Editorials by Sangharakshita

 
 

The Tide Turns

This editorial first appeared in The Maha Bodhi, October 1956.

Ever since the inception of the Maha Bodhi Society more than sixty years ago we have been accustomed to regard our work for the revival of Buddhism in India as constituting a hopelessly minority movement. Though as the decades went by more and more people acquired knowledge of and developed sympathy for the Dharma of the All-Enlightened and All-Compassionate One, it was but rarely that some courageous soul came forward and declared himself to be not merely a sympathiser with Buddhism but a Buddhist.

Mighty unseen forces were, however, all the time at work behind the visible framework of events, and when, shortly after the glorious day on which our country achieved independence, the Sacred Relics of the Arahants Sariputta and Mahamoggallana were brought back from London to be re-enshrined at the site whence they had been removed a century earlier, all India rose as one man to welcome them.

Now comes the news that on the 14th of this month, which by a strange coincidence is the Vijay Dasami day, the day which, according to Hindu mythology, commemorates the victory of the forces of light over the powers of darkness, one of our great national leaders will be converted to Buddhism together with hundreds of thousands of his followers.

Let none think that Dr. B. R. Ambedkar has taken this momentous step hastily or without due consideration, or that he has embarked upon this truly revolutionary course without full consciousness of its socio-religious implications and its far-reaching historical significance. It is perhaps five-and-twenty years since Dr. Ambedkar first declared that though he had been born a Hindu he did not intend to die a Hindu. Twenty-five years back is a big enough slice of anybody's life, and a period of time sufficiently long for the pondering even so momentous a step as the changing of one's religion. Brahminical clamours to the contrary notwithstanding, Dr. Ambedkar knows what he is doing, and his followers know what they are doing, too.

Not theoretical considerations merely but their own bitter experience of all the unspeakable cruelty, the soul-searing injustice and systematic relentless inhumanity through the ages has eventually convinced them that Hinduism is incapable of reformation and that the only course now open to them is to break away from it and embrace Buddhism.

 

Within the Buddhist fold they will find not only social emancipation but, what is even more important, a way of life conducive to the attainment both of happiness here and hereafter and that unshakable deliverance of mind which is the gist of the Buddha's Teaching. They will also find the hand of brotherhood stretched out to them from every side, not only welcoming but assisting and supporting them as they make their first step along the Noble Eightfold Path.

When, on the coming Vijay Dasami day, the lion-hearted leader and his followers make that momentous step forward, a threefold shout of 'Sadhu! ! !' will surely rise from every part of the Buddhist world and be taken up by the Devas and other celestial beings and echoed from heaven to heaven until finally it reaches the foot of the Throne of Enlightenment; and those who labour in the heat of the day in the field of Buddhist revival in India, hearing that shout, will pause a moment in their work, and know, with joy in their hearts, that at last the tide has turned.