India's Revolutionary Icons who followed the paths of The Buddha

India's Revolutionary Icons who followed the paths of  The Buddha
It all began with Buddha... and these are some of the great Torch Bearer's of Buddha's Dhamma.... This Blog is a Scholarly Blog created to provide insights into the life, services and Social contributions of some of the Greatest of Indian Scholars, Humanitarians, Saints and social activists about whom the vested interests and Rotten Indian media do not write. Nor there is a State or center policies to restore and protect the stunning stories of these great men and woman...let me walk you through the greatness..!!

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Father of Nation of India Dr.Bheemarao Ambedkar

The first Law Minister of India and the Father of Indian Constitution Bheemrao Ramji Ambedkar (Dr.B.R.Ambedkar)spoke, wrote and demonstrated quite extensively and comprehensively than any other known living or dead humans of India as to how treacherous, dangerous this so called Indian hindu society and it's deadly cultures that spread discrimination and bigotry between each of thousands of heterogeneous groups. To find a way to bring them all these "heterogeneous mess of India", and to put them in single order to lead a happy, free and prosperous life, to make them behave like humans and to treat fellow humans DrAmbedkar crafted this finest of the fine Constitution that even Americans refer to it when they are in crisis. Ofcourse, Dr.Ambedkar was an American Scholar and Columbia Doctorate, he did learn lots about humanity and freedom while he was in America, but he also studied American Constitution, so a well learned scholar and genius DrAmbedkar fathered the Indian constitution in real sense, he is the Father of Modern India, while SakyaMuni Buddha was the Father of ancient and all time Father of India. Here is the dedication to the Father of India:

Friday, December 22, 2006

Interview with Professor Eleanor Zelliot, An American Scholar & a Dalit culture & Literature expert

1.Growing up as Untouchable in India

2.From Untouchable to Dalit
3.Experience of Hinuduism

Zelliot, Dr. Eleanor - Interview on Dalit Liberation, Hindutva Fascism and Cultural Revolution
By Yoginder Sikand

Dr. Eleanor Zelliot, a leading American Scholar, has done pioneering work through her studies of various aspects of the Dalit liberation movement, about which she speaks here to Yoginder Sikand.

Q: How did you develop an interest in the Dalit movement ?
A: I got interested in Ambedkar when I was reading widely about India when I was at the university, and found his name in most books which I referred to. I however, had no analyze to explain his rise. I have been supporting the African-American movement since I was 14, so the comparable Indian movement was a natural subject for me.
Q: You have written a great deal on Dalit Cultures. How would you define that term ?
A: Every act, including a poem, song, object or design that a person who defines himself or herself as a Dalit does or creates act of creation arising out of the fact of the consciousness of one’s being a Dalit is a part of Dalit Culture.
Q. Can non-Dalits play any role in developing Dalit Culture ?
A. A white man cannot write Black literature, though he can write wonderfully well about Black society.

John Griffin, a white American sociologist, painted himself black, lived in a black ghetto for two months, and then wrote a book which be claimed faithfully represented an insider’s view of Black society in America.
But the blacks asserted that despite this attempt at identifying with them, he was unable to fully capture the story of their plight.
The same is true for the Dalits in India. Non-Dalits cannot write Dalit literature, but they have a crucial role to play in facilitating its development. The social awakening brought about by non-Dalit reformers in Maharashtra such as Ranade, Agarkar and Bhandarkar did play a crucial role in the later rise of the Ambedkarite movement. A group of Maharashtrian non-Dalits were the first to publish radical literature written by Dalits. I therefore see the possibility of non-Dalits being facilitators to the Dalit movement but not its guides or preachers. Non-Dalits cannot direct the Dalit movement. When Gandhi announced that he was a “Harijan”, that ended forever the possibility of his leadership of the Dalits.

Q. Do you, see the possibility of a radical liberation theology on Latin American lines emerging in Ambedkarite Buddhism today?
A. To a great extent, conversion to Buddhism has meant psychological liberation to many Dalits. The Dalits today appear to be moving towards a socially more engaged Buddhism, but not really in the direction of liberation theology. This is akin to the recent developments in Thai and Vietnamese Buddhism. The Dalits could learn a lot from the efforts of people like the Vietnamese scholar Thich Nat Than who teaches “Buddhism and Social Action” in France.
There are several training institutes for the Buddhist Sangha in Maharashtra, but 1 am not sure if the Sangha is really necessary. What is required are more lay teachers moving from one Viharaђ or Dalit settlement to the other.

