Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Mahaparinirvan Diwas: Comparing Ambedkar’s views on Buddhism and Marxism

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Indian Culture/Political philosophies like communism


Source: IE

 Direction: The article helps to understand the similarities and differences between Marxism and Buddhism.

 Context: The death anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar, the Father of the Indian Constitution, is celebrated on December 6 as the Mahaparinirvan Diwas.

Parinirvan: It translates as “nirvana” after death or liberation from the cycles of life and death.

Significance of December 6: Dr Ambedkar died on December 6, 1956, less than 2 months after converting to Buddhism and fulfilling his promise that “I will not die a Hindu

Marxism is a social, political, and economic philosophy named after Karl Marx. It examines the effect of capitalism on labour, productivity, and economic development and argues for a worker revolution to overturn capitalism in favour of communism.


Ambedkar on Buddhism and Marxism:

  • Buddhism is superior to other religions and the Buddha’s path was superior to the prevalent religion-rejecting theory, Marxism.
  • Ambedkar has compared Buddhism to Marxism, claiming that while both seek the same end of a just and happy society, Buddha’s methods are superior.
Buddhism Marxism
Basic philosophy:

●        Function of Religion: To reconstruct the world to make it happy and not to explain its origin or its end.

●        All human beings are equal.

●        Private ownership of property: Brings power to one class and sorrow to another.

●        For a happy and fair society: Sorrow is removed by removing its cause.



Communism: A socioeconomic order that involves the absence of private property, social classes, money and the state.

●        Buddha established Communism (on a very small scale) in Sangh without dictatorship.

Basic philosophy:

●        Function of philosophy: To reconstruct the world and not to explain the origin of the world.

●        Private ownership: Brings power to one class and sorrow to another through exploitation.

●        For a happy and fair society: Sorrow is removed by the abolition of private property.


Communism: Dictatorship of the Proletariat (working class) is the ultimate goal.

Means to achieve a happy and fair society:

●        Buddha was born a democrat and he died a democrat.

●        Moral appeal: His path for believers converts a man by changing his moral inclination to pursue the path voluntarily.

●        Bhikshus, for example, give up all worldly goods, indicating the abolition of private property.


Importance of Religion: The only thing which could sustain the state is Religion.

Means: Violence and Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

●        Snatching private properties of the rich class by force/violence and establishing the rule of the working class.






Religion is anathema (something intensely disliked)


Marxists’ criticism of the above comparison: Marx is so modern and Buddha so ancient.

Criticism of Marxism:

  • The Communists believe that the state will inevitably die. However, they do not address what would replace the state.
  • Communists admit that their conception of the state as a permanent dictatorship is a flaw in their political ideology.


  • Ambedkar is often misunderstood as being anti-religious, despite the fact that he was highly spiritual and aware of the necessity of religion in public life.
  • Marxists can reform Marxism if they keep their prejudices away and study the Buddha.


Insta Links:



Mains Links:

Examine Ambedkar’s critique of Marxism.


Prelims Links:

Consider the following statements:

  1. Kushinagar is the place where the Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana, and is, therefore, an international Buddhist pilgrimage centre.
  2. Kushinagar has the highest population of Buddhists in India.

Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?

      1. 1 only
      2. 2 only
      3. Both 1 and 2
      4. Neither 1 nor 2


Solution: 2)


Kushinagar is the place where The Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana in 483 BC, and is, therefore, an international Buddhist pilgrimage centre. However, it has a negligible population of Buddhists.


Ten other districts of UP — Kheri, Maharajganj, Siddharthnagar, Sultanpur, Basti, Mainpuri, Jaunpur, Pratapgarh, Hardoi, and Azamgarh — have larger Buddhist populations than Kushinagar.