Tradition as a Temporal Chain of Symbolic Constructions : Transmission and Modification of Ambedkarite’s Interpretations of Buddhism in Time and Space



Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description This paper focuses on the circulation of the tradition of Navayana Buddhism and the interpretation of the tradition through the eyes of young Ambedkarite Buddhists in Maharashtra. Tradition in terms of transmitted physical objects, cultural constructions, and beliefs is continuity between the past and present and is subjected to constant modification process. In my research, I analyse this modification process on today’s young generation of Ambedkarite Buddhists in Mumbai and their interpretation of key aspects of their tradition, which lay the foundation of identification Buddhists as a community. For explaining the tradition in the life of Ambedkarite Buddhists I centralize my argumentation around three significant interpretations of 1) figures of Ambedkar and Buddha, and Ambedkar’s primary texts about Navayana Buddhism, 2) history of casterelated atrocities and discrimination in discourse and practices, and 3) history of the resistance and fight for equal rights. I will also address the question of how the circulation of different types of interpretation of Navayana tradition effects and forms the collectivity of Ambedkarite Buddhists and whether it has an impact on the mobilization strategies of the community. The analysis shows how sharing as well as transmitting interpretations of practices, symbols, physical objects, institutions, and cultural constructions in time (from one generation to another) and space (rural/urban areas) form the community and the identification of oneself as Ambedkarite Buddhist, Mahar or Dalit. The analysis is based on ethnography research conducted in Mumbai in the university environment.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.