The book, Rashtriya Mahapurush Bharat Ratna Dr B R Ambedkar, written in Gujarati by Dalit scholar P A Parmar, was selected by the state government’s Department of Social Justice & Empowerment. The Gujarat government has withdrawn a book on Dr B R Ambedkar that was distributed to students of Class VI-VIII in government primary schools across the state, reportedly because it contained “anti-Hindu” content.
The book was distributed in schools as part of Dr Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary celebrations. The government took the decision to withdraw the book after it found that the publisher had added the “22 vows” Ambedkar prescribed during the mass religious conversion of 1956, in which thousands of his followers shed Hinduism and embraced Buddhism.
The book, Rashtriya Mahapurush Bharat Ratna Dr B R Ambedkar, written in Gujarati by Dalit scholar P A Parmar, was selected by the state government’s Department of Social Justice & Empowerment — the same department that ordered the recall.
The department is leading the programme on the year-long celebrations, which started on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, April 14, 2015. The book was distributed to students so they could prepare for a state-level quiz competition on Ambedkar.
Sources said the publisher, Ahmedabad-based Surya Prakashan, had already dispatched the books to district headquarters and they were being distributed to schools when an order to recall them was issued. The government had got more than four lakh books printed, most of which had already been distributed. Dr Ambedkar had read out the 22 vows at a mass conversion ceremony in Nagpur on October 15, 1956. In the vows, Ambedkar stated that Hinduism was “based on inequality” and denounced Hindu deities and rituals.
Director, Scheduled Caste Welfare, Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, K D Kapadia said, “The publisher added some things in the book that were seen as sending a wrong message to the impressionable mind of primary school students, so the government decided to withdraw the book… Some matters pertaining to religious conversion that are there in the 22 vows of Dr Ambedkar were added by the publisher that were seen as going against the message of national integration. Government’s action will be in the interest of the public.”
When contacted, Parmar said the original edition of the book was 24 pages-long and did not contain the 22 vows. “The addition was made by the publisher, who did not discuss the matter with the writer,” Parmar said. “It was the publisher’s mistake to add Ambedkar’s 22 vows. The addition has caused controversy… The publisher said that since some pages were blank while going to print, he decided to print the vows without asking me. The changes in my book were not discussed with me, else I would have suggested the use of Baba Saheb’s pictures instead,” Parmar said.
Parmar and an official of the Social Justice & Empowerment department said the publishing was handled by Dharmesh Kothari of Surya Prakashan. When contacted, Kothari refused to comment on the matter.Social Justice & Empowerment Minister Ramanlal Vora could not be reached for a comment.
The vows prescribed by Ambedkar
Dr.B.R.Ambedkar prescribed 22 vows to his followers during the historic religious conversion to Buddhism on 15 October 1956 at Deeksha Bhoomi, Nagpur in India. The conversion to Buddhism by 800,000 people was historic because it was the largest religious conversion, the world has ever witnessed. He prescribed these oaths so that there may be complete severance of bond with Hinduism. These 22 vows struck a blow at the roots of Hindu beliefs and practices. These vows could serve as a bulwark to protect Buddhism from confusion and contradictions. These vows could liberate converts from superstitions, wasteful and meaningless rituals, which have led to pauperisation of masses and enrichment of upper castes of Hindus.
The famous 22 vows are:
- I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh nor shall I worship them.
- I shall have no faith in Rama and Krishna who are believed to be incarnation of God nor shall I worship them.
- I shall have no faith in ‘Gauri’, Ganapati and other gods and goddesses of Hindus nor shall I worship them.
- I do not believe in the incarnation of God.
- I do not and shall not believe that Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu. I believe this to be sheer madness and false propaganda.
- I shall not perform ‘Shraddha’ nor shall I give ‘pind-dan’.
- I shall not act in a manner violating the principles and teachings of the Buddha.
- I shall not allow any ceremonies to be performed by Brahmins.
- I shall believe in the equality of man.
- I shall endeavour to establish equality.
- I shall follow the ‘noble eightfold path’ of the Buddha.
- I shall follow the ‘paramitas’ prescribed by the Buddha.
- I shall have compassion and loving kindness for all living beings and protect them.
- I shall not steal.
- I shall not tell lies.
- I shall not commit carnal sins.
- I shall not take intoxicants like liquor, drugs etc.
- I shall endeavour to follow the noble eightfold path and practise compassion and loving kindness in every day life.
- I renounce Hinduism which is harmful for humanity and impedes the advancement and development of humanity because it is based on inequality, and adopt Buddhism as my religion.
- I firmly believe the Dhamma of the Buddha is the only true religion.
- I believe that I am having a re-birth.
- I solemnly declare and affirm that I shall hereafter lead my life according to the principles and teachings of the Buddha and his Dhamma.