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Quote of the Week: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

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Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891 – 1956) is a unique figure in the annals of socially engaged Buddhism. Born to a family of the Untouchable (Dalit) Caste in India, Ambedkar went on to become a beacon of liberation to the Indian people and helped to revive Buddhism in that country.

Throughout his childhood and youth, Dr. Ambedkar encountered discrimination and oppression in the educational, political, and social structures of India. He persisted in his studies, and became the first person from the Untouchable Caste to be admitted to the University of Bombay in 1917. Ambedkar went on to earn degrees in economics, political science, anthropology, and law.

Throughout his legal career, he was a very effective advocate for other members of the Untouchable Caste, and he had a prominent role in drafting India’s constitution upon that country’s independence in 1947.

Though he studied Buddhism throughout his life and had a strong affinity for it, Dr. Ambedkar did not formally convert to Buddhism until just before his death in 1956.

Dr. Ambedkar’s vision and work is carried on today by a number of NGO’s, including Jambudvipa, an organization based in Pune.

This quote comes from a speech Dr. Ambedkar gave in October 1954:

Positively, my social philosophy may be said to be enshrined in three words: liberty, equality and fraternity. Let no one however say that I have borrowed my philosophy from the French Revolution. I have not. My philosophy has its roots in religion and not in political science. I have derived them from the teachings of my master, the Buddha.

About Maia

I've been practicing and studying the Buddha way since 1994, and exploring the question "What is engaged Buddhism?" since the late 90s. As former executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and editor of its journal, Turning Wheel, I had the honor of meeting and working with many practitioners of engaged dharma, including Roshi Joan Halifax, Joanna Macy, Alan Senauke, and Robert Aitken Roshi. I write about socially engaged Buddhism on my blog, "The Jizo Chronicles," as well as on the theme of personal and collective freedom on my website, "The Liberated Life Project." Through my Five Directions Consulting, I offer support to individuals and organizations who aspire to integrate awareness into their work.

11 responses »

  1. Just read an article about him in an old Tricycle. I thought his research that connected the untouchable class to Buddhists fascinating. What an amazing person.

  2. Pingback: A Gift of Dharma for 6.27.11 « Rev. Danny Fisher

  3. Pingback: Ambedkar lesson for JNU & DU in court | THE LAWFILE

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  5. Bharat Ratan Dr B R Ambedekar was an outstanding, personality showed Right torch of Buddhist Religious enlighted light for the Masses not only for the India but for the whole world……….. Buddham Sangham Ghacchami ………HIRDYESH KUMAR Pro-Buddhist

  6. a very good collection .<a href=";?B R Ambedkar Quotes

  7. I am sorry, I am troubled by your introductory word, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, Born to a hindu family?, this is incorrect, he was not born to a hindu family but born as a outcaste.
    The outcastes are non hindus, who did not believe or practice hindu pathology called caste system, and the outcastes were original Buddhists of India, they have been pushed into hindu system forcefully, a quarter of Indian people, almost the size of population as big as America called outcasts or dalits or formerly untouchables.

    They are known constitutionally Scheduled Caste but these are originally Buddhists centuries ago, sabotaged, abused, segregated and pushed into Hinduism, please correct the born as hindu, say born as OutCaste, the one who do not believe or practice hindu religion or its caste system. Thank You


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