There is also a pressing need to develop Buddhist cultural activities to transmit the message of social emancipation through dramas, folk songs etc. The cultural side of Buddhism bas been neglected by the Sangha. Buddhism appeals directly to the intellectual, but for the masses one requires more colour, more activity.
Q: But are these efforts radical enough or are they at best reformist?
A: I am not quite sure what the term “Revolution” really means today. Marxists in many countries, while not ignoring macro-level issues, are thinking in terms of local problems, grassroots level organizations and decentralized leadership. And as far as liberation theologyђ is concerned, I do not think it has as yet emerged in India and most certainly not in Hinduism. Instead, what has happened is that the secular Indian intelligentsia have left the field of religion completely to the conservatives and reactionaries. In such a situation, where is the possibility of liberation theology emerging ?
Q. Is it possible to creatively draw upon the epics, legends and collective memory of the Dalits and other oppressed groups to assist in their mobilization for social emancipation?
A. Such a venture would work wonders for arousing the awareness of the Dalits. Much work has to be done to collect the peoples own versions of history or oral history their stories and songs of defiance of caste oppression, etc. These can then be used by activists in the field in a creative way. For instance, the stories of Eklavya, Shambhukh and the ballads of the Dusadhs of Bihar that an associate of mine has collected, could be used as crucial images in the creation of a positive Dalit culture. Dalit culture and the Dalit movement cannot be built on the mere negative platform of anti-Brahminism. The infusing of Dalit culture with the images of the long-forgotten Dalit heroes and heroines would serve as a positive foundation of the Dalit cultural movement.
Q: Would the Ambedkarite Dalit cultural movement that you talk about be able to unite the various Dalit castes?
A: I feel that Ambedkarites ought to make efforts to link their movement to the local folk heroes and anti-caste charismatic leaders of the various Dalit castes so that its appeal could be much wider. I saw a good instance of this at the Ravidas Temple at Ramakrishnapuram in New Delhi recently. A picture of Ambedkar there is placed next to one of Ravidas and this is an effective means to link the Ravidasis to the Ambedkarite Movement. However, it is also a fact that the Bhakti and ב Untouchable Saints had a limited social programme, and the Dalit Cultural Movement needs to be aware of this. Preaching the equality of all people in the eyes of God is not the same as actually transforming society in the direction of social equality.
Q: Is it not the case that many Dalits today have almost turned Ambedkar into another divine prophet and thereby refuse to critically evaluate or re-interpret Ambedkarism?
A: It is true that many Dalit Buddhists are not going beyond Ambedkar. In the minds of these Dalits, Ambedkar was the one who gave them self-respect, and so they feel the same way about him as many Indians feel about their “Gurus”. As regards the need to creatively reinterpret Ambedkarism today, some Dalits do not seem to agree and they appear to be arguing that if Marxism was in existence for 150 years but Marx was not capable of being critically evaluated until only some years ago, a somewhat similar logic operates in their strict adherence to the views articulated by Ambedkar.
Q: Do you sense any danger to the Dalit Movement as the result of the growing threat of Brahminical Hindu chauvinism?
A: The RSS is trying to co-opt Ambedkar. They even go to the extent of claiming that Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS, and Ambedkar had similar aims! (laughs)...If the RSS are genuinely admirers of Ambedkar they ought to denounce caste and convert to Buddhism as Ambedkar did! It is simply impossible to go back to the Varna System as many Hindu revivalists argue. In today’s context only the Brahmin Varna has any meaning and sociological relevance. Even in the Varna system the Shudras are considered to be menials, so attempting to revive this system would not change their degraded status at all.

