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Ambedkar

Evidence Before the Royal Commission

The paper is a court transcript in which Ambedkar advised the commission on how to improve the strength of the rupee. The transcript implies that rupees saturate the market.

To solve this problem, Ambedkar proposes what he calls the gold standard. India would use the following currencies.

1. The rupee which will no longer be manufactured

2. A paper currency fully backed by gold

3. Bank notes partially backed by gold

With these three currencies, there is always a possibility that one could be overvalued or undervalued in respect to the other two.

The gold back paper currency will have limited production each year. There will not be enough issued to affect the overall price of gold. The public can exchange the gold backed currency for gold. The ability to exchange will ensure the currency will not be undervalued in respect to gold. Because if it is the currency will be traded in for gold reducing the supply.

Another advantage to having gold-backed currency circulating in the economy is it helps to stabilize the price of gold. Ambedkar saw more and more countries stockpiling gold, yet there were many alternatives to gold in the form of currency. He estimated that the price of gold would continue to be devalued because as people substitute currency for gold. Keeping gold circulating would increase demand, and that would steady the price as gold production increases due to technology.

The market was over saturated with rupees, so Ambedkar recommended putting a halt on production. The price of the rupee would be pegged to gold, but rupees could not be exchanged for gold. So the value of the rupee would not go down because it had a limited issuance. The value would also not inflate because when it does people will use the gold back currency. Ambedkar did accept there could be some extreme conditions in which the government would be forced to trade rupees for gold.

Bank notes were only mentioned briefly. Bank notes will be issued by private banks, and the government will require that the notes are partially backed by gold. It can be assumed that Ambedkar didn’t think bank notes would be created in large numbers.

Ambedkar asserts that he is a member of the labor class. As a member of said class, it is in his best interest to create a currency scheme that keeps the price of goods low. Most economists want a currency that holds its value in respect to gold. By doing this, he gives a window into how he sees himself. He also asserts that keep prices low or steady is the best thing for the country because it helps most people.

The price of goods should be the primary factor in Indian currency policy. The reason is the Indian economy is chiefly driven by internal trade. Most large European countries are driven by foreign trade. Therefore European currency policies can’t be imported whole-cloth.

Many on the council wanted Indian currency to return to its pre World War I level. In response, Ambedkar reminds them that increasing the value of the rupee will only matter if the prices of goods return to the pre- World War I levels. Increasing the value of a currency will increase price hurting the poor. Increasing the value of currency will also reduce trade.

The opposing view of Ambedkar’s gold standard is the gold exchange standard. In a gold exchange standard, a gold back currency is circulating in the country, but it can’t be exchanged for gold within the country. However, the currency could be exchanged for gold outside the country. So the exchange value is only valuable to exporters. Ambedkar explains the limited exchange will not be enough to ensure that the money supply will not grow too large.

The full document can be read HERE

Review of Currencies and Exchanges

Ambedkar criticizes a book written by his colleague at Elphinstone College, H. Chablaini. He claims the work is too short to properly explain the topic. It lacks proper methodology and has conflicting ideas.

Chablani wrote his plan to stablize the Indian economy.

  1. Issue Rupees in conjunction with the increase in Indian production
  2. Allow large amounts of rupees to be converted into metals
  3. Have the Rupee backed by silver

If too many Rupees are issued their value would decrease in respect to gold and silver. The result would be investors trading in currency for metal reducing the amount of currency. The metal exchange would be a safety value for inflation.

Ambedkar rebuts this with a history of the gold exchange in the world market. In 1873, there was a sharp decline in gold production. Gold exchanges allowed for more money to circulate in the world economy keeping prices steady. After gold production increased in 1910, the major economies ended or restricted their gold exchanges. If they had not inflation would have reduced overall growth because too much money was circulating in the economy. So having a metal exchange would reduce the stability of currency.

Ambedkar also criticizes Chablani’s idea that the limited issuance of the Rupee did not lead to its rise in 1893. Ambedkar folds firm in his belief in fiat currency backed by gold without exchange value.

Administration and Finance in the East India Company

This book is about how power was wielded by the British in India. It goes from the time of the East India Company to the time of direct rule by the British as a colony. It demonstrates how the people did not have sovereignty and the resources of India were used to enrich share and bondholders. Because the profits were not used to better the lives of those in India, Ambedkar makes a case for sovereignty.

The administration of the East India company had three branches. The first was the Court of Proprietor which consisted of all shareholders. The Court of Directors which had twenty-four members who would be in the governor and supreme council roles. The Board of Commissioners were company employees to decided on the policy that would run the company controlled territories.

As stated earlier the pick the governor and three of four Supreme Council members. The supreme council expanded in later years, but the company retained ultimate power. To further quell the will of the people the governor could unilaterally initiate and enact legislation.

