[Buddha-l] Ambedkar biography written in Sanskrit--Pune, India

JKirkpatrick jkirk at spro.net
Fri Aug 6 11:01:47 MDT 2010

Vedic scholar pens BR Ambedkar's first biography in Sanskrit
Published: Saturday, Jul 10, 2010, 9:38 IST 
Place: Pune | Agency: PTI 
Battling a visual handicap, an 84-year-old Vedic scholar here has
composed the first ever biography of the architect of Indian
constitution and icon of the underprivileged Dr BR Ambedkar in
Sanskrit verse.

The exceptional feat of Prabhakar Joshi, who lost his sight
completely while still working on the biography undertaken in
2004, stands as a testimony to his unflinching determination and
will power that saw recent publication of the book containing
1,577 Sanskrit 'Shlokas' covering the life span of Ambedkar
unfolded in 160 pages with 21 'Sargas' (chapters).

A victim of glaucoma, Joshi who has an illustrious background as
a teacher of Sanskrit in schools and colleges, was immensely
influenced by Ambedkar's mission to uplift the downtrodden.
When he started studying Ambedkar's life, he came across certain
facts that inspired him to take up the unique project of his
Sanskrit biography titled " Bhimayanam".
"Not many people know that it was an ardent desire of Ramji,
father of Ambedkar, that his son should learn Sanskrit.

When Bhimrao opted for the subject after being enrolled in the
Elphinstone High School in Mumbai he was in for rude shock as the
teachers there refused to allow him to study Sanskrit because he
was a Dalit.
Imparting knowledge of Sanskrit to 'lower caste' students those
days was something to be frowned upon", Joshi told PTI.
After pondering over this episode, Joshi thought of an "atonement
of sorts" by way of versifying in Sanskrit, the life of Ambedkar
whom he reverently calls 'Mahamanav'.

A progressive glaucoma started affecting the vision of the
octogenarian even as he persisted with his writing, at times
overlapping words as a result of poor eyesight.
"I was losing my vision fast but my resolve to complete the work
was getting firmer notwithstanding the visual handicap.
My wife read the lines I had written and made them legible for
further processing. Many times, I got up in the middle of night
to write the words that came to my mind without knowing that ink
had dried," Joshi who has retained all his faculties at the ripe
age recalled.
Explaining his method that led to completion of his work, he said
"I first summarised important milestones in Ambedkar's life and
then got it taped. Then I kept listening to the audio again and
again, pondering over my next verse".

According to Joshi, who taught Sanskrit at Fergusson College here
and was a guide at Pune University for many students doing their
doctorates in Sanskrit, Ambedkar was a great supporter of the
language which he regarded as mother of most of the regional
tongues in the country.
Despite his strong opposition to the Brahminical dominance in the
society and social discrimination that led him and his followers
to embrace Buddhism, Ambedkar himself had mastered Sanskrit,
which was identified with the upper caste learning and
perpetuating "Sanatan" dharma, he said.

"Bhimayanam" was published under "Sharada Gaurav Granthamala"
series by Pandit Vasant Gadgil after six years of dedicated work
by Joshi, a recipient of Maharashtra government's 'Mahakavi
Kalidas' award.
Maharashtra Governor Shankarnarayanan is expected to formally
release the biography.
As Joshi spoke, his unseeing eyes stared in a fixed gaze. 
But the words came gushing lighting up his face as he dealt on
the towering personality so dear to his heart----Babasaheb
Ambedkar who bestowed dignity on those who suffered from


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