The sudden demise of Mr Shanti Swaroop Bauddh today is a huge loss to the Buddhist Ambedkarite movement all over the country. He was a rare breed, always energetic and truly dedicated to the cause of strengthening the Buddhist movement in India. Unlike many others, who suffer from diverse identities claiming Ambedkarism, Shanti Swaroop Bauddh actually represented those Ambedkarites who followed each word of Baba Saheb particularly related to his cultural call of embracing Buddhism. Hailing from a political family of Delhi, Shanti Swaroop Baudh ji’s grandfather was a close associate of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar and was also the President of RPI in Delhi.

Shanti Swaroop Bauddh ji was 71 years old. In an interview with Ambedkarite activist writer Sanjeev Khudshah he narrated an interesting incident regarding his name and birth. He informed that he was born on October 2nd, 1949 in the walled city of Delhi. He says that he felt very uncomfortable about this date and his grandfather had originally given him name Gulab Singh but it was Baba Saheb Ambedkar who suggested his name as Shanti Swroop and his grandfather accepted it.

Being from a political family would make any one work in the political line but Mr Shanti Swroop Bauddh’s contribution to strengthen the Buddhist cultural movement and Buddhist Ambedkarite literature particularly in the Hindi language will remain unparalleled. As an ambedkarite activist, I have not come across such a huge variety of literature on Buddhism anywhere else. In fact, it was through his publication that I came to know about Suneet, who belong to manual scavenging community and was embraced by Buddha and made a bhikhu. He is referred to in the Ther-gatha. There are many other stories published. Through his publication, he attempted to bring together a huge and diverse group of Ambedkarites world over. Obviously, he defined that both Ravidass and Kabir were the saint with deep influence of Buddhist culture and philosophy.

It will make any Ambedkarite Buddhist pride to see the amount of rich legacy he has left in the form of Samyak Prakashan which has published over 2000 books many of which have been translated into various national and international languages. He informed in his interview that his books have been translated into 14 such languages including English, Sinhalese, Nepalese, Burmese.

While, I do not claim to know well to Shanti Swroop jee but I had the opportunity to listen to him on various occasions and the last time I saw him was at the meeting organised in memory of Dr Dharm Kirti in the historic Buddha Vihar in the north Delhi. In fact, I was waiting for the lock down to be over and would have gone to have an interview with him in detail and my respected friend Shri Tejasvi Ravi, who ensured a great interview with Dr Dharm kirti was persistently asking me to meet other Ambedkarite Buddhists in Delhi. He assured me that he would speak to Shanti Swroop ji and we will have a conversation but alas it could not happen. I am extremely sad that I could not do so but I am really happy that he has left behind a solid foundation of Samyak Prakashan.

We moan the ‘parinirvan’ of Shri Shanti Swroop Bauddh and hope that his family and friends will continue to carry forward his inspiring work to strengthen the Ambedkarite Buddhist cultural movement in India.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist

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