Why Did 40 Dalit Families Choose to Embrace Buddhism in This Madhya Pradesh Village?
The trigger for this mass conversion was the discriminatory treatment meted out to members of the Jatav community during the Bhandara organized at the conclusion of the Bhagwat Katha. Embracing Buddhism is seen as a way to reject the caste system and attain a sense of dignity, respect, and equality.
Shivpuri- In a significant development in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh, 40 Dalit families have collectively renounced Hinduism and embraced Buddhism, citing caste discrimination as the catalyst for their decision. The incident took place in the village of Bahgwan, located in the Karaira tehsil of the district, where tensions escalated during a Bhagwat Katha event.
The trigger for this mass conversion was the discriminatory treatment meted out to members of the Jatav community during the Bhandara organized at the conclusion of the Bhagwat Katha. As per Mahendra Baudh, a resident of the village, despite the community’s active participation, they were unjustly barred from serving plates, a pivotal aspect of the event. Shockingly, they were informed that if Jatav community members handled the serving of plates, the utensils would become impure. Consequently, they were relegated to menial tasks such as cleaning discarded leaves, prompting feelings of humiliation and marginalization.
This discriminatory incident served as the final straw for the oppressed community, leading them to collectively adopt Buddhism as a statement against caste-based prejudice. The decision was fortified by the recitation of the 22 vows of Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar, the revered figure in the Dalit movement.
However, the village sarpanch, Gajendra Rawat, refutes these allegations, attributing the conversion to external influence rather than genuine grievances. He contends that no discriminatory practices were enforced during the Bhandara and suggests that the Dalit families were swayed by external Buddhist monks.
In response to the situation, Karaira SDM Ajay Sharma has initiated an investigation, although no formal complaint of caste discrimination has been lodged by the villagers. Furthermore, it has been clarified that the Dalit families did not undergo formal written initiation into Buddhism, but rather made an oral commitment, citing coordination issues during the Bhandara.
Despite conflicting accounts, this incident underscores the persistent challenges of caste discrimination and the ongoing struggle for social equality in India, particularly in rural communities where such prejudices continue to plague marginalized groups.
Vishad Hadmatiya: No Dalit families remained within the Hindu faith
The recent incident in Shivpuri serves as a reminder of the transformative events that unfolded in Vishad Hadmatiya, Gujarat.
On May 21, 2023, a profound and historic transformation took place in Vishad Hadmatiya, located in Bhesan Taluka of Gujarat. This serene village made its mark in the annals of Indian history by becoming the first in the nation where no Dalit families remained within the Hindu faith. The momentous occasion unfolded as 75 Dalit families embraced Buddhism, symbolizing a collective rejection of caste-based discrimination and a bold affirmation of equality and social justice. This monumental step not only reshapes the landscape of Vishad Hadmatiya but also sends a powerful message of hope and progress, inspiring similar movements toward inclusivity and dignity across the country.
Why embracing Buddhism?
In recent years, there has been a growing trend among members of Dalit communities in India to denounce Hinduism and embrace Buddhism. The decision to embrace Buddhism is primarily rooted in the pursuit of equality. As Hindus, they did not find the kind of equality they were seeking and witnessed discrimination and atrocities against people belonging to Scheduled Caste, or Dalits or Backward Communities. In this context, embracing Buddhism is seen as a way to reject the caste system and attain a sense of dignity, respect, and equality.
In Gujarat, the members of SSD, (Swayam Sainik Dal- a voluntary organization established by like-minded Dalit social workers in Rajkot in 2006) believe that the decision to embrace Buddhism is not tied to any specific rituals or worship practices. Rather, they are drawn to the teachings of Gautam Buddha and Baba Saheb and seek to embody these teachings in their daily lives.
Courtesy : The Mooknayak
Note: This news piece was originally published in themooknayak.com and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Righ