Dr B R Ambedkar’s Social Philosophy and Humanism

 Dr. M Govindaraju

Assistant Professor

Department of Philosophy

Bangalore University, Bengaluru-560056.


This paper attempts to analyze some of the important issues of humanism and social philosophy raised by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. The study of philosophy, as a world outlook, includes the entire existence, the being in its totality. There are two main areas of philosophy: epistemology and metaphysics. "Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. An important province of philosophical theory, the doctrine on man’s ability to cognize reality, on the sources, forms, and methods of the truth and ways of attaining it". Metaphysics studies the highest principles of all that exists, which are inaccessible to the senses. Comprehensible only to speculative reason and indispensable to all sciences.

Keywords: Social Philosophy, Epistemology, philosophical theory and Dr.B.R. Ambedkar


Is Dr. Ambedkar's philosophy restricted to epistemology and metaphysics? Sincerely, this does not correspond to what the great Indian and Western philosophers were generally confined to, and as a consequence, their speculative reasoning extended beyond human concerns of immediate nature. Dr. Ambedkar was personally involved in a human scenario in which he and his community, India's dejected and disturbed people, were reduced to the ashes of graveyards; they were almost non-entities as human beings in their own country. Could he then afford to limit his studies to epistemology and metaphysics alone? 

Dr. Ambedkar has recognized the human faculties of sense and reason as the main sources of knowledge, and his metaphysical position is obviously non-theistic because he does not indulge in the question of ‘Ayyaktani’ nature as one finds in the tradition of Buddha’s philosophy and religion. Dr. Ambedkar has made his position very clear regarding the questions of the immortal soul, God, Karma, Rebirth, transmigration, etc. The proper study of mankind is the main theme of his philosophy; that is, his analysis is confined to man’s relation to society, wherein ethics and religion play a very significant role.

Philosophical views about man by Dr. Ambedkar. In today's human scenario, society and politics are intertwined. Dr. Ambedkar's humanism ideology is a result of the scenario that existed in India previous to and after his birth on April 14th, 1891. Let us now go further into his social and humanitarian ideas.

The social philosophy

The focus of social philosophy is on "the social unity of mankind, and seeks to interpret the significance of the special aspects of human life in relation to that unity." A social philosophy stands for a correct knowledge of human connections and encompasses the ideas that bring people together in their minds and hearts. It indicates that social philosophy is the philosophical justification of value and position in relation to humanity's oneness. It takes into account the current information at the same time. Suggests beliefs and values that can bring people together for a similar goal. That is why Dr. Ambedkar examined and analyzed not only the current structural and functional components of Indian society, particularly Hindu society. 

"Negatively, Ambedkar rejects the Hindu social philosophy propounded in the Bhagavad-Gita, which is based on the Triguna of Sankhya philosophy and which, in his opinion, is a cruel perversion of Kapil's philosophy and has made the caste system and the system of graded equality the Law of Hindu Social Life." Dr. Ambedkar says it at the same time. Positively, Ambedkar's social philosophy can be summed up in three words: "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity." Clearly, Dr. Ambedkar's social philosophy is based on the "values of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity," and he desired for future institutions to be built in the direction of such a social system.

Ethical standard

When the three principles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity are combined, they establish an esthetical standard, or esthetical norm, against which we can judge what an individual does, what a community believes, and what a nation aspires. "Every man should have a life philosophy, because everyone needs a standard against which to measure his behavior." And philosophy is nothing more than a measuring stick." 

According to Dr. Ambedkar, the same ethical criteria can be used to assess the nature of a nation. If a nation is founded on authoritarianism and tyranny and is constantly dominated by a group of people or a single family member, as we have seen in India, it cannot allow for the development and flourishing of a free society, and hence it is not a democratic nation. A decent nation has a constitution that incorporates the ideas of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity and aspires for its citizens to establish an egalitarian society. From this perspective, Dr. Ambedkar's societal philosophy is nothing more than an ethical norm or standard against which to assess the behavior of an individual and the institutions of society.

Dr. Ambedkar, as he has previously said, rejects Hindu social philosophy because it does not meet his ethical standards. His ethical standard teaches and upholds the ideas of liberty and equality, whereas the Hindu social ideal does not only deny them in theory but also in fact. The Hindu social ideology also contradicts the Indian Constitution, which supports a life of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity. The caste system is effectively a denial of all social and political objectives as stated and visualized in the Indian Constitution.

Though liberty and equality have an important role in Dr. Ambedkar's social and political design, he believes that unrestricted liberty destroys the actual sense of equality and that total equality leaves no room for liberty. Only a correct balance of liberty and equality can benefit both the individual and society. Dr. Ambedkar has emphasized the need for liberty to establish a foundation for equality and equality to defend liberty; both must be woven together for the benefit of society's most vulnerable members.

Law and morality

Dr. Ambedkar's conception of social existence The law also plays an important role, but only as a safeguard against violations of liberty and equality. He did not believe that the rule of law could protect against violations of liberty and equality. He elevated fraternity to the highest level as the only real shield against the denial of liberty and equality. Fraternity is another term for men's social fraternity and spiritual oneness. Religion is yet another label for metaphysical speculation. "Law is secular," he explained.

