Dr Ambedkar and the Revival of Buddhism II
This companion to volume 9 begins with a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism, together with a rejoicing in his merits. Then we follow the dramatic history of the Buddhist revival in India, beginning with a commentary on Dr Ambedkar’s article ‘Buddha and the Future of His Religion’, which prompted Sangharakshita’s initial contact with him. Articles on the mass conversion in 1956 and Sangharakshita’s crucial visit to Nagpur at the time of Dr Ambedkar’s death are followed by the story of Sangharakshita’s teachings among the new Buddhists in 1959 to 61, together with notes from some of the hundreds of talks he gave.
Sangharakshita did not forget India after returning to England in 1964, giving talks to raise awareness of Dr Ambedkar, and in 1979 returning to perform the first ordinations of the Indian wing of the Order, later the Triratna Buddhist Order. In a sequence of talks (from 1979 to 1992) he tells his Indian audiences about the Buddhist movement he has founded in the West and his western audiences about the Indian sangha, thus weaving together the two communities of new Buddhists.
The volume culminates in a commentary on the Pāli canon’s Udāna, edited from two much-loved seminars from the early days of the FWBO and including new translations of the verses (udānas) by Dhivan Thomas Jones. Inspiring us to imagine the time when Buddhism was so new it didn’t have a name, the text includes famous teachings – the taste of salt, in the seen only the seen – and declares the first question the Buddha was asked after his Enlightenment: who is the true brahmin? The Buddha’s answer, rejecting the caste system and asserting the spiritual values to which he has awakened, takes us to the heart of Dr Ambedkar’s revival of Buddhism in India.
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