B. R. Ambedkar
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar
भीमराव रामजी आंबेडकर
|1st Minister of Law and Justice|
15 August 1947 – September 1951
|Prime Minister||Jawaharlal Nehru|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Charu Chandra Biswas|
|Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee|
29 August 1947 – 24 January 1950
|Labour Member, Viceroy's Executive Council|
|Preceded by||Feroz Khan Noon|
Bhiva Ramji Ambedkar
14 April 1891
Mhow, Central Provinces, British India
(now in Dr. Ambedkar Nagar, Madhya Pradesh, India)
|Died||6 December 1956 (aged 65)|
|Resting place||Chaitya Bhoomi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India|
|Political party||Scheduled Castes Federation|
|Independent Labour Party, Republican Party of India|
|Relatives||See Ambedkar family|
|Residence||• Rajgruha, Dadar, Mumbai|
• 26 Alipur road, New Delhi
|Education||B.A. (1913) |
M.A. (twice, 1915 & 1916)
Ph.D. (1916, awarded in 1927)
|Occupation||Lawyer and Professor|
|Profession||Jurist, economist, politician, social reformer, anthropologist, author, historian, sociologist, social scientist, educationist, freedom fighter, journalist, human rights activist, philosopher|
|Known for||Dalit rights movement, Constitution of India, Dalit Buddhist movement, Ambedkarism|
|Awards||Bharat Ratna (posthumously in 1990)|
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (14 April 1891 – 6 December 1956), popularly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against social discrimination towards the untouchables (Dalits), while also supporting the rights of women and labour. He was independent India's first law and justice minister, the principal architect of the Constitution of India, and a founding father of the Republic of India.
Ambedkar was a prolific student earning doctorates in economics from both Columbia University and the London School of Economics and gained a reputation as a scholar for his research in law, economics, and political science. In his early career he was an economist, professor, and lawyer. His later life was marked by his political activities; he became involved in campaigning and negotiations for India's independence, publishing journals, advocating political rights and social freedom for Dalits, and contributing significantly to the establishment of the state of India. In 1956, he converted to Buddhism initiating mass conversions of Dalits.
In 1990, the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, was posthumously conferred upon Ambedkar. Ambedkar's legacy includes numerous memorials and depictions in popular culture.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Education
- 3 Opposition to untouchability
- 4 Poona Pact
- 5 Political career
- 6 Opposition to Aryan invasion theory
- 7 Drafting India's Constitution
- 8 Economic planning
- 9 Second marriage
- 10 Conversion to Buddhism
- 11 Death
- 12 Personal life
- 13 Views on Communism
- 14 Legacy
- 15 In popular culture
- 16 Films
- 17 Literary works
- 18 Awards and honors
- 19 See also
- 20 References
- 21 Further reading
Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 in the town and military cantonment of Mhow (now Dr. Ambedkar Nagar) in the Central Provinces (now in Madhya Pradesh). He was the 14th and last child of Ramji Maloji Sakpal, an army officer who held the rank of Subedar, and Bhimabai Sakpal, daughter of Laxman Murbadkar. His family was of Marathi background from the town of Ambadawe (Mandangad taluka) in Ratnagiri district of modern-day Maharashtra. Ambedkar was born into a poor low Mahar (dalit) caste, who were treated as untouchables and subjected to socio-economic discrimination. Ambedkar's ancestors had long worked for the army of the British East India Company, and his father served in the British Indian Army at the Mhow cantonment. Although they attended school, Ambedkar and other untouchable children were segregated and given little attention or help by teachers. They were not allowed to sit inside the class. When they needed to drink water, someone from a higher caste had to pour that water from a height as they were not allowed to touch either the water or the vessel that contained it. This task was usually performed for the young Ambedkar by the school peon, and if the peon was not available then he had to go without water; he described the situation later in his writings as "No peon, No Water". He was required to sit on a gunny sack which he had to take home with him.
Ramji Sakpal retired in 1894 and the family moved to Satara two years later. Shortly after their move, Ambedkar's mother died. The children were cared for by their paternal aunt and lived in difficult circumstances. Three sons – Balaram, Anandrao and Bhimrao – and two daughters – Manjula and Tulasa – of the Ambedkars survived them. Of his brothers and sisters, only Ambedkar passed his examinations and went to high school. His original surname was Sakpal but his father registered his name as Ambadawekar in school, meaning he comes from his native village 'Ambadawe' in Ratnagiri district. His Devrukhe Brahmin teacher, Krishna Keshav Ambedkar, changed his surname from "Ambadawekar" to his own surname "Ambedkar" in school records.
In 1897, Ambedkar's family moved to Mumbai where Ambedkar became the only untouchable enrolled at Elphinstone High School. In 1906, when he was about 15 years old, his marriage to a nine-year-old girl, Ramabai, was arranged.
