ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ambedkar’s Non-violence

It is very tempting to reduce Buddhism to a religion that propagates non-violence. And, it needs to be made clear at the outset that it is not the moralistic non-violent tenets underpinning Buddhism that attracted B R Ambedkar to it. Rather, the arguments put forth by Ambedkar for his conversion to Buddhism are much more nuanced. If we contemplate on these nuances and provide room for a creative reading of his need to embrace Buddhism, it opens up some interesting questions for our study of political theory, particularly concerning our understanding of violence and non-violence in politics.

This article specifically focuses on Ambedkar’s arguments regarding his preference for Buddhism over other religious or political projects as outlined in his short text “Buddha or Karl Marx” (1956; Round Table India 2010). Though this article is less concerned with Ambedkar’s justification for religious conversion, the reasons for which were both strategic and moral, it nevertheless serves as a good starting point to begin our discussion.

Conversion as Collective Praxis

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