Negotiating Boundaries Between "Religious" and "Secular": A Struggle for the Sense of Collectivity Among Ambedkarite Buddhists in Maharashtra
Keywords:Ambedkarite Buddhists, Maharashtra, Dalts, Ambedkar, Navayana Buddhism, tradition, collectiveness, religion, modernity
Since the first mass conversion of Dalits to Buddhism in 1956, followers of B. R. Ambedkar's vision have propagated Buddhism throughout India, creating various activist networks across, but not limited to, Maharashtra. Despite their aspirations for socio-political change and emancipation for marginalized communities experiencing caste discrimination, Ambedkarite Buddhists have faced challenges in mobilization and organization since the demise of Ambedkar. This article addresses the struggle of building a sense of collectivity within the Ambedkarite Buddhist population, offering insights from the perspective of young Ambedkarite Buddhists in Mumbai. The ethnographic study primarily focuses on interpreting the Ambedkarite Buddhist tradition and its position within the broader Buddhist framework and delves into the divergence in efforts to emplace Buddhism on the "religious-secular" spectrum among practitioners. The article aims to provide an interpretation of the challenges faced by the Ambedkarite Buddhists in pursuing a unified front for effecting social change in contemporary India.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Tereza Menšíková
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