Issued jointly by: Golden Jubilee Diksha Celebration Co-ordination Committee ( India ), Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayak Gana ( India ), Network of Engaged Buddhists (UK), Network of Buddhist Organisations (UK), Amida Trust (UK), Karuna Trust (UK), Federation of Ambedkarite Buddhist Organisations (UK)
LATEST ON MASS CONVERSIONS IN INDIA
NEWS RELEASE Date: 9th October 2006
October 2006 is a historic time in India . Many hundreds of thousands of low-caste Hindus are quitting Hinduism for Buddhism – something so far unreported in the West and the mainstream Indian media. The catalyst is the 50th anniversary of the conversion and death of their great leader, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, who in October 1956 converted along with 380,000 of his followers – and tragically died six weeks later.
The following is extracted from Vishvapani’s blog www.ambedkar2006.blogspot.com, specifically set up to cover these events and offer background material.
“For the first time, the movement of conversion to Buddhism among the poorest and most oppressed people in India is moving out from its heartland in Maharashtra to include people across the country. In many ceremonies across India , tens, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of people will become Buddhists over the next few weeks. This started in Nagpur on Monday October 2nd in ceremonies that included 1-2 million people (most already Buddhists and some new converts). The movement is now expanding dramatically to include other communities in Maharashtra, notably the Matangs – a second group of ex-‘untouchables’ – and the ‘criminal and nomadic tribes’.
Buddhism is also being adopted by groups in many other Indian states. On October 14th I will be in Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, where up to 400,000 will meet and 100,000 will become Buddhists. On the same day and on other significant dates in the next two months there will be large ceremonies in Delhi , Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab , and many other states, in which I think it is reasonable to say that millions of people will become Buddhists for the first time.
These events are so far unreported in the West and the mainstream Indian media. I have started this blog (www.ambedkar2006.blogspot.com) to offer reliable news, information, personal observations and interviews with major players in this movement. Earlier in the blog are accounts of the Nagpur rally, an interview with the leader of the half-million members of criminal and nomadic tribes, soon to become Buddhists, an overview of Buddhism in India , an introduction to the Ambedkarite movement, and much more.
In the next two weeks I will be joining a Dharma teaching tour around remote 'Untouchable' villages, attending a conversion for 3-400,000 in Hyderabad , visiting Tamil Nadu, where a large conversion movement is under way, and meeting Dalit Buddhist leaders in Nagpur , Pune and Bombay .”
Mass conversions from Hinduism to Buddhism will take place in various states in India over the next few months, the next milestones being October 14th in Hyderabad and October 29th in New Delhi .
So, to you I say: Jai Bhim! (Victory to Bhimrao Ambedkar).