Undergraduate studies at the University of Bombay
In 1907, he passed his matriculation examination and in the following year he entered Elphinstone College, which was affiliated to the University of Bombay, becoming the first untouchable to do so. In his book, The Buddha and his Dhamma, that when he passed his English fourth standard examinations, the people of his community wanted to celebrate because they considered that he had reached "great heights" which he says was "hardly an occasion compared to the state of education in other communities". A public ceremony was evoked, to celebrate his success, by the community, and it was at this occasion that he was presented with a biography of the Buddha by Dada Keluskar, the author and a family friend.
By 1912, he obtained his degree in economics and political science from Bombay University, and prepared to take up employment with the Baroda state government. His wife had just moved his young family and started work when he had to quickly return to Mumbai to see his ailing father, who died on 2 February 1913.
Postgraduate studies at Columbia University
In 1913, Ambedkar moved to the United States at the age of 22. He had been awarded a Baroda State Scholarship of £11.50 (Sterling) per month for three years under a scheme established by Sayajirao Gaekwad III (Gaekwad of Baroda) that was designed to provide opportunities for postgraduate education at Columbia University in New York City. Soon after arriving there he settled in rooms at Livingston Hall with Naval Bhathena, a Parsi who was to be a lifelong friend. He passed his M.A. exam in June 1915, majoring in Economics, and other subjects of Sociology, History, Philosophy and Anthropology. He presented a thesis, Ancient Indian Commerce. Ambedkar was influenced by John Dewey and his work on democracy.
In 1916 he completed his second thesis, National Dividend of India – A Historic and Analytical Study, for another M.A., and finally he received his PhD in Economics in 1927 for his third thesis, after he left for London. On 9 May, he presented the paper Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development before a seminar conducted by the anthropologist Alexander Goldenweiser.
Postgraduate studies at the London School of Economics
In October 1916, he enrolled for the Bar course at Gray's Inn, and at the same time enrolled at the London School of Economics where he started working on a doctoral thesis. In June 1917, he returned to India because his scholarship from Baroda ended. His book collection was dispatched on different ship from the one he was on, and that ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine. He got permission to return to London to submit his thesis within four years. He returned at the first opportunity, and completed a master's degree in 1921. His thesis was on "The problem of the rupee: Its origin and its solution". In 1922, he was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn and In 1923, he completed a D.Sc. in Economics. His third and fourth Doctorates (LL.D, Columbia, 1952 and D.Litt., Osmania, 1953) were conferred honoris causa.
Opposition to untouchability
As Ambedkar was educated by the Princely State of Baroda, he was bound to serve it. He was appointed Military Secretary to the Gaikwad but had to quit in a short time. He described the incident in his autobiography, Waiting for a Visa. Thereafter, he tried to find ways to make a living for his growing family. He worked as a private tutor, as an accountant, and established an investment consulting business, but it failed when his clients learned that he was an untouchable. In 1918, he became Professor of Political Economy in the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai. Although he was successful with the students, other professors objected to his sharing a drinking-water jug with them.
Ambedkar had been invited to testify before the Southborough Committee, which was preparing the Government of India Act 1919. At this hearing, Ambedkar argued for creating separate electorates and reservations for untouchables and other religious communities. In 1920, he began the publication of the weekly Mooknayak (Leader of the Silent) in Mumbai with the help of Shahu of Kolhapur i.e. Shahu IV (1874–1922).
Ambedkar went on to work as a legal professional. In 1926, he successfully defended three non-Brahmin leaders who had accused the Brahmin community of ruining India and were then subsequently sued for libel. Dhananjay Keer notes that "The victory was resounding, both socially and individually, for the clients and the Doctor."
While practising law in the Bombay High Court, he tried to promote education to untouchables and uplift them. His first organised attempt was his establishment of the central institution Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha, intended to promote education and socio-economic improvement, as well as the welfare of "outcastes", at the time referred to as depressed classes. For the defence of Dalit rights, he started five periodicals – Mooknayak (the leader of the dumb, 1920), Bahishkrit Bharat (Ostracized India, 1924), Samta (Equality, 1928), Janata (The People, 1930), and Prabuddha Bharat (Enlightened India, 1956).
He was appointed to the Bombay Presidency Committee to work with the all-European Simon Commission in 1925. This commission had sparked great protests across India, and while its report was ignored by most Indians, Ambedkar himself wrote a separate set of recommendations for the future Constitution of India.
By 1927, Ambedkar had decided to launch active movements against untouchability. He began with public movements and marches to open up public drinking water resources. He also began a struggle for the right to enter Hindu temples. He led a satyagraha in Mahad to fight for the right of the untouchable community to draw water from the main water tank of the town. In a conference in late 1927, Ambedkar publicly condemned the classic Hindu text, the Manusmriti (Laws of Manu), for ideologically justifying caste discrimination and "untouchability", and he ceremonially burned copies of the ancient text. On 25 December 1927, he led thousands of followers to burn copies of Manusmrti. Thus annually 25 December is celebrated as Manusmriti Dahan Din (Manusmriti Burning Day) by Ambedkarites and Dalits.