The governors spilt India into three presidencies. Bengal was the principle presidency that had more power than Madras and Bombay. These governments simply enacted company policies on the people and collected taxes. Ambedkar goes into detail on how various industries were taxed. The common thread was that the taxation policy was designed to benefit share and bondholders at the expense of the people.

The British finally dissolve the company after the mutiny of 1857. Contrary to popular belief the mutiny did not spurn the dissolution of the company. The British had been trying to destroy the company to stop their monopoly on Indian products.

The colonial government that was formed on the condition it assumed the East India Companies debt of 69 M pounds. The debt further hamstrung the government in improving the lives of poverty-stricken Indians.

Ambedkar does give the British credit for the modernization of India. However, he buffers his praise by explaining that the life of the average Indian did not improve. The ideal scenario would be that the resources of India be used to enhance the status of the average Indian. The goal of those in charge would be to work toward the betterment of India.

The full document can be read HERE

Revolution and Counter Revolution in Ancient India

The book Revolution and Counter-Revolution is an unfinished work of Ambedkar.

At the time of the Buddha, India was a decadent country. Hinduism permitted all manner of licentious behavior. The Buddha came as a reformer and gave people an alternative that can lead to a purposeful life. The religion spread due to the charisma of the leader and being backed by influential people. After his death, his disciples spread his dhamma from India to Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Far East.

Hundreds of years after Buddhism began, Ashoka became the most prominent Buddhist. Ashoka was emperor of the Maurya Empire and converted to Buddhism toward the end of his life. At the time Buddhism was vegetarian. As king, Ashoka banned the killing of animals and animal sacrifice. The Hindu Brahman primarily served the community as officiants in animal sacrifice. They lost not only money but prestige and social standing. Ashoka conquered the Maurya Empire around 45 BC.

The revolt against Buddhism was lead by Pushyamitra. The goal was to re-solidify and secure the role of the Brahman. To ensure Brahman stay in control, Brahmans had to grant themselves the right to hold kingship and fight in a war. Both responsibilities were initially given to the Kshatriya. Then the Brahman had to create a strict social order to ensure a converted king could not reinstall Buddhism. The Manusmriti was the perfect sacred document for this purpose. The Pushyamitra revolution happened in 185 BC.

Pushyamitra persecuted Buddhist monks, going as far as placing a bounty on their heads. If Buddhist were found practicing their religion, were banished from the realm. Denial of water was also punishment for practicing Buddhism. Pushyamitra was a brutal dictator.

Through Manusmriti, Pushyamitra was able to codify the caste system. To solidify the place of Brahman in society and ensure the progeny would enjoy the same privilege, Manusmriti prohibited inter-dinning, inter-marriage, and general social interaction. These prohibitions provided the Brahman were an isolated group held above the rest of society.

Changing marriage laws to allow child brides and forbidding widows to remarry further solidified the Brahmans place and lineage. Controlling the sexuality of women reduces the likelihood they will procreate with those outside their caste. Having women wed in childhood prevents sexual exploration in youth. The killing of widows does prevent sexual exploration in adult years. Brahman also allowed themselves to marry and have children with lower varna women. Low varna men were castrated if he had sex with high caste women. To further extend the privilege of Brahman men, they were not responsible for the children they had by low caste women. The children would have their mother’s caste.

The Islamic invasion starting in 712 AD and ending around 1296 AD was another blow to Buddhism. The areas conquered by Muslims outlawed the practice of other religions. Islamic rulers killed Buddhist and Hindu clergy. The Hindu were able to replenish quicker because Hindus are born into the priesthood. Buddhist have to undergo a lengthy process administered by elder monks. If all the monks in a region died, the Sangha ended. Also, the Hindu priest had the support of the state, Buddhist had no state support.

Even though many Buddhist were forced to convert, others willingly joined Islam. Hindu rulers were persecuting Buddhist in southern India as severely as they did in the Mauryan Empire. Many Buddhist joined Islam to consolidate forces and resist. Ambedkar also offers evidence that the present-day country of Bangladesh was once a Buddhist kingdom. Converting to Islam provided a nominal level of protection from Hindu and other Muslim invaders.

Ultimately Hindu India was invaded by Muslim invaders, and Brahman invaders invaded Buddhist India.

Caste in Buddhism

Ambedkar reiterates that Buddha allowed people of both genders and all social status to be part of his Sangha. For further evidence, he provides the Ambattha Sutta. In this Sutta, Buddha refuses to pay respect to a Brahman because Buddha knows the Brahman does not come from a pure lineage. Also, he makes the Brahman acknowledge that his life is not virtuous and renounce Hinduism. The Brahman is then allowed to join the Sangha.

