Although Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is primarily known for his tireless crusade against Untouchability, he was a multi-faceted personality with various achievements and qualities that have been overlooked. Along with being a prominent scholar, he was also adept in other areas, some of which are not widely known. Here are some of the lesser-known facts about him that might fascinate you.
Dr. Ambedkar's passion for the arts is a little-known fact that many are unaware of. Despite his hectic schedule and tumultuous life, he regularly made time for activities such as gardening, playing the violin, listening to music, and painting. He was an avid collector of paintings and possessed a profound understanding of the art form. He dreamed of learning more about art and creating paintings depicting Buddha, but unfortunately, this remained a mere wish.
Dr. Ambedkar had a fine aesthetic sensitivity and was captivated by beautiful sketches. He once commented on the role of caste in artistic expression in India, criticizing the narrow approach adopted by Indian artists.
Dr. Ambedkar's residence at 22 Prithviraj Road in Delhi was a popular destination for art enthusiasts due to his impressive collection of artwork procured from areas like Connaught Place. During one of his visits to Burma, he even acquired some breathtaking landscapes. His oil paintings were a testament to his impressive understanding of color, and he primarily focused on drawing animals and birds. The majority of his sketches and paintings bore the year 1953, and the latest painting could be traced back to August 1955.
Other little known fact about Dr B.R. Ambedkar is his penchant for music. He used to play violin vey avidly and managed to bow out a mellifluous tune from it. Vanaspati Durgat, who was living in rajgriha, the residence of Babasahib in Mumbai as her parents were working there as construction laborers revealed in an interview to The Indian Express that “ "In those days he was learning the violin in his gallery. I really liked the music so one day I started dancing to the tune. Ramabai found it amusing and ever since then it became a habit,"
Balwant Sathe, recollected his experience as the violin teacher of Ambedkar in an interview to Maharasthra Times. “His health was not that great and his hands used to pain by the movement of the bow. “A little rest and then some lesson” was the mode of the musical practice.”
Sathe revealed that despite his flailing health and busy schedule Babasaheb showed a keen interest in learning violin. People had to wait, while he was busy with practice. Sathe taught him violin for two years from 1950, when he was introduced to Ambedkar by Mr Rege, the librarian of Siddhartha College. Balwant felt privileged to have been in company of such a personality on the pretext of giving him lessons.
Babasaheb Ambedkar is believed to have harboured a keen interest in gardening also. A testimony to this was an article in The Daily Mail , which had references to Ambedkar’s Garden at his residence of 22, Prithvira Road in Delhi which was very verdant. The Garden had rare plants and flowers. The hedge around the Garden was carved very aesthetically and added to the beauty of the Garden.
The Gardens of his later residences- 1, Harding Avenue and 26, Alipur Road also drew praises from the visitors.
When in good mood, he used to traverse around the garden and touched and smelled the flowers.
Like Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Dr B.R. Ambedkar had a lighter aspect about him also, According to Nanak Chand Rattu, his personal Assistant, who was with him till his last day says he used to enjoy jokes and idioms having rural tinge. In tense environment, he used to regale the people with jokes to relieve the mood.
According to Rattu , during winters he used to wear muffler over cap in such a way that both the edges used to dangle near the ears. He used to become laughing stock inadvertently.
In stress free times, he used to gossip with the people and expected others to crack jokes of their states. He once even insisted Rattu to crack a joke of Punjab, as the latter belonged to the state. Rattu duly obliged and made the people around him, including Ambedkar burst into laughter.
Rattu says that he used to get the indication when Babasaheb was to veer into something funny. He recalls that once he cracked the joke of Maharashtra’s Muchowali Amma (Mustached old woman) and laughed profusely.
His violin teacher Balwant Sathe said in the interview that he and his elder brother were reluctant to give lessons to a scholarly man like Babasaheb but when they met him he noticed the sense of humour of Babasaheb and agreed.
Humour and jest declined as Ambedkar approached the last days of his life.
Dr. Ambedkar had a distinguished personality, where one could witness both his lighter and darker side. He was known to have a short fuse and would often vent his anger loudly. According to Rattu, when Dr. Ambedkar was agitated, his face would turn red, and he would scream and blabber. His anger was directed towards whoever happened to be in front of him, causing commotion in the house, with people running here and there. Nanak used the analogy of a jungle, where the lion roars and the other animals are forced to flee for their lives. Furthermore, Dr. Ambedkar would become irritated if he could not locate his belongings, such as pens, pencils, papers, or books on his table.
Nanak says in the book Little Known facts about Dr Ambedkar “ His anger often used to be unabated and in the heat of fury he also declined to have medicines and that used to be a very worrying thing. It used to be a hard time convincing him.
He was strict about the work and used to dislike people who did work with carelessness.
Once when he was asked why does he get enraged at times, he replied that does not want to disrespect anyone, but this happens sometimes.
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