New Delhi: Rajendra Pal Gautam, a cabinet minister in the Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi government, resigned from his post on Sunday after he was criticised by the Bharatiya Janata Party for participating in an event in which people allegedly denounced Hinduism.
At this event, hundreds took oath to convert to Buddhism.
Gautam had initially hit back at the BJP, stating the event was organised by the Buddhist Society of India, founded by B. R. Ambedkar, and called on the BJP to “properly” read Ambedkar’s 22 vows.
The 22 vows in question refer to a list of pledges Ambedkar had prescribed to his followers after converting from Hinduism to Buddhism on 14 October, 1956 in Nagpur.
These vows are as follows, according to a website dedicated to Ambedkar’s writings and legacy:
1. I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh nor shall I worship them.
2. I shall have no faith in Rama and Krishna who are believed to be incarnations of God nor shall I worship them.
3. I shall have no faith in ‘Gauri’, Ganapati and other gods and goddesses of Hindus nor shall I worship them.
4. I do not believe in the incarnation of God.
5. I do not and shall not believe that Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu. I believe this to be sheer madness and false propaganda.
6. I shall not perform ‘Shraddha’ nor shall I give ‘pind-dan’.
7. I shall not act in a manner violating the principles and teachings of the Buddha.
8. I shall not allow any ceremonies to be performed by Brahmins.
9. I shall believe in the equality of man.
10. I shall endeavour to establish equality.
11. I shall follow the ‘noble eightfold path’ of the Buddha.
12. I shall follow the ‘paramitas’ prescribed by the Buddha.
13. I shall have compassion and loving kindness for all living beings and protect
14. I shall not steal.
15. I shall not tell lies.
16. I shall not commit carnal sins.
17. I shall not take intoxicants like liquor, drugs etc.
18. I shall endeavour to follow the noble eightfold path and practise compassion and
loving kindness in everyday life.
19. I renounce Hinduism which is harmful for humanity and impedes the advancement and
development of humanity because it is based on inequality, and adopt Buddhism
as my religion.
20. I firmly believe the Dhamma of the Buddha is the only true religion.
21. I believe that I am having a re-birth.
22. I solemnly declare and affirm that I shall hereafter lead my life according to
the principles and teachings of the Buddha and his Dhamma.
At least 7 of Ambedkar’s 22 vows either deal with direct renunciation of Hinduism or a vow to no longer believe in Hindu gods or practices. The vows also contain criticism of the caste system and uphold Ambedkar’s devotion to Buddhism, which is consistent with Ambedkar’s lifelong anti-caste ideology and activism work.
“Dr Ambedkar through his vows was not trying to insult Hinduism, but was trying to irritate the ‘upper caste’ Hindus. He had spent his life-fighting caste discrimination and indignities, and he wanted to make them realise the sufferings Dalits experienced. Had he been ‘anti-Hindu’, he would not have accepted the Uniform Civil Code, he would not have agreed to Sanskrit being part of the 22 official languages of India,” The Indian Express cited BJP leader and Bihar Legislative Council member Sanjay Paswan as saying.
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