*** Valedictory Speech of Dr Milind Jiwane in N. E. Hill University Shillong on dated June 17, 2016 on Buddhism.
Respected Chairperson, Organizer of this seminar, Professors, Experts, Researchers and the student friends….
This day is very important day for me that, I got an opportunity to address before you. This is my second visit of Shillong. First time I came here 25 years before for the workshop organized by Ministry of Human Resources Development, Govt. of India. I was attended lot of National Seminars and Conferences in India and abroad. But I feel very much joy in here.
I have seen your wonderful natural beauty Hill place where mostly living our Tribal community people like Khasis, Garos, Mizos, Nagas, Bodos, Nyishis, Borok etc. My native city Nagpur of Central India is also related with the NAGA Buddhist Culture. I think you the Tribal people North East part of India, who has given your social contribution for the nation building. Now I don’t want to go deep to express it. Regarding your Sanskrit language is concerned; you don’t feel sad for not knowing it. Because a very few people of India who know and understand it. And it was concerned with a self declared Special Higher Class Society. Yes, if you know it, it is also good. But you don’t be binding anyone to know it essential. Friends, still it is not proved that, Sanskrit was the original language of India or she is a mother of all languages. Here is seen the dispute of originality between Pali and Sanskri language. I think only you preserve the culture of your different Tribal communities. Because you’re Tribal culture is the original culture. Its preservation is more important than to know the language of Sanskrit.
Friends, regarding Hindu-ism issue is concerned; you don’t introduce yourself as Hindu. It is a big question that Hindu is a religion or not! Because every religion, it has been formed by some saints. Yeshu was a founder of Christianity, Sidharth Buddha was a founder of Buddhism, Mahavir was a founder of Jainism as like that. But there was no founder of Hinduism, then how it was in existence. Swami Dayanand Saraswati was refused to say himself as Hindu. According to him, Hindu is an abusing word. The Muslim rulers were calling to Indian People as Hindu. On 12th Century Swami Dayanand Saraswati has formed the new “Vaidic Dharma.” Hindu word is not a combination by two words. But it was a combination by three Words “HI-NA-DU.” HINA means Degraded. DU means People. Hindu means Degraded People. There was no reference of Hindu is an ancient historical books. i.e. Ramayana, Mahabharat etc. Hindu is not the Indian language word. It was an Arabi word. The said language dictionary, you can see on the Kolkata Museum.
Regarding to say the Hindusthan is concerned, the name of country is “India means Bharat” and not the Hindusthan. As like the meaning of Hindu, Degraded People, Hindusthan means “The Place where Degraded People are living.” It is an un-constitutional word. Its meaning shows the un-respect to the nation as well as people.
Even you don’t say yourselves as “Dalit” or introduce yourselves as Dalit. Dalit identity is showing the degradation status of society or people. No one person likes to introduce themselves as degraded man and he always expect a respect. Even the Scheduled Caste Commission, Government of India has banned on calling the Dalit. It is an un-constitutional word.
Now I am keeping an ancient history of India before you. An ancient time there were two types of schools in existence. One was Theist and another was Atheist. Buddha was not believed on god. He was not introduced themselves as a God but he introduced as a master. For the Buddha the voice of authority is in truth itself, and whether the truth leads, thither the disciple must follow. Accordingly, the dictum accepted in all schools of Buddhism as the sole regulative principle is that nothing can be the teaching of the master, which is not in strict accord with reason, or with what is known to be true.
According to the views of an eminent Thinker P L Narsu: Hence, in expounding Buddhism in the light of modern knowledge, it has in no way swerved from his position as a Buddhist, but has only followed a practice current among the Buddhists from the very earliest times. If he has succeeded in giving Buddhism the aspect of modernity, he has done so, not by seasoning modern ideas with little Buddha-stick sauce, but by getting beneath all forms of Buddhism and bringing to light the essential truths therein contained.
Further he said, the marrow of civilized society, it has been truly said, is ethical and not metaphysical. The forces that underline and maintain civilized society are not belief in “Atman” and “Brahman”, or trinity in unity, or the immanence and transcendence of God, but truthfulness, charity, justice, tolerance, fraternity – in short, all that is summed up in the word Dharma or Buddhism. Rightly did Emperor Asoka make Buddhism the basis of his government? Not till the “white light” of the Buddha has once again penetrated into thought and life of the Indians can they hope to regain that pre-eminence among nations that they possessed in the time of Asoka. Not till the Dharma becomes the guiding spirit of all nations will their peace and safety be assured.
Buddhism is more a system of philosophy and practical ethics than religion. If by religion we mean something which inspires enthusiasm and fervor, Buddhism is certainly a religion, as it has given spiritual enthusiasm and joy to nearly hundred millions of the world’s population, and has served to carry men through material pains and evils and to make them their conquerors. But if we take as the beginning of the religion the fear of god, or the dread of the unknown, or the hankering for the unseen and unintelligible, or the feelings for the infinite, Buddhism is certainly not a religion. The most striking feature of Buddhism is that it eschews all hypotheses regarding the unknown, and concerns itself wholly with the facts of life in the present work-a-day world. The blessed one once told a Brahman: “there are, O Brahman, many sramanas and Brahmanas that maintain that night is day, and day is night. But I, Brahman maintain that night is night and day is day.” To another Brahman he flatly said: “Tathagat is free from all Theories.” The starting point for Buddhism is not dogma of belief in the supernatural, but the fact of the existence of sorrow and suffering, not merely the sorrow and suffering of the poor and wretched, but also of those that live in the lap of luxury. Its goal is not heaven or a union of God or Brahman, but to find a refuse for man from the miseries of the world in the safe haven of an intellectual and ethical life through self-conquest and self culture.
Standing on the firm rock of facts, Buddhism, unlike the so called revealed religions, has never contested the prerogative of reason to be the ultimate criterion of truth. The blessed One exhorted his disciples thus: “Do not believe in traditions merely because they have been handed down for many generations and in many places; do not believe in anything because it is rumored and spoken by many; do not believe because the written statement of some old sage is produced; do not believed in what you have fancied, thinking that because it is extraordinary, it must have been implanted by a Deva or a wonderful being. After observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. Accordingly Buddhism requires nothing to be accepted on trust without enquiry. It does not want one to believe in order to understand. To no question does it answer: “ It is believable, because it is so absurd; it is true, because it is so impossible.” It has been sometimes said that the “will to believe” plays a more important part in life than reason. If we once grant the will to believe, we must equally grant the will to believe, but the will to disbelieve. Further, what is the will to believe, but the will to hold something certain which one feels to be uncertain, the determination to beguile and hypnotize oneself in such a way as to accept as true what is clearly perceived to be error. The will to believe is nothing than the will to deceive, first oneself and then, naturally, others.
According to Anagarika Dharmapala opinion, “India is the home of Buddhism. It is the people of India that our Lord first proclaimed the Dhamma, 2496 years ago. His first five disciples were Brahman ascetics, and his two prominent disciples, Sariputta and Maha Moggalana, were Brahmans; the president of the first Council, held three month after his Parinibbana, was Maha Kasyapa, a Brahman; and the upholder of the faith in the time of Asoka was Tissa, the “son of the Brahmani Moggali of Moggali.” According to the Prophetic utterance of our Lord the Dhamma, shedding luster in its purity, lasted for full 1,000 years in India, and then began the decline following the law of disintegration five hundreds later, when it was brought into contact with the cohorts of Allah, whose fire and sword played havoc with the follower of our blessed Tathagato. The ruins in Bamian, Central Turkestan, Afganistan, Kandhar, Kashmir, The Gangaestic Valley, and in distant Java, testify to the extirpation of the great religion by the iconoclastic Arabs, fresh in their zeal for the glorification of the “Prophet of Arabia.”
Friends, Again I am going to enter in an ancient history of India. In Samrat Asoka regime, where we can seen nearly all part of India was influenced on Buddhism. You’re Assam, Meghalaya region also seen to be influenced on Buddhism. Traditional Buddhists are still living there today. So it is the possibility that your Tribal ancestors may be followers of Buddha. And I hope, you will do research in this regards.
At last but not the list, I quoted Dr Babbasaheb Ambedkar views that, “This is how I turned to the Buddha with the help of the book given to me by Dada Keluskar. It was not with an empty mind that I went to the Buddha at that really age I had a background and in the Buddhist Lore I could always compare and contrast. This is the origin of my interest in the Buddha and his Dhamma.”
*** Dr. Milind Jiwane