Eknath Awad - one of India's most respected Dalit leaders visits Karuna
On Thu, 30 May, 2013 - 09:54
Last week at Karuna we received an important visitor from India, Eknath Awad. In a moving talk held at the North London Buddhist Centre to an audience including the Karuna team, Karuna supporters and volunteer fundraisers, Eknath described his life.
Born an ‘untouchable’ in the mang caste, Eknath started his life as a bonded labourer. He described how because of their ‘low-caste’ status his family had to perform the most menial and degrading jobs such as removing human waste and dead animals from the village. Eknath is now one of the most prominent and respected Dalit leaders in India.
It was a rare opportunity to hear how he has liberated himself from caste oppression, and his work leading the Campaign for Human Rights, which is realising Dr Ambedkar’s vision in the Marathwada region, one of the most caste-ridden and patriarchal areas of India.
Eknath shared what it means to him to be Buddhist. He described how Dalit and other ‘low-caste’ communities cannot enter temples yet dogs and cats are allowed in. This is why he is so inspired by the Buddha’s radical vision that enlightenment is a possibility for all human beings.
He also spoke about the importance of Dr Ambedkar’s unique vision, his revolutionary contribution and his radical approach to gender, by encouraging low-caste communities to shake off the ‘hell of caste’.
Karuna is a Triratna charity and has been supporting India’s Dalit community for over 30-years. We send £1 million every year to India supporting grassroots organisations to overcome caste discrimination.