*in the 1900's*
 

A GUARDED GATEWAY, BUT WITH A GAP

Bhimrao studied at Satara and then in Bombay, where he did so well on his exams that he was admitted to Bombay University--a unique feat for a member of the Mahar caste in his time and place. His marriage was arranged; amidst any amount of turmoil, he focused firmly on his studies.

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==1900 == Bhimrao entered the Government Middle School at Satara:
"His second experience was at Satara, where he was the only untouchable pupil. He was allowed to sit in the same room with other boys, but always on the floor by himself in a remote corner. None could play with him or speak to him." (*Selden*)

"There was another Brahmin teacher in the High School. His surname was Ambedkar. Obliging and humane, he was a very irregular teacher. He loved Bhim very much. He dropped daily a part of his meal--boiled rice, bread and vegetables--into the hands of Bhim during recess. This teacher has left his impress on the life of his pupil. The original surname of Bhim's father was Sakpal. It was a family name. Bhim drew his surname Ambavadekar from his native village of Ambavade, as Maharashtrian surnames are often derived from the names of the ancestral villages. The teacher took so much fancy to the boy that he even changed his surname from Ambavadekar to his own surname Ambedkar in the school records.... Ambedkar gratefully remembered this teacher." (*Keer*, p.14.)

== "This incident gave me a shock such as I had never received before, and it made me think about untouchability-- which, before this incident happened, was with me a matter of course, as it is with many touchables as well as the untouchables.".... "The incident, which I am recording as well as I can remember, occurred in about 1901, when we were at Satara. My mother was then dead. My father was away on service..." (*...the story is continued in Part One of Waiting for a Visa*)
==1901==  Ramji Sakpal, who had remarried in 1898, moved his family from Satara to Bombay, the capital city of Bombay Presidency (*Imperial Gazetteer*; *Imperial Gazetteer map*). They found housing in the Dabak Chawl, Lower Parel. Bhimrao soon entered Elphinstone High School (*site*) in Bombay:
"At the age of 13 he went to the government high school at [sic] Elphinstone, becoming its [one] untouchable student. Here also he was ostracized, but was allowed to sit alone on a back bench. By this time his abilities with his lessons began to attract attention." (*Selden*)

"One day it so happened that the class teacher called upon Bhim to come to the black board to solve an example. Instantaneously there was an uproar in the class. The caste Hindu children used to keep their tiffin-boxes behind the blackboard. Since they feared that their food would be polluted by Bhim's presence near the board, they dashed to the blackboard and hurled their tiffin-boxes aside before Bhim could reach and touch the blackboard.

During his high school days both Bhim's elder brother and he were not allowed to take up Sanskrit as the second language. It was the key to the study of the Vedas which were neither to be heard nor to be read by the Shudras and the Atishudras--the Untouchables." (*Keer*, pp.17-18.)

==1902==  The progressive-minded Shahu I (1884-1922) (*site*), Maharaja of Kolhapur (*Imperial Gazetteer*; *Imperial Gazetteer map*) ordered 50% of the posts in the Kolhapur state services to be reserved for the backward classes. In 1907 he started two hostels open to Depressed Class boys. (*Kadam*, pp. 69-70.)
==1903==  Shivram Janba Kamble, a Mahar from Poona, convened a meeting of Mahars from 51 villages at Saswad, near Poona; the result was a petition sent to the Governor of Bombay that requested admission into government jobs, public schools, the police, and the army. (*Kadam*, pp. 69-70.)
==1906==  Bhimrao's marriage was arranged, with Ramabai, nine-year-old daughter of Bhiku Dhutre of Wanand, near Dapoli. Some accounts have it that she was related to Gopal Baba Walangkar. (*Kadam*, p. 70; Eleanor Zelliot, private communication, Jan. 2005.)
==1907==  Bhimrao passed the Matriculation Examination that entitled him to enroll in a college affiliated with Bombay University; his marks were average, his best subject was Persian (which he studied in place of Sanskrit).
== "My community people wanted to celebrate the occasion by holding a public meeting to congratulate me. Compared to the state of education in other communities, this was hardly an occasion for celebration. But it was felt by the organisers that I was the first boy in my community to reach this stage; they thought that I had reached a great height. They went to my father to ask for his permission. My father flatly refused, saying that such a thing would inflate the boy's head; after all, he has only passed an examination and done nothing more. Those who wanted to celebrate the event were greatly disappointed. They, however, did not give way. They went to Dada Keluskar, a personal friend of my father, and asked him to intervene. He agreed. After a little argumentation, my father yielded, and the meeting was held. Dada Keluskar presided. He was a literary person of his time. At the end of his address he gave me as a gift a copy of his book on the life of the Buddha, which he had written for the Baroda Sayajirao Oriental Series. I read the book with great interest, and was greatly impressed and moved by it." Source: *unpublished preface to The Buddha and his Dhamma*.
==1908==  Bhimrao entered Elphinstone College (*site*), a college affiliated with Bombay University.
==1910==  Shivram Janba Kamble, another early caste reformer, organized a second Mahar conference at Jejuri; this resulted in a memorandum sent to the British government. Young Bhimrao met the reform-minded Gaikwar of Baroda, Sayaji Rao III (r.1875-1939) (*site*), who then approved a scholarship of Rs. 25 a month for his education. (*Kadam*, p. 71.)
== "I asked my father why he insisted upon our reading the Mahabharata and Ramayana, which recounted the greatness of the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas and repeated the stories of the degradation of the Shudras and the Untouchables... [the whole story is told in the unpublished preface to The Buddha and his Dhamma]."
== on to the 1910's ==
 

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