NEW DELHI: The political uproar continues over the mass conversion which happened in the national capital on Wednesday. However, people who converted to Buddhism said they faced caste discrimination on a daily basis which led them to take this step. Pushpkar Dev (63), his wife and two sons adopted Buddhism and said, “We are abused because of our caste in this society.”
Pushpkar who used to be a teacher in a government school said that they face discrimination in office and society. Recalling his first day in school, he said, “When I joined a school, the principal asked my name thrice despite my name being mentioned in the joining letter.” Like him, Durgadas, a plumber repairer said that most of the clients denied his service after knowing about his caste.
“Last Sunday, I got to know that a Buddha Dhamma Deeksha Samaroh event will be held at the Ashok Vijay Dashmi,” he said. Buddhists observe Dussehra as Ashok Vijayadashami since it is thought that Ashoka, the Mauryan King, converted to Buddhism on this day. It commemorates the day, October 14, 1956, when Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar converted to Buddhism.
A senior member of the Buddhist Society of India said that on this day, such event was organised in other parts of the country as well. Apart from the Hindu Dalits, people from other castes also converted to Buddhism. Harish Mehra, who is a Rajput and works as an advocate in Tis Hazari court said, “Buddhism is a religion that embraces everyone, there is neither any upper caste nor lower. We all are treated as equals.”
Taking an example of Indra Meghwal, a Dalit student who was allegedly beaten by his teacher for drinking water from a pot, Harish said, “The atrocities against Dalits infuriated the citizens like me and therefore I decided to adopt Buddhism”
He added that the event was not against Hinduism and these vows are not something new. That was one of the 22 Vows taken by Dr BR Ambedkar when he converted to Buddhism in 1956 at Deekshabhoomi in Maharashtra’s Nagpur.