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Mahar Dalit Movement

Dr Ambedkar was indisputably one of the greatest leaders of the SCs in India. In his quest to emancipate them from the oppression of Hinduism, he considered conversion to Islam, Christianity and Sikhism. These were eventually rejected in favour of Buddhism. He led a mass movement in Nagpur where many people converted to Buddhism.

This neo-Buddhist movement was a conversion movement primarily of the Mahars of Maharashtra.

They are one of the major SC groups in Maharashtra.They were numerically the largest scheduled caste group before their conversion to Buddhism in 1956. The socio-economic status of the Mahars was extremely low. They were made to do various menial jobs like cutting wood for villagers, taking wood to cremation ground, removing dead cattle from houses and cleaning wells. The neo-Buddhist movement was not only a conversion movement. It goes beyond the arena of religion and assumes enormous political dimensions. It resulted in an important impact on confronting, challenging and to some extent, changing the received belief in the mind of the Mahar that he is less mortal than that of the higher castes.Mahars have used political means most consistently and unitedly in their attempt to better their condition.

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