“The Vedas are a worthless set of books. There is no reason either to call them sacred or infallible … The time has come when the Hindu mind must be freed from the hold which the silly ideas propagated by the Brahmans have on them. Without this, the liberation of India has no future”—B.R. Ambedkar
Hinduism claims one billion adherents worldwide. To all those who hold this religion dear, B.R. Ambedkar poses many riddles: Is it even a religion? Who is a Hindu?
Like most of his writings, Riddles in Hinduism remained unpublished during his lifetime. When the state of Maharashtra finally printed it in 1987, the Shiv Sena sought a ban. While the liberals looked away, the Dalit movement circulated copies.
At a time when the state and the Hindu right are painting Ambedkar as a ‘Hindu’ figure, this fierce critique—now with illuminating annotations—shows us how and why Ambedkar had no love for Hinduism.
In his introduction, Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd tells us why Hinduism is facing its biggest ever challenge from Dalitbahujans. Ambedkar was one, today there are a million Ambedkars.
‘Riddles of Hinduism is a searing challenge to the entire intellectual order. The neglect of this text has itself become a metaphor for the ways in which the privileged have avoided a serious and honest engagement with Ambedkar. It is an important event that this text is finally being published with proper annotations and scholarly apparatus. The editors have done a wonderful act of recovery. Ambedkar was always meant to disconcert, and to shake our very foundations. This is a text that shows him at his forensic best. Whether you agree or disagree, this text should start an honest conversation. We cannot continue to hide behind the platitudes that Ambedkar so effectively pierces.’—Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President, Centre for Policy Research