India and Sri Lanka Commemorate the Life and Work of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

By Craig Lewis
Buddhistdoor Global | 2015-10-08 |
Dr. Ambedkar in 1939. From wikipedia.orgDr. Ambedkar in 1939. From

The Buddhist Society of India together with the Ogawa Society and Buddha Spiritual Park in Nagpur are planning a series of events in the city, which is located in Maharashtra State, to commemorate the life and work and conversion to Buddhism of the Indian scholar, social activist, and reformer Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891–56). Having studied Buddhism for much of his life, Ambedkar formally accepted the Three Refuges and Five Precepts and converted to Buddhism shortly before his death, along with 500,000 supporters.

The planned events include an exhibition of a collection of sacred Buddhist relics made available by Sri Lanka’s Waskaduwe Sri Raja Guru Sributhi Maha Viharaya and Department of Archaeology. The chief incumbent of the temple Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Nayaka Thera, its chief custodian Bandula Weera Wardana, and a team from the Department of Archaeology will accompany the relics.

The exhibition will take place from 4­–23 October in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhatis Garh and will run in parallel with the launch of the Dhamma Mahotsav and International Buddhist Peace Conference at the Dragon Palace Temple. There will also be a premiere of the Hindi-language version of the film Sri Siddhartha Gauthama in aid of the Buddha Spiritual Park and Mahamaya International Buddhist Residential School in Nagpur.

“This is a historical occasion for both countries. Sixty years ago, Dr. Ambedkar took a revolutionary step in India together with 500,000 underprivileged Indians by following the path of the Buddha,” said Light of Asia Foundation chairman Navin Gooneratne at a press conference in Sri Lanka. (The Island) Light of Asia Foundation is a Sri Lanka-based non-profit organization focused on the advancement of Buddhism throughout the world via audiovisual media.

“Dr. Ambedkar has made a huge sacrifice in the name of Buddhism and it is our duty to appreciate his work in a grand scale. I would like to extend my gratitude to the Indian delegation present here to extend their support to this worthy cause.” (Daily Mirror)

Artist's impression of the planned memorial. From dnaindia.comArtist's impression of the planned memorial. From

Separately, the state government of Maharashtra is planning a groundbreaking ceremony on 11 October for a memorial site in Mumbai to commemorate Dr. Ambedkar, to be attended by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. “The funds for the project have been approved and work on [the memorial] is expected to start in November,” said state social justice minister Rajkumar Badole. (Business Standard)

Badole said the memorial, designed by architect Shashi Prabhu, would include a 150-foot statue of Ambedkar, an auditorium, galleries, a library, and a public plaza. “The memorial will comprise a stupa which will be 140 feet in height and 110 meters in circumference. There will be a Ashoka Chakra covering the memorial structure. Besides, there will be a Vipassana (meditation) hall with a seating capacity of 13,000 people,” he said, adding, “A gallery, aptly named Gallery of Struggle and depicting various events and struggles in the life of Ambedkar, will be part of the project.” (Business Standard)

Dr. Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, economist, and politician, and a prolific scholar and social reformer. He inspired the modern Buddhist movement in India and campaigned against social discrimination against women and India’s “untouchable” Dalit caste. He was the principal architect of India’s first constitution and in 1955, founded the Buddhist society of India. Shortly before his death, Ambedkar completed his final book, The Buddha and His Dhamma, an English-language treatise on Buddhism and the Buddha’s life, which was published posthumously.

See more

Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar A great sacrifice in the name of Buddhism (Daily Mirror)
Building bridges of Buddhism (The Island)
Work on Ambedkar memorial to start from November (Business Standard)
Ambedkar memorial ceremony at Indu Mill to be a closed affair, will attended by PM Modi (DNA)
Indian State of Maharashtra Mulls Separate Law for Buddhist Marriages (Buddhistdoor Global)
Remembering a Hero of Buddhist Politics: The B.R. Ambedkar University of Lucknow Hosts Seminar on Ambedkar’s Thought (Buddhistdoor Global)
Ambedkar’s Children: Indian Buddhism Reborn Among the Untouchables (Buddhistdoor Global)

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