Webinar on re-reading Ambedkar’s Buddha and Dharma held

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By Purushottam Nayak

Bhubaneswar, Odisha: More than 60 participants joined the webinar organized jointly by Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe and Spirituality-Dialogue Commission, Dalit Commission of Jesuit, Chennai Province on July 15.

“This webinar enlightened the participants to safeguard the rich heritage and understand the pain of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar,” said Father Kulanathainathan Adaikalasamy, Regional Secretary, Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council – Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, one of the organisers of the webinar.

To understand society, we have to plan, write and think like that of Ambedkar. In today’s political arena the politicians try to change the culture for their motives not realising the ancient traditional values the country has, said Adaikalasamy.

S. Lurdhunathan, visiting professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Head (Retd), Arul Anandar College, Karumathur, Madurai, highlighted on the background information of Buddha and Dharmma’s elaborated a version of his three works namely, “The Buddha and the Future of His Religion, Buddha” and “Karl Marx and Revolution” and “Counter-Revolution in Ancient India.”

The three dimensions of Ambedkar’s Buddha and Dharma Pain, Protest and Praxis were elaborated and explained in terms of discrimination, non-acceptance of majoritarian Hindus, untouchability, exclusion, degrading aspects of man.

Lurdhunathan, the resource person, emphasized the textual, contextual, intellectual and social significance, reading, reflecting and responding importance, constitutive dimension and regulative dimension which is moving beyond the family affirmation.

He also included the objectives of Buddha and Dhamma for Ambedkar, the Orthodox interpretation of Buddha and Dhamma, and then Ambedkar – re-reading of Buddha and Dharma.

For Orthodox interpretation, conversion was a renunciation due to disillusion of suffering, aging, death, cleansing of the Brahminic adulteration of Buddhism (Radhakrishnan) whereas for Ambedkar is the conversion of himself towards the transformation of the social, demystification of Buddha human, to be humane and commitment to a social cause.

For orthodox interpretation, Four Noble (Aryan) Truths are Truth of suffering, cause of suffering, end of suffering and way to the end of suffering (cyclical) but for Ambedkar, suffering is due to an imbalance of the social order, suffering causes conflict that needs to be addressed righteously, and ending conflict means enabling Justice.

For orthodox Infallibility of Vedas, Valid Pramana-Ritualistic, Institutionalizing social inequality but for Ambedkar conflict to be resolved by a commitment to the cause of justice, the antithesis of dominant hierarchies, patriarchy, case, class-monopoly of political power.

For Orthodox, Purusarthas was a moral order but Ambedkar caste order was immorality, UN social and anti-social.

For Orthodox Dissatisfaction with Yoga, Samkhya and Vedanta Interpretations but for Ambedkar affirmation of the life of the People social activism, consecrating or committing oneself to eh social and spiritual.

The Buddha and His Dhamma is a thesis it presented a radical reorientation of Buddhist thought and literature. It was his last work. Ambedkar, also 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.

It deals with Ambedkar’s conceptualization of Buddhism and the possibilities it offered for liberation and upliftment of the Dalits. It presents his reflections on the life of the Buddha, his teachings, and the spread of Buddhism by interweaving anecdotes with detailed analyses of the religion’s basic tenets.

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