In 1930, Ambedkar launched Kalaram Temple movement after three months of preparation. About 15,000 volunteers assembled at Kalaram Temple satygraha making one of the greatest processions of Nashik. The procession was headed by a military band, a batch of scouts, women and men walked in discipline, order and determination to see the god for the first time. When they reached to gate, the gates were closed by Brahmin authorities.
In 1932, British announced the formation of a separate electorate for "Depressed Classes" in the Communal Award. Gandhi fiercely opposed a separate electorate for untouchables, saying he feared that such an arrangement would divide the Hindu community. Gandhi protested by fasting while imprisoned in the Yerwada Central Jail of Poona. Following the fast, Congress politicians and activists such as Madan Mohan Malaviya and Palwankar Baloo organised joint meetings with Ambedkar and his supporters at Yerwada. On 25 September 1932, the agreement known as Poona Pact was signed between Ambedkar (on behalf of the depressed classes among Hindus) and Madan Mohan Malaviya (on behalf of the other Hindus). The agreement gave reserved seats for the depressed classes in the Provisional legislatures, within the general electorate. Due to the pact, the depressed class received 148 seats in the legislature, instead of the 71 as allocated in the Communal Award earlier proposed by British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. The text uses the term "Depressed Classes" to denote Untouchables among Hindus who were later called Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under India Act 1935, and the later Indian Constitution of 1950. In the Poona Pact, a unified electorate was in principle formed, but primary and secondary elections allowed Untouchables in practice to choose their own candidates.
In 1935, Ambedkar was appointed principal of the Government Law College, Bombay, a position he held for two years. He also served as the chairman of Governing body of Ramjas College, University of Delhi, after the death of its Founder Shri Rai Kedarnath. Settling in Bombay (today called Mumbai), Ambedkar oversaw the construction of a house, and stocked his personal library with more than 50,000 books. His wife Ramabai died after a long illness the same year. It had been her long-standing wish to go on a pilgrimage to Pandharpur, but Ambedkar had refused to let her go, telling her that he would create a new Pandharpur for her instead of Hinduism's Pandharpur which treated them as untouchables. At the Yeola Conversion Conference on 13 October in Nasik, Ambedkar announced his intention to convert to a different religion and exhorted his followers to leave Hinduism. He would repeat his message at many public meetings across India.
In 1936, Ambedkar founded the Independent Labour Party, which contested the 1937 Bombay election to the Central Legislative Assembly for the 13 reserved and 4 general seats, and secured 11 and 3 seats respectively.
Ambedkar published his book Annihilation of Caste on 15 May 1936. It strongly criticised Hindu orthodox religious leaders and the caste system in general, and included "a rebuke of Gandhi" on the subject. Later, in a 1955 BBC interview, he accused Gandhi of writing in opposition of the caste system in English language papers while writing in support of it in Gujarati language papers.
After the Lahore resolution (1940) of the Muslim League demanding Pakistan, Ambedkar wrote a 400-page tract titled Thoughts on Pakistan, which analysed the concept of "Pakistan" in all its aspects. Ambedkar argued that the Hindus should concede Pakistan to the Muslims. He proposed that the provincial boundaries of Punjab and Bengal should be redrawn to separate the Muslim and non-Muslim majority parts. He thought the Muslims could have no objection to redrawing provincial boundaries. If they did, they did not quite "understand the nature of their own demand". Scholar Venkat Dhulipala states that Thoughts on Pakistan "rocked Indian politics for a decade". It determined the course of dialogue between the Muslim League and the Indian National Congress, paving the way for the Partition of India.
In his work Who Were the Shudras?, Ambedkar tried to explain the formation of untouchables. He saw Shudras and Ati Shudras who form the lowest caste in the ritual hierarchy of the caste system, as separate from Untouchables. Ambedkar oversaw the transformation of his political party into the Scheduled Castes Federation, although it performed poorly in the 1946 elections for Constituent Assembly of India. Therefore, he took help of Muslim League which was in power in Bengal to get himself elected to the constituent assembly of Bengal from four border districts of Bengal. Unfortunately for him, those border districts of Bengal went to Pakistan on partition of India and thus ironically Ambedkar became a member of Constituent Assembly of Pakistan! He had to resign from there! He had to patch up with Nehru and Gandhi who then got him into the Constituent Assembly from Bombay in the vacancy caused by resignation of Mr. M.R. Jaykar to accommodate Ambedkar.
Ambedkar sought Gandhi's help to get a berth in Nehru's cabinet in independent India. Despite Gandhi's differences with Ambedkar, Gandhiji persuaded a reluctant Nehru to make Ambedkar a minister. But Ambedkar continued to criticize the Congress party and Nehru asked him to resign. Ambedkar had to resign in September 1951.
Ambedkar contested for Lok Sabha in the Bombay North constituency in the first Indian General Election of 1952, but lost to his former assistant and Congress Party candidate Narayan Kajrolkar. Ambedkar became a member of Rajya Sabha, probably a nominated member. He tried to enter Lok Sabha again in the by-election of 1954 from Bhandara, but he placed third (the Congress Party won). By the time of the second general election in 1957, Ambedkar had died.
