• IASbaba
  • October 13, 2022
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Environment & Ecology
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In News: Every year Dussehra is also celebrated as Ashoka Vijaya Dashami to commemorate Buddhist Conversion Day.

  • On October 14, 1956, Ambedkar embraced Buddhism in a grand ceremony at Nagpur’s Deekshabhoomi, along with more than five lakh followers.
  • The neo-Buddhism adopted by Ambedkar is called Navyana Buddhism.

Navayana Buddhism:

  • To end the inhuman practice of untouchability, in 1935, Ambedkar, as president of the ‘Yeola Conversion Conference’, announced his decision to renounce Hinduism and asked the depressed castes to leave Hinduism entirely.
  • After a detailed contemplation on various religions, Buddhism was chosen as
  • It is rational and progressive
  • It challenged the Brahmanical caste-based social hierarchies
  • It focused on modern ethical values and a scientific temperament and preached peace and compassion for social coexistence
  • He then recited the three jewels (Trisharan), five precepts (Panchsheel), pronounced the self-crafted 22 vows.
  • Under the presence of monk Chandramani, Ambedkar and his wife took the Buddhist vows.
  • The event is marked as the renaissance of Buddhism in India.
  • Navayana Buddhism differs with the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions of Buddhism.
  • The 22 vows are divided into three major sections.
  • First part – to refuse to worship the Hindu pantheon or to follow Hindu religious dogmas
  • Second – it challenges the authority of the Brahmin priest
  • Third –promises to follow Buddhist principles.

Demographic status of neo-Buddhists in India:

  • The Buddhist population is a mere 0.70%, of which 87% are neo-Buddhists.
  • Further, a large majority of it (around 80%) reside in Maharashtra (5.8% of the total population).
  • However, it is mainly the Mahar caste that primarily converted to Buddhism. Some other converted communities include the Matang castes and some sections of Maratha castes.
  • The rest are traditional Buddhists and are scattered mainly in north-eastern States like Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Tripura, etc.
  • There has been a decline in the growth rate of Buddhists in India in recent years.
  • The neo-Buddhists of Maharashtra have established numerous viharas and meditation centres.

Source:  The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following: (2019)

  1. Deification of the Buddha
  2. Treading the path of Bodhisattvas
  3. Image worship and rituals

Which of the above is/are the feature/ features of Mahayana Buddhism?

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.2) With reference to the religious practices in India, the “Sthanakvasi” sect belongs to (2016):

  1. Buddhism
  2. Jainism
  3. Vaishnavism
  4. Shaivism


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