Critical Analysis of Indian Historians' Writings on Buddhism - Part 2

 

Ratnesh Katulkar

Continued from here.

ratneshIt was during the Mauryan period, particularly at the time of Asoka, that India reached its zenith. There was an advanced stage of development in the field of architecture (which is visible in the remains of the Asokan inscriptions), science and technology, literature, administration and above all the emergence of the welfare state which is still  absent in many part of the world in the modern times. Still none of the historians finds this period as the golden era of India; rather most of them even do not hesitate in declaring the Gupta period (300 AD) as a golden age. The reason they give for this declaration is the growth and development in the fields of arts, science and literature. The argument, however, has little truth, as there had already been much development in these sectors during the Mauryan regime. Moreover, how one can ignore that in the light of these developments in Gupta period there was emergence and establishment of the downfall of society? The evil customs like caste, untouchability, patriarchy in its worst form, like enforced widowhood, sati system and the rise of feudalism were the striking characteristics of this period.1 As rightly marked by Kosambi, 'During Gupta period, the civilising and socialising work of the Buddha and of Asoka was never continued. The tightening of caste boundary begins.'2

In the history of ancient India and of Buddhism, the decline of Buddhism is of remarkable importance. This issue should be a striking subject of study, for when Buddhism continued to survive in other parts of world why was it extinguished from the land of its birth? The reasons for the decline of Buddhism mentioned by historians are weird. R.C. Majumdar, who tried to present Asoka's Dhamma as non-Buddhist old tradition strangely blamed his appointment of Dhamma Mahamatra and policy of non-violence as the factors responsible for the decline of Buddhism.3 So there is a chunk of historians who think that the large donations to Sangha led to economic decline of the Mauryan Empire. But none of them tried to accept the Buddhist sources as evidence. Dr Ambedkar dealt with this issue seriously. Using the reference of Haraprasad Shastri, he says:

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Critical Analysis of Indian Historians' Writings on Buddhism - Part 1

 

Ratnesh Katulkar

ratneshBuddhism is one of the most prominent topics in the study of ancient Indian history. The reason for its presence and visibility in Indian history owes to its existence to a wide time scale traversed during the 6th century BC to 11th century AD. There is no doubt that many special and unique features of Buddhism not only reshaped Indian culture and society, but it also played an eminent role in spreading its teachings across the world, where it is still shining as one of the prominent religions. However, in its own birth land, Buddhism was not able to sustain its existence.

Indian historians shared their diverse opinions on this subject. But the strange and the weird commonality in their writings is that they all seem to be biased against Buddhism and on some occasions they have committed factual errors in dealing with this important subject. There have also been many instances when the same allegation or beliefs were repeated by a number of prominent Indian Historians but without referring to each other. Thus, there was repetition of same allegations again and again in the manner of putting old wine in new bottles.

This paper1 is an attempt to critically evaluate the writings of these eminent Indian historians.

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Miller Committee Report 1919 (Adequate Representation of Communities in Public Service)

 

free school mysore[An anti-caste movement led by the backward communities under the banner Praja Mitra Mandali launched a focused movement to bring pressure on the king of Mysore for reservation in recruitment and education. The Miller Committee was constituted by Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, the Maharaja of Mysore in the year 1919. This committee's findings provided a fact based report on the actual situation of overrepresentation of brahmins in education and government positions and the non-representations of other communities. The report was based on the caste-wise demographic and English literacy data from the census 1911. Its recommendations included scholarships for backward classes, relaxation of age limit for public service appointments and changes in the merit-based examinations.

Wadiyar championed many progressive endeavors such as compulsory education for women, but the strong measures he took to ensure educational, employment and political representation of the backward communities was met with stiff resistance from his own Dewan, Visvesvaraya, who was strongly opposed to the idea of reservations. Visvesvaraya rejected the recommendations of the Miller report, Wadiyar overruled his objections, leading to the former's resignation. 

