Converting to Buddhism as a Form of Political Protest

Source: The Atlantic

Low-caste Indians are leaving Hinduism en masse—partly to stick it to their prime minister.

A conversion ceremony in Shirasgaon, India, in 2018Krithika Varagur
 BY KRITHIKA VARAGUR
The converts had been Dalits, those from India’s lowest Hindu castes, formerly known as “untouchables.” They joined Ambedkarite Buddhism, a movement founded a half-century ago by Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, a Columbia University-educated lawyer who drafted India’s constitution. Ambedkar was born a Dalit, and he saw the Buddha as a radical social reformer who created an outlet from the rigid Hindu caste system. Today, as inter-caste tensions rise under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose party is affiliated with right-wing Hindu nationalists, low-caste Indians are continuing to find the appeal in Ambedkar’s message.

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