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Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was one of the most remarkable figures in the 20th century. Born an Untouchable - the lowest element of Indian society deemed to be outside the caste system, and literally 'untouchable' - he rose from abject village poverty to become the architect of the new Constitution of India following its independence from Britain in 1947.
A combination of exceptional talent, hard work and determination, vision and luck took him to Harvard and the LSE, and then back to his home country. Always, his progress was impelled by the concern for his 'Untouchable' community and it was this that underpinned work in law, politics and economics as he rapidly became a national figure who could not be ignored. He opposed Gandhi's patronising attitude towards the Untouchable community, and the violent crimes and prejudice inflicted upon it by the caste Hindu society.
In the 1930s, Ambedkar proclaimed that though he was born a Hindu, he would not die a Hindu; and on 14th October 1956, with 400,000 followers, he converted to Buddhism in a mass meeting in Nagpur. This biography is by the British-born Buddhist monk Urgyen Sangharakshita who knew Ambedkar and spent decades working with the Dalit community as the Untouchables became known.
It is a clear but affectionate look at a singular life which changed one of the largest nations on earth, and charts Ambedkar's gradual move towards Buddhism which he saw as the best path for his people.
Bonus material: in addition to the biography is Annihilation of Caste, Ambedkar's key speech - never delivered but published in 1936 - in which he set out the reality of 'Untouchable' life and the need for change, but it is at the same time an international clarion call for human rights. It is all the more poignant as, while Untouchability is outlawed in India now thanks to Dr Ambedkar's legislation, there are 200 million Dalits in India, and violence and prejudice is still commonplace.
What listeners say about Ambedkar and Buddhism, Annihilation of CasteAverage Customer Ratings
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- vishal saraswal
very moving story towards the second half
very moving story during the second half.
if people were to read this book, I am sure they will promote the reservation themselves irrespective of their caste.
- Kerv D
An enlightening read.
Loved it. The narrator was awesome. The caste is indoctrinated discrimination protected by religion.
The system is at fault and those that choose to protect it is guilty and disgraceful.
An underrated visionary of India
Dr BR Ambedkar was the first law minister of Independent India and the architect of the Indian Constitution. He vowed not to die as a Hindu due to its' age old caste system and systematic oppression of millions of people. Hence his quest begun after he realised reformation of the existing system was virtually impossible. This was due to the fact, the caste system was once thought to be due to division of labour, but he realised this was division of labourers and comes by birth and Caste Hindus would not allow any reforms since the rent they receive from it significantly enormous. This graded inequality force nearly 200 million people into utter poverty. He also explained the democracy is all about treating the unequal as equals. But the system was other way around. He did extensive research of his own religion, Islam , Christianity and Buddhism before considering the last one. He converted to Buddhism 7 weeks before his departure from this world along with hundreds of thousand people, an unprecedented number a modern world witnessed. A well narrated book, would certainly recommend to anyone who believes in social mobility!