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I read with great interest "A Challenge to Buddhism" by Ven.Bhikkhu Bodhi that I was fortunate to read on the internet. 
We all know and revere Bhikkhu Bodhi. His talks and writings are always inspiring and  provocative. His distress evident in the above-mentioned article will be shared by all those who read it.
Of late we have been hearing a lot about the expression  "Engaged Buddhism". I find the expression mostly among the Mahayanists rather than among the Therawadis in the Western world. Mahayanists also use the expression "Humanistic Buddhism". To everyone who is not a Buddhist, it simply means Applied Buddhism or practical Budhism.
There has been  challenges to Buddhism in all eras. To my mind, there is no greater solution, no enduring remedy to the challenges in any era than the creation of Buddha's disciples known as Arhants who would advice and give lead to people to solve their problems as and when they arise, regardless of color, race, creed or nation. Whatever the problems - social problems like injustice or natural catastrophies like earthquake or global problems like climate change 
-  the cutting edges of weapons in Buddhist armory to counter them always lay in individuals in the first instance, and subsequently in their organizations, with or without the support of governments. Therawada Buddhism which I am more familiar with has had a monastic order in place since Buddha'.s time where trained monks are turned out in large numbers, year after year, in Therawada countries -  Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia.  Many of the trained monastics become bodhisatvas (seekers of enlightenment), few if any become fully enlightened worthy ones known as arhants who are worthy to advice and lead. Finding arhants is like mining for diamonds.
Many of the social service organizations, Buddhist or other,  fail because of the absence of arhants, the fully enlightened ones, to lead them. The fully enlightened arhants emerge out of the multitudes of monks, worthy to advice and worthy to lead..  
There have been a plethora of institutions with long histories of social service like the CARE, the American Peace Core, Red Cross, YMCAs, and many others. Bhikkhu Bodhi has mentioned American Jewish World Service (AJWS) which is relatively a new organization like the Islamic Relief USA and others, all of which "aiming to alleviate suffering, hunger, illiteracy and disease, worldwide". On the other hand,  organizations with limited goals also take birth like the Armenian Relief Society with its limited goal of serving the humanitarian needs of the Armenian people worldwide, who still suffer from the effects of its underreported holocaust of early 20th century. I wonder what make AJWS exceptional. 

Has AJWS  tested its declared objective of social service on the soils of Israel's next door neighbors or in the  Arab sector inside Israel itself?  Some material on the internet gave me the impression that AJWS perhaps took birth out of cognitive dissonance among American Jews suffering from psychological conflicts between incompatible beliefs and attitudes.  
The highly efficient style of working of organizations like AJWS backed by media support can make favourable impression of them even if they do not have enlightened leaders and violate one or more of the five precepts that the Buddhists always practise in all their endeavours.
Social service is the objective of most organizations, but they have besides social service something which make them distinct. For instance, the U.S. after taking thousands of lives in Japan with their nuclear armory seek to create a better image of the U.S.with its Peace Core volunteers, YMCAs seek to spread Christian messages behind their altruism,  what if AJWS seeks to show Jewish presence in world service, no matter that the Jews are only 0.2 percent of a world population of 7 billion.   
I wish to draw the attention of my readers to an organization which I had in  mind when I wrote earlier in this piece about arhants and searching for them like mining for diamonds. 
The organization is called Fo Guang Shan (FGS), which means literally "Buddha's Light Mountain", and its organizer is Master Venerable Hsing Yun, born in mainland China in 1927. Master Venrable Hsing Yun founded FGS in 1967 in a remote quiet area in the hills of  Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. It is a Mahayana Buddhist order promoting Humanistic Budddhism, a modern Chinese philosophy. Humanistic Buddhism aims to make Buddhism relevant in the world and in the people's lives and hearts. It is a monastic order and not a theoretical school of thought per se.
In May 1997, Hsing Yun got the gates of FGS closed to the general public in order to give a cloistered atmosphere to the temple residents.
But, following the plea of the public headed by the President of Taiwan, FGS reopened the gates in December 2000. In the last 40 years since its inception, FGS has been remarkably successful in extending its services beyond Taiwan,  setting up temples and organizations in 173 countries and encompassing more than 3,500 monastics. FGS also created an affiliate in 1992, Buddha's  Light International Association (BLIA),  
which has now over 100 chapters in the world.  The monastic order represented by Fo Guang Shan and Buddha's Light International Association has now over a milliom followers worldwide. It has been said  "In Master Venerable Hsing Yun, Buddhism has found a reformer, an innovator and an educator. Under his strong  leadership, Buddhism has extended beyond traditional temple life to integrate and further enrich the modern city dwellers."
December 18, 2008

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Ravana & the depiction of 10 Heads? What is the Rationale?

Ravana's ten heads represent the ten crowns he wore as a result of his being the sovereign of ten countries.