Conversion: In search of equality, education, 90 Dalits embrace Buddhism

The conversion took place at a significantly simple function during which the 90 persons, including nine women, were given “diksha”.

Ahmedabad | Updated: October 23, 2015 5:38 am
conversion, dalit, OBC, SC, ST, backward class, Scheduled class, scheduled tribe, ahmedabad news, indian express The Dalits after their conversion to Buddhism at Dholka in Ahmedabad on Thursday. (Parimal Dabhi )

Two years after 5,000 Dalits converted to Buddhism in Junagadh in Gujarat, 90 Dalits embraced Buddhism at a programme organised by the Gujarat Buddhist Academy in Dholka town of Ahmedabad district on Thursday. The Dalits, who come from Ahmedabad’s Jivraj Park area, include 27-year-old Bhamini Delwadia, an MBA, who belongs to the Scheduled Caste (SC).

Bhamini was joined by 89 other Dalits, including four of her family members, at the newly-built Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Hall in Sonar Kui locality of Dholka, 30 km from Ahmedabad City.

The 90 Dalits, most of them between 20-35 years, took “diksha” from Bhikshu Pragnya Ratna, a Dhamma pracharak from The Great Ashoka Buddha Vihar in Porbandar, and general secretary of Gujarat region of Akhil Bharatiya Bhikshu Mahasangh. Bhikshu Pragnya Ratna was also joined by Bhikshu Padmasambhav from Surat and Bhikshu Pragnavansh from Madhya Pradesh as Buddhist religious leaders at the function attended by around 500 persons.

The conversion took place at a significantly simple function during which the 90 persons, including nine women, were given “diksha”, following which all present at the programme were showered with rose petals amid Buddhist prayers. Following the conversion, they gave a short speech in which they cited “inequality and unscientific and superstitious rituals” in Hinduism and their liking for Dr Ambedkar’s ideals as the reasons for conversion.

“I believe in equality for all and do not find it in Hinduism. And I believe in the ideals of Dr Ambedkar, who himself converted to Buddhism while shedding Hinduism. So, following in his footsteps, we have adopted Buddhism today,” says Bhamini. Bhamini’s IIM post-graduate husband Kunal and his parents — Abhilash and Hiraben — and brother Rahul also converted to Buddhism during the function.

Hemlata Sonara (20) from Dholka is among the nine women who converted to Buddhism. She is pursuing her Masters in Arts from HK Arts College in Ahmedabad. “Hinduism is full of superstitions. And the principles of independence and equality for all are lacking in it. Plus, I am attracted towards Buddhism since it is a religion entirely based on the scientific approach. Also, it gives a great emphasis on women’s education,” Hemlata says.

Jatin Makwana (28), another convert, says, “I have learnt a lot from Buddhism. It’s a religion full of equality which is in stark contrast to Hinduism. Being a Dalit, wherever you go, people ask for your caste and then discriminate against you. In Buddhism, there is no such hierarchy, all are equals.”

“So, it is better to follow a religion which practises equality than the one in which one gets humiliated on caste lines,” adds Jatin, who works as a lab assistant at a pathology laboratory in Dholka.

Nikita Parmar (26) from Rasikpura village of Ahmedabad is a housewife. She embraced Buddhism, along with her husband Arvind. Nikita converted because she did not like “blindly following Hindu rituals”. She said, “Also, these rituals have given birth to a lot of superstitions which are disgusting. I don’t want to be a part of that religion.”

Secretary of Gujarat Buddhist Academy Ramesh Banker said, “We organised this programme as these 90 persons wanted to embrace Buddhism. Hinduism is full of superstitions where there is a system of caste-based hierarchy in which some people are considered untouchables. The programme was held in a peaceful manner.”

For all the latest Ahmedabad News, download Indian Express App

  1. R
    Ravi
    Oct 23, 2015 at 7:42 am
    Sunder : question is not whether he should or not. Every individual has a choice of religion . However when y take benefit from one religion and then changing to another is not ethical. The very fact that they got reservation is that Hindu potion has accepted that those who have been left behind , whatever is the reason , should be brought in system by reservation. And this group is part of that empowerment. All the evils of Hindu society will disappear once all the persons are educated. I believe that if a person is changing his religion , he should have no business to criticise the religion he has left otherwise it will create bitterness and enamity between different groups. Criticism should be by the ones who remain in the system and want to improve it since they feel for it.
    (0)(0)
    Reply
    1. K
      Kumarpushp
      Oct 23, 2015 at 9:09 pm
      120 million dalits are in india who are willing to convert to Buddhism and Islam.time has come world leaders of both religion should come forward to give helping hand to dalits so they can stay away from bararic hindus.
      (0)(0)
      Reply
      1. K
        Kumarpushp
        Oct 23, 2015 at 9:15 pm
        120 million dalits should convert to Buddhism and demand for Aistan which was the dream of Dr Ambedkar.this is duty of every Ambedkerite to divide India and live peacefully in own country away from barbaric hindus.
        (0)(0)
        Reply
        1. L
          Logical Indian
          Oct 23, 2015 at 8:27 am
          The biggest problem with Hinduism today is not really the mechanism of religion itself but the fact that majority of followers don't have a formal understanding or education of the tenets of this religion .There is no singular authority that can explain subtleties and emphasis on spirituality that is part of a number of scriptures anisations like VHP and RSS have instead hijacked the hindu cause and are instigating people towards hatred.Its time the respected gurus of Hinduism like The sankaracharaya or Sri Sri Ravishankar unite and educate people about our rich spiritual heritage of Hinduism.Otherwise the evils of casteism and inequality in society perpetuated by hearsay rather than by core Hindu principles will only cause more damage to a Hindu way of life and overall the country.There is nothing wrong in conversions but it is no guarantee to remove the discrimation that the converts will face anyways.Enlightenment of minds is the key here and that's where the Hindu religion's renowned gurus need to play a key role .
          (0)(0)
          Reply
          1. A
            anil
            Oct 23, 2015 at 10:23 am
            Here comes the difference between a educated and uneducated person. No religion is scientific , because science and religion can't co-exist . Secondly supersion is a part of culture, not religion. A christian/Muslim in India might follow a set of supersions than a christian of Rome or Muslim of Arabia . If you convert for "quality education" as per headline, I can ure you you won't get quality education after conversion also . Because only if you have money , you can send your kids to good schools . Let these brainwashed people go, we also do not need such misinformed people .
            (0)(0)
            Reply
            1. Load More Comments