"The relationship between husband and wife should be one of closest friends."
The above statement is the mantra for any couple to be in a happy and trusting relationship. But what is the relevance of this quote here? We are not talking about relationship tutorials here, right? Don't worry, it will be clear once you finish reading this to the end.
These days, or I should say since the time dalit-bahujan have started claiming their rights, they have been subjected to the blunt criticism from the savarna brethren about their ideology, their means of assertion and ways of expression.
Some questions frequently posed by the savarnas are:
1. Why are dalits so obsessed with the images of a few leaders such as Ambedkar, the Phule couple, Sahu Maharaj, and Kanshi Ram to name a few?
2. Why are they propagating this concept of man-worshiping, which Babasaheb was against?
3. They have not read Ambedkar, how do they know what he said?
Their questions are legit and this is my attempt to make the savarnas understand how they have misunderstood our struggle.
India is home for Gods. Many gods. It would take ~129 years or 47143 days just to recite all the names of the 33 crore gods-- if we consider the fact that a man normally speaks about 7000 words a day1. ~129 years is quite a lot of time. I don't think most us can live so long, no? Among these 33 crore gods there are some very popular ones who have got an opportunity to find a place in high priced real estate houses. Some of you have them in the form of images, some as idols and some in both forms. You adore them, you pray to them. And it would not be an exaggerating statement if I say most of you don't think about the ideologies these gods represent, you just want to fulfill your dreams by taking blessings from these gods. Prayer is the only tool that you have.
To the first question - yes, we also have images of our leaders for fulfilling our dreams. But there is a fundamental difference between our leaders' images and your gods, and that is the very ideals which they represent. Our leaders' portraits tell us the stories of struggle that they underwent to pave the way for emancipation of humanity on this planet, our leaders' portraits inspire us to fight till the last breath, our leaders' portraits remind us of the pains that they felt while trying to fight for our rights. We don't worship them, we thank them, we salute them, and we acknowledge their fight for human rights. And you misunderstood it as worship.
And why do we have just a few to be thanked, to be acknowledged? One of the reasons is that we are unearthing the graves of our forefathers who had been killed cunningly and believe me the list is increasing day by day. When we started we had just a few names to be remembered but now we have a long list to be spelt out. We had fallen prey to the cunning of Brahmanism which destroyed our history, but we are rewriting it with the help of remnants from the graves of our forefathers.
You say that we have not read Ambedkar, yes you are right. We have not read him because most of us are still illiterate. But does it stop us from knowing his ideals? The answer is a big no!
We might be illiterate but we know what he stood for. We know what he wanted to tell us. We know what he had undergone. We know what he wanted us to achieve. We know what his message is for us. We know how relevant he is for us. We know how painful it is for you to see him always suited booted. We know why you had to do a survey to find out who is the second most famous Indian after Gandhi. We know why you have problems with his idols and images. We know what is good for us. We know what he lost for us. We know what to do with his images and statues. We know how you are going to react when we claim our rights. We know how to take inspiration from him. We know where to chant his name. We know where to install his statues. We know where to set his images.
In short, we know what to do with our leaders. It is you who don't know what to do with your gods except asking for blessings for fulfilling your dreams and claiming your privileges. We know how much respect you have for your gods when we see them being used to stop people from peeing on the sacred private walls of your houses/gardens. Hope this clears your doubt about man-worshipping.
Our leaders have no match in history. They stood for all humanity. They all stood for their country.
So how many of you have come across the quote that I mentioned in the beginning, and who said it? Any guesses? Yeah, you got it right; it is by our beloved Babasaheb.
Babasaheb wrote on many subjects: economics, history, sociology, anthropology, polity and anthropology, to name a few. He wrote how these subjects touch our daily lives. He wrote consistently on what is necessary to found a just society. This is what our Babasaheb is. He speaks love, he dreams love, and he preaches love. That is why we love him.
Arvind Boudhh is a graduate from IIT Bombay, currently working with an analytics firm based out of Mumbai. He is an egalitarian.