Morality, specifically social brotherhood of men, has been given a prominent role in Dr. Ambedkar's plan of social relations in order to bring men together. The law is vital, but it has taken a back seat. Law, on the other hand, is a required institution, a state liberty, to defend man against injustice, tyranny, exploitation, and suppression. Law is intended to regulate a minority of people only when there are disagreements and disturbances among them, whereas morality binds a majority of people in both peaceful and turbulent times. Most people in rural villages in India or in the interiors of our society are unaware of the law and how it might aid them on numerous occasions, yet they are just as excellent. They appear to be more submissive to state laws than those who enact laws and are well-versed in the role of law. "Man does not have to be moral in order to please God." Man must love himself for his own good."

Dr. Ambedkar's social and ethical theory encourages people to organize themselves on the basis of liberty, equality, and fraternity, and only in this way can they be liberated from superstitution, fanaticism, dogmatism, ritualism, caste, varna, untouchability, and so on. Ambedkar highlighted that every individual must have liberty in all legitimate ways with his or her co-religionists, and that every citizen's fellow being in a community must be treated with equal respect and dignity insofar as they are common citizens.  Much as they are common citizens of a nation, fellow beings in a society must be treated with equal respect and dignity. A 'shared code of conduct' should be developed by the people who live in a specific culture and nation. If they are allowed to marry among themselves, dine together, and work together in all aspects of life, they will become a united people with the strength and strategy to grow with energy and vitality in the direction of pace and progress. Common rules of conduct would also limit the spread of group moralities and pave the path for a more peaceful existence for all members of society. They would be able to promote justice and peace, and therefore establish social and spiritual connection among themselves.


The good life

The nature of good life is inherent in the unity and harmony- internal and external, as Dr. Ambedkar imagined it. Harmony is the correct means of inspiring a man to live a happy life. A variety of intellectuals and philosophers have attempted to explain the essence of the happy life in various ways. According to Dr. Ambedkar, the good life is one devoted to the protection and promotion of the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity in order to disseminate education and enlightenment among the people. Karuna and Maitri (love and fraternity) encourage such a life, which is guided by proper understanding, i.e. Pragya. 

Lord Buddha's teachings have influenced the entire concept of living a good life. If the good life is to be sustained, it requires knowledge, kindness, and courage. It need love, faith, inspiration, and logic. It also necessitates a courageous view, a broad intellect, and an open heart, rather than a rigid and dead system of human relations, old or modern.

Dr. Ambedkar's concept of the good life necessitates an endless number of favorable social conditions. It also requires a favorable political and economic position in society, but it cannot be realized without individual and social obligations that fellow citizens must meet. To live a happy life--a true life of liberty, equality, and fraternity--a man must have a good education, cooperation, a suitable income, friends, and other civic amenities. All of these things are dependent, to varied degrees, on the social and spiritual unity of a community's members, and they may also be aided by political institutions such as law and state. The state can offer a legal framework for a broad peaceful environment in which all citizens can exercise their rights and responsibilities. In other words, the good life can be enjoyed in a just and peaceful community devoid of any caste and creed problems. A democratic state is also a great tool for creating favorable conditions for its citizens. 

A true religion, such as Lord Buddha's, can assist people in achieving and maintaining the texture of a happy life. All the ingredients of a good life, according to Dr. Ambedkar, are contained in the teachings of Lord Buddha, the Compassionate One, and true to his world, the learned Doctor decided and declared: "Buddhism is a true religion and lead a life guided by three principles of knowledge, right path, and compassion." Pragya (understanding as opposed to superstition and supernaturalism), Karuna (love), and Samta (equality) are all taught in Buddhism. This is what man desires in order to live a decent and happy life.


Social responsibility

Theistic charm, i.e. hope for betterment by divine grace, which is extremely natural in Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, has no place in Dr. Ambedkar's philosophical, ethical, and religious concepts. In the current circumstances, his dedication to a secular perspective of society within a humanist framework is the most relevant principle. Man bears sole responsibility for his or her own social and economic well-being as a result of Ambedkar's conviction in fraternity, what man chooses he chooses for everyone, and in fashioning himself, he designs not only his own being, but also the beings of others in society. The basis of Dr. Ambedkar's social and ethical philosophy is man's responsibility to fulfil individual and social commitments. Responsibility is more important than anything else in sustaining correct relations between man and man.

Dr. Ambedkar believed in the bright future of mankind because he had an unwavering confidence in man's social obligation as a result of his strong conviction in empirical man. Noble was his goal, sublime and wonderful was his purpose in the service of humanity's forgotten people. He restored human rights that are needed for a good and happy life to all depressed classes and poorer sectors of Indian society. Ambedkar also underlined the importance of corresponding tasks for members of society in order to promote peace in human connections. 

