Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Buddhism and role of educated dalits: S.N.Goenka

With respect to the KEY question raised and my own turmoil on these matters, I wish to bring the following points to your notice.1. Goenkaji teaches a particular technique of meditation to peopleof all religions. The technique has been useful to many people(including me) in many ways. I follow that meditation technique andintend to continue doing so. I do not think that it in anywayconflicts with my committment to social engineering. I fail to seehow improving myself at a personal level can hurt social engineering.2. I am not willing to accept Goenkaji as a leader in the work ofsocial engineering, since social engineering requires competenciesand commitments of a different nature. Moreover I find the questionsuperfluous, since I am not aware of his interest in leading me onthe social engineering path.3. I have realized that my confusion is not about Mr. Goenka, butmore about relevance and importance of Buddhism (esp. its practice assuggested by Dr. Ambedkar) in the future of the Ambedkarite movement.I would prefer that we focus on this point first. Focusing on Mr.Goenka is a waste of our precious time.5. I have read Dr. Ambedkars writing. I understand the context inwhich he made the choice of Buddhism. I am committed to Buddhism dueto that and my personal exploration of religions. Yet, religion, likemarriage to me is a very personal choice. Dr. Ambedkar too was notrigid about this. After all he did marry a Brahmin in his later life.6. Even during Dr. Ambedkar's life, Buddha had been assimilated intothe their pantheon by the hindus. So what VHP does is VHP's problem?The attempts of other communities to accomodate us do not concern me.There are enough among us focusing on how and whether we should reactto such attempts. I am more interested in the question "where do WEwant to go from here". I feel that our common vision of the future isinadequately articulated.7. Regarding "negotiating" with "leaders of brahmanism", the electionprocess, the legal system, the growing confidence and capabilities ofour people are carrying that out. These forces unleased by Dr.Ambedkar are transforming our nation. Large scale negotiating pointsbetween communities like the Pune pact are scarce. It is the dailystruggle that every dalit (whether he/she is a wage labourer or acorporate executive) undergoes, which will distinguish as well asintegrate us into India as equals.8. The job of people like us is to understand the socio-politicalreality and explain it to folks who are getting misguided. We need toequip Dalits to understand the strategic imperatives of our timeswhich impact their day to day life. And correct understanding ofthese strategic imperatives cannot happen without open debate. Itshard to believe that there only a few supermen among us who know allthe answers at all points of time...
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