Manusmirti and the conflict between Brahmin and Kshatriya

Manusmirti is the religious text that codified the caste system. The caste system existed long before the document, but no one text housed all the rules. In this text, the four castes were separated with Brahman on the top. To solidify the superiority of Brahman, they were allowed to take the duty of caste below them. However, lower castes could not assume the role of castes higher than them. Manusmirti allowed Brahman to take up arms against Kshatriya. The arming of Brahman was a fundamental change to the caste system unprecedented in previous works.

Brahman taking up arms was important to solidify their dominance over the Kshatriyan Kings. The Kshatriya wanted to have their own priesthood to solidify power, temporal and divine. The conflict between Kshatriya and Brahman is mythologized as the conflict between the Brahman Vashishtha and the Kshatriya Vishvamitra.

Ambedkar contradicts his other works by saying the Shudra were members of a privileged political class not vanquished Kshatriyas. The King that the name Shudra is derived, Sudas, was always a Shudra. There were many Shudra kings before Manusmirti and Brahman say nothing wrong with serving them.

Manusmirti degraded women. Specifically:

  1. Women had no right to initiate divorce
  2. Be subject to beatings by husband
  3. Own property
  4. Obtain education

Women before Manusmirti had freedom and were considered equals in society and marriage.

Significance of Bhagvat Gita

Ambedkar makes a case that the Bhagvat Gita is not a religious text. Instead, it is a counter-revolutionary text used to oppose Buddhism. The three main points of the Bhagvat Gita are:

  1. Justification of killing because the soul and body are separate. If a person is killed or dies in war only their body perishes. The soul is indestructible and the body will re-incarnate
  2. Defense of the caste system as the result of unchangeable quality in an individual
  3. Expands the idea of karmic yoga, the concept that your current life conditions are the result of past actions in this or previous lives, to make a case against revolt. Ultimately, people should accept there position in society as a cosmic duty

There is no over-arching morality to the text. It is merely a defense of duty and the status quo.

Ambedkar also questions the year the text was written and if it predates Buddhism. To begin the Bhagvat Gita has concepts that are in Buddhism and not the Upanishads. Scholars know the idea of Nirvana started with Buddhism. Also, when the text describes a good devotee of Krishna, the language is very similar to the Sutta’s description of an excellent devote of Buddha. Also, The Bhagvat Gita mentions a religious sect called Mahasanghikas. Ambedkar determined Mahasanghikas are an early sect of Mahayana Buddhist.

The Bhagvat Gita is also determined by Ambedkar to have four distinct parts written at different times. The first and original is the epic poem in which Krishna is determined to be a mortal human. The second is the introduction of Sankhya and Vedanta philosophy. The third raises Krishna to the level of a god. The work is unfinished so the fourth point is not detailed.

Full Text can be found HERE

Ambedkar Biography

Bhimrao Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891, in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh. His father was a leading administrator in a military school, and his family had been involved in the military for generations. Military service was common for hundreds of years in Ambedkar’s subcaste of Mahars. The Mahar community also had a history of fighting for equality.

Ambedkar’s family pushed for him to become educated. He went to a school reserved for upper caste children. As a Dalit, the school segregated him from the other students. After graduation, which in and of itself was a feat for a Dalit, he was able to obtain Ph.D.’s from Columbia University and London School of Economics. His thesis “The Problem with the Rupee” was a seminal work in economics. He became a Barrister at Grey’s Inn. Finally, he worked as a consultant to the anthropology department; he began to debunk the Aryan Invasion Theory. This theory was the scientific justification of the caste system and British rule. The work eventually became the book “The Annihilation of Caste.”

He began his career as an advocate for India by joining the Indian Home Rule League. He eventually left because they were not concerned with ending untouchability. The Depressed Classes Mission was the most popular anti-untouchability movement during Ambedkar’s early career. Ambedkar criticized this organization because it did not have Dalits in its leadership or consult with Dalits on strategy. Ambedkar will ultimately oppose the Mission in the Southborough Commission. For the first time, Ambedkar was an advocate to the ruling elite for Dalit rights including the right to a separate electorate.

The water rites of untouchables was always a contentious subject. Under the caste system, Dalits could not drink from the same water sources as upper caste individuals. Ambedkar began a publication for Dalit water rights in 1930.

At the time of Ambedkar, there were various visions for an independent India. Ambedkar saw that the Dalits had to issues to solve. The first was building an egalitarian society within India. The second was freeing India from British Rule. Ambedkar always cared more about fighting the caste system then overthrowing the British. The quality of life in India was more important than merely being free. Also, British rule will allow Indians to concentrate on social reform because the British would take care of running the state.