The inspiring base

Humanism serves as the foundation for all of Dr. Ambedkar's philosophical, ethical, and religious views because it was this empirically-based individual who lived in society and was the proper subject of his research. His philosophy was based on the fundamental tenet that "the true measure of man is worth, not birth"—that is, that "man is the measure of all things." The Mahakarunika received a profound and majestic revelation of the harmony between man and society based on the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity through the Lord Buddha. Everyone must agree with his humanist viewpoint because it is so natural and essential. His thought developed out of social and economic need based on humanism, and his strategy included peace, consent, and persuasion. By virtue of law, morality, and religion, Dr. Ambedkar was destined to struggle for a change in social and political life. The worried men have undoubtedly understood that, and they will continue to understand it till the miserable people are unified and social at their own feet. They must see the need for a philosophy or religion that could unify them in opposition to the pervasive manifestations of casteism and untouchability.

Dr. Ambedkar's unwavering relationship with the oppressed, the lowly, and the destitute, among whom he was born, was the source of his confidence. His humanistic philosophy was inspired by the unhappy people. He was certain that Hinduism did not pass "the test of social utility or the test of individual justice" because he had personally experienced the pains, sorrows, and suffering of being an untouchable, the lowest man in Hindu society. Dr. Ambedkar meticulously studied Indian history before coming to his own understanding of the message and purpose rooted in humanism and Buddhism. His main objective was to increase the social and political awareness of their human rights among the lower classes. He wanted them to prepare themselves for a “social revolution” and spiritual enlightenment through education. Education alone could create a sense of new thinking among the depressed classed for organization and agitation.

Dr. Ambedkar's social, ethical, and educational worldview always attempted to lift depressed people's eyes toward unity and emancipation via education and religion, and to engage their minds and understanding to transform their thoughts and old behavioral patterns. In other words, Dr. Ambedkar wanted his philosophy to be the driving force behind both the expansion of human mental capacities and the emergence of social life. He was not content with simply having a new philosophical purpose. Dr. Ambedkar was not only a couch potato; he was a unique individual who devoted his entire life to the service and emancipation of the oppressed as well as the nation. The service of suffering people, of the heart, the strength of the mind, and the reason of the just conscience for the interest of the many, for the happiness of the many—that is, "bahujan hitaya bahugan sukhaya"—can be said with confidence of everything he fought for, cooperated with, revolted against, and contributed to. In a nutshell, one can only do it if they adhere to the Buddha's teachings.


The following are some examples of Dr. Ambedkar's humanism philosophy from a social, ethical, and religious standpoint:

1.      Philosophy engages in epistemological and metaphysical hypotheses because it serves as a yardstick for judging human behavior. 

2.     Since they meet the secular requirements of fairness and utility, social and ethical aspects of life are more pertinent to a man who lives in society.

3.     The trinity principle of liberty, equality, and fraternity upholds social and ethical philosophy and serves as a moral yardstick for judging the morality and character of individuals.

4.     Although morality, as a close ally of fraternity, is more significant than law in governing interpersonal relationships in general, both are the pillars of human society.

5.     Because the concepts of a permanent soul and God are philosophical conjectures, morality is not only a way of living, but also the law of human life.

6.     The good life is that which protects principles of liberty, equality and fraternity and promotes the values of karuna (love), maitri (brotherhood) and pragya (understanding).

7.     The importance of societal and individual responsibility cannot be overstated; it develops from the fraternal relationship between men and keeps responsible men healthy and content while also helping others.

8.     Philosophical, ethical, and religious concepts must be based in humanism and Buddhism, and the circumstance in which people are compelled to live and behave without conscience and reason must serve as the motivation for all of this.

9.     The best way to inspire people's social consciousness and bring about the highest ideals of intelligence and human togetherness is through humanist education.

10.  The centre of religion is man in relation to man, not animal sacrifice, superstition, or the immortal soul. Religion is vital for a free society, spiritual harmony, and progress. include God.

11.  The primary goals of morality and religion are to rebuild and make the world happier, and this is only achievable thanks to Lord Buddha's teachings, according to which all people are created equally and are valued according to their intrinsic worth.

         To summarize Dr. Ambedkar's humanism philosophy, we may say that the ideas he upheld are still important, motivating, and relevant for all oppressed people around the world as well as the Dalit’s of India. He persuaded the Indians that they must stop erecting walls of exclusivity and inequality around them and instead become more open, tolerant, and inclusive if they are to achieve peace and harmony. He did not accept man-made inequalities of an unethical character.  According to Dr. Ambedkar’s, human society will change when we change, both internally and outside, especially when it comes to those who resist the modernization of Indian culture. The philosophy of the leader of the oppressed serves this purpose even today to bring the people together for the transformation of our social and economic life. The wise person must uphold the dignity of human life and its legal rights, and they must work passionately for social justice and spiritual unity. However, he advised the oppressed people to keep up their resistance to the forces of exploitation and oppression rather than repaying injustice with more injustice or even to be cooperative and obedient to either injustice or inequity. In reality, Dr. Ambedkar’s wanted youngsters to get ready to contribute to reshaping society in line with the principles and rules outlined in the Indian Constitution as well as his philosophy of the Nine Gems. It is our best chance at surviving the future, escaping the tragedies of the past, and improving the world for people now.



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