The Miller report laid the foundation for proportionate representation of all citizens of Mysore in education and government jobs. This report became the blueprint for subsequent policies and is one of the important documents referenced by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar while framing the policies for proportionate representation to depressed classes at the national level.~ Round Table India] 

Miller Committee Report: Report of the Committee Appointed to Consider Steps Necessary for the Adequate Representation of Communities in the Public Service

1. Our committee was constituted under Government Order No. E. A. G. 308, dated 23rd August 1918, in which it was desired that a report should be submitted to the Government in two months from the date of the order. We held meetings on the 3rd September 1918, 11th and 12th March and 24th and 25th June 1919. At the first meeting it was due to the length of time required for their compilation that an extension of the period allotted to our deliberations had to be obtained. After the meetings in March at which some members of the Committee were absent, it became necessary to circulate a draft of the resolutions arrived at those meetings, and this produced some fresh suggestions and opinions, it then became necessary to hold another meeting and this could not be held before June owing to the absence of the President of the Committee from the State. Our best thanks are due to the Government for the information supplied to us. The tables containing the information are printed at the end of this report as appendices.

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Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's speech in the Constituent Assembly on 25th November 1949

 

Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's speech in the Constituent Assembly on 25th November 1949

babasaheb constituent assembly

Sir, looking back on the work of the Constituent Assembly it will now be two years, eleven months and seventeen days since it first met on the 9th of December 1946. During this period the Constituent Assembly has altogether held eleven sessions. Out of these eleven sessions the first six were spent in passing the Objectives Resolution and the consideration of the Reports of Committees on Fundamental Rights, on Union Constitution, on Union Powers, on Provincial Constitution, on Minorities and on the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes. The seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and the eleventh sessions were devoted to the consideration of the Draft Constitution. These eleven sessions of the Constituent Assembly have consumed 165 days. Out of these, the Assembly spent 114 days for the consideration of the Draft Constitution.

Coming to the Drafting Committee, it was elected by the Constituent Assembly on 29th August 1947. It held its first meeting on 30th August. Since August 30th it sat for 141 days during which it was engaged in the preparation of the Draft Constitution. The Draft Constitution as prepared by the Constitutional Adviser as a text for the Draft Committee to work upon, consisted of 243 articles and 13 Schedules. The first Draft Constitution as presented by the Drafting Committee to the Constituent Assembly contained 315 articles and 8 Schedules. At the end of the consideration stage, the number of articles in the Draft Constitution increased to 386. In its final form, the Draft Constitution contains 395 articles and 8 Schedules. The total number of amendments to the Draft Constitution tabled was approximately 7,635. Of them, the total number of amendments actually moved in the House were 2,473.

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Mayawati on the Rohith Vemula issue

 

Statement released by the Bahujan Samaj Party at its Central OFfice In New Delhi on Monday, February 29, 2016. Translated from Hindi by Karishma Choudhary.

Ms. Mayawati ji's Statement in the Rajya Sabha  

• The single member Judicial Inquiry Commission -- which was constituted for investigation into the case of abetment to suicide of Shri Rohith Vemula -- does not have a Dalit member. Besides this, there are fundamental flaws which make this Gazette Notification invalid and illegal.

• BSP National President, MP (Rajya Sabha) and former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Ms Mayawati ji stated this inside the Parliament, outside it and to the media as well. In this manner, the anti-Dalit mindset of the BJP lead Central Government has been exposed in front of the country.

• Death of Shri Rohith Vemula due to autocratic and tyrannical government and the JNU issue were clubbed together in the Parliament because of mutual understanding between the BJP and the Congress. It is the result of anti-Dalit mindset of both parties.

Mayawati-EP-E

New Delhi, 26 February. 2016. 

