I have come to the conclusion that the conflict, whatever form it may take, will ultimately be between the Gospel of Buddha and the Gospel of Karl Marx.Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj established the Swarajya of Rayat by fighting against the Sultanate. The most notable part of his gain of Swarajya, as many historians rightly claim, was his method of fighting – The Guerilla Warfare. As a great leader, he had devised this method, considering the time and space, to win the odds. One can imagine how confused the Mawales, the agrarian-fighters of Shivaji Maharaj, would have been after preparing and organizing themselves for the conventional battlefield. Given the strength of the armies, the Mawales, in no way, could have faced the numbers of the mighty Sultanate that was equipped with the best resources of the time. Scientifically speaking, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj could not have won Swarajya without his famous method. He was victorious due to the great importance given to his method for achieving goals.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, as the greatest human liberator of the modern times, discovered a way to emancipate the masses and reconstruct the world. He too, gave importance to the method of achieving emancipation and the core philosophy of his method can be said to be Dhamma, as taught by the Buddha. However, witnessing the confusions emerging in these modern times, he was skeptical of people getting wooed by the philosophy of Karl Marx. So in order to ensure that he addressed these confusions, he not only made clear intellectual comparisons between the philosophies of the Buddha and Karl Marx, but also took a firm position by accepting Buddha’s Dhamma as the saviour of the humanity. His act of Dhamma-Deeksha is the practical fruition of these very ideas.
Given his foresight, Babasaheb had envisioned saving the future generations from falling prey to the confusion of mixing the ideas of Buddha and Karl Marx. This becomes evident by the fact that he had constantly made crystal clear distinctions between the ideas and methods of the Buddha and those of Karl Marx (Chapter 18: Part IV: Vol 3 of BAWS). In Babasaheb’s words,
As we can see, in the speech ‘Buddha or Karl Marx’, Babasaheb directly warns the youth of Buddhist states to be wary of Marxism and put efforts in understanding Buddhism as the way of liberation.
We’re not sure whether his advise of not getting wooed by Marxist ideas was taken seriously by the youth of other Buddhist countries, but it is evident that, despite his painstaking efforts, the later generations of Ambedkarites/Buddhists in India fell prey to this confusion and injected Marxist ideas into the plan of liberation, contrary to the plan propagated by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. The situation is alarming because a considerable section of today’s youth are attempting to colour Ambedkarite ideas in Red, disguised as of the followers of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. It has become commonplace to see the flags of blue and red together and we have often criticised this trend as being highly problematic.
The current case in question is of tampering with the original writings and speeches of Babasaheb by Panther’s Paw Publication where they have distorted the title of the essay ‘Buddha or Karl Marx’ as ‘Buddha AND Karl Marx’. Not only is this done deliberately, but the editor also claims that these are the words of Babasaheb himself. It must also be noted that the printing and tampering of the title of Babasaheb’s essay is done by this publication in print and also released publicly through social media. By seeing the tampered title and moreover, the post in its defense, one can easily observe this deliberate manipulation as a fabrication done by the editor in order to mislead people towards confusion while serving their own ideological agenda.
In the wake of and along with this issue, we take the responsibility of clarifying many long pending doubts regarding this particular essay of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. In fact, this instance of tampering has provided the opportunity to produce a clarification on the methods adopted by Babasaheb as is the need of the hour. Unlike many people who see this just a change of words, we see it as having serious epistemic ramifications. Thus, in order to expose the propaganda of some opportunistic Marxists, Baudhkaro intends to intervene and expose their fraud and clear doubts.
To get a gist of the issue, it is important to keep at the centre Babasaheb’s scheme of publishing the planned book, ‘Buddha and Karl Marx’, of which the published essay titled as ‘Buddha or Karl Marx’ was intended to be part of. These details are published in the 3rd Volume of Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches (BAWS), printed by the Government of Maharashtra. After Baudhkaro’s initial objection to the editor changing the title of the essay to ‘Buddha and Karl Marx, the publication tried to justify their position in defence by posting- “Read Ambedkar through him” posited with a note, as released from the facebook/instagram account of it’s editor.
This is deliberately done by the publisher, without clarifying the context and reason of using the words ‘Buddha and Karl Marx’. Moreover, they are not only distorting the facts but also, in their capacity, are trying to befool and confuse the masses. One must notice how in defence of the publication, the publisher has only put a ‘partial part’ of the explanatory note written by the editors of the BAWS, blatantly omitting the ‘important part’ that clarifies the reason, how the title ‘Buddha or Karl Marx’ justifies the essay.
After going through this defence by the publisher it is clear that the publisher-
- understands the correct scheming but still deliberately sharing the half truth, as beneficial to his argument, to confuse the people.
- Is trying to confuse people by showing the words ‘Buddha and Karl Marx’ in the handwriting of Babasaheb and shamelessly manufacturing the fact that these words are used by Babasaheb for the same essay wherein they are for the book.
As explained by the complete note of the BAWS editors, it is clear that Babasaheb himself titled this published essay as ‘Buddha or Karl Marx’ but the editor of Panther’s Paw Publication deliberately omits the part to validate their own bogus and pretentious defence in the matter.