Ambedkar also criticised Islamic practice in India. While justifying the Partition of India, he condemned child marriage and the mistreatment of women in Muslim society.
No words can adequately express the great and many evils of polygamy and concubinage, and especially as a source of misery to a Muslim woman. Take the caste system. Everybody infers that Islam must be free from slavery and caste. [...] [While slavery existed], much of its support was derived from Islam and Islamic countries. While the prescriptions by the Prophet regarding the just and humane treatment of slaves contained in the Koran are praiseworthy, there is nothing whatever in Islam that lends support to the abolition of this curse. But if slavery has gone, caste among Musalmans [Muslims] has remained.
Opposition to Aryan invasion theory
According to Arvind Sharma, Ambedkar noticed certain flaws in the Aryan invasion theory that were later acknowledged by western scholarship. For example, scholars now acknowledge anās in Rig Veda 5.29.10 refers to speech rather than the shape of the nose. Ambedkar anticipated this modern view by stating:
The term Anasa occurs in Rig Veda V.29.10. What does the word mean? There are two interpretations. One is by Prof. Max Muller. The other is by Sayanacharya. According to Prof. Max Muller, it means 'one without nose' or 'one with a flat nose' and has as such been relied upon as a piece of evidence in support of the view that the Aryans were a separate race from the Dasyus. Sayanacharya says that it means 'mouthless,' i.e., devoid of good speech. This difference of meaning is due to difference in the correct reading of the word Anasa. Sayanacharya reads it as an-asa while Prof. Max Muller reads it as a-nasa. As read by Prof. Max Muller, it means 'without nose.' Question is : which of the two readings is the correct one? There is no reason to hold that Sayana's reading is wrong. On the other hand there is everything to suggest that it is right. In the first place, it does not make non-sense of the word. Secondly, as there is no other place where the Dasyus are described as noseless, there is no reason why the word should be read in such a manner as to give it an altogether new sense. It is only fair to read it as a synonym of Mridhravak. There is therefore no evidence in support of the conclusion that the Dasyus belonged to a different race.
Ambedkar disputed various hypotheses of the Aryan homeland being outside India, and concluded the Aryan homeland was India itself. According to Ambedkar, the Rig Veda says Aryans, Dāsa and Dasyus were competing religious groups, not different peoples.
Drafting India's Constitution
Upon India's independence on 15 August 1947, the new Congress-led government invited Ambedkar to serve as the nation's first Law and Justice Minister, which he accepted. On 29 August, he was appointed Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, and was appointed by the Assembly to write India's new Constitution.
Ambedkar was a wise constitutional expert, he had studied the constitutions of about 60 countries. Ambedkar is recognised as the "Father of the Constitution of India". In the Constitution Assembly, a member of the drafting committee, T. T. Krishnamachari said, "Mr. President, Sir, I am one of those in the House who have listened to Dr. Ambedkar very carefully. I am aware of the amount of work and enthusiasm that he has brought to bear on the work of drafting this Constitution. At the same time, I do realise that that amount of attention that was necessary for the purpose of drafting a constitution so important to us at this moment has not been given to it by the Drafting Committee. The House is perhaps aware that of the seven members nominated by you, one had resigned from the House and was replaced. One died and was not replaced. One was away in America and his place was not filled up and another person was engaged in State affairs, and there was a void to that extent. One or two people were far away from Delhi and perhaps reasons of health did not permit them to attend. So it happened ultimately that the burden of drafting this constitution fell on Dr. Ambedkar and I have no doubt that we are grateful to him for having achieved this task in a manner which is undoubtedly commendable."
Granville Austin described the Indian Constitution drafted by Ambedkar as 'first and foremost a social document'. 'The majority of India's constitutional provisions are either directly arrived at furthering the aim of social revolution or attempt to foster this revolution by establishing conditions necessary for its achievement.'
The text prepared by Ambedkar provided constitutional guarantees and protections for a wide range of civil liberties for individual citizens, including freedom of religion, the abolition of untouchability, and the outlawing of all forms of discrimination. Ambedkar argued for extensive economic and social rights for women, and won the Assembly's support for introducing a system of reservations of jobs in the civil services, schools and colleges for members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and Other Backward Class, a system akin to affirmative action. India's lawmakers hoped to eradicate the socio-economic inequalities and lack of opportunities for India's depressed classes through these measures. The Constitution was adopted on 26 November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly.
Opposition to Article 370
Ambedkar opposed Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which granted a special status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and which was included against his wishes. Balraj Madhok reportedly said, Ambedkar had clearly told the Kashmiri leader, Sheikh Abdullah: "You wish India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains, and Kashmir should get equal status as India. But Government of India should have only limited powers and Indian people should have no rights in Kashmir. To give consent to this proposal, would be a treacherous thing against the interests of India and I, as the Law Minister of India, will never do it." Then Sheikh Abdullah approached Nehru, who directed him to Gopal Swami Ayyangar, who in turn approached Sardar Patel, saying Nehru had promised Sheikh Abdullah the special status. Patel got the Article passed while Nehru was on a foreign tour. On the day the article came up for discussion, Ambedkar did not reply to questions on it but did participate on other articles. All arguments were done by Krishna Swami Ayyangar.