• The National President of Bahujan Samaj Party, MP (Rajya Sabha) and former Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh, Ms. Mayawati elaborated on the case of abetment to suicide of Shri Rohit Vemula, inside the Rajya Sabha, outside it as well as to the media. She exposed the anti-Dalit mindset of the Central Government led by Narendra Modi and said that in this case the BJP government is operating in the same vile and wrong manner as the Congress Party used to when it was in Government at the centre.

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From the pages of Bahishkrit Bharat

 

Bahishkrit Bharat (Untouchable India)

The following is from an editorial (translated from Marathi) written by Babasaheb Ambedkar for one of the issues of the newspaper Bahishkrit Bharat published in 1927! This translation was first published in July 2010 by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Research Institute in Social Growth, Kolhapur. Translated by Dr. B.R. Kamble.

~

I mounted on the chariot with bow in my hands and it is my satisfaction that the bravery has surcharged my body; to establish fame in the world, to enhance the prestige of one's own religion and to release the earth from its burden,Parth, now be doubtless, pay attention to this struggle. After hearing this there should be no need of saying anything more.

ambedkar in library

Year 1st
Friday June 3, 1927
Issue 5th

Day-to-day problems

1. Once upon a time going to a foreign country was forbidden in India. But after observing that those who return from foreign (western) countries after receiving higher education occupy higher positions, now-a-days many go to the foreign countries without bothering for the expiation that they have to undergo after returning. Thus many Indian students are spread across the universities in western countries. Some Indian students studying in a German University have recently published that there they are treated as untouchables. Their entry is forbidden in some boardings (hostels). In the University their entry is forbidden to the amusement centres. They have stated that that the exclusion and miserable condition that they are experiencing there in Germany cannot be realized by the Indians from such a long distance. These students going abroad generally come from rich families. For them study goes along with all their habits of entertainment. As a matter of fact one need not have much sympathy for them. Because they are such who support and thrive on the varna (caste) practices in India. Varna system in India is their cultural heritage. They never say that the untouchablity imposed on the so-called untouchables in India is wrong. When this is so then why should they complain when their own Varna (caste) system is imposed on them in Europe? Should they not be happy that the varna system which they regard as good in India is imposed and practiced on them in Europe by the Europeans? If Varna System is good then should they not be happy when it is spreading outside India? Why should the boys who have themselves grown in the social environment of varnashrama be angry when it is practiced on them in Europe? These people who are number one in the hierarchical system of India should think seriously when they experience that they are not number one everywhere.

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From the pages of Mook Nayak

 

The following is the first editorial (translated from Marathi) written by Babasaheb Ambedkar for the very first issue of Mook Nayak published in January 1920! This translation was first published in July 2010 by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Research Institute in Social Growth, Kolhapur. Translated by Dr. B.R. Kamble.

~

Mumbai, Saturday 31st January 1920 [Issue No.1].

If anyone throws his glance on the Indian physical and social world as a spectator he will undoubtedly find this country a home of glaring inequality. Despite the blessings of nature and the things produced in abundance the growing inequality of poverty is so much in existence among the Indian masses that it can be easily noticed by anybody even in his unmindfulness. But no sooner he notices the inequality of poverty among the masses he does not fail to notice the social inequality that exists among the people and this inequality is like the elder sister of the former making the younger one ashamed of it.

ambedkar seated

Inequality that exists among Indians is of many forms. Inequality due to physical differences and also due to racial differences which is quite common everywhere is also found here. Black-White, tall-dwarf, straight nosed and snub-nosed.Arya- Anarya, Gon=Knod, Yavani-Dravid, Arab, Irani etc. are the differences that surface clearly in some places and though not as clearly defined but they exist in other places in latent form and in some other places in stable form. Religious inequality exists in more severe form than physical and racial inequality. The quarrels and struggles emerging out of religious inequality in several instances go to the extent of blood shedding. No doubt that Hindu, Parsi, Yahudi, Musalman, Chrisitan etc. stand as the walls of religious inequality but more than this if we see with our own subtle eyes the existing inequality among the Hindus we find its form much beyond our imagination and also worth condemning.

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