Saturday, July 24, 2010
Buddhism and Dalits : Social Philosophy and Traditions
Buddhism is nothing if it is not social. A man from Kapilavastu on the border of Nepal saw the interaction of interests among individuals, associations, kingdoms and general folks with murderous hunt for enthronement, cut-throat competition between kins, rule of might over meek from a corner of Uruvela forest and found the way leading to the end of this misery and professed and propagated his vision of new and fresh dispensation by words of mouth while treading the rugged lands from east to west and n:orth to south on foot for forty five years and breathed his last at the age of eighty years in Kusinagar.
This was Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha whose legacy is transmitted to the world through Buddhist countries and missionaries who cared it more than their own and passed it on to us at present. Buddhism as philosophy appealed to the rational and as art to the artists. In the later half of the 19th century the attention of European scholars was drawn to the study of the Buddha and his religion. The story of Buddhism in India extended to Far East with its ramifications into different schools and sects, its literature, its education, its rulers and writers, during the fifth and seventh centuries A.D., its art, its revival and its present status in the world.
The most compassionate feature of Buddhism was its adoption of Dalits as its own and rendering service to uplift them on par with generality. Dr. Ambedkar, the 14th Dalai Lama, Yen. Thich Nhat Hanh, Sulak Sivaraksha and alike belonged to this social stream of Buddhism. They have always espoused the cause of the most degraded and downtrodden sections of society and set them free from the thraldom of social slavery, economic exploitation, educational backwardness and political subjugation. Out of 14 million Dalits in India none falls above ultra poor or poverty line poor. As such they suffer from poverty including deprivation of food, income and employment and, being socially disadvantaged group Dalits suffer from backwardness in education, discrimination in employment. atrocities and suppression in social, cultural and religious matter. Needless to stress that compared to SCs and STs, let alone OBCs and General Category the Buddhist group in Maharashtra has greatest incidence of poverty. No radical change is possible without Dalit participation in the midst of capitalist privatized corporate market economy neglecting human labour and its contribution for new products and new order of humanity.