South Asia Guest Lecture Series - John Stavrelis (Bonn)
CERES-Palais, Raum "Cordoba" (3.06)
South Asian Section, Guest Lecture Series
Lecture by John Stavrelis, Department of Indology, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Grappling with the Śāstras: Legal Theology in the Political Thought of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
The fact that many members of India’s untouchable Mahar caste see in the figure of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar both a social liberator and a spiritual savior is no chance anomaly. Ambedkar’s efforts at social reform deftly tied religion, law, and politics into a program for overcoming caste discrimination in Indian society. This was both a consequence of Ambedkar’s recognition of the potency of religious belief as a catalyst for social action, and a result of his own sincere, life-long religious probing. In this talk, I will be focusing on Ambedkar as a theologian, giving primacy of place to his thoughtful and thought-provoking analyses of Hinduism, Buddhism, and religion in general. In contrast to the majority of existing research on Ambedkar, which tends to subordinate his statements about religion to his role as a Dalit leader, this talk presents Ambedkar as a “jurist-theologian,” both to highlight the underappreciated religious inventiveness of his writings and to give new insights into the theology of law.