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I congratulate Ambedkartimes Group and the followers of Ad-Dharam movement on the commemoration of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia’s 127th Birth Anniversary which falls on January 14th, 2013. On this historic day I feel an imperative urge inside to vent my impressions about the legacy of this great leader who was a freedom fighter and founder of glorious Ad-Dharam movement which gave the Dalit community in Punjab, a distinct and a separate identity to live a life of respect and dignity like other communities of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. To understand Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia’s vision to achieve his goal we have to evaluate the role played by him in totality for the upliftment of the Dalit community as a whole. Some of the glimpses of his struggle and sacrifices which speak for themselves are shared as under:


Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia, as he was affectionately called by his followers, was born on January, 14th, 1886 in village Muggowal (Near Mahilpur), District Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India. He had acquired a very good grasp of the social inequalities, inherently built in India’s social hierarchy as codified by Manu’s Smiriti and Chaturvarna.


TRAVEL TO USA AND ROLE IN GADHAR MOVEMENT: - After completing his school education he helped his father for a while in promoting his family business in tanned leather. In 1909 he was persuaded and encouraged by his father, Mr. Harnam Dass to go to USA at the young age of 23. After working for a few years in Agricultural farms in Fresno and adjoining areas of California, he came in contact with the Gadhar movement established in San Francisco to support the liberation of India from British colonialism. During his years in USA Mangu Ram developed a new insight and a revolutionary spirit of liberation and dignity. At the instance of Lala Hardyal and Sohan Singh Bhakna, the senior leaders of the Gadhar movement, he undertook a very dangerous mission of shipping weapons to India in support of the liberation movement. He along with his other companions was captured by the British but he managed to escape under very difficult conditions.


After a sojourn of almost 16 years abroad Mangu Ram Muggowalia arrived back in Punjab in 1925 and found that the lower sections of society still had to live under carping humiliations and slave-like conditions at the hands of the upper caste people. This made Mangu Ram Muggowalia realize that that liberation from British colonialism would not serve the real purpose until the down-trodden are not freed from the shackles of social injustice, prejudice and discrimination.


BIRTH OF AD-DHARM MANDAL WITH A DISTINCT IDENTITY: - Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia’s agenda was very candid and clear that we were the original inhabitants (Ad Dharmi/Mulnivasis) but with the invasion of India by Aryans, our culture and civilization, which once thrived, was completely erased and obliterated from the pages of ancient history of India and was rewritten as per the dictates ofManusmriti. This led to the birth of a new and a vigorous movement which appealed to the conscience of the lower sections of society and started to spread and flourish in the entire province of pre-partition Punjab. In 1931 census, Ad-Dharam was recognized as a separate religion and led to many electoral alliances and victories in the legislative Assembly of Punjab making Babu Mangu Ram a house-hold name in Punjab.


In fact, the Ad-Dharam movement launched by Babu Mangu Ram had carved out such a deep impact on the minds of the people, especially in the Doaba region of Punjab, that some of our ancestors from Punjab who migrated and settled in Fiji Islands in the early 1930’s, established their first Guru Ravidass temple outside India, under the name of Ad-Association of Punjab, in Nasino Suva, which still stands as a living example of its past history.


ROLE OF ARYA SAMAJ - Before the foundation of Ad-Dharm Mandal under the leadership of Babu Mangu Ram the other leaders in the Ad-Dharam movement were associated with the Arya Samaj which wanted to make some reforms in Hindu social order, but only by staying within the fold of their Vedic philosophy. There were conversions from untouchables to Islam and Christianity and it ultimately posed many difficulties for the Ad-Dharam movement in maintaining its distinct religious entity.



MANGU RAM ’S SUPPORT FOR BABA SAHEB: - Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who had assumed the dynamic leadership of the entire Dalit community at the national level, was strongly supported by Babu Mangu Ram at a very critical phase of Baba Sahib’s leadership during the Round Table conferences and at the time when coercive pressures were used by Mahatma Gandhi and his supporters for signing the Poona Pact Agreement in 1932, to avoid separate electorates for untouchables awarded by the British Government. Baba Saheb ‘s approach to liberate the untouchables by building a egalitarian social order at the national level which he believed was not possible within the fold of Hinduism. In the words of Baba Saheb “The basis of my politics lies in the proposition that the untouchables are not a sub division or sub section of Hindus and they are separate and distinct element in the national life of India”.


Internal dissensions between the Congress and Muslim league leadership in the wake of the division of India into two nations, appeared to have led to some distractions in the progressive and prolific growth of the Ad-Dharam movement, but its objective and spirit which were born out of the fundamental truth of ancient history of India, remained alive. The caravan, which halted for some time due to various factors of history will be moving forward with a renewed vigour and zeal.


My PERSONAL VIEWS AND COMMENTS: - In the year 1963 I visited village Mugowal to attend the marriage ceremony of my brother-in law in the family of Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia and had a chance to meet him and talk to him for many hours on the historic role of his mission in the 1920’s.Before that I had also met Baba Saheb many times in Delhi in 1955-56 and thus I had personal grasp and knowledge of their missions. Baba Sahib’s mission as well as Babu Mangu Ram’s for the emancipation of the suppressed humanity in India were the same, but variations in their approach and organizational structures, perhaps, became one the characteristic reasons why they could not be presented together from the same platform.


Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia’s life is an inspiring example of what a man can achieve by his indomitable courage, perseverance and great self-denial, even under the most depressing conditions. He was bestowed with the charisma for social transformation. Prof: Mark Juergensmeyer who has written a very exhaustive assessment of Babu Mangu Ram’s mission in his book “Religious Rebels In the Punjab” and interviewed him many times at his village, states” He was a restless, ambitious man, socially sensitive and politically astute.”


I also appreciate, its regular contributors and readers for the efforts to revive and reinvigorate the mission of Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia in North America. Mr. Prem Kumar Chumber Editor-In-Chief is also appreciated for providing copies of Babu Mangu Ram’s photos to Guru Ravidass Sabhas in the United States of America.


In the end I will not hesitate to say that a Nation can be united only by erasing all artificial barriers and divisions created by so called upper strata of society and the onus of responsibility to discard the very structure of this social malady of caste system, lies with them. I again congratulate you all on Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia’s 127th birth Anniversary on January 14th, 2013.




O. P. Balley
General Secretary Supreme Council, Shri Guru
Ravidass Sabhas, USA


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