Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The rise of Buddhism in India: Growth of Buddhist population after Dr Ambedkar's conversion

For centuries, Buddhism was a major religion in India. However, a period in Indian history, saw its downfall.

In twentieth century, once again Buddhism emerged as an important faith in India.

This was solely due to Dr BR Ambedkar's decision to embrace the religion.

This is reflected in figures. For example, at district level, the old Census report tells how there were just 149 Buddhists in the 1951 Census in this district. However, the figure had gone up to 2,34,112. 

Such a huge increase, an unprecedented rise, that changed demography of the place, was possible only due to an extraordinary event--Dr BR Ambedkar's decision to embrace Buddhism. The year when he converted to Buddhism at Deeksha Bhumi was 1956. 

Hence, the difference in figures between 1951 and 1961 is so stark for the place. The Mahar community followed him. Not just one district, in the entire Vidarbha region and other parts of Maharashtra it happened. The affect was visible all over Central India, up to parts of Madhya Pradesh, also.

Not just major cities and districts but up to towns and villages. Buddhism spread fast in this region. Though, the conversion to Buddhism later slowed down, but it's impact was huge in Maharashtra. Some conversions took place in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and other states in North India. But Maharashtra was the epicentre of this movement.