A claim regarding Dr B.R. Ambedkar's upbringing, childhood and education has been viral across social media. Netizens keep circulating posts claiming Dr Ambedkar's accomplishments in his life is due to the charity of Brahmins.
A series of text-based claims has been circulating across social media. A user circulated the claim, alleging the following,
"Who took care of Ambedkar as a child? A Brahmin. Who took care of Ambedkar's education? A Brahmin. Who gave his surname Ambedkar? A Brahmin. Who funded Ambedkar's foreign education? A Hindu nationalist king Raja Sayajirao Gaekwad. Whom do Ambedkarites abuse? Hindus and Brahmins."
The claim is viral across Facebook and Twitter.
The Logical Indian fact check team verified the viral claim and found the claims circulated through social media regarding Dr Ambedkar are false in nature.
Dr Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 in a town known as Mhow (now officially known as Dr Ambedkar Nagar). He was the 14th child of Ramji Maloji Sakpal and Bhimabai Sakpal. Dr Ambedkar's father was an army officer who held the rank of Subedar.
As per a book Dr Ambedkar and Untouchability written by noted author Christophe Jaffrelot, Ramji Maloji Sakpal rose to the rank of Subedar, receiving a degree of formal education in Marathi and English
He encouraged his children to pursue education and used his position in the army to make way for them to study at the government school, as they faced resistance due to their caste background.
In his own words, Dr Ambedkar wrote in his autobiographical recountings, Waiting for A Visa. He writes that he lost his mother before he turned ten. The family had to stay in Satara until 1904 and were treated as untouchables as they were identified as belonging to the Mahar community.
In a part of his autobiography, he has recounted an incident when he had to travel to meet his father in Koregaon in the Satara District. Ambedkar and his siblings were left under the care of his "aunt and some kind neighbours."
Through this evidence, we can ascertain that Dr Ambedkar was not raised by Brahmins but rather under the guardianship of his father and his paternal aunt and neighbours. All these persons likely were identified as the same caste community.
Claim 2: Who took care of Ambedkar's education? A Brahmin
Claim 3: Who funded Ambedkar's foreign education? A Hindu nationalist king Raja Sayajirao Gaekwad
In the book Dr Ambedkar and Untouchability, Jaffrelot mentions that Ambedkar studied at a school in Dapoli, Ratnagiri in Maharashtra as a child. Due to his father's intervention, he could study in this school despite being ostracised as he belonged to the Mahar community.
Later on, he spent several years acquiring education at a high school in Satara. On Page 27 of his book, Jaffrelot summarises Ambedkar's education and Sayajirao Gaekwad's involvement in financing his education.
Dhananjay Keer, a biographer of Ambedkar's life noted in his book Dr BR Ambedkar: Life and Mission that Ambedkar acquired his primary education at a school in Satara. From the period of 1896-1906, till when Ambedkar was obtaining his primary education, no mention of a shortage of funds for education is noted by Keer.
On Page 21, Keer notes that after Ambedkar's Inter-Arts Examination, his father ran out of funds to finance his education. Keer also notes that the Maharaja of Baroda, Sayajirao Gaekwad agreed to finance Ambedkar's education after his matriculation. Following Gaekwad's financial support, Ambedkar began studying in Mumbai's Elphinstone College.
Gaekwad is recognised as a ruler who advocated and provided for several reform initiatives, which included financing the education of persons belonging to lower caste communities. As per the History of Vadodara blog, he legalised widow marriage and introduced free and compulsory primary education in 1893.
The following interaction between Ambedkar and Sayajirao Gaekwad is documented on Page 211 of Volume 17 of The Writings and Speeches of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.
Claim 4: Who gave his surname Ambedkar? A Brahmin
Dhananjay Keer, noted in his biography that a Brahmin teacher offered Ambedkar the surname 'Ambedkar' in his school. The teacher was not named by Keer. On Page 14, he also mentioned that Ambedkar's original surname was Sakpal and Bhimrao drew his surname, 'Ambavedkar' from his village Ambavade in Maharashtra.
Bhimrao's teacher Mahadev Ambedkar was very fond of him, that's whh the teacher changed Bhimrao Ramji's surname to Ambedkar.
We also came across a TV program by ABP Majha uploaded on June 8, 2019. At the 44.30 mark in the video, Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr Ambedkar, states to a news reporter that Bhimrao Ambedkar was given the surname 'Ambedkar' by his teacher. "His original surname was Satpal and the teacher gave him the surname Ambedkar. But the rest of his siblings were still identified with the surname Satpal."
Claim 5: Who married Ambedkar? A Brahmin
Dr Ambedkar was married two times in his life. His first wife was Ramabai Bhimrao Ambedkar who belonged to a poor Dalit family. As per a Free Press Journal article published on May 26, 2022, Ramabai married Ambedkar in 1906 and at the time of their marriage, Ambedkar was 15 and Ramabai was 9.
They were married until Ramabai passed away on 27 May 1935 due to a prolonged chronic illness. They were married for 29 years.
Dr Ambedkar married Dr Sharada Kabir on April 15, 1948, after which she changed her name to Savita Ambedkar. As this The Print article published on 27 January 2021, her commitment to the Dalit-Buddhist movement was under scrutiny because of her Brahmin roots, even though she had converted to Buddhism along with Ambedkar.
In an Indian Express report published on April 14, 2022, Dr Sharada Kabir is noted as belonging to a middle-class Sarasvat Brahmin family. She met and came to knew Dr Ambedkar as a patient riddled with life-threatening diseases.
In our Fact Check, we found that most of the claims circulated through social media regarding Dr Ambedkar are false in nature. We found that Ambedkar's father, his aunt and neighbours took care of him as a child and not Brahmin persons.
We noted that Dr Ambedkar's primary education was supported by his father and following his death, Sayajirao Gaekwad funded his studies as a part of his reform initiatives.
We also noted that Ambedkar had been married twice, and while his second wife did belong to a Brahmin family, she changed her religion to Buddhism and adopted the Ambedkar surname after her marriage.
In our Fact Check, Ambedkar was offered the surname by a Brahmin teacher. Thus, we can ascertain that the viral posts being spread regarding Brahmin's involvement in Dr Ambedkar's upbringing, education and life are mostly false and leave out crucial context.
This story is first covered by Alt News. Click here to read in detail.
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