*in the 1950's*
EMBRACING THE WHEEL OF THE LAW
Increasingly ill with diabetes, and bitterly disappointed by the political behavior of Nehru and Congress, Dr. Ambedkar resigned from the Cabinet, and then left political life. In a huge ceremony at Nagpur, he became a convert to Buddhism; and within a few months he was dead.
Ambedkar gave several addresses about Buddhism; in May,
he flew to Colombo (*site*), in Sri Lanka, to pursue
further Buddhist connections. Here is a modern scholar's
view: *"Pragmatism, Persuasion, and Force in
Bhimrao Ambedkar's Reconstruction of Buddhism"*.
|==1951== In February, he introduced in Parliament the "Hindu Code Bill" that he had drafted, which included greatly expanded rights for women; it proved very controversial, and consideration of it was postponed: *on the Hindu Code Bill* (see #8). (--*Kadam*, pp. 121-22)|
|==1951== In September, Dr. Ambedkar resigned from the Cabinet, embittered over the failure of Nehru and the Congress to back the Hindu Code Bill as they had earlier pledged to do. He became the *Leader of the Opposition* (see #9.) Discussion: *The Hindu*; *Time Magazine*. (--*Kadam*, pp. 121-22)|
|==1952== Dr. Ambedkar received an honorary L.L.D. degree from Columbia University as part of its Bicentennial Special Convocation. The President described him as "one of India's leading citizens--a great social reformer and a valiant upholder of human rights."|
|==1953== His political thinking included analysis of the issue of linguistic states; he published *"Need for Checks and Balances"* (Times of India, April 23, 1953) on this question. In 1955, he was still working on the subject, as the preface (dated Dec. 23, 1955) to *"Thoughts on Linguistic States"* testified.|
|==1954== In the midst of his round of (increasingly embittered) Parliamentary and other activity, his health gave way; he was confined to bed for two months.|
|==1954== While dedicating a new Buddhist vihara near Poona, Dr. Ambedkar announced that he was writing a book on Buddhism, and that as soon as it was finished, he planned to make a formal conversion to Buddhism. He also claimed that the image of Vithoba at Pandharpur (*site*) was in reality an image of the Buddha, and said that he would write a thesis to prove this claim. (--*Keer*, p. 482.)|
Dr. Ambedkar brought the manuscript of *"The
and His Dhamma"* to completion. "In
February 1956 two new chapters were added to it: 'There
is no god'; 'There is no soul'.... On March 15, 1956,
Ambedkar wrote the Preface to his book in his own
handwriting and dictated it to Rattu [his secretary]."
Printing began in May, but was slowed by constant
last-minute revisions of the proofs. (--*Keer*, pp. 488-489,
work can perhaps be seen as the culmination of his reading and thought during the 1940's.
|==1956== From June to October, he was bedridden in his Delhi residence. His eyes were failing, he suffered from side effects of the drugs he was given for his diabetes, he felt deeply depressed.|
|==1956== His formal conversion took place on Oct. 14th in Nagpur, a town selected for reasons he explained in his moving speech, *"Why Was Nagpur Chosen?"*. Many thousands of Mahars and other Dalits accepted Buddhism along with him.|
|==1956== In November, he flew to Kathmandu to attend the Fourth World Buddhist Conference.|
|==1956== On Dec. 2, he completed the manuscript of *"The Buddha or Karl Marx"*, his last finished work, and gave it for typing.|
|==1956== On the night of Dec. 5 or the early morning of Dec. 6, he died quietly in his sleep; on Dec. 7 there was a huge Buddhist-style funeral procession in Bombay, and he was cremated on the seashore.|
|==1957== *"The Buddha and His Dhamma"*, Dr. Ambedkar's own version of a Buddhist scripture for his people, was posthumously published, by Siddharth College Publications, Bombay.|
|==1957 and beyond== A number of unfinished typescripts and handwritten drafts were found among his notes and papers and gradually made available. Among these were *"Waiting for a Visa"*, which probably dates from 1935-36, and *"Untouchables, or the Children of India's Ghetto"*, which refers to the census of 1951 and so must be quite late; other unpublished fragments as well will be found on the *ambedkar.org* website.|
|== on to the years since ==|
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