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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dr. Ambedkar, sikhism and M C Rajah

It is widely know fact that Dr. Ambedkar was contemplating idea of embracing Sikhism. A statement of Dr. Ambedkar published in Janata (Marathi) dated 15th august 1936 (compiled in volume 17 part one of Dr. Bababsaheb Ambedkar writings and speeches, page 250) provides interesting facets in the historical chapter of depressed classes’ movement of conversion. 

Actually, Dr. Ambedkar was not so much enthusiastic about idea of embracing Sikhism. As he said in the statement, "Shankaracharya Dr. Kurtakotti and other prominent Hindu leaders have favored the idea of Untouchables embracing Sikhism. In fact, it is these leaders who have propagated the idea of Untouchables embracing Sikhism….and also prevailed on me to do so." 

Dr. Ambedkar found his own depressed classes’ leaders as his adversaries during those historical moments. M C Rajah, a depressed class leader from Madras province intentionally published correspondence between him and Dr. Moonje in the news papers. Rajah, like present day VHP leaders, argued that conversion should be done only for spiritual reasons.

Angry Ambedkar asks in his statement, "it is nonsensical to say that conversion should be done only for spiritual reasons. I would like to ask Mr. Rajah whether it is only for the reason ‘spiritual’ that he wants to remain within Hindu fold. If he has no ambition other than spiritual satisfaction why should he bother about the material and political benefits accruing from the reservation of seats in the legislature? If he is so keen in living as a Hindu and dying as a Hindu, why does he aspire for the reserved seats?" Mr. Rajah was first depressed class member of Madras legislative assembly.

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