Support to Uniform Civil Code
During the debates in the Constituent Assembly, Ambedkar demonstrated his will to reform Indian society by recommending the adoption of a Uniform Civil Code. Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet in 1951, when parliament stalled his draft of the Hindu Code Bill, which sought to enshrine gender equality in the laws of inheritance and marriage. Ambedkar independently contested an election in 1952 to the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, but was defeated in the Bombay (North Central) constituency by a little-known Narayan Sadoba Kajrolkar, who polled 138,137 votes compared to Ambedkar's 123,576. He was appointed to the upper house, of parliament, the Rajya Sabha in March 1952 and would remain as member until death.
Ambedkar was the first Indian to pursue a doctorate in economics abroad. He argued that industrialisation and agricultural growth could enhance the Indian economy. He stressed investment in agriculture as the primary industry of India. According to Sharad Pawar, Ambedkar's vision helped the government to achieve its food security goal. Ambedkar advocated national economic and social development, stressing education, public hygiene, community health, residential facilities as the basic amenities. He calculated the loss of development caused by British rule.
Reserve Bank of India
Ambedkar was trained as an economist, and was a professional economist until 1921, when he became a political leader. He wrote three scholarly books on economics:
- Administration and Finance of the East India Company
- The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India
- The Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and Its Solution
Ambedkar's first wife Ramabai died in 1935 after a long illness. After completing the draft of India's constitution in the late 1940s, he suffered from lack of sleep, had neuropathic pain in his legs, and was taking insulin and homoeopathic medicines. He went to Bombay for treatment, and there met Dr. Sharada Kabir, a Saraswat Brahmin, whom he married on 15 April 1948, at his home in New Delhi. She was 39 year old and he was 57. Doctors recommended a companion who was a good cook and had medical knowledge to care for him. She adopted the name Savita Ambedkar and cared for him the rest of his life. Savita Ambedkar, who was called 'Mai' or 'Maisaheb', died on 29 May 2003, aged 93 at Mehrauli, New Delhi.
Conversion to Buddhism
Ambedkar considered converting to Sikhism, which encouraged opposition to oppression and so appealed to leaders of scheduled castes. But after meeting with Sikh leaders, he concluded that he might get "second-rate" Sikh status, as described by scholar Stephen P. Cohen.
Instead, he studied Buddhism all his life. Around 1950, he devoted his attention to Buddhism and travelled to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to attend a meeting of the World Fellowship of Buddhists. While dedicating a new Buddhist vihara near Pune, Ambedkar announced he was writing a book on Buddhism, and that when it was finished, he would formally convert to Buddhism. He twice visited Burma in 1954; the second time to attend the third conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists in Rangoon. In 1955, he founded the Bharatiya Bauddha Mahasabha, or the Buddhist Society of India. He completed his final work, The Buddha and His Dhamma, in 1956 which was published posthumously.
After meetings with the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Hammalawa Saddhatissa, Ambedkar organised a formal public ceremony for himself and his supporters in Deekshabhoomi, Nagpur on 14 October 1956. Accepting the Three Refuges and Five Precepts from a Buddhist monk Mahasthavir Chandramani in the traditional manner, Ambedkar completed his own conversion, along with his wife. He then proceeded to convert some 500,000 of his supporters who were gathered around him. He prescribed the 22 Vows for these converts, after the Three Jewels and Five Precepts. On this occasion, many upper caste Hindus too accepted Buddhism. After Nagpur, on 16 October 1956, Ambedkar again gave Buddhism to more than 300,000 of his followers at Chandrapur, since the place is also known as Deekshabhoomi. He then travelled to Kathmandu, Nepal to attend the Fourth World Buddhist Conference. There he went to the Dalit settlements of Kathmandu city, and saw the condition of Nepali Dalits, he was visibly angry. When this matter became known to the then Prime Minister of Nepal Tanka Prasad Acharya, then the Prime Minister himself came to Sheetal Niwas (guest house and Rastrapati Bhawan of Nepal), Where Ambedkar stayed, and assured Ambedkar that due attention will be given to improving the condition of the Dalits. Ambedkar had called for the Dalits of Nepal to start their struggle to get their rights. The Nepali Ambedkarite movement is run by Dalit leaders, and most of the Dalit leaders of Nepal convinced that "Ambedkar's philosophy" (Ambedkarism) is only the way to get rid of caste-based discrimination. His work on The Buddha or Karl Marx and "Revolution and counter-revolution in ancient India" remained incomplete.
Since 1948, Ambedkar suffered from diabetes. He was bed-ridden from June to October in 1954 due to medication side-effects and poor eyesight. He had been increasingly embittered by political issues, which took a toll on his health. His health worsened during 1955. Three days after completing his final manuscript The Buddha and His Dhamma, Ambedkar died in his sleep on 6 December 1956 at his home in Delhi.
