The Path to a New Awakening: B.R. Ambedkar's Transformation of Buddhist Philosophy

Title: The Path to a New Awakening: B.R. Ambedkar's Transformation of Buddhist Philosophy
Authors: Alamo Santos, Macarena
Date: 2021-04-14
Abstract: The objective of this thesis is to analyze the philosophical implications of Ambedkar’s approach to Buddhism. This approach created a new social philosophy based on Buddhist ideas and a political commitment to social justice, particularly for the Dalits of India. What was the purpose of this social philosophy? To transform Buddhist philosophy? Or rather, to oppose Brahmanism and empower the lower castes? After a twenty-year-long study of Indian society and history, and Indian philosophical and religious traditions, Ambedkar came to the conclusion that Buddhism could have the power to transform the situation of the Untouchables. Why did he think that Buddhism would have this radical transformative impact not only for Dalits, but for Indian society as a whole? In 1956, in what became a historical event, he led a movement of conversion of more than five hundred thousand Untouchables from Hinduism to Buddhism. Ambekdar saw Buddhism as a way and as a tool to empower the lower castes of India. But what type of Buddhism did he envision? In 1956, in that historical event, Ambedkar founded what he called Navayana Buddhism. He used the word Navayana to refer to the birth of a new school. Nava means “new,” Yana means “vehicle”. Was he indeed creating a new yana, or new vehicle? What type of Buddhist school was this? What innovations did he introduce? Is the result still Buddhism, given Ambedkar's vision? This thesis aims to address all these questions.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -