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Abstract

This article explores the contours of the Indian pragmatist Bhimrao Ambedkar and his reconstruction of Buddhism in the 1950s. As a student of John Dewey at Columbia University, young Ambedkar was heavily influenced by the pragmatist ideas of democracy and reconstruction. Throughout his life he would continue to evoke Dewey’s words and ideas in his fight against caste injustice in India. This article explores the possibility that Ambedkar could have been influenced by Dewey’s work, “Creative Democracy—The Task Before Us.” In exploring the intriguing evidence that points toward such an influence, Ambedkar’s The Buddha and His Dhamma emerges as a site of pragmatist reconstruction of Buddhism and as a personal democratic guide to action.

Available for download on Tuesday, May 25, 2021

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