I was fearing writing this blog last week, however I could not resist myself. Actually I feel I am too small to write on this big personality.
Last week India celebrated 125th birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar. I have immense respect for Baba Saheb, as he is called. He was (I would say ‘is’ even till today) one of the most educated politicians India ever had. He was a lawyer, the chief architect of Indian constitution, an economist and a social reformer. If someone can boast about a PhD he/she can talk about only one big University unlike Baba Saheb – Columbia & London School of Economics. Well, many politicians may call themselves as lawyers & social reformers, however there is a huge difference between Baba and these so called reformers of our time or for that matter lawyer.
On social reforms, how many Indian politicians can say that they have moved generations on a specific path – path we may question though. How many Indian politicians can say that they have offered opportunities to the generations for growth and equality – the opportunity we may question though. None of any other Indian politician could do and has done – just name any Ms Mayavati! Mr Nitish Kumar! or a leader from Maharashtra Ramdas Athavale! No, no one can be even named with Dr Ambedkar.
We, in Mumbai, celebrated Baba Saheb’s birthday last week with a lot of pomp. Some areas (I know of Chembur) people made huge rangoli in many others there were temporary gates made, in many other areas hoardings were pasted with wishes on 125th anniversary of Baba Saheb. However, there was a question in mind when I was seeing the celebration in Mumbai. What message Dr B R Ambedkar would give to these people?
Actually, this celebration is nothing new for me as an Indian. We in India have the habit, or you may call it reverence in refined words, that we eulogize such personality. It has happened with Shirdi ke Sai Baba, Mahatma Gandhi et al you just name any. The question to ask is – what have we learnt from them? What would be just one message they want to give us?
Coming back to Baba Saheb, I was wondering isn’t it more political than spiritual or social to celebrate the birthday? The problem with any established practice is – even if the person is reborn those who have made something a practice / a ritual would not accept this reborn person’s teachings. They would rebuke him/her. Be it Jesus, Mohammad or Baba Saheb.
I love Baba Saheb for many reasons some listed above; his choosing Buddhism too is a reason because I believe Buddhism gives a person the right to question, questioning self, questioning established rules and concepts. But, has the community learnt anything about Buddhism from the social revolution Baba Saheb tried to bring to the community? Many converted to Buddhism, but what about inculcating the basic tenets of Buddhism? I asked one of my friends – Buddha never preached harming animals, why do you eat non-veg, forget meditation, forget eight-fold path, answer the basic thing? Nope you have not learnt practicing being vegetarian – which is a practice done at least twice a day. Have you heard of meditation? Nope. What are the steps of eight-fold path?
I am confident that had Baba saheb be alive today – he would have made only one statement for the masses – Appa dipo bhava “Be a light unto yourself”. Forget these rituals forget these political stands. Your growth is in your hands. Why not use the money spent on putting hoardings for some other constructive work, say scholarship for a student?
A last word – Even if you do not want to learn being a light to yourself follow the path of Baba Saheb consider education seriously and try to be like him, how many would take this idea seriously?