Leaving Hinduism: deconversion as liberation
Chapter, Peer reviewed
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Dr. Bhimrao Amebdkar (1891–1956) was an activist intellectual, journalist, lawyer and a prominent figure in Indian politics. A Mahar, Ambedkar campaigned against the various sorts of discrimination suffered by so-called untouchables (Dalits). For Ambedkar, Hinduism provided a major structural and ideological framework for the Dalits` social and societal exclusion and their denial of fundamental rights. In 1935 Ambedkar announced: “I will not die a Hindu”. This chapter reviews Ambedkar’s path towards publicly leaving Hinduism, the preconditions and consequences of this step, his concept and theory of religion, and the logics of the process leading to his adoption and construction of a new religious identity (Buddhism).