One of India’s Great Champions for Human Rights (no, not Gandhi)

The B. R. Ambedkhar Memorial Museum

image• Family was of the Mahar caste, low untouchables
• long line of military service to the British colonial govt.
• young BA sent to Elphinstone high school in Bombay
• good example of colonial benevolence for those who serve
• despite his schooling in India and later in the UK, BA became anti-British!
• He is listed as a jurist, anthropologist, economist, and historian
• Perhaps the first Indian to qualify for a law degree from the UK (London School of Economics, 1927)
• motto was: “educate–agitate–organize!”
• first public demonstration to end the stigma of untouchability was in 1927; why can’t untouchables drink from a public water tank? Chawdar Tank incident
• not only was he anti-caste, he was anti-Hindu priest for their role in perpetuating the caste system (and remaining on top as Brahmins)
• became key figure in drafting of constitution of India in 1947
• received an honorary LLD from Columbia in 1952
• 1955 established Buddhist Society of India
• publicly took Buddhist precepts in 14 Oct., 1956
• encouraged mass conversions of untouchables (dalit) to Buddhism
• highlighted satyagraha (as did Gandhi) but emphasized “agitation” in addition to peaceful resistance

So I’d like to know what Buddhist writings he was reading in 1955 and 56 that convinced him there could be a political dimension useful to his cause. Have to research this. This man is one of the truly significant Indians of the 20th century.


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