Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


How Authentic is Buddhism which Dr Ambedkar Propagated

Dt: 2/2/23

How Authentic is Buddhism which Dr Ambedkar Propagated

Dr T.H.Chowdary*


Dr Ambedkar announced  his intention to renounce  Hinduism at a mammoth meeting of   depressed classes in Yeola  (Maharashtra) on 13 Oct 1935 and re-iterated it  in Pune in Jan 1936 at  another  conference  of depressed classes . Prominent persons Muslim, Sikh and Christian missionaries  met  Dr Ambedkar  with pleas that he and his  people  may embrace their  religion. A Nizam’s messenger offered  Rupees  seven ( Rs. 7 cr) crores   if  Dr. Ambedkar’s  people  would convert to Islam. At the same  time Dalit leaders in Congress  as well as  some other independent Dalit leaders  stood out  saying  that  in all religions there are discriminated and  depressed sections;  that the   fight should be  to end untouchability and  achieve  equality of the depressed classes with the   upper castes   and groups in all religions.  ( Among India’s Muslims  85% are  Pasmandas – left outs – Hindu lower castes converts  to Islam. They are unequal  to  the rest of the  15%  and are  poor  and neglected  within the  Muslim community despite    hundreds of years  of conversion).


2. In the context of the  Yeola declaration Sri  V D Savarkar who was  furiously working  for the removal of untouchability warned the  depressed classes  against taking such a  step of converting to another  religion.  He said, “ on their conversion there was no possibility of their  receiving treatment of equality under  Christianity or Islam in India”. He pointed to  the  prevailing  riots between touchable Christians and  untouchable  Christians  in Travancore”.    He further  said, “ truly speaking any  Ism  in the sense of religion contains something which is not  amenable to reason and which is  based on belief.  Those who hold that the existing religious opinions are not  amenable to reason or logic,  should not hug  irrational  prejudices.  Ambedkar therefore should embrace a religion which is based on principles that are  not averse to logic or  reason”. He advised Ambedkar to fight out  violently for equality  by the side of the  progressive Hindus and rise in the  scale of life.    (P 255 -256  Dhananjay Keer’s book).



3. The famous Hindu missionary leader, Masurkar Maharaj who had reclaimed about 10,000 Christians in Goa  to Hinduism   had in a 3-hour talk with Dr Ambedkar   said  that  “The exodus would  be the death of Hindus  in the long run……it would be the history of another  Stan such as Pakistan.    ( P 258 Dhananjay Keer’s book)


4. When Dr Ambedkar, as  Labour Member (1942-46) in the Vice Roy’s  Executive Council visited  Madras   in Sept 1944,  the Tamilnad Depressed Class Christian Association submitted  a memorandum to him. It stated that since they were drawn from the Depressed Classes  their  social and  economic position ( in Christianity)  was the  same as that of their brethren from the Hindu fold.   They further  submitted  that  the caste Christians continued to retain  their  castes even after conversion  and  ill-treated depressed class Christians.  The missionaries  did not  in any way  try to curb the attitude of the  caste- Christians.  The memorandum therefore appealed to  Dr. Ambedkar   to redeem them from  the slavery at the hands of caste Christians and other communities.”. (P 364 – 365  Dhananjay Keer’s book )


5. Dr Ambedkar once told Gandhiji, “ I will choose only the least harmful way for the  country.  And that is the greatest benefit  I am conferring on the  country by embracing Buddhism for Buddhism  is a part and  parcel of  Bharatiya culture.  I have taken care that my conversion will not harm the tradition of the  culture and  history of this land” ( Page 498 Dhananjay Keer).