The famous confrontation between Ambedkar and Mohandas Gandhi took place during the round table conferences. Both men claimed to represent the interest of Dalits. However, Gandhi saw the Dalits as a group of people the upper caste needed to care for and manage. Ambedkar believed in Dalit self-determination. Ambedkar secured a separate Dalit electorate for 78 seats in Congress through the Communal Award. Gandhi saw that a separate Dalit electorate would weaken the Hindu position concerning Muslims and Sikhs. Gandhi then went on fast to build public support against separate Dalit electorates. Their standoff ended with the Poona Pact which doubled the number of seats allocated to Dalits, but a general electorate would elect the Dalit candidates.

Ambedkar opposition to Gandhi and the Indian National Congress with the creation of the Independent Labor Party 1936. The party of Ambedkar had a moderate socialist bent and saw the enemy of the working class being both Brahmanism and Capitalism. Through the party, Ambedkar would advocate for citizenship and economic opportunity. Later he would form the Samata Sainik Dal as a youth league focused on self-defense. The league would later form the Scheduled Caste Federation in 1942. All these political organizations focused on building an egalitarian society and funneling resources to underprivileged communities.

Upon Indian Independence, India appointed Ambedkar as first Law Minister. In this position, he got to draft the Indian constitution.

Women’s rights were fundamental to the building Ambedkar’s new India. He saw the subjugation of women as essential to preserving the caste system. Once women were free to marry whom they want or no one at all, the rest of the system would come crashing down. He advocated for the Hindu Code Bills which, among other things, would establish some gender equality.

Ambedkar’s first wife was ill and died when she was forty. She wanted to make a pilgrimage to a Hindu holy site. Ambedkar would not let her go because the priest at this site would not conduct the last rites while facing a Dalit. He promised her to build Dalits their holy sites. Ambedkar began to study and court the leaders of various world religions. The plan was to facilitate a mass exodus of Dalits out of Hinduism. After much deliberation, Ambedkar accepted Buddhism and oversaw the first mass conversion in modern Buddhism on October 14, 1956. This mass conversion earned Ambedkar the moniker of the father of modern Buddhism.

Due to complications from diabetes and other illnesses, Ambedkar died on December 6, 1956. He is remembered fondly in India with more statues than any other modern Indian. There are several schools and organizations named in his honor. The airport in Nagpur was named in his honor. His school of Buddhism, Navayanna, has inspired many downtrodden people including the Romani of Hungary. There are now many Navayanna Buddhism in India and Hungary. Ambedkar’s secular philosophy is still encouraging revolutionaries and other freedom organizations.

B.B. King and Big K.R.I.T. Explain Buddhist Rebirth

What is Rebirth?

The concept of rebirth is the Buddhist alternative to the belief in reincarnation or the afterlife. Here reincarnation is defined as a Hindu concept that a metaphysical part of a person is eternal (soul) and will reinhabit another physical body. The belief in an afterlife is common in the Abrahamic religions is the soul will be sent to a paradise because of good deeds or beliefs. Neither of these concepts is in Buddhism as explained by the religious scholar Ambedkar.

The Buddhist concept of rebirth has to do with the ever-changing nature of matter and ideas. When a person dies, his body breaks down into its original elements (earth, fire, wind, water) and re-enters the universe to reappear as another person eventually. The process is never-ending and is happening every time someone consumes food or loses skin cells. It is also occurring as a person interacts with the world. As a person does good deeds, it increases the chances of others copying. The same is true for unwholesome deeds. So Buddhist rebirth is a never-ending process with one aspect being the physical death of the body.

The story of B.B. King and Big K.R.I.T.

In 1956, a brand new musician Roy King was about to release an album. Riley’s nickname Blues Boy or B.B. King was featured prominently on the album cover, but one thing is missing, B.B.’s photo. Mr. King asked about the apparent mistake and the record executives said, there was no mistake. We believe that the record could have cross-over appeal if the customer didn’t realize you were black.

Fast forward to 1986, and a middle-aged fan of the seasoned Blues Boy buys his newest record. Before she got to the counter, she saw a poster of B.B. King’s show in Paris. She decided to get the poster also. She rushed to get back to her house to welcome her daughter and new grandson. The original poster was a welcomed addition and pleased both the new grandmother and mother.

The boy was named Justin Scott and he grew up in a house with much love and music. B.B. King had more than solidified himself as the greatest musician that Mississippi ever produced. His music was an inspiration for Justin. He also grew to love many of the Hip Hop artist of his own generation. In an attempt to fuse the two genres, a new style and flavor of hip-hop was created. Justin decided to start performing under the pseudonym King Remembered in Time, K.R.I.T. It was both an assertion of how great he was and a nod to his hero B.B. King.

