to India in , the civil rights leader, often recognised as the architect of the Indian Constitution, in his most scholarly yet neglected political writing Annihilation of Caste denounced Hinduism and its caste system. Originally conceived as a speech for Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal, an organisation of caste Hindu social reformers, it was later published by Ambedkar himself, for the organisation refused to allow him to give his speech in the original form. Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was a victim of discrimination all his life. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Annihilation of Caste is an account of the belief that social reform has to take precedence over political and religious reform, providing instances of the tyranny practised by upper-caste Hindus on the untouchable community of India. Talking about social reform, Ambedkar highlights the need to reconstruct the Hindu society, break the caste system, and urges Hindus to admit that one caste is not fit to rule another caste. In this influential address, Ambedkar calls out the fallacy of socialists.
Ambedkar Jayanti: Why Annihilation of Caste is a must read for Hindus even now
Putting the Ambedkar—Gandhi debate into context for those unfamiliar with its history and its protagonists will require detours into their very different political trajectories. For this was by no means just a theoretical debate between two men who held different opinions. What they said and did continues to have an immense bearing on contemporary politics. Their differences were and remain irreconcilable. Both are deeply loved and often deified by their followers.
Annihilation of Caste is an undelivered speech written in by DR B. Ambedkar also known as baba saheb who fought against the country's practice of untouchability. Ambedkar to deliver a speech on the caste system in India at their annual conference in After much deliberation, the committee of organizers decided to cancel their annual conference in its entirety, because they feared violence by orthodox Hindus at the venue if they held the event after withdrawing the invitation to him. In the essay, Ambedkar criticised the Hindu religion, its caste system and its religious texts which are male dominant and spreading hatred and suppression of female interests. The readers will recall the fact that Dr.