The close connection made between Bhante and Dr B. R. Ambedkar in the 1950s has had a major impact on the evolution of our Community in India, indeed making it possible. But its relevance is increasingly manifest elsewhere, especially in the light of debates about race and the Order and movement. Dr Ambedkar’s life and mission offer us the outstanding model for our engagement with social, even with political, issues everywhere.
It is highly significant that the only book that Bhante wrote that was, from the outset, planned as a book was Ambedkar and Buddhism, published in 1986. He wrote it at a time when the movement in India was beginning to grow very rapidly and he intended it to show the overall coherence of Dr Ambedkar’s life and work from a Buddhist perspective. This was vitally important in India, where there was a strong potential to polarise the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘social’ aspects of his work, a potential that has only increased over the years. The book was also intended to give Bhante’s non-Indian disciples an understanding of the forces that moved their Indian brothers and sisters. It also offered a model of positive social transformation on the basis of the Dharma, for Bhante always saw the Triratna Community as playing an active part in society.
We will be examining systematically the principal ideas in the book, focussing especially on the relationship between the Dharma and a good society, as well as getting to know Dr Ambedkar more deeply, who is now a figure on our Tree of Refuge and Respect. Discussion will begin to relate Dr Ambedkar’s thought, as Bhante presents it, to current circumstances in the world. Later modules will build on this basis, researching how the perspective that Dr Ambedkar and Bhante offer us can be applied more actively now everywhere in the world.
Subhuti was Bhante’s secretary at the time of his writing the work and has been visiting India regularly since then, now spending up to half each year there. He has a deep appreciation for Dr Ambedkar, especially in the light of Bhante’s understanding, and has made a strong commitment to contributing to his mission. He is eager to see this perspective applied more widely outside India.
Those attending should have read Ambedkar and Buddhism, as well as various recordings of discussions with Bhante about it. In addition, we recommend reading other relevant material in the Collected Works, Vol 9 & 10, the latter volume being published in 2021. We also recommend reading Dr Ambedkar’s most important work on caste, Annihilation of Caste, as well as his The Buddha and the Future of His Religion and The Buddha and His Dhamma.
Ambedkar + Buddhism
Led by Subhuti + Team
This retreat is for members of the Triratna Buddhist Order
Start Date: 25th Nov 2021
End Date: 2nd Dec 2021
Event Type: Residential
Price: £273 (Waged/Supported (including deposit)) / £196 (Unwaged/Unsupported (including deposit))
If you can’t afford to come on retreat you might be interested in our bursary fund.