Why did Dr BR Ambedkar hail Hindu leaders VD Savarkar and Swami Shraddhanand?


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It has been propagated for many years that Dr BR Ambedkar was a staunch opponent of the Hindu religion and its leaders. After reading the writings of Dr BR Ambedkar, one can understand that he only criticized the untouchability and casteism that highly came into practice in a particular period within the Hindu community. Moreover, one may also find that many Hindu leaders initiated the movements for the abolition of untouchability and casteism. Some made efforts individually, while some joined with Dr BR Ambedkar for the same cause. Dr BR Ambedkar appreciated all Hindu leaders who participated along with him and even those who actively worked to eradicate untouchability and casteism individually.

 

Dr BR Ambedkar's letter to VD Savarkar

While VD Savarkar was residing in Ratnagiri, under restriction on his social movements and political engagement during British Rule, nonetheless, he strongly advocated for the rights of Backword people and even chaired the Mahar conference held in Ratnagiri. In a letter to VD Savarkar, while expressing his regret for not being able to visit him due to prior commitments, Dr BR Ambedkar wrote - 

"I, however, wish to take this opportunity of conveying to you my appreciation of the work you are doing in the field of social reform. If the Untouchables are to be part of the Hindu society, then it is not enough to remove untouchability; for that matter, you should destroy 'Chaturvarna'. I am glad that you are one of the very few leaders who have realized this." (From letter quoted by Dhananjay Keer, Veer Savarkar, 1950)

It has also been claimed that a special issue of Dr Ambedkar's Janata magazine in April 1933 paid tribute to Veer Savarkar, acknowledging his significant contribution to the cause of Dalits. The magazine noted that the effect of his contribution to the cause of the Dalits was as decisive and great as that of Gautama Buddha himself.

Dr BR Ambedkar on Swami Shraddhanand

Dr Ambedkar also held Swami Shraddhanand in high regard. The Swami Shraddhanand played a prominent role in the Hindu Sangathan movement and recognized that eradicating casteism was essential to achieving true unity. He was among the few Hindu leaders who actively pursued this goal. Dr Ambedkar expressed his admiration for Swami Shraddhanand and recognized him as a sincere advocate for the Dalit cause. In his book "What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables," Dr Ambedkar criticized the Congress leadership for hastily abandoning their efforts to uplift Dalits. He wrote -

"Was it because the Congress intended that the scheme should be a modest one, not costing more than two to five lakhs of rupees but felt that from that point of view, they had made a mistake in including Swami Shraddhanand in the Committee and rather than allow the Swami to confront them with a huge scheme which the Congress could neither accept nor reject? The Congress thought it better in the first instance to refuse to make him the convener and subsequently to dissolve the Committee and hand over the work to the Hindu Mahasabha. Circumstances are not quite against such a conclusion. The Swami was the greatest and the most sincere champion of the Untouchables. There is not the slightest doubt that if he had worked on the Committee, he would have produced a very big scheme. That the Congress did not want him in the Committee and was afraid that he would make a big demand on Congress funds for the cause of the Untouchables is clear from the correspondence that passed between him and Pandit Motilal Nehru, the then General Secretary of the Congress."

Dr Ambedkar considered Swami Shraddhanand to be the most genuine and powerful advocate for the upliftment of the Untouchables. Moreover, according to the book, namely, 'Veer Savarkar' written by Vikram Sampath, Dr BR Ambedkar became upset when MK Gandhi called Abdul Rashid, the killer of Swami Shraddhanand, as Brother. He drew the attention to a Times of India article dated 30 November 1927. It was reported in the article that to earn merit for the soul of Abdul Rashid, the murderer of Swami Shradhanand, in the next world, the students and professors of the famous theological college at Deoband finished five complete recitations of the Quran and had planned to finish daily a lakh and quarter recitations of Quranic verses. Their prayer was 'God Almighty may give the marhoom (martyr i.e. Rashid) a place in the 'ala-e-illeeyeen' (the summit of the seventh heaven)'.

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