A Buddhist cremation was organised at Dadar Chowpatty beach (Chaitya Bhoomi) on 7 December, attended by half a million grieving people. A conversion program was organised on 16 December 1956, so that cremation attendees were also converted to Buddhism at the same place.
Ambedkar was survived by his second wife, who died in 2003, and his son Yashwant Ambedkar (known as Bhaiyasaheb). Ambedkar's grandson, Prakash Ambedkar, is the chief-adviser of the Buddhist Society of India, leads the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and has served in both houses of the Indian Parliament.
A number of unfinished typescripts and handwritten drafts were found among Ambedkar's notes and papers and gradually made available. Among these were Waiting for a Visa, which probably dates from 1935–36 and is an autobiographical work, and the Untouchables, or the Children of India's Ghetto, which refers to the census of 1951.
On the anniversary of his birth and death, and on Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din (14 October) at Nagpur, at least half a million people gather to pay homage to him at his memorial in Mumbai. Thousands of bookshops are set up, and books are sold. His message to his followers was "educate, organise, agitate".
Ambedkar taught Ramabai to write and read. His affectionate name for her was "Ramu", while she called him "Saheb". They had five children - Yashwant, Gangadhar, Ramesh, Indu (daughter) and Rajratna. Apart from Yashwant (1912 - 1977), the other four died in their childhood. Yashwant alone survived as his descendant. His second wife Savita had no children.
Ambedkar considered three person as his gurus or masters. His first Guru was Tathāgata Gautama Buddha, the second was Saint Kabir and the third was Mahatma Jyotirao Phule. Ambedkar considered these three to worship i.e. "Knowledge", "Modesty" ("Self respect") and "Morality". Ambedkar believed that his life was complete by three masters (gurus) and by worshiping these three things.
Views on Communism
Ambedkar had conflicting views on Communism. In Buddha or Karl Marx, Ambedkar argues that Buddha's methods were better than that of Karl Marx, however he didn't disagree with the goal of communism, of creating a classless society. He disagreed with the means adopted by Communists and criticised them. He wrote:
"We welcome the Russian Revolution because it aims to produce equality. But it cannot be too much emphasised that in producing equality society cannot afford to sacrifice fraternity or liberty. Equality will be of no value without fraternity or liberty. It seems that the three can coexist only if one follows the way of the Buddha. Communism can give one but not all.
In Patna, on November 7, 1941, Ambedkar said, that his party will not align with the Communist party "for the plain reason that I do not believe in Communism".
Ambedkar's legacy as a socio-political reformer, had a deep effect on modern India. In post-Independence India, his socio-political thought is respected across the political spectrum. His initiatives have influenced various spheres of life and transformed the way India today looks at socio-economic policies, education and affirmative action through socio-economic and legal incentives. His reputation as a scholar led to his appointment as free India's first law minister, and chairman of the committee for drafting the constitution. He passionately believed in individual freedom and criticised caste society. His accusations of Hinduism as being the foundation of the caste system made him controversial and unpopular among conventional Hindus. His conversion to Buddhism sparked a revival in interest in Buddhist philosophy in India and abroad.
Ambedkar's political philosophy has given rise to a large number of political parties, publications and workers' unions that remain active across India, especially in Maharashtra. His promotion of Buddhism has rejuvenated interest in Buddhist philosophy among sections of population in India. Mass conversion ceremonies have been organised in modern times, emulating Ambedkar's Nagpur ceremony of 1956. Followers of the Dalit Buddhist Movement regard him as a bodhisattva, the Maitreya, although he never claimed it himself. Outside India, during the late 1990s, some Hungarian Romani people drew parallels between their own situation and that of the downtrodden people in India and converted to Buddhism. Japan's Burakumin community leaders are spreading the Ambedkar's philosophy to the Burakumin people.
For his actions towards the salvation and equality of mankind, his followers and the Indian people started respectfully addressing him as "Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar", since sometime between September–October 1927. "Babasaheb" is a Marathi phrase which roughly translates, literally as "Father-Sir" (baba: father; and saheb: Sir) or "Respected Father" because millions of Indians consider him a "great liberator". Ambedkar is also known as "Bhim". This name is used for many things like Bhim Janmabhoomi (birthplace of Bhim), Bhim Jayanti (birthday of Bhim), Jai Bhim (victory to Bhim), Bhim Stambh (Bhim pillar), Bhim Geet (Bhim song), Bhim flag, Bhim Army, Bhim Nagar, BHIM, Bhim Sainik (Bhim soldier), Bhim Garjana etc.
Commemorations of B. R. Ambedkar are found throughout the world, most notably in India. The highest number of statue in India is of Ambedkar. Ambedkar's statues and monuments are found almost in every town and city in India as well as in different places in outside India. Many public institutions are named in his honour, and the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, Ambedkar University Delhi is also named in his honour. A large official portrait of Ambedkar is on display in the Indian Parliament building.
Ambedkar was voted "the Greatest Indian" in 2012 by a poll organised by History TV18 and CNN IBN. Nearly 20 million votes were cast, making him the most popular Indian figure since the launch of the initiative. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru said that, "Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was a symbol of revolt against all oppressive features of the Hindu society."
