In Nagpur, after leaving the Hindu religion and accepting Buddhism on 14th October 1956, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar prescribed 22 vows to his followers. He knew that remaining in the Hindu religion will bring no kind of progress to anyone. In that religion, the basic principles have no depth. For some, the hierarchy of the Hindu religion brings profits; this is true for the superior classes and castes. But what of the others? If a Brahmin woman delivers a child, from then on her vision is on any high court judge’s place which might fall vacant. If one of low caste sweeper women is brought to bed, her vision turns toward the place of a sweeper. Such strange arrangements the Hindu religious class system has made. What improvements can come from this system? Progress can come only in the Buddhist religion.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar strongly believed in the Buddha’s message of Equality. In the Buddhist religion, 75% of the Bhikkhus were Brahmin; 25% were Shudra and others. But Bhagvan said, “O Bhikkhus, you have come from different countries and castes. Rivers flow separately in their own countries, but do not remain distinct when they meet in the sea. They become one and the same. The Buddhist brotherhood of monks is like the sea. In this Sangha all are equal. It is impossible to know Ganga water from Mahandi water after both have merged in the sea. In that way, after coming into the Buddhist Sangha, your caste goes, and all people are equal. Only one great man spoke of equality, and that great man is Lord Buddha.
The principles spoken by Lord Buddha are immortal. But the Buddha did not make a claim for this, however. Nevertheless the Buddha did not make the claim that this religion is from God. There is an opportunity of making changes according to the times. The Buddha said, “My father was a common man, my mother was a common woman. If you want a religion, then you should take this religion. If this religion suits your mind, then accept it.” Such generosity and open-mindedness is not found in any other religion.
In other religions, change will not occur, because those religions tell of a relationship between man and God. Other religions say that god created the world. God created the sky, wind, moon, everything. God did not leave anything left over for us to do. So we should worship God. According to the Christian religion, there is, after death, a Day of Judgment, and all depends on that judgment. There is no place for God and soul in the Buddhist religion. Lord Buddha said there is suffering everywhere in the world. Ninety percent of mankind is distressed by sorrow. Suffering mankind should be freed from sorrow– this is the basic work of Buddhism.
Thus by prescribing the 22 Vows, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar tumbled down the burden – the burden of Vaishya, Kshatriya and Brahmin. Through these vows one can remove all the doubts and suspicions and will help them to lead a stage of full knowledge.
22 Vows prescribed by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar in English, Hindi and Marathi
- I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh nor shall I worship them.
- I shall have no faith in Rama and Krishna who are believed to be incarnation of God nor shall I worship them.
- I shall have no faith in ‘Gauri’, Ganapati and other gods and goddesses of Hindus nor shall I worship them.
- I do not believe in the incarnation of God.
- I do not and shall not believe that Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu. I believe this to be sheer madness and false propaganda.
- I shall not perform ‘Shraddha’ nor shall I give ‘pind-dan’.
- I shall not act in a manner violating the principles and teachings of the Buddha.
- I shall not allow any ceremonies to be performed by Brahmins.
- I shall believe in the equality of man.
- I shall endeavour to establish equality.
- I shall follow the ‘noble eightfold path’ of the Buddha.
- I shall follow the ‘paramitas’ prescribed by the Buddha.
- I shall have compassion and loving kindness for all living beings and protect them.
- I shall not steal.
- I shall not tell lies.
- I shall not commit carnal sins.
- I shall not take intoxicants like liquor, drugs etc.
- I shall endeavour to follow the noble eightfold path and practise compassion and loving kindness in every day life.
- I renounce Hinduism which is harmful for humanity and impedes the advancement and development of humanity because it is based on inequality, and adopt Buddhism as my religion.
- I firmly believe the Dhamma of the Buddha is the only true religion.
- I believe that I am having a re-birth.
- I solemnly declare and affirm that I shall hereafter lead my life according to the principles and teachings of the Buddha and his Dhamma.