What Gandhi did for untouchable by Dr.B.R.Ambedkar


What Congress and Gandhi have done to the untouchables is the ninth volume of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar’s writing and speeches. This volume is a must read book for those who are the followers of Gandhi or Ghandiism. Few comments regarding the subject is included here as instances.

  1. With the Hindus who have been blind devotees of Mr.Gandhi this study, although it is the first of its kind, will not find favour; indeed it is sure to provoke their wrath. How can it be otherwise when the conclusion arrived at is “Beware of Gandhi”?
  2. In my judgment, there can be a greater tragedy for a leader to be distrusted by everybody as Mr.Gandhi is today.
  3. Gandhi’s attitude to the demands of the untouchables at the second session of the Round Table Conference furnishes the best illustration of this rather queer trait in his character.
  4. Gandhi planned to be out the Musalmans by giving to the Musalmans their fourteen demands, which Mr.Gandhi was not in the beginning prepared to agree. When he found the Musalmans were lending their support to the untouchables. Mr.Gandhi agreed to them their fourteen points on condition that they withdrew their support from the Untouchables.
  5. The Hindus had realized that to admit the existence of the untouchables was detrimental to their interest. They did not mind sacrificing truth and decency and decided to adopt the safest course, namely, to deny that there are any untouchables in India at all and there by knock out the bottom of the political demands of the untouchables and leave no room for argument. This shows how the Hindus can conspire in a cold, calculated manner against the untouchables out of pure selfishness and do indirectly what they cannot do directly.
  6. Gandhi’s fast exposing his tactics. Suffice it is to say that although Mr.Gandhi declared a fast unto death, he did not want to die. He wanted very much to live.
  7. The untouchables were worse off under the Poona Pact than they would have been under the Prime Minister’s
  8. Congress man, who were hungering for power and who constitute a most jealous crowd of politicians, were shaken and felt that they were going to be deprived of the fruits of their labours.
  9. It was a part of the Congress policy was not to admit the right of the untouchables to be represented in the Cabinet and that this policy had the support of Mr. Gandhi.
  10. Khare was the Prime Minister in the Congress Ministry in the Central Provinces. Dr.Khare’s new Cabinet was different from the old in one important respect namely, that it excluded Mr.Agnibhoj and Untouchable, who was a member of the Central Provinces, who belonged to the Congress Party and who by his education well qualified to be a minister.
  11. Khare openly said that according to Mr.Gandhi the act of indiscipline consisted in the inclusion of an Untouchables in the Ministy. Mr.Gandhi told him that it was wrong on his part to have raised such aspirations and ambitions in the Untouchables and it was such an act of bad Judgment that he would never forgive him. This statement was repeatedly made by Dr.Khare from platforms. Mr.Gandhi has never contradicted it.
  12. In Executive, they could not ask a question which it did not like. They could not move a resolution which it did not permit. They could not vote as they chose and could not speak what they felt. They were there as dumb driven cattle.
  13. The Congress sucked the juice out of the Poona pact and threw the rind in the face of the untouchables.
  14. Not very long ago there used to be boards on clubs doors and other social resorts maintained by Europeans in India. Which said “Dogs and Indians” not allowed? The Temples of Hindus carry similar boards to-day, the only difference is that the boards on the Hindu Temples practically say: “All Hindus and all Animals including dogs are admitted, only Untouchables not admitted.”
  15. If you rather be Hindu than be gentleman, than shut the doors and damn yourself for I don’t care to come.
  16. The salvation of the depressed classes will come only when the Caste Hindu is made to think and is forced to feel that he must alter his ways. For that you must create a crisis by direction action against his customary code of conduct. The crisis will compel him to think and once he begins to think he will be more ready to change than he is otherwise likely to be.
  17. I therefore strongly recommend this campaign of direct action for securing civic rights of the depressed classes for adoption by the Anti-Untouchability League.
  18. The place of the boss is reserved for the Caste Hindus while the Depressed Class worker must slave as his underdog, no matter how senior or how efficient.
  19. I think it necessary to explain the correct situation and allow no room for such erroneous notions about the Untouchables to take roots in their mind especially when there can be no difficulty in proving that it is a false charge against the untouchables and to prove that if the untouchables  have not joined the “Fight for Freedom “ it is not because they are the tools of the British Imperialism but because they fear that freedom of India will establish Hindu domination which is sure to close to them and forever all prospect of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and that they will be made the hewers of wood and drawers of water.
  20. Hindu Raj in which the governing class would be Bania and the Brahmin with low class Hindus as their policemen, all of whom have been the hereditary enemies of the Untouchables.
  21. This dogma of graded inequality is absolutely inimical to liberty and fraternity. It cannot be believed that this graded inequality will vanish or that the Hindus will strive to abolish it. That is impossible. This graded inequality is not accidental or incidental. It is the religion of the Hindus. It is the official doctrine of Hinduism. It is sacred and no Hindu can think of doing away with it.
  22. Irish Patriot Mr. Carson told to British Priminister Mr. Redmond “Damn your safeguards. We don’t wish to be ruled by you.”
  23. In short, what the Congress wants is a free India with full, unrestricted freedom to the Hindus in a free India to dispose of the Untouchables in any way they liked. No wonder the Untouchables have refused to take part in such a dishonest agitation, elevated though it may be by such high sounding name as “Fight for Freedom”!
  24. “Everyone who is an inhabitant of Hindustan is a Hindu.” In that sense it can certainly be claimed that the untouchables are Hindus.
  25. A common religion means a common cycle of participation.
  26. A religious difference does not break the social nexus.
  27. The real genius of Hinduism is to divide. This is beyond dispute.
  28. The Congress does not like that the Hindus should be deprived of the share of the Untouchables which the Hindus are in the habit of appropriating to themselves.
  29. The education received by the Untouchables in the army while it was open to them gave them one advantage which they never had before. It gave them a new vision and a new value. They became conscious that the low esteem in which they had been held was not an inescapable destiny but was a stigma imposed on their personality by the sunning contrivances of the priest.