B.B. King briefly spoke on Hip-Hop in a 1996 interview. He said he didn’t like the gratuitous cursing or pornographic references to sex. However, he also didn’t like vulgar movies or artwork. King also acknowledged his parents and elders hated the fact he played what would later be called the Blues for many of the same reasons. Ultimately, B.B. King was impressed by the rapper’s ability, and admitted most people could not rhyme every word. He accepted Hip-Hop as an art form and applauded its success.

After years of hard work Big K.R.I.T released a record and make XXL freshman class list in 2011. His album gets much critical acclaim because it is at the same time cerebral and down-home. It talks about southern freedom fighters of the civil rights era and strip clubs. A genuinely southern album welcoming yet challenging to the listener. Bloggers have a field day debating the double meanings to the rhymes and what he really meant.

For the sophomore album, he wanted to make a concept song. In the song, three dead men talk to the angel of death which appears to them as a praying man. One man was lynched, one jumped from a slave ship, and another died while running away from the plantation. He gets the DJ from his favorite strip club to help him produce the track. After it was finished the DJ Chucks suggests that B.B. King would be a great addition to the record. K.R.I.T laughs but after being prodded by chunky gets his lawyer to reach out to B.B. King.

Luckily, one of the grandchildren of B.B. King’s band members was a fan of K.R.I.T. When the name is mentioned, the grandchild happened to be in the room and played the mp3 for the legends. B.B. King liked the album and was happy to work with the young rapper.

K.R.I.T recounted the story for “Complex” magazine as being surreal. The legend came in the booth as an extremely humble character. They talked and B.B. King offered to play his guitar in addition to singing. There were three flawless takes of B.B. King sang and played over the track. K.R.I.T was amazed at the precision and passion of the 84-year-old.

After the session, K.R.I.T and King talked about the industry and life in general. B.B. King re-told the story of how he had to fight to get his photo on his album cover. The moral was to fight, but not let bitterness fill your heart. King said he has forgotten most of the bad things that happened to him because people are so kind to him now. It is water under the bridge, and his eyes are facing forward.

King then told K.R.I.T he was the continuation of the musical tradition of Mississippi. Hip-Hop is the new method of conveying raw emotion to a room full of people. It is another unapologetic reflection of truth.

No outsider can say Blues or Hip-Hop should or should not use certain methods of communication. The music is made for the people in the backwoods of Mississippi. These people afford the rest of the world the privilege of hearing their music.

B.B. King died three years after the recording. K.R.I.T told Vox is mission is to continue to spread King’s music and inform the younger generation. K.R.I.T will forever be in debt to King not only for his professionalism. King opened his warm and creative soul to the young rapper. K.R.I.T and all his fans will never be the same after.

How the story illustrates rebirth

The story of K.R.I.T and King shows how music is being reborn constantly. King added to the American lexicon of music soul-stirring music. These seeds germinated in another Mississippi native building his own art form. Not only has the artistry been passed down to the new generation, but the mentality of resilience. It is the continuation of blackness. The term blackness doesn’t denote a skin color, it represents an experience that transcends the individual. One can view it being born in America or being imported from Africa, but it can’t be denied that it is unique and beyond mental constructs.

Rebirth is the realization that what most conceive as the individual is really a continuum of experience much bigger than one can conceptualize. The concept of the individual is an artificial construct used to aid in understanding. What exists is a never-ending flux of energy and thought that emerges as what we call individuals.

The song ” Praying Man” is a living example of rebirth. It connects the ancestors with the older generation and the newer generation. In the song, all the generations exist in one, and the lines of demarcation become blurred. We realize the ancestors are one with us and we are one with the ancestors. Even though the artists are not Buddhist, they exemplify the principles. The idea of rebirth is not unique to Buddhism or Asia, it is a concept that people witness every day in their own life.

For more on music and Buddhism

To hear the song “Praying Man” click HERE

To learn more about Buddhism click HERE

References

  1. Big K.R.I.T explains how the collaboration with B.B. King came together 11-12-14 http://www.hiohopdx.com
  2. Big K.R.I.T on B.B. King: “He did not have to be Humble” 5-15-15 http://www.rollingstone.com
  3. We Tried to get Big K.R.I.T to dis another MC 3-30-12 http://www.vice.com
  4. B.B. King: Sweet Sixteen http://www.paste.com
  5. All Day and Night: Memories from Beale St 1990 Documentary Directed by Gordon and Guida

Pakistan or the Partition of India

The Muslims came to India in various ethnic groups during many invasions. All the attacks shared one goal, the total eradication of native Hindu religion. Areas that maintain Hindu control violently suppressed Islam. The suppression of both faiths led to two distinct people groups inheriting what would become future India, Muslims and Hindus.

