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Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Ph.D., J.D., D.Sc. (1891-1956) was born in India into the untouchable caste in 1891. After managing to get a basic education he won scholarships to study in England and the USA and became a brilliant lawyer. In the following years he became a vigorous and outspoken social reformer, in particular criticising the Hindu caste system. After Indian independence Ambedkar chaired the committee that wrote the country’s new constitution. After years of campaigning for and failing to get acceptance and equality within Hinduism Ambedkar finally decided to become a Buddhist. On the in 1956 he and hundreds of thousands of his followers took the Three Refuges. Tragically he died only a few months later but the movement he began has continued and today there are about 8 million Buddhists in India. This resurgence of Buddhism in modern India was initiated by Bhimrao Ambedkar.

He was a scholar, jurist, and father of the Indian Constitution. He was the first leader of the Dalit Buddhist Movement, which calls for an end to the caste system of India and for untouchables to convert to Buddhism. Dr. Ambedkar was born into this lowest caste, but rejected this and converted to Buddhism. He was one of the first untouchables to earn a college education and he went on to earn several doctorate degrees.

See also


  • Ambedkar and Buddhism. Sangharakshita, 1986.
  • The Complete Book of Buddha's Lists -- Explained. David N. Snyder, Ph.D., 2006.