“Annihilation of Caste” the best-selling book of Dr. Ambedkar has now been translated into Hebrew, the official language of Israel. The translation has been done by Babel, a publishing house owned by Sharon Rotbard, an Israeli architect and publisher.
Hebrew is an ancient language and the original language in which the Holy book Bible was first written. It is the second foreign language in which the book has been translated, earlier it was translated into Italian by Alberto Castelvecchi.
“I was very impressed by Ambedkar. I think he was one of the brightest minds of the 20th century,” said Rotbard at the launch event of the book in New Delhi.
The book, which helped him understand caste division in Indian society, also allowed him to decode Israel and European societies. “There is a very important universal message in his writings. They deal with principles that could be implemented or give new insights to other societies as well,” he added.
In 1936, Ambedkar was invited to speak at the Jat Pat Todak mandal’s annual conference in Lahore. He sent the transcript of the speech beforehand to the organisers, who had asked for it for perusal as they had some apprehensions regarding the possibly controversial nature of the speech.
They were right- His speech was highly critical of the Hindu religion and the Vedas. They demanded that the speech be edited. Ambedkar refused to dilute his stand. Consequently, the invitation was withheld.
Ambedkar later published as a book with the title “Annihilation of Caste” in the same year . The book sold out briskly. The success of the book prompted Ambedkar to come out with the second edition of the book. In the second edition of the book Ambedkar had expressed surprise at the success of the book. The measure of popularity attained by the book can be gauged by the fact that the literacy rate that time was 9.5 %, as per the 1931 census.
Annihilation of Caste is a collection of essays, which blows every defence of the caste system to the smithereens. Ambedkar, through this book argued that it was not simply a mechanism for dividing labor but rather an inherently unjust and discriminatory system that denied people their fundamental human rights and dignity.
He writes: "As a form of division of labour, the caste system suffers from another serious defect. The division of labour brought about by the caste system is not a division based on choice. Individual sentiment, individual preference, has no place in it. It is based on the dogma of predestination.” — (page 58, 4.4)
Baba Saheb attacked the Hindu society vehemently in his essay as he wrote, “Not only has the Hindu made no effort for the humanitarian cause of civilising the savages, but the higher-caste Hindus have deliberately prevented the lower castes who are within the pale of Hinduism from rising to the cultural level of the higher castes.” — (Page 75, 9.1).
In its 87- year history, the book has been translated into almost all the major Indian languages, including Marathi, Bengali etc. In 2014, an annotated edition of the book was published with an introduction by Arundhati Roy titled “ The Doctor and the Saint.”
Speaking to The Mooknayak Prabodhan Pol, an Assistant Professor at MAHE, Manipal said “The impact of the book has to be read beyond the content of the text . The book develops an approach for the larger goal of the Dalit movement, besides suggesting anti-caste measures like inter-caste marriages as women were considered the gatekeepers of the culture and religion. He critiqued Hinduism for having excessive rules as against the principals. He said that the translation of the book in foreign languages should not come as a surprise as the Dalit Diaspora is going abroad in larger numbers due to upward mobility. They are taking the ideas of Ambedkar to global level and we can hope for more translations in the future.”