The Maharashtra government has acquired a house in London where Ambedkar lived during his days as a student in the 1920s. In 2015, the house is converted into a museum-cum-memorial, named Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar Memorial.
A proposal to build a grand memorial called Statue of Equality or "Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial" was approved in 2015 to be located in Mumbai. It will be 350 feet tall making it the world's tallest statue of Ambedkar when completed in possibly 2022. Other grand statues of Ambedkar will be set up at Amravati (Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Memorial Park, 125 ft), Hyderabad (125 ft) and Lucknow (150 ft).
People paying tribute at the statue of Ambedkar at the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University.
The painting of bodhisattva Ambedkar and Gautama Buddha
In popular culture
Several movies, plays, books, songs, television serials, and other works have been based on the life and thoughts of Ambedkar. Jabbar Patel directed the English-language film Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar in 2000 with Mammootty in the lead role. This biopic was sponsored by the National Film Development Corporation of India and the government's Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The film was released after a long and controversial gestation. David Blundell, professor of anthropology at UCLA and historical ethnographer, has established Arising Light – a series of films and events that are intended to stimulate interest and knowledge about the social conditions in India and the life of Ambedkar. In Samvidhaan, a TV mini-series on the making of the Constitution of India directed by Shyam Benegal, the pivotal role of B. R. Ambedkar was played by Sachin Khedekar. The play Ambedkar Aur Gandhi, directed by Arvind Gaur and written by Rajesh Kumar, tracks the two prominent personalities of its title.
Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability is a graphic biography of Ambedkar created by Pardhan-Gond artists Durgabai Vyam and Subhash Vyam, and writers Srividya Natarajan and S. Anand. The book depicts the experiences of untouchability faced by Ambedkar from childhood to adulthood. CNN named it one of the top 5 political comic books.
Sarvavyapi Ambedkar was a Marathi series launched by ABP Majha TV channel in 2016, on the occasion of 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar. This series had 13 episodes, with Ambedkar's 11 multi-dimensional personality expansions — Satyagrahi (Mahad Satyagraha and Kalaram Temple satyagraha), Editor, Labor Leader, Political Leader (Poona Pact and Hindu code bills), Barrister, Bibliophile, Author, Educationist, Economist, Constitution Maker and Lord Buddha's follower.
Garja Maharashtra is an Indian television historical documentary series of Maharashtrians who not only shaped Maharashtra's cultural identity but also paved a path for the cultural development of India, hosted by actor Jitendra Joshi on Marathi channel Sony Marathi. The series stars Prashant Choudappa as Ambedkar.
Ambedkar's birthdate is an annual festival and a public holiday celebrated as Ambedkar Jayanti or Bhim Jayanti. Ambedkar Jayanti is celebrated not just in India but all around the world. The United Nations celebrated Ambedkar Jayanti in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Indian Post issued stamps dedicated to his birthday in 1966, 1973, 1991, 2001, and 2013, and featured him on other stamps in 2009, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
In 1990, Ambedkar was bestowed with Bharat Ratna award. In honor of Ambedkar, Indian Constitution Day (National Law Day) is celebrated on 26 November. The day was chosen to spread the importance of the constitution and to spread thoughts and ideas of Ambedkar.
These are the List of Films based on the life and thoughts of B. R. Ambedkar (according to years of Release):
- Bhim Garjana, a 1990 Marathi film directed by Vijay Pawar.
- Balak Ambedkar, a 1991 Kannada film directed by Basavaraj Kesthur.
- Yugpurush Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, a 1993 Marathi film directed by Shashikant Nalavade.
- Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, a 2000 English film directed by Jabbar Patel.
- Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, a 2005 Kannada film directed by Sharan Kumar Kabbur.
- Ramabai Bhimrao Ambedkar, a 2011 Marathi film directed by Prakash Jadhav.
- Shudra: The Rising, a 2012 Hindi film directed by Sanjiv Jaiswal and dedicated to Ambedkar.
- A Journey of Samyak Buddha, a 2013 Hindi film based on Ambedkar's book, The Buddha and His Dhamma and Navayana Buddhism.
- Ramabai, a 2016 Kannada film directed by M. Ranganath.
- Bole India Jai Bhim, a 2016 Marathi film directed by Subodh Nagdeve.
- Bal Bhimrao, a 2018 Marathi film directed by Prakash Narayan.
Babasaheb Ambedkar was a prolific and eminent writer. He had written the most among his contemporary politicians. He had written a total of 32 books (10 are incomplete), 10 memoranda, evidence and statement, 10 research documents, review of articles and books and 10 preface and predictions. Apart from this he is also the author of the Indian Constitution. The Buddha and His Dhamma is the last book of Ambedkar, the text is the scripture for those who follow Navayana Buddhism. Waiting for a Visa is his autobiography, The book is used as a textbook in Columbia University. He also wrote Pali dictionary (Pali to English). He was known to have knowledge of eleven languages, including Marathi (mother tongue), English, Hindi, Pali, Sanskrit, Gujarati, German, Persian, French, Kannada and Bengali. But he used the Marathi language of his journals (fortnightly, weekly) because Marathi is a native of Maharashtra, except for his almost all writings in the English language.
