Dr BR Ambedkar wrote many books through his illustrious life and they invariably held a ray of hope in an otherwise era of gloom
IN the words of Dr. BR Ambedkar, ‘Caste is not a physical object like a wall of bricks or a line of barbed wire which prevents the Hindus from co-mingling, and which has therefore to be pulled down. Caste is a notion; it is a state of mind.’ The scholarly works and thought provoking writings of Dr. Ambedkar was a scintilla of hope for some and indignation for others. He was not a story writer or poet however there was a depth and relevance in his deep study, contemplation and wisdom. The literature and scholarly works produced by him mainly in English have immense significance now perhaps much more than in the era it was written. Some of the prominent books which he wrote through his eventful life, including those came out after his death are: Castes in India (1917), Small holdings in India and their remedies (1918), The Problem of the Rupee (1923), Annihilation of Caste (1936), Mr. Gandhi and Emancipation of Untouchables (1945), Buddha and Karl Marx (1946), Buddha and the future of religion (1950), Hindu Women: Rise and Fall.
In his book Castes in India, Ambedkar throws light on the genesis, structure and development of the castes in India. According to him, caste is a rarefied group and self-contained. The book is notably based on the research paper written by him in Columbia University, USA in April 1916. He highlight four aspects of caste in the country. Originally, there was only one caste, gradually different castes came in through ostracism and cultural diversity.
The book Small Holdings in India and their Remedies, published in 1918 is based on Chakbandi or consolidation of small and scattered agricultural plots. He writes that unless small holdings are not consolidated agricultural reforms are difficult to be implemented in India.
The problem of the Rupee published in 1923, is based on his thesis for D.Sc from University of London 1922. This later took the shape of a book. It focuses on how the British linked the value of the Indian Rupee with the British Pound and had been successful in making colossal profit whild pushing the Indians into an inevitable economic morass. Consequently, Indian money flew to the British havens to serve the interests of the empire.
The Evolution of the Provincial Finance in British India published in 1924 was based on Ambedkar’s PhD thesis. This he had submitted in Columbia University in 1916. It is dedicated to the ruler of Baroda Shrimant Sayajirao Gaikwad, who had sent him to US for higher education. The book elaborates the British bureaucracy in India.
Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah was published In January 1943; Dr. Ambedkar delivered a lecture to mark the birthday of M.G. Ranade in Pune. This lecture came in the form of a book dealing with a comparative study of the personalities of Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah and emphasizes that hero worship, in the long run, jeopardies the nation and society.Annihilation of Caste published in 1936, is most popular book of Dr. Ambedkar. The Jaat-Paat Todak Mandal (The Forum to Break the Caste System) had invited Dr. Ambedkar to deliver the presidential address at the organisation’s annual session at Lahore in March 1936. However, when the organisers saw the draft of the Ambedkar’s speech, they were flabbergasted and pleaded Ambedkar to make changes in it. But Babasaheb refused to do that. Later, the speech was published in the form of a book in the year 1936. Though the book is short but it is worth pondering over. Dr. Ambedkar believed in stemming out the evil of caste. He says, “If you have to breach this system, you have got to apply the dynamite to the Vedas and the Shastras, which deny any part to reason; to the Vedas and Shastras, which deny any part to morality. You must destroy the religion of the Shrutis and the Smritis. Nothing else will avail.”
Dr. Ambedkar published his speech himself charging 8 annas for it certainly not a big amount but his work became very famous and was available in many languages. Ambedkar believes that annihilation of caste leaves lot of room for religion rightly understood.
For him, “ a just society is that society in which ascending sense of reverence and descending sense of contempt is dissolved in creation of a compassionate society. “
He further quotes in the book, “Plato had no perception of the uniqueness of every individual, of his incommensurability with others, of each individual as forming a class of his own. He had no recognition of the infinite diversity of active tendencies, and the combination of tendencies of which an individual is capable.” On the rule of the Peshwas in the Maratha country Dr. Ambedkar writes,”Untouchable was not allowed to use the public streets if a Hindu was coming along, lest he should pollute the Hindu by his shadow. The Untouchable was required to have a black thread either on his wrist or around his neck, as a sign or a mark to prevent the Hindus from getting them polluted by his touch by mistake. In Poona, the capital of the Peshwa, the Untouchable was required to carry, strung from his waist, a broom to sweep away from behind himself the dust he trod on, lest a Hindu walking on the same dust should be polluted. In Poona, the Untouchable was required to carry an earthen pot hung around his neck wherever he went for holding his spit, lest his spit falling on the earth should pollute a Hindu who might unknowingly happen to tread on it.”His posthumously published book the Buddha and his Dhamma could not be published in his lifetime due to financial constraints and paucity. The book is a lyrical and deeply moving. It is an attempt to convey the magnificence of Lord Buddha. His moral leadership unlike founders of other faiths did not seek a place of honour for himself. His religion was defined by Ambedkar as “right relations between man and man in all spheres of life. He said, ‘it was open for anyone to question it, test it and find what truth it contained.’
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