6. On the  14th 1956, ( Dr Ambedkar resigned from the Nehru Cabinet in Sept/ Oct 1951 but continued as Member of the Rajya Sabha till his death on  6 Dec 1956)  at Deeksha Bhoomi in Nagpur at the head of a gathering of over 300,000 people and in the company of a galaxy of prominent Buddhist  Bhikshus and eminent Hindus, Dr. Ambedkar discarded.  Hinduism and declared, “ I am no more a devotee of Hindu god or goddess.  I will not perform Sraddha. I will strictly follow the eight -fold  path of Buddha…. I will lead a life guided by the three principles of knowledge, right path and compassion”.  This declaration which contained in all 22 pledges was administered by him as a pledge, repeated by the  lakhs strong Dalits who discarded Hinduism and embraced Ambedkar-defined Buddhism by  repeating the pledge administered by Dr Ambedkar.  This pledge  along with the three saranams and Panch Sheel ( Buddha’s original prescriptions initiating people into Buddha Dharma) is since then administered  to and  repeated by  those who embrace Buddhism.

These 22 pledges are Dr. Ambedkar’s addition to the  three standard vows  and Panch Sheel that were administered by the 83 year old Mahasthanveer Chandramani of Kushinara and his saffron – clad four Bhikshus. The three saranams are:  Buddham saranam gachami”,  dharmam saranam gachami and sangham saranam gachami” and the five sheels (Panch Sheel) are:



·         Abstain from killing: Not to indulge in violence

·         Abstain from theft: Not to steal

·         Abstain from sexual misconduct: To show Fidelity.

·         Abstain from falsehood: Not to speak the untruth

·         Abstain from intoxication: Not to indulge in substance abuse


Dr Ambedkar  reminded the lakhs gathered of his  vow taken in 1935 that, “even though I am a Hindu born, I will not die a Hindu”. 


7.  Dr Ambedkar’s enunciation of Buddhism , especially the pledge administered by  him in addition to the three saranams and Panch Sheel  are held  by longtime Buddhists and  Buddhist journals and scholars to be antithetical to  Buddha’s teaching . Given  below are some excerpts  from the book, “Dr Ambedkar Life and Mission” published by Popular Prakashan , Bombay written by the celebrated   biographer , Dhananjay Keer.


8. Among those who embraced Buddhism along with Dr. Ambedkar on 14 Oct 1956 was Dr. Bhavani Shankar  Niyogi, former Chief Justice of Nagpur High Court…Dr Niyogi however said that denunciation of Hinduism as was done by Dr. Ambedkar while embracing Buddhism had no place in the original Buddhist rituals  (P501, Dhananjay Keer).  On the  next day, Dr. Ambedkar initiated another vast crowd into Buddhism…. A leaflet issued on this occasion by Mahaasthavir Chandramani and other Bhikshus declared that Hinduism and Buddhism are branches of same tree ( P503, Dhananjay Keer)


9. The Mahabodhi  a famous Buddhist journal in India opined, that “the  Buddha and His Dhamma  ( the magnum opus work of Dr Ambedkar) exposition of what Dr Ambedkar thought was Buddha Dharma was a dangerous book ; Ambedkar’s interpretation of the theory of karma, the theory of ahimsa and his theory that Buddhism was merely a socialist system, constituted not the  correct interpretation  of Buddhism but  a new orientation. Indeed, the whole of the book, observed the  reviewer explained the hatred and aggressiveness the neo- Buddhist ( Dr Ambedkar) nourished and displayed . Ambedkar’s  Buddhism is based on hatred ,  the Buddha’s on compassion. It would seem more important to be careful what we accept in Ambedkar’s book as being the word of the Buddha. The title (of this book), pleaded this reviewer , should be changed from the “Buddha and His Dhamma” to that of “Ambedkar and His Dhamma”; for  Ambedkar preached non-dharma as dhamma for motives of political and  social reform ( Mahabodhi, Dec 1959;  P- 521 Dhananjay Keer)


