Spoorthidhama is an organization located on a 30 acre campus in the Southern Indian city of Bangalore. It was inaugurated in 1995 by His Excellency K. R. Narayanan, the then Vice-president of India. This was a momentous occasion that marked the culmination of the celebration of Babasaheb’s birth centenary and the beginning of a collective effort of taking forward Babasaheb’s Caravan of struggle for equality and social justice, propagating the path of the Buddha, the compassionate and contributing towards the realization of the dream of a just, equal, humane and harmonious Indian society. Since its inception, Spoorthidhama has worked for equality in access to good quality education. In an effort to take this process forward, Spoorthidhama set up an English medium school, the Milind Public School, which follows the curriculum of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), where majority of the students are from urban poor communities. The Lokaratna Buddha Vihara on Campus works towards the propagation of Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy. Spoorthidhama’s annual flagship event, the “Ambedkar Habba” or “Ambedkar Festival” is held every year on 14th April. To mark the occasion, Spoorthidhama confers two National level awards annually on those who have dedicated their lives for the upliftment of the marginalized communities. Bodhi Vruksha is a Lifetime Achievement Award which carries a citation and Rs.1 lakh cash prize. Five Bodhi Vardhana awards are given, each of which carry a citation and Rs.25000 as cash prize. Through its various activities, Spoorthidhama seeks to blend Ambedkarite activism and Buddhist spirituality in equal measure, which it believes is the path forward to realize a just and equal society.
One of Spoorthidhama’s cherished and ambitious dreams has been to build a National Memorial for Babasaheb Ambedkar. Such a public memorial will be a powerful symbol representing the foundational values on which Babasaheb shaped the Indian polity. Such a Memorial will serve as a crucial guide to interpret our history, shape public memory of the past as also the present. It is in this context that a National Memorial for Babsaheb Ambedkar takes enormous importance in these challenging times.
Oppressed communities view Babasaheb as someone who has delivered them from a life of slavery and exploitation. His name and visual form evokes a sense of protection and safety for them, which explains, why there are so many statues dotting the country, especially in spaces where marginalized communities live.
You would agree that in addition to and beyond these statues, there needs to be a national –level public monument that powerfully conveys to all the timeless values championed by Babsaheb- Liberty, Fraternity and Equality. Let us not forget that Babsaheb not only struggled for the downtrodden but for ALL citizens of this country when his visionary idea of “One citizen, One vote and One vote, One value” changed the very direction of this country’s political journey. Irrespective of which community we belong to, we all owe Babsaheb for the life of liberty and freedom which he ensured for all us. We see no dispute to the fact that such a public monument for Babsaheb is long overdue.
Spoorthidhama has taken the initiative for the ambitious project of setting up a National Memorial for Babasaheb Ambedkar. The Memorial is envisaged as a celebration of the values for which Babasaheb strived all his life. The Memorial is an effort to ensure that Babsaheb’s timeless ideas reach the hearts and minds of the generations to come and inspire them to take forward his struggle for freedom, social justice and equality not only in India but across the globe. The Memorial is an effort to constantly keep in public memory the exceptional man that Babasaheb was, his extraordinary life where there was no space for anything but the emancipation of the downtrodden and the enormous sacrifices he made to ensure that this country stands tall and firm on the core foundational values of democracy that was achieved at an enormous personal cost to him and his family.
Spoorthidhama Campus is the proposed site for the Memorial. Over the years, the Campus has been painstakingly developed into a beautiful verdant forest blessed with a natural lake. This makes a perfect setting for the Memorial. The 30 acre size of the campus is in itself a huge advantage to house a Memorial. Further, Bangalore enjoys global popularity for its benign weather and as an IT destination. So, one can expect the Memorial to attract visitors in large numbers.
The Memorial is designed as an 80- feet, four floor structure rising from a Belvedere made of stone that springs towards the open skies. At the center of the Memorial, a powerful light will spring forth from a six- foot diameter aluminum tube illuminating the skies, symbolizing the spirit of Liberation and Freedom. The Memorial has been designed by the well- known architect Rajesh Mahan. His brother, a celebrated painter, Sudesh Mahan is also collaborating on the project.
Spread over _____ area, the Memorial will house a Museum that will trace Babasaheb’s various struggles and house some of his memorabilia such as his manuscripts, initial publications of his books, his personal belongings and so on. It will have a separate section containing a repository of books.
There will be two galleries, one of which will be a permanent exhibition of Babsaheb’s photos, the historic events that he led, his voice recordings, his videos and so on. Visitors to the permanent gallery will also view a short film about Babasaheb’s life that will use cutting edge Artificial Intelligence technology to animate original photographs and link to his audio -video recordings to make a lasting impact on the viewers. The other galley will display periodic exhibitions of items and objects that are borrowed from other museums and institutions. This will be the ‘live’ part of the Memorial that will organize and host programs and events that further Babsaheb’s values and ideas.
There will be a meditation hall where visitors can spend a quiet reflective time. It will also hold live meditation sessions for those who are interested. A fully- equipped training center will be there that can also be hired by members of the public. A research and publication unit will produce various kinds of materials– electronic and printed publications, visual material, art compositions, films and so on.
We see this Memorial as being unique not only in the way it is conceived and designed but also in the way we are taking the process of building the Memorial forward. Unlike other similar efforts, the process of building this Memorial is a collective effort that will bring together all those who believe in Babasaheb’s values and struggles. A process has been evolved by which various constituencies are being involved- communities, youth, women, children, workers and others. This process is taking the form of a people’s movement that will undertake various collective actions towards building of the Memorial- spreading the word about the Memorial, enlisting the support of more and more citizens, mobilizing funds for the Memorial and so on.
In that sense, this is a People’s Memorial for Babasaheb, where those of us who have decided to take forward Babasaheb’s Caravan and tread the path shown by him have come together to build this Memorial.
A beginning towards the building of the Memorial was made when the then Chief Minister of Karnataka laid its foundation stone on 21st May 2016, the day of Buddha Poornima.
As a fellow citizen of this country who has immensely benefited from Babsaheb’s ideas and values and as a fellow traveler treading the Ambedkarite path, we urge you to join this People’s Caravan and contribute generously towards its construction.
You also have the option of making a monthly contribution of a certain amount instead of a one-time contribution. You can make your contribution through UPI, a debit card or through bank transfer.
Please remember to write to us @ firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how you want to continue to be involved in this endeavor. Also kindly mention if you are going to be a monthly contributor.
We are looking forward to you joining this journey!