Phule-Ambedkarite Ideology

The word ideology was coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1796, assembling the words “idea” and “logy” (meaning study, science or discourse). Thus ideology is collection of logically coherent ideas characteristic of particular social class or group. These ideas can be values, principles, ideals, myths, doctrines or symbols.  Ideology explains how society should work and provides social, political, economic and cultural blueprint for a given society. It provide guidance towards action and helps the people make sense of the world around them. It helps people to interpret their past and present and construct or understand the future plans. Thus, ideology have two dimensions. It helps people to decide their goals about structure and functioning of the society or organization and then it helps to decide most appropriate methods to achieve those goals.

From this conceptual understanding of ideology, we can say that ideology is important for any society. Ideology per se is neutral-it is neither good nor bad. It is the type of ideology and goals and methods it creates, can be called as good or bad depending upon whose interests it serves and who is affected by it. With this conceptual understanding, we can say that almost every oppressive social system is constructed and functions on certain ideological foundations. Indian oppressive social system, which gets manifested in terms of Caste and Patriarchy is based on the ideology of Brahminism and has been curse to majority of India’s population who are constitutionally designated as SC/ST/OBC and Religious Minorities. How this ideology has caused multitude of problems to SC/ST/OBC and Religious Minorities has been discussed in detail under the section: “Problems of Mulnivasi Bahujans”.

Ideology of Brahminism however is blessing to and characteristic of social class of people who take pride in calling themselves as Aryans and are categorized into three Varnas: Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. It is they who developed this ideology of Brahminism, propagated it in the name of Hindu “religion” and got benefited out of it. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar identified six cardinal principles of Brahminism, these are:

1. Graded inequality between different classes

2. Complete disarmament of the Shudras and the Untouchables

3. Complete prohibition of education of the Shudras and the Untouchables

4. Ban on the Shudras and the Untouchables occupying places of power and authority

5. Ban on the Shudras and Untouchables acquiring property and

6. Complete subjugation and suppression of Women.

From above analysis of Brahminism by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, we find that no scope is left for the liberation of victims of Caste and Patriarchy from this social slavery under the ideology of Brahminism. If we are interested in changing the system and improving the current and future condition of victims of Caste and Patriarchy, it is important that we develop or adopt alternative ideology which is not only opposite of Brahminism but also has a potential to uproot it so that future generations are also liberated from this slavery.

Which ideology prevalent in the society has potential to counter and uproot Brahminism? By now we should be clear that, ideology of Brahminism (which gets wrongly branded as Hinduism) cannot liberate us as it has enslaved us. Common sense tells us that the ideology which enslaves us, cannot also liberate us. Thus Brahminism is ruled out.

There is another ideology prevalent in Indian society which can be called as “Gandhi-Nehruvian” ideology. This ideology is the collection of ideas of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and many other Congress ideologues since its inception in 1885. This ideology also cannot liberate us as its limitations, goals and methods are not beneficial to us. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar has systematically and comprehensively critiqued this ideology in his book “What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to Untouchables?”

Congress was founded by Brahmins (83 out of 85 delegates of first session of Congress which resulted in formation of Congress were Brahmins!) for their own benefit and therefore none of our forefathers such as Rashtrapita Jyotiba Phule, Iyothee Thass, Periyar or Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar joined it; in fact, they strongly opposed it. Our experience in last six decades after enactment of Constitution tells us that Governments which ruled under Gandhi-Nehruvian ideology at Centre and States, have done nothing for our liberation. In fact they benefited ruling class of Aryans at our expense and on our votes. Social and cultural ideology of Congress has been no different than Brahminism. Thus we can conclude that this ideology cannot be of any help to us, in fact our experience tell us that it is detrimental to us.

Another ideology, which is projected as alternative or counter ideology to Brahminism is Marxist ideology which is also popularized under various conceptual categories such as Left Wing Ideology, Communism, Socialism, Leninism, Maoism etc. This ideology primarily gives economic analysis of social problems and claims to provide liberation from class inequality. Some of its followers don’t believe in democracy and constitutional methods to achieve their goal. This ideology originated in Europe, Russia and China and has been imported in India during early 20th century by Brahmins and other Aryans, whose forefathers, kith and kin themselves were ruling class and exploiters of Indian masses.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar has systematically written about limitations of this ideology both in terms of its 2 doctrines and practice in Indian context and he didn’t consider it necessary to join hands with those advocating this ideology. Details of his critique can be found in his works such as Annihilation of Caste, Buddha and Karl Marx and Revolution and Counter Revolution in India. Our experience till date tells us that, Left ideology has not recognized Brahminism and Caste as an important barrier in class equality and creation of a just society. Its proponents in India are mostly so called progressive Aryans and in their private, social and cultural life are close to Brahminism. They ruled in some states such as W.Bengal and Kerala for long time, but material and social condition of our people in those States has not improved much leave alone relief from Brahminism and its progeny Caste system. These leftists appear progressive and many times our people get confused and join them and later repent. Even Lohiyaite Socialists fell in this trap. Leftist progressive Brahmin ideologues are also responsible for creating misplaced ideological polarization based on religion: Secularism vs Communalism (called as “Hindutva”) which has only benefited Brahminical forces and has resulted in the loss to our fellow Mulnivasis  from Muslims and Christian religions.

