Later years and legacy

In the 