ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ambedkar’s Dhamma or Buddha and Plato minus Dialectics

The dialectical process or dialectical method plays a crucial role in the philosophy of change or the philosophy of processes. It determines the subject and the activity of the subject which is crucial in transforming material conditions. The process of dialectics not only determines the subject; rather, in its due course, it eliminates the mediating agencies and creates new conditions. Ambedkar’s reinterpretation of classical Buddhism is influenced by Buddha as well as Plato, but this reinterpretation eliminates the Buddhist dialectics and Platonic dialectics from its framework. Due to the elimination of Buddhist and Platonic dialectics, Ambedkar adopts the theory of imitation from Plato and constructs a new source of institutional power, that is, sangha.

In his introduction to The Buddha and His Dhamma (1957), B R Ambedkar argues that there are four points in classical Buddhist canon that need to be reinterpreted for the future of Buddhism in the 20th century. These four points are mainly about the renunciation of the family by Siddhartha, the four noble truths, the theory of karma and rebirth, and lastly, the issues related to the idea of the bhikkhu (monk).

Ambedkar resolves the first question by adopting Dharmananda Kosambi’s explanation of Siddhartha’s renunciation of family; the second question is more or less bypassed by reducing the four truths in a dichotomous manner; the problem of karma and rebirth is taken care of by adopting Ajita Kesakambali’s metaphysics; and lastly, for the question of monks, Ambedkar turns towards the Platonic idea of philosophy and theory of imitation.

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Updated On : 9th Jan, 2021

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