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  #1  
Old November 4th, 2001, 08:39 AM
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Thousands of Dalits embrace Buddhism

Thousands of Dalits embrace Buddhism


AKSHAYA MUKUL

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

EW DELHI: About 50,000 Dalits embraced Buddhism in a mass ceremony at the Ambedkar Bhavan here on Sunday.

Braving the police ban and sweltering heat, dalits from all over the country reached the Ambedkar Bhavan premises, barely few hundred metres away from the RSS office, shouting slogans against uppercaste hegemony of Hinduism, polity and society.

When the time came, all of them euphorically repeated the 22 vows that Dr BR Ambedkar had administered on October 14, 1956 to half a million dalits who had converted to Buddhism in Nagpur.

More than 45 years later it was Ram Raj, the protagonist of the present movement, who administered the vow after getting himself tonsured. He rechristened himself as Udit Raj and so did scores of his close associates. All of it was peaceful.

The organisers took care to follow Ambedkar's method of conversion till the last detail. The only difference was that Ambedkar himself was deified here along with a huge brass Buddha statue.

An esctatic Bhante Buddha Priya Rahul carried out the ceremony of sangha-diksha (initiation into sangha) followed by Ambedkar's vows. First to get converted were Ram Raj, his wife, two children and other associates.


Till the conversion ceremony got over, politics was avoided by all the speakers. But once vows were over, politics subsumed everything. Buddha Priya Rahul spared no one. The monk who had been travelling with Dhamma Rath since April this year and has adopted Ram Raj as his god child spoke like a man possessed. Simultaneously attacking the RSS and Mayawati for criticising the conversion plan he said, ``Our motive is clear. Hinduism please spare us. We don't want to follow your dictates.''

According to him, the VHP and RSS which has called the conversion plan a Christian conspiracy should realise that dalits will take help from anyone who supports their cause. Some missionaries were present on the dais.


Ram Raj attacked the government for banning the conversion. ``No where in the world such undemocratic onslaught has been engineered on fundamental right of expression,'' he quipped. Attacking the VHP for masterminding the ban he said, ``They call today's function a Christian conspiracy. This shows their bias. When Christian media writes on Sangh Parivar they don't attack them but now when our turn has come they want to stop us.'' Arun Shourie came in for special attack for calling Ambedkar ``a British agent'' in his book `Untouchable Freedom'. ``At least Britishers gave us the right to vote,'' Ram Raj explained.
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Old November 4th, 2001, 09:01 AM
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does anybody care??
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Old November 4th, 2001, 09:04 AM
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Old November 4th, 2001, 10:36 AM
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weren't dalits supposed to be Buddhists since the times of BBambedkar?

BTW, what religion were each of them following till now?
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Old November 4th, 2001, 08:10 PM
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Now there are two main Gujarati newspapers I read. Sandesh and Gujarat Samachar.

Sandesh has not reported the news (or resported in some obscure corner). Gujarat Samachar reported in 3rd last page saying the program was flop and less than 3000 ppl converted.

I think TOI is more dependable. Well soon we will find the truth.

-Rahul Mehta
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Last edited by MehtaRahulC; November 4th, 2001 at 08:31 PM.
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