The book that Babasaheb had envisioned titled ‘Buddha and Karl Marx’ remains incomplete and undiscovered to the editorial team. It is clear that Babasaheb wanted to do this comparative study to ease out the confusion in the two philosophies. On the other hand, this essay, ‘Buddha or Karl Marx’ which would have likely been an important chapter of this book, was discovered. It is this essay which was complete but was found in parts by the editorial team, giving them all the reasons to publish it as it has been published in the BAWS. One must note that the team picked this title – ‘Buddha or Karl Marx’ directly from the manuscript. And most importantly, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar himself termed ‘Buddha or Karl Marx’ as “the heading of this essay” in the very first paragraph of this very critical and noteworthy essay, ‘Buddha or Karl Marx’.
One has to laud the audacity of the publisher who appears to not even have bothered to read the essay before distorting it for his own ideological propaganda and self-interest. We are sure, that for one reading this exposition, there will remain no doubt or confusion regarding the farce created and further fuelled by this hypocritical publisher. He is erroneous, if not foolish, to claim that Babasaheb wouldn’t use the word ‘OR’ as it suggests absoluteness as claimed by his own statement-
“Or” suggests giving absolute choice which Babasaheb didn’t do as he was the advocate of rationalism and encouraged people to think and understand and rationalise, hence “and” which implies his attempts at understanding both and then decide for oneself. He didn’t and never force things.”as claimed by the editor in a Facebook comment
In our understanding, Babasaheb never left his rationalisations to be vague and interpretive. In fact, he was always firm and decisive about his own choice and philosophy, especially when he knew it would influence the masses. The conjunction “or” makes evident the matter that Babasaheb wants to highlight in the essay and speech. Changing this to “and” makes it convenient for people to claim that Babasaheb was not absolute, which is not the case at all.
But where is the need to change the title?
It is seen as a trending fashion amongst certain dubious business-people that in order to woo the upper-class customer-crowd, who come from the privileged social-economic locations, and are woke enough to sympathise with “dalits”, Babasaheb is often used as a bait. In order to understand the “dalit” pain, they read such copy-pasted, and in this case adulterated, anthologies based on the works of Babasaheb. Of course, they like to read through the marxist point of view, which according to Babasaheb, is not relevant to see the Indian reality. In such a customer based context of market of victimhood, it is not difficult to observe how exactly this market works. One has to also provide the customers what they demand, isn’t it?
According to us, the editors of BAWS did a brilliant job of studying the manuscripts and systematising them in the current structure. But the publisher seems to think otherwise. The editorial team of the BAWS had full authority to give titles because they went through the manuscripts of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s writings and speeches. In this wake it is highly problematic, if not criminal, to just change the title in some self-published anthology aimed to make profits. So, we have asked the question, who has given this publisher the authority to tamper with the titles of the original Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches? Has he gained some special access to previously unseen manuscripts or did Babasaheb appear in his dream to command the change?
Questioning and criticising the titles and content of BAWS is one thing. It has been done by many critics until now. It is their freedom which they exercise. However, directly changing the title is not something which is tolerable and acceptable. Therefore, we sincerely appeal to thinkers, critics, intellectuals and especially Ambedkarites who can’t tolerate any kind of nonsense done with Babasaheb’s original writings – to take a strict and serious note of this issue of tampering and command this publisher to own up and apologise for this act of brazen manipulation.
On the wider spectrum, students of Marxist and Ambedkarite politics are very well aware of the difference between the two philosophies. However, they have also observed that many marxists (belonging to different locations, including those who are called as ‘Dalits’) have been trying to establish the imaginary speculation that Babasaheb had equal worth for the marxist thought vis a vis the buddhist thought and method. But this goes against Babasaheb’s own approach and words, as is seen in the essay itself- “I have spent a great deal of time in Karl Marx, communism and all that, and I have also spent a good deal of time in studying the Buddha’s Dhamma. After comparing the two I have come to the conclusion that Buddha’s advise with regard to the great problem of the world, namely, that there is Dukkha, that Dukkha must be removed, that the Buddha’s method was the safest and the soundest.”
If anyone wants to be a Marxist they are free to be so. One can freely criticise Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s ideas regarding Karl Marx, Marxism and communism. It is in fact good to exercise one’s freedom of mind and criticise Babasaheb because he found Marxism incompetent to solve the human issues. One can thus, take an independent stand without caring for the opinion of Babasaheb, by following a radical ideology that aims to change the world by fighting injustice.
One need not have Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s sanction to be a Marxist. Why is there the need to justify one’s ideology through Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar when they are clearly of an opposing opinion. Very often, there is seem to be a discomfort in calling oneself Marxist if they come from a specific caste or social location, and in such cases, many call themselves Ambedkarite even if they don’t agree with Babasaheb’s ideology. Along with this, there is blatant appropriation of Babasaheb’s name by certain political factions. Many people and institutions, both from left and right wing political spectrum, do it to gain legitimacy through the power of the name and intellect of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. This is clearly an attempt to easily target the huge number of communities which follow Babasaheb.
Nonetheless, whatever be the reason, one cannot simply distort Babasaheb’s words on one’s whim and fancy. We, as Ambedkarite, will not stand for it and will not let the matter die without recourse. Babasaheb’s Kathmandu speech had an important statement that will add clarity to get rid of this created confusion. This speech is also titled as “Buddha or Karl Marx” by the editorial team of BAWS. Nobody can dare to change Babasaheb’s ideas and, after reading him, there is no confusion about the subject and his method of choice for the way to emancipation. It is all about – either Buddha or Karl Marx. Obviously, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar chose, and gave the world, the way of Buddha.