Ambedkarites in Making: The Process of Awakening and Conversion to Buddhism among Non-Mahar Communities in Maharashtra

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Tushar Ghadage

Abstract

Scholars have presented Buddhist discourse in Maharashtra- the western part of India, as an expression of protest and emancipation of the former untouchable caste Mahar. But in the recent past, people from different social backgrounds belonging to non-Mahar castes have embraced Buddhism. Now it has become the collective discourse of protest of different castes and tribes from marginalized communities. This paper, an outcome of my anthropological study, concerns with changing consciousness among non-Mahar castes regarding conversion to Buddhism as a tool of resistance to overcome caste inequalities. Brahmanical patriarchy is the basis on which the caste system thrives, thus it is the root of women’s oppression. Women’s assertion for a gender-equal society and its actual implementation on the ground constitutes a major part of the anti-caste movement. Therefore, this study also seeks the answer to the question of how Buddhism helps to rupture the caste patriarchy and its rigid structure. A significant indicator would be to see precisely how women are breaking those age-old boundaries of castes. Therefore, this paper also addresses the issue of women’s emancipation through Buddhism and how it challenges the Brahmanical patriarchy and liberates its women followers from oppression.

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How to Cite
Ghadage, T. (2020). Ambedkarites in Making: The Process of Awakening and Conversion to Buddhism among Non-Mahar Communities in Maharashtra. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 1(2), 107-120. https://doi.org/10.26812/caste.v1i2.220
Section
Research Articles