Ambedkar and the Struggle with Religion: How Modernity Can Create Vicious Cycles of Violence and What One Can Do about Them


The primary objective of this study is to examine the intricate interplay between secularism and the sacralization of politics in the Indian context, specifically, how modern ideals such as secularism and nationalism can inadvertently initiate destructive cycles of violence. My line of argument proceeds from the idea that the foundation of modern India shows how those modern values can lead to violence and spiritual poverty that is capitalized by movements such as Hindutva. These political movements subvert the concepts of modernity, further exacerbating the divisions and political violence. This creates a vicious cycle of violence that is perpetuated through successive generations, with each attempting to invert the previous generation’s ideas.This theoretical framework underpins our case study, examining the political thought and actions of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the architect of India’s modern constitution. Ambedkar navigated the confluence of politics and religion, embracing religious emancipation through Buddhism after renouncing his Hindu heritage. He advocated for the abolition of the caste system and criticized Hinduism, yet he also sought to make Hinduism the foundation of the Indian Republic being aware of its social relevance. Consequently, Ambedkar embodies the tension between modernity’s emancipatory ideals and the potential for spiritual revival amid deracination. Moreover, his journey mirrors India’s political evolution, from Nehru’s secular nationalism to Modi’s reactionary resurgence. Through this interplay, Ambedkar’s legacy offers insights into modernity’s societal impacts and how we can escape the vicious cycles of violence the dialectic between religion and modern ideals creates.


Johannes Scheuer
Graduate Student, Political Science, CUNY - The Graduate Center, New York, United States


Presentation Type

Poster Session


The Politics of Religion


Modernity, Secularism, Sacralization, Hindutva, Alienation

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