Ambedkar is clear that there are two distinct people groups must come together as a new whole. The heroes of Muslims are the villains of Hindus and vice versa. The stark differences in worldviews led to people of both ethnicities to advocate for separate homelands. Hindustan for the Hindus and Pakistan for the Muslims.

One of the things a unified India would lose if Pakistan becomes a separate state is the majority of its military. Most of the current military is native to the Northwest region of the country. The reason for the concentration of military force in the northwest was not due to an inherent trait in the people of that area. The concentration was the result of British military policies. It is because the British military had recruitment policies that favored these territories. The initiative to recruit high caste members from the northwest was politically motivated.

Supporters of the creation of Pakistan would say that its creation would end the need for separate electorates dictated in the Communal Award. Ambedkar explains how the creation of Pakistan would not absolve the demand for separate electorates. Under the current system the four northwest provinces would control a Hindu minority while the rest of India controlled a Muslim minority. The reservation of seats for minorities ensured there would be some representation for the Hindus in the Northwest and Muslims in the rest of India. If in either section of the country the majority oppresses the minority, they minority could call on his brothers in the other part of India to retaliate. Essentially, creating a mutual hostage situation. Even though the method is crude, it could cause both majorities to treat minorities with respect. If Pakistan is created, Hindus inside its borders would be vulnerable to ethnic cleansing.

In a unified India the northwest provinces could act as a national home, without the full powers of a state. The provinces could hold the cultural, religious, and communal heritage of the Muslims of India without the power of a state. The Muslims of southern India would benefit from a unified India in that, they are connected to their brothers. If Pakistan splits, southern Muslims will be alone to tend with a Hindu cultural and political majority.

As stated earlier, if Pakistan is not separated from India, the Muslims will live as a minority in a Hindu country. Even if their rights are not infringed upon they will live by Hindu cultural norms. The thirst for Muslim nationalism could increase even after political concessions. Ambedkar uses the Arabs of the Ottoman Empire and the Slovaks of former Czechoslovakia to illustrate how nationalism grows even in people that are not oppressed. If the current political climate changes to allow for a unified India, separation could be inevitable.

A genuine growth of fellow-feeling needs to be fostered between Hindus and Muslims to create a new nation. Political allegiance and expediency will not promote long-lasting unity. Both parties have to see the inherent value in solidarity and be willing to sacrifice privilege to stay together. If Britain grants India independence, and Muslims mistrust Hindus, political stability is impossible. Britain often serves as an arbitrary third party in disputes as the situation stands now. Western intervention is not always a bad thing.

One issue observed in the Muslim community by Ambedkar was the inability to advocate for social change. Most Muslims put religion at the top of their priorities. The hyper-focus on religion causes them to only seek control in the political realm. They want to be in charge, yet do not care about how the government functions or if vulnerable people are protected. To expand political power they often implore violence. In the year immediately preceding the publishing of this book, Hindus reciprocated. The current climate could lead to a civil war.

The idea that Muslims are superior and a fear of absorption into the more dominate Hindu culture leads to torpor in the field of social justice. If the Koran doesn’t specifically condemn an act, most Muslims will not advocate for change. As a result, women’s rights had been halted and once a Muslim is in charge, no one would challenge him. Also, questioning a Muslim leader could lead to a Hindu takeover. Therefore the social stagnation seen in the Muslim community is a superiority complex mixed with fear of vulnerability.

Another division in the Hindu and Muslim community is what they ideally want with independence. Muslims want full autonomy and no affiliation with the British Empire. Hindu support varies between dominion status in the British Empire similar to Australia and full independence. However, for Muslims, a significant tenet of their religion is to live in a country that they rule. Living side by side with another religion as equals is not part of the Islamic faith. It is also incumbent on Muslims to extend the rule of Islam all over the world. Therefore, if another Muslim country declares war, they are obligated to help the Muslim nation whether or not it is beneficial to India.

As a solution, Ambedkar purposes Britain granting India a limited amount of Independence as a unit. If the Muslims see they can be in a unified India with their rights not infringed upon, they can decide to become entirely independent. He also questions if the Muslim League reflects the thoughts and concerns of the entire community. It appeared to him that the league was only concerned with the elites.

Post-Script

From an Integral perspective what Ambedkar is talking about here is the dangers of fundamentalist religion. A nation can not be built with a large percentage of people identifying with their faith more than the country. Besides if they see those outside their religious community as enemies or oppressors, then national unity is impossible.

This book has a lengthy discussion on how Gandhi’s position on nationalism changed over the years.

If you enjoyed the summary and want to know more the full text can be found HERE

Who Were The Untouchables

In this treatise, Ambedkar attempts to explain the origins of untouchability. He admits there is no conclusive evidence of the birth of untouchability. However, he presents a theory that is supported by more evidence than other arguments at the time. He admits this is not a final thesis on untouchability and the subject will need more research. He also debunks theories of a popular analyst Stanley Rice.

He starts off by addressing the fact the Brahmins that normally study the subject would do little to debunk or undermine the basis of the caste system. The caste system gives them privilege. To quote Ambedkar:

It must be recognized that the selfish interest of a person or of the class to which he belongs always acts as an internal limitation which regulates the direction of his intellect.

Ambedkar begins by analyzing practices of untouchability outside of the Hindu culture. He uses examples from primitive and ancient times from all over the world. In all the cases outside of India, untouchability is:

  1. Caused by and action or bodily change such as puberty or pregnancy
  2. The untouchability was lifted after proper ceremony or time had passed
  3. After purification the person could return to normal life

Only in India is untouchability something someone is born into and there is no way to get out of it. Untouchability doesn’t relegate someone to lowly and unsanitary occupations as it does in India. The untouchability faced by the Dalit is unique in India.

A unique feature of Indian untouchability is that untouchables have to live in ghettos outside the city. The condition of Dalits residing in ghettos is prevalent in India and often mandated by law. Ambedkar postulates that Dalit lived on the outskirts from the beginning and their presence there has nothing to do with untouchability.

In primitive society, there were people in settle tribes and nomadic herdsmen. In ancient India, the primary source of wealth was cattle. The nomadic herdsman would follow there cattle herds along a migratory grazing path. Those that settled were able to have livestock and produce. The nomadic herdsman would raid the settled village tribesman because they had more food on average. Ancient India was in a constant state of war.

Ambedkar then postulates that those that broke ties with their original tribe would be left alone to fend for themselves. They would go to a settled tribe and live outside the village and act as watch and ward. In the event of an attack, these men would be on the front line. Ambedkar calls these ex-tribesman Broken Men.

To support his theory, Ambedkar shows a similar situation happened in Europe. In ancient Ireland and Wales, Broken Men served as watch and ward over settled estates. Those orphaned by their original people could live outside of the village. However, in Ireland and Wales, these people eventually integrated into society due to intermarriage. Untouchability prevented this from happening in India.

Even though there is no direct evidence, Ambedkar postulates that the Broken Men came to adopt Buddhism. As Buddhists, they did not see the Brahmin as superior or respect their exclusive right to religious ceremony. Hindus began to bar Buddhism from their temples, and Buddhism repaid the favor causing conflict in the communities. The tension is well documented in Hindu literature even though there is no direct connection between untouchability and Buddhism. Also when Hinduism won most of the inhabitants of India, there were those that would not let go of the Buddhist faith. The Hindus shunned the Broken men because of their religion and imposed social segregation.

Another possibility is that the Broken Men never observed the custom of making the cow sacred. All untouchable communities eat beef or make products out of cow skin. The consumption of cows was viewed as disgusting by Hindus. Beef eating caused untouchability, the act of declaring a group impure in perpetuity.

Now beef eating was not always prohibited. Early Hindu scriptures written by Manu do not ban beef eating. The prohibition came as a strategic way to win public support from Buddhist. Buddhism prohibited animal sacrifices and Hinduism did not. The public began to see the practice as wasteful and cruel. To improve Hinduism’s stance with the public, the Brahmin chose to be vegetarian and forbid their followers from eating beef. Brahmin dietary laws gave us the present classes of Brahmin, Non-Brahmin caste Hindus, and Untouchables. The earliest Hindu prohibitions on beef eating came in the 400’s AD.

The question remains as to why did the Broken Men not stop eating beef. It is possible that the Broken Men only ate cows that were already dead. Since the law was against killing a cow, the Broken Men did not violate the law. To give up beef would mean starvation. Because Dalit only had lowly professions buying other food was not feasible. Those that ate the flesh of the cow for any reason became hated once the Hindu exalted the cow.

Many Hindus believe scriptures mention untouchables and untouchability. There is one word “Asprashya” used three times in Hindu scripture that means “untouchable.” However, there is no detail in these scriptures to know why the people were untouchable or what were the rules of untouchability. Ambedkar explains that many of the other words loosely translated into “untouchable” are explaining a temporary state of impurity or merely living on the outskirts of town. The birth of untouchability came with the bans on killing cows implemented by the Gupta kings around 400 AD.

Debunking Dr. Stanley Rice

Dr. Rice postulated that the Dalit were the aboriginal race of India and that the Dravidians invaded and conquered them. After that, the Aryans from Central Asia conquered the Dravidians. Ambedkar used the same evidence as he did in Who are the Shudras to show that the names of people groups in the Hindu scripture denote people of different faiths, not races.

Further evidence that caste does not denote different races or levels of miscegenation also comes from science. Studies on the facial features show people of the same province and different castes have more similar characteristics than the reverse. Also, a survey of last names shows that lasts names are more common in regions than in castes. The commonality of last names in regions and not castes show intermarriage and intermixing happens even when the practices are strictly prohibited by law.

One piece of evidence discussed in Who are the Untouchables not discussed in Who are the Shudras was the Nagas people. Stanley postulates they were the aboriginals and Ambedkar shows they were people that worship a snake god. The Vedic term Dasa and Naga refer to the same people. Dasa denotes peoples using their king; Naga denotes the people using their god. The Naga people and their religion were pervasive throughout India, Sri Lanka, and Central Asia.

Dr. Rice also postulates that untouchability came about because of the need to segregate people doing unsanitary jobs before proper cleaning technologies existed. Ambedkar points to Hindu scriptures that show upper caste people doing unsanitary jobs and rules for them to do unsanitary jobs. Therefore there was a time when anyone could do an unsanitary job.

Notes on Manusmriti

Ambedkar mentions that a revolution happened in which Hindu kings overthrew and killed Buddhist kings. The Brahmin participated in this revolution. Their old scripture prohibited Brahmin from touching a weapon. They also considered the body of any king sacred, and regicide a sin. Manusmriti was created to change these rules to allow Brahmin to fight in the revolution.

The centrality of Manusmriti in the conflict between Buddhism and Hinduism could be a reason Ambedkar chose to burn this book publically December 25, 1927.

A copy of the full-text can be found HERE

The Untouchables and the Pax Britannica

This treatise was used as evidence in the Round Table Conference. It explains the unique suffering of the Dalits and how Britain was coupable.

He begins with a short history of how exploration centered around finding routes to India. The conquest of India was unique in that it had a complex government when it was conquered that had survived for hundreds of years. Another aspect of the conquest that is perplexing is how the East India Company was able to capture the area without help from those in Britain. The Napoleonic Wars were raging from 1757 to 1818, and they consumed most of Britain’s resources. Ambedkar’s answer the East India Company employed Dalits as soldiers. Four of every five East India Company soldiers was from the native Dalit population.

Dalits made a name for themselves in the military and did more than enough to prove they were a martial race. They were instrumental in the suppression of The Mutiny of 1857. Unfortunately, as British influence spread to the upper caste, Dalits were unceremoniously banned from military service. The ban began in 1890, and in twenty years most of the Dalit in the military retired. The only exception was a brief lift on the ban during World War 1.

Other avenues of advancement were not available to the Dalits. The Civil Service requires education, most commonly it requires a college degree. Even when Dalit obtain degrees, the Caste Hindus in charge of the department will not hire them out of prejudice. Not only would prejudice prevent Dalit from being employed, but the tradition of untouchability would also prohibit them from working. For example, if a Dalit were to arrest a Caste Hindu, he would have to enter his home. The act of entering the house of a Caste Hindu would make the home unclean. Therefore Dalits could not be policemen.

Britain excluded Dalits from education in 1854. The lift on the ban to Dalit education came with no effort to integrate the schools. Therefore those in charge of the school would find ways to exclude Dalit. The only education available to Dalit’s was from the Christian missions. After 1882 Britain created special schools for Dalits. They also gave grants to missions that educated Dalits. However, these efforts were not enough to significantly raise the level of Dalit education.

Ambedkar contrasts education levels among Dalit to education levels among Muslims. Muslims were also a disadvantaged class, but their education was second only to high Caste Hindus. The reason is Muslim petitioned for reserved representation in school administration. These administrators were able to earmark funds and resource to combat specific education hurdles in their community. If Dalit had been given the same representation, their fate might have been different.

Britian has made laws in the past that go against local customs to keep order and observe human rights. A short list can be found below:

  1. A law preventing BRahmin from killing women and children
  2. Removal of restrictions on the marriage of widows
  3. Prohibition of using religious law in arbitrations between Hindu’s and Muslims
  4. Law against rape
  5. Law against marriage of women under ten years old

These laws have helped India to modernize. However, Britain has not banned untouchability or the observation of caste. Early on Britain did not see anything wrong with the practice as they practiced similar customs in their African and American holdings. Later on, they felt advocating for Dalits would cause turmoil. Ambedkar reiterates there is more than enough court precedence to justify laws against caste and untouchability. Not only is protecting Dalits morally right, but Dalits are also currently paying taxes for public service they can not use, such as wells.

A copy of the treatise can be found HERE

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