10. The Light of the  Dhamma , a Rangoon paper observed that “although this was a book  by a great man , unfortunately  and how unfortunately , it was not a great book.  The reviewer pointed out  that the great Dr. Ambedkar tampered with the texts and whenever he found views  in Buddhism  inconvenient to his own , denounced them  as later accretions  made by monks. …the tragedy was that it was neither a great book nor a good work…...” ( The Light of Dhamma Jan ‘59, P- 521 Dhananjay Keer)


11. “ Whatever the critics may say, the Buddhism of  Ambedkar would be a  reformist plank in  India as have been the Brahmo Samaj, the Sathya Shodhak Samaj, the Arya Samaj and the Prardhana Samaj. There is zen  Buddhism.  There is Burmese Buddhism with its indigenous nat worship . There is Mahayana Buddhism , and there is  Hinayana  Buddhism.  Ambedkar wanted Protestant  Hinduism . You may call his Buddhism  Ambedkarayana or Buddhist New Testament  which would emerge  as a strangely indigenous form of  Neo  Buddhism …..   So those who worship Buddha in India would  do well to remember the words of Dr. Rhos David who observed, “ we should never forget that Gauthama was born and brought up a Hindu and lived and died a Hindu.  His teaching  far reaching and original as it was and really subversive of the religion of the   day, was Indian throughout……   He was the greatest and wisest and best of the Hindus .” ( David’s , Dr Rhys, Buddhism  P-116 & 117  and P- 522 Dhananjay Keer)


12. “Dr Ambedkar’s  anxiety to live in Hindu culture, his avowal of embracing a religion  that would neither de-nationalize the depressed classes nor harm  the ancient culture of this  land, all point to the fact  that his religion  has something to do with the culture, history and tradition of this land.  His religion and politics  went hand in hand.  This is why Buddhism critics say that the dhamma preached by Ambedkar is not Buddhism but Ambedkarism and rightly so . His dhamma preaches the necessity to kill if  there is need   to do so and his  message to India is that   Indians  should be determined to defend the independence of this land to the last drop of their blood “. (P. 522/3 Dhananjay Keer) 


13. Dr Ambedkar’s  conversion and that of Dalits following him to  Buddhism and not to Islam or Christianity is viewed as  a great service to Bharat and  Hindu society as such conversions to Islam or Christianity are held as anti-Hinduism. 


14. Unfortunately many of those  Dalits  who are    singing  paens to  Dr Ambedkar  seem to be motivated  by their  hatred  of Hinduism.  In fact, it appears that many of them  are  converts to Christianity, hiding that fact in every  government record  including the census.   The table below shows up the fraud perpetrated by the people converted to Christianity. The tens of thousands of churches coming up, especially in the two Telugu states despite the census statistics of decline in Christian population, show up the  fraud.


Christian Population in Andhra Pradesh (undivided)









Total population  mln






Christians  mln






% of Christian population






Source:  Census of India


15. Undoubtedly Dr Ambedkar   was a great  Bharatiya  who wanted to reform Hinduism.  His politics   was characterized by  denunciation of Gandhiji  (refer to his  note on Gandhiji after seeing his dead body in the letter to his would be wife *) and  Jawaharlal Nehru  who never was  friendly   towards Dr Ambedkar . Dr Ambedkar  painfully recorded that  Prime Minister Nehru excluded him  from every cabinet  sub-committee despite his  world-  recognized  intellect  and his  love for Bharat and exertions for uplift of Dalits.


16. I am afraid that   some   Dalit writers and  spokes -persons of some organizations   sporting Ambedkar as a prefix would  accuse me  as a    Brahminical  Hindu for bringing out   what  Js. Niyogi,  who even after embracing Buddhism  had to differ   from Dr Ambedkar in regard to   the 22 pledges he was administering as these were  not Buddha’s.  So may they denounce me for reproducing  eh opinions and comments of Buddhist journals and  writers in paras : 9-12 . In anticipation of their denunciation ,  my defense  in the  words of Mao Tse Tung  is :

Let different schools of thought contend.

Let a  hundred flowers  bloom.

(1,191 words)