Ramdas Athawale, Indian Dalit Buddhist leader enters Rajya Sabha as BJP nominee for Maharashtra
Posted on June 10th, 2014

Senaka Weeraratna

Ramdas Athawale is the President of the Republican Party of India (Athawale). In 2014, Athawale was elected to the Indian Upper House of Parliament i.e. Rajya Sabha. He represents Maharashtra as a nominee of the BJP.

Earlier he was a member of the Lok Sabha representing the constituency of  Pandharpur, Maharashtra from 1999 – 2004. He was born on 25th December 1959 (age 54). He is a Buddhist.
Photo shows Ramdas Athawale taking an Oath as newly elected MP of Rajya Sabha at Sansad, Delhi.on June 09, 2014

The Indian Prime Minister Hon. Narendra Modi is also seen in the picture behind Mr. Athawale.

In a Vesak Message issued on May 13, 2014, Ramdas Athawale said:

” The whole world needs peace. If humanity has to progress, ahimsa has to be followed. World doesn’t want “Yuddha but they want the Buddha”. Aant, Deep, Bhav & Buddha’s Panchseel Marg is the only way to progress in life. Dr BabaSaheb Ambedkar has accepted Buddhism for the larger humans betterment. I wish all the Indians & humans to follow the path of Satya, Pradnya, Ahimsa & Karuna on the occasion of Buddha Poornima”.

Meeting with President Mahinda Rajapakse on February 22, 2013 in Kandy
Mr. Ramdas Athawale visited Sri Lanka as part of an an eight member Indian Buddhist delegation led by Ven. Dr. Bhadant Rahula Bodhi Maha Thera and met HE the President Mahinda Rajapakse at the President’s House in Kandy on February 22, 2013.  The primary purpose of the visit of the Indian delegation was to strengthen ties between the Buddhists of the two countries and bring India and Sri Lanka closer to each other through the historical bond and civilizational link of Buddhism.They also canvassed the possibility of the installation of a statue in Colombo in honour of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the Indian Buddhist savant, who in the wake of the foundation laid by the Anagarika Dharmapala for the revival of Buddhism in India in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th Century, was instrumental in bringing large numbers of Indians i.e. literally hundreds of thousands of down trodden people (Dalits) into the fold of Buddhism.
Left to RightFront Row :  Dr.Sachchidanand Fulekar, Avinash Kamble, Ramdas Athawale, President Mahinda Rajapakse, Ven. Rahula Bodhi, Sachin M. Moon,

2nd Row:  Hon. Tikiri Kobbekaduwa (Governor, Central Province), R.L. Tambe, Vishwas Sakru Sarode, Dr. Lilaknath Weerasinghe

3rd Row:  Senaka Weeraratna, W. Panditaratne, Dr. W.A.L. Wickremasinghe, Dr. Jivaki Bandara

4th Row: Dr. Shirani Jayasinghe and Sena Dumbaranga

5th Row: Dr. H. B. Jayasinghe,

The Indian Buddhist team arrived in Sri Lanka on February 21 at the invitation of Dr. Lilaknath Weerasinghe, President ‘Success Sri Lanka’ based in Kandy and its membership, which hosted the delegation during their stay in Kandy and Colombo and accompanied them to Anuradhapura in conjunction with the generous assistance provided mainly by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress and co – ordinated by the German Dharmaduta Society (in association with the Indo – Sri Lanka Buddhist Network), all of which entities constitute Regional Centres of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB).

The Indian Buddhist Team comprised the following members:

1)Most Venerable Dr. Bhadant Rahula Bodhi Maha Thera

President Bhikkhu Sangha’s United Buddhist Mission, India.

2)  Mr. Ramdas Athawale, Former Member of Parliament (MP), Vice President – The World Fellowship of Buddhist, India ( Now newly elected Member of the Rajya Sabha)

3) Mr. Avinash Kamble, President – United Buddhist Federation, India.

4)Mr. R.L. Tambe,Principal – Tambe Education Society College, Mumbai.

5) Mr. Sachchidanand Fulekar, Principal – Dr. Ambedkar Law College, Nagpur.

6) Mr. Sachin M. Moon, Managing Director, Lord Buddha Television, India.

7)Ven. Bhadant Rewat Bodhi, High Priest, Bhikkhu Niwas Gedam layout, Nagpur, India.

8)  Mr. Vishwas Sakru Sarode, Director, HR & IR, Lilavati Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai

During the course of their visit the Indian Buddhist delegation met the Maha Nayaka Theros of the Malwatta and Asgiriya Chapters, Ven. Banagala Upatissa Nayaka Thera, President, Maha Bodhi Society, Ven. Kirama Wimalajothi Maha Thera (President, Buddhist Cultural Centre), Ven. Dr. W. Wimalagnana Thera (Gangaramaya, Peliyagoda), Ven. Medagama Dhammananda (Asgiriya Maha Viharaya), Ven. Getamande Gunananda Thera, Ven. T. Palitha (Nalandaramaya, Nugegoda), Ven. Mettavihari and Ven. Galayaye Piyadassi Thero ( Chief Sanghanayake Thero of the United Kingdom currently on a visit to Sri Lanka), among others.

The convening of an International Conference on the topic ‘ The Revival and Renaissance of Buddhism in India in the 20th Century’ has been mooted. Both India and Sri Lanka share a deep civilisational continuum. The frequency of these interactions through the bond of Buddhism will re- activate our civilisational paradigm, and make people of both countries re- discover the lost sense of our history, geography, and culture, which determined our understanding and relations with each other, and others in our neighbourhood.

Acceptance of Buddhism by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar converted to Buddhism along with about 380,000 of his followers on October 14, 1956 at Deekshabhoomi which is situated in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Ven. Dr. Hammalawa Saddhatissa Maha Thera, a reputed monk from Sri Lanka, presided over this historic function.

<< Dr.Ambedkar embraced Buddhism on October 14, 1956 at Nagpur. Bhante Chandramani (Burmese monk) is seen administering the oath in Pali to Dr.Ambedkar & Dr.Mrs.Ambedkar. Devapriya Valisinha, General Secretary, Mahabodhi Society, is seen in the center of the picture.

Dr. Ambedkar and his wife Mrs.Savita Ambedkar took oath of Three Jewels and Five Precepts from the Burmese monk Mahasthavir Chandramani.

Dr. Ambedkar then gave the oath of Three Jewels, five precepts, and 22 Vows to his thousands of followers.

Devapriya Valisinha, General Secretary of the Mahabodhi Society was present at  this function. Devapriya Valisinha had for long years been in correspondence with Dr. Ambedkar.

Dr. Ambedkar died on December 6, 1956, just one and a half months after this ceremony. A two-mile long crowd formed the funeral procession. One of the biggest gatherings for a funeral in India up to that time.

Video: Babasaheb Ambedkar embracing Buddhism in Nagpur on 14th October, 1956



Senaka Weeraratna

One Response to “Ramdas Athawale, Indian Dalit Buddhist leader enters Rajya Sabha as BJP nominee for Maharashtra”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    I do not understand. So he is a Buddhist. He still works for the Bharata Janata Party. In fact being a Buddhist could be a double edged sword. He will put the interests of India above the interests of a foreign nation like Buddhist Sri Lanka and using his “Buddhism’ to charm and persuade, he could be sent by the Bharata Janata Party as a greater leverage in dealing with Colombo on Tamil issues. the belief “that being a Buddhist makes all Buddhists brothers” will be peddled by New Delhi like a snake oil salesmen.
    Watch out!

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