- completed books
- Administration and finance of the East India Company
- The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India, 1925
- The problem of the Rupees: Its Origin and Its Solution, 1923
- Annihilation of Caste, 1936
- Which way to Emancipation?, 1936
- Federation versus Freedom, 1936
- Pakistan or the Partition of India [Thoughts on Pakistan], 1940
- Rande, Gandhi and Jinnah, 1943
- Mr. Gandhi and the Emancipation of the Untouchables, 1943
- What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables, 1945
- Communal Deadlock and a Way to Solve It, 1946
- Who Were the Shudras?, 1946
- A critique of The Proposals of Cabinet Mission for Indian Constitution changes in so far as they affect the Scheduled Castes (Untouchable), 1946
- The Cabinet Mission and the Untouchables, 1946
- States and Minorities, 1947
- Maharashtra as a Linguist Province, 1948
- The Untouchables: Who Were They are Why The Become Untouchables, 1948
- Thoughts on Linguistic States: A critique of the Report of the States Reorganization Commission, 1955
- The Buddha and His Dhamma, 1957
- Riddle's in Hinduism
- Dictionary of Pali Language [Pali-English]
- The Pali Grammar
- incomplete books
- Waiting for a Visa [an autobiography]
- A people at Bay
- Untouchables or the Children of India's Ghetto
- Can I be a Hindu?
- What the Brahmins Have Done to the Hindus
- Essays of Bhagwat Gita
- India and Communism
- Revolution and Counter-revolution in Ancient India
- The Buddha or Karl Marx
- Constitution and Constitutionalism
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches
The Education Department, the Government of Maharashtra planned to publish the entire writing literature of Babasaheb Ambedkar in many volumes and on 15 March 1976, they established the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Source Material Publication Committee. Under this, 22 volumes, namely "Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches" (BAWS) have been published in English language and their number of pages is more than 15 thousand. The first volume of this scheme was published on 14 April 1979 on the birth anniversary of Ambedkar. In these 22 volumes, volume 14 is divided into two parts, volume 17 in three parts, volume 18 in three parts, and reference books 2, i.e. a total of 29 books are published. Since 1987 the work of translating to Marathi was started, but it is not yet complete. In view of the importance and popularity of the volumes of the BAWS, Dr. Ambedkar Foundation of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India has planned to publish Hindi translations of these volumes and under this scheme now In the name of "Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar: Sampurn Wangmay", 21 volumes have been published in Hindi language. These 21 Hindi volumes is a translation of just 10 English volumes. Several editions of these Hindi volumes have been published. The Maharashtra government have Ambedkar's entire writing literature, but all have not been published yet, more than 30 volumes can be made from his unpublished writing literature.
- Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development and 11 Other Essays
- Ambedkar in the Bombay Legislature, with the Simon Commission and at the Round Table Conferences, 1927–1939
- Philosophy of Hinduism; India and the Pre-requisites of Communism; Revolution and Counter-revolution; Buddha or Karl Marx
- Riddles in Hinduism
- Essays on Untouchables and Untouchability
- The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India
- The Untouchables: Who Were They? And Why They Became Untouchables (New Delhi: Amrit Book Co, )
- Annihilation of Caste (1936)
- Pakistan or the Partition of India
- What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables; Mr. Gandhi and the Emancipation of the Untouchables
- Ambedkar as member of the Governor General's Executive Council, 1942–46
- The Buddha and his Dhamma
- Unpublished Writings; Ancient Indian Commerce; Notes on laws; Waiting for a Visa ; Miscellaneous notes, etc.
- Ambedkar as the principal architect of the Constitution of India
- (2 parts) Dr. Ambedkar and The Hindu Code Bill
- Ambedkar as Free India's First Law Minister and Member of Opposition in Indian Parliament (1947–1956)
- The Pali Grammar
- Ambedkar and his Egalitarian Revolution – Struggle for Human Rights. Events starting from March 1927 to 17 November 1956 in the chronological order; Ambedkar and his Egalitarian Revolution – Socio-political and religious activities. Events starting from November 1929 to 8 May 1956 in the chronological order; Ambedkar and his Egalitarian Revolution – Speeches. (Events starting from 1 January to 20 November 1956 in the chronological order.)
- Ambedkar's Speeches and writing in Marathi
- Ambedkar's Photo Album and Correspondence
Awards and honors
- In 1990, Ambedkar was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.
- LL.D., 1952 : Columbia University, US ; as "a great social reformer and a valiant upholder of human rights."
- D.Litt., 1953: Osmania University, Hyderabad, India
- Ambedkar family
- Chaitya Bhoomi
- Dalit Buddhist movement
- List of Buddha claimants
- The Greatest Indian
- List of civil rights leaders
- Social reformers of India
- Statue of Equality
- List of things named after B. R. Ambedkar
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