Social Philosophy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar


According to B. R. Ambedkar, “Society is always composed of Classes. Their basis may differ. They may be economic or intellectual or social, but an individual in a society is always a member of a class. This is a universal fact and early Hindu society could not have been an exception to this rule, and, as a matter of fact, we know it was not. So what was the class that first to make itself into the caste, for class and caste, so to say, are next door neighbors, and it is only the span that separates the two. A Caste is an Enclosed class.”[2]

Regarding the origin of Caste, B. R. Ambedkar said that, “The study of the origin of caste must furnish us with an answer to the question-What is the class that raised this “enclosure” around itself? The customs in question were current in the Hindu society. These customs in on their strictness are obtainable only in one caste, namely the Brahmins, who occupy the highest place in the social hierarchy of the Hindu society; and as their prevalence in non-Brahmin castes is derivative of their observance are neither strict nor complete. If the prevalence of these customs in the non-Brahmin castes is derivative then it needs no argument to prove that which class is the father of the institution of caste. The strict observance of these customs and the social superiority arrogated by the priestly class in all ancient civilization are sufficient to prove that they were the originators of this “unnatural institution” founded and maintained through these unnatural means.”[3]

This feature of class is common with other societies also. About the classes present in Hindu society Ambedkar said that, “the Hindu society, in common with other societies was composed of classes and the earliest known are the {1} Brahmins or the priestly class; {2} The Kshatriya, or the military class and {3} The Vaishya, or the merchant class and {4} The Shudra, or the artisan menial class. Particular attention has to be paid to the fact that this was essentially a class system, in which individuals, when qualified, could change their class, and therefore classes did change their personnel. At some times in the history of the Hindus, the priestly class socially detached itself from the rest of the body of people and through a closed door policy became a caste by itself. The other classes being subject to the law of social division of labour underwent differentiation, some into large, other into very minute groups. The Vaishya and Shudra classes were the original inchoate plasm, which formed the sources of the numerous castes of today. As the military occupation does not very easily lend itself to very minute sub–division, the Kshatriya class could have differentiated into soldiers and administrators.”

great difficulty, I have brought this caravan where it is seen to-day. Let the Caravan march on and futher and despite the hurdles, fitfalls and difficulties that may come in its way .if my people, my lieuteenants are not able to take the caravan ahid they should live it where it is seen today, but in no circumstances should they allow the caravan to go back.