Research scholar Rohith Vemula's mother and brother will embrace Buddhism on the 125th birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, a Dalit icon and the principal architect of the Indian Constitution, at a ceremony in Mumbai on Thursday. Vemula's suicide at the Hyderbad Central University in January had led to nationwide protests both on the streets and at other universities.
"She expressed this idea to me sometime in March. Rohith's friend, Prashanth, told me that she would like to officially convert on Babasaheb's birth anniversary. Her son's last letter where he mentioned that he would prefer to live in the stars rather than living in this society, may have prompted her to take the decision," Prakash Ambedkar, Babasaheb Ambedkar's grandson and the head of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, told Times of India.
The Buddhist Society of India will carry out the conversion ceremony and Radhika and Raja will be giving "deeksha" by Buddhist monks, Ambedkar said. The ceremony will be held at noon at Ambedkar Bhavan in Dadar, according to PTI.
"We have organised the deeksha ceremony as the family approached us," he added. Raja, Rohith's younger brother whose name is Naga Chaitanya Vemula, told PTI "it is true that we are going to embrace Buddhism. We are on the way to Mumbai."
Ambedkar told the Indian Express that "when Rohith started pursuing his Ph D, he was disheartened to face similar discrimination in institutes of higher education."
Raja told the Express that Rohith used to talk about Buddhism a lot and his last rites were performed according to Buddhist traditions. “My brother Rohith was a Buddhist at heart although he did not convert. He took his own life because as he was discriminated because he was a Dalit," he said.
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