What we need for our liberation is social polarization based on Brahminism vs Anti-Brahminism, polarizing beneficiaries and victims of Caste. Recently there has been talk that society is (or should be) in “post-ideology” era and we don’t need any ideology for countering ideology of Brahminism and for our liberation. Only (material) “development” approach which relieves us from our current material problems is sufficient. This line of thinking has been propagated by Brahmin-Vaishya media and some parties such as Aam Admi Party (AAP) which rode on this media wave are propagating it. These and other similar organizations at their core are followers of Brahminical ideology and they falsely try to project themselves as post-ideological. They try to provide material relief to victims of Caste without changing underlying social structures, which cause material and non-material misery to majority of Indians.

Another trend which can be observed- especially in post Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization (LPG) era- is that economic ideology of Capitalism has been fitting well into schema of Brahminism and thus strengthening economic and cultural monopoly of ruling Castes. This is the reason why we find both followers of Gandhi-Nehru and Savarkar-Hedgewar in favor of Capitalism. Thus we come to the conclusion that, only alternative for us is to adopt and propagate the ideology of our forefathers and foremothers who sacrificed their lives for liberating us not only from Brahminism and its offshoots: Caste and Patriarchy, but also class inequality. Whatever rights we have today and whatever better material and social status we have got is because of these forefathers and foremothers. These forefathers and foremothers’ period can be traced from Buddha to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Since Rashtrapita Jyotiba Phule initiated the social revolution against Brahminism in modern history and its climax reached during Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s time, founders of BAMCEF called this ideology as Phule-Ambedkarite ideology. This ideology is collection of ideas of all our forefathers and foremothers (read details about their life and mission in the section “Our Icons”) such as Buddha, Saint Kabir, Saint Ravidass, Saint Tukaram, Saint Chokhamela, Rashtrapita Jyotiba Phule, Savitrimai Phule, Pandit Iyothee Thass, Birsa Munda, Narayan Guru, Periyar, Ayyankali, Chatrapati Shivaji, Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj, Annabhau Sathe etc. Though they came from different social and religious background, lived and worked in different parts of India and were active during different periods in history, there is a similarity and continuity in their approach to annihilate the Caste and uproot Brahminism.

Their vision of a just society was similar and based on the principles of liberty, equality, fraternity and justice. They believed in democracy and peaceful resistance against injustice. These great people are our liberators and role models and their ideas and works in anti-Brahminical movement spread over 2000 years make up a very potent ideology called Phule-Ambedkarite ideology for realizing our vision of a just society (read more on this in section on “Vision”). For the want of sufficient space here, readers are also advised to refer section on “Books We Published” “Special Issues” and “Newsletter Archives” for salient features of Phule-Ambedkarite ideology and analysis of current issues facing Indian society using this ideological approach.

Having understood importance of Phule-Ambedkarite ideology, it is important that every right thinking and compassionate individual coming from the victims of Caste propagates this ideology. Ideology needs constant propagation for its survival and growth. Nineteenth century Italian Philosopher Mazzini says “You can kill a great man but you cannot kill a great idea”. Quoting Mazzini in one of his speeches, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar says, “Mazzini proved to be wrong in the context of India. In Indian context, we can see that a great man can be killed and the great idea also can be killed”. Founder of BAMCEF, D.K. Khaparde Sahab reminds us about what Babasaheb advised us to propagate the ideology. He told that if you don’t provide fertilizer and water to a plant, it dies. Similarly a thought or an idea also needs a fertilizer and water to survive. What is fertilizer and water for an idea? It is propagation. Ideas need constant propagation in the society. Unless you constantly propagate ideas in the society, the ideas will not survive and the society will not grow because of lack of good ideas.

The social context is never static, it keeps on changing. So during this change in the society, the ideology may die, if it is not kept alive by constant propagation. And this may be more likely if opponents of ideology are more active than proponents as was the case during the fall and disappearance of Buddhist ideas for considerable of time, till they were discovered and revived. More detailed discussion on this subject can be found in Gail Omvedt’s Book “Seeking Begumpura: Social Vision of Anti-Caste Intellectuals. Therefore it is the duty of every social activist that ideology given by our forefathers and foremothers must remain alive at all the times, in all walks of life and in all sections of society.

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