  30. The caste in India is exclusive and isolated. There is no interaction and no modification of aims and objects. What is caste or a combination of castes regard “as their own interest’ as against other castes remains as sacred and inviolate as ever. The fact that they mingle and co-operate does not alter their character. The acts of co-operation are mechanical and not social.
  31. In India Caste are not merely non-social. Often they are anti-social. This is particularly true of the Hindus towards the Untouchables. A few facts will suffice to show how anti-social the Hindus are towards the Untouchables. For Instance, the Hindus will not allow the Untouchables to take water from a well. The Hindus will not allow the Untouchables entry in school. The Hindus will not allow the Untouchables to take travel in buses. The Hindus will not allow the Untouchables to travel in the same railway compartment. The Hindus will not allow the Untouchables to wear clean cloth. The Hindus will not allow the Untouchables to wear jewelry. The Hindus will not allow the Untouchables to put tiles on the roofs of their houses. The Hindus will not allow the Untouchables to own land. The Hindus will not allow the Untouchables to keep cattle. The Hindus will not allow the Untouchables to sit when Hindus is standing. They are not isolated acts of a few bad men among the Hindus. They are emanation of the permanent anti – social attitude to the Hindu community against the Untouchables.
  32. Untouchability is more than religious system. It is also an economic system which is worse than slavery. In slavery the master at any rate had the responsibility to feed clothe and house the slave and keep him in good condition lest the market value of the slave should decrease. But in the system of Untouchability the Hindu takes no responsibility for the maintenance of the Untouchable. As an economic system it permits exploitation without obligation. ******
  33. History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict victory is always with economics.
  34. The staff of the Associated Press of India, which is the main new distributing agency in India, is entirely drawn from Madras Brahmins-indeed the whole of the Press in India in their hands and, who for well-known reasons are entirely pro-Congress and will not allow any news hostile to the Congress to get publicity. These are reasons beyond the control of the Untouchables.
  35. J.L.Nehru was very conscious of the fact that he is a Brahmin. Nehru’s sister told “Why she should not be proud of her Brahmins blood.”?
  36. To sum up, the Brahmin enslaves the mind and the Bania enslaves the body. Between them, they divide the spoils which belong to Governing class.
  37. Is there any doubt that the Brahmins form the Governing class in India? Is there any doubt that the Congress’ fight for Freedom is for the freedom of the Governing class? Is there any doubt that the Congress is the Governing class and the governing class is the Congress? Is there any doubt that when Swaraj came in 1937 in the form of Provincial autonomy the Congress shamelessly put the governing class in places of power and authority?
  38. It is a pity that they do not seem to distinguish the case of tyrant who is held down and who pleads for liberty because he wants to regain his right to oppress and the case of an oppressed class seeking to be free from the oppression of the tyrant. In their hurry to bring freedom to India they have no time to realize that by siding with the Congress what they are doing is not to make India safe for democracy but to free the tyrant to practice his tyrannies. Is it necessary to tell them that to support Congress is to let tyranny have freedom to enslave?
  39. Beware of Gandhi. How could we believe in the earnestness of a person who takes a vow to fast if the Guruvayur temple is not opened to the Untouchables but will not go on fast even when the temple remains closed? How could they accept a man to be in earnest when he sponsors a Bill for securing Temple-entry and subsequently becomes a party to dropping it? How could they accept the earnestness of a man who contents himself with saying that he will not go into a temple if it is not open to the Untouchables when what is required of him is to adopt every means to get the temples thrown open to the Untouchables? How could they believe in the earnestness of a man who is ready to fast for everything but will not fast for the Untouchables? How can they believe in the earnestness of a man who is prepared to practice satyagraha for everything everybody but who will not practice it against the Hindus for the sake of the Untouchables? How can they believe in the earnestness of a man who as real minorities in India whose rights can be endangered by India becoming independent. With the exception of the Depressed Classes there is no minority which is not able to take care of itself.
  40. In Kala Temple satyagrahas “Both men and women belonging to the untouchables were insulted and beaten up the Hindus. But Gandhi was silent.”
  41. Difference between Hindus and Untouchables is both religious and social.
  42. The Guruvayur Temple still remain closed to Untouchables but Gandhi has not fulfilled his vow of going on fast.
  43. Gandhi started fast unto death unless the safeguards to the Untouchables were completely withdrawn.
  44. Gandhi came out as an open enemy of the Untouchables. How can the Untouchables regard such a man as their friend and ally?
  45. Gandhi is political shoemaker. He must stick to his political last.
  46. The harijan Sangh is to Untouchables what Putana was to Krishna.
  47. No man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no women can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no country can be grateful at the cost of its liberty, said “Danial O’Connel the Irish leader”.
  48. Untouchability has been in existence for the last two thousand years during which period the Hindus have day in and day out sucked the very blood of the Untouchables and have mutilated them and trodden upon them in every way. During these two thousand years what amount of charity have the Hindus done to the Untouchables?
  49. What is Gandhism? What does it stand for? What are its teachings about economic problem? What is its teaching about social problem?
  50. At the outset it is necessary to starts that some Gandhists have conjured up a conception of Gandhism which is purely imaginary.
  51. In Mr.Gandhi’s view said
  52. Western civilization is the creation of Satan”.
  53. Hereditary occupation which is the soul of the Caste System is an eternal principle. To change it is to create is disorder.
  54. I have no use for a Brahmins if I can’t call him a Brahmin for my life. It will be a “chaos if every day a Brahmin is to be changed into a Sudra and a Sudra is to be changed into a Brahmin”.
  55. In the varna system no man has any liberty to choose his occupations. His occupation is determined for him by heredity. In short Gandhism with its call back to nature means back to nakedness, back to squalor; back to poverty, back to ignorance for the vast mass of the people.


On the other hand Rabindranath Tagore Said, “The present day world belongs to the Western world. And really scientific culture is the gift of the Western world to humanity. It is a great gift. We are doomed if we don’t consider this gift, and the reason why we have been deprived of it so long is rather a paradox. You know how Japan in 50 years’ time completely mastered the technique of the Western Science and she has made wonderful progress to such an extent that she can compete with Western nations who have had a like start….We have already produced some scientists known to the world. I have been in touch with a very great scientist in Germany, Einstein, who came into contact with some of our students and scientists who have wonderful minds…

You must realize this fact, as I told you, about 80% of the Indian peoples are a chronic state of famine, and only 5% is literate, that is to say, hardly educated. What is the use of our talking of culture, what infinitesimal quantity of it reaches us and what are we going to do with it. Of course it goes without saying that if we could have better opportunities to have this culture in adequate measure it would be an immense benefit, not only to us, but I feel absolutely certain to the civilization of this world. I hope that the time will come when we shall have the same advantages to educate ourselves in an adequate way, and I shall be only too grateful if the Western culture could reach my country.”


Rabindranath was in London for few months and was staying with an English family and he has described his experienced with them. I quote here as below:


One thing struck me when living in this family-that human nature is the same everywhere. We are fond of saying, and I also believed, that the demotion of an Indian wife to her husband is unique, and is not to be found in Europe. But I at least was unable to discern any difference between Mrs. Scott and an ideal Indian wife. She was entirely wrapped up in her husband. With their modest means there was no fussing about with too many servants. Mrs. Scott attended to every detail of her husband’s wants herself. Before he come back home from his work every evening, she would arrange his armchair and woolen slippers and place them in front of the fire with her own hands. She would never allow herself to forget for a moment the things he liked, or the behavior which pleased him. She would go over house every morning with their only maid, from attic to kitchen, to get the brass rods on the stairs, the door knobs and other fittings scrubbed and polished till they shone to brightness again. Over and above this domestic report routine, there were many calls of social duty. After getting through all her daily duties, she would join with zest in our evening readings and music, for it is not the least of the duties of a good housewife to make real the gaiety of the leisure hour.


Some evenings I would join the girls in a table-turning séance. We would place our fingers on a small tea-table, and it would go capering about the room. It got to be so that whatever we touched began to quake and quiver. Mrs. Scott did not like all this. She would come times gravely shake her head and say that she had her doubts about this being right. She bore it bravely, however, not liking to put a damper on our youthful spirits. But one day when we put our hands on Dr. Scott’s top hat to make it turn, that was too much for her. She rushed up in an agitated state of mind and forbade us to touch it. She could not bear the idea of Satan having anything to do with her husband’s headwear, even for a moment…


I spent a few months here. Then it was time for my brother to return home, and my father asked me to accompany him back. I was delighted at the prospect. The light of my country, the sky of my country, had been silently calling me back. When I said goodbye, Mrs. Scott took me by the hand and wept. ‘Why did you come to us’, she said, ’if you must go so soon?’


The house hold no longer exists in London. Some of the members of the doctor’s family have departed to the other world, others are scattered in places unknown to me. But they will always live in my memory. (p-62)


On Caste-ism Tagore writes, ”We have long been suffering from grave social inequities which we have allowed to grow unchecked. Mutual distrust and hatred are the root cause of our misery. That is why Mahatma Gandhi has been compelled to resort to the extreme form of penance for our sins-to take the vow of fasting unto death if this curse of social discrimination is not removed from our midst. It is our imperative duty immediately to eradicate the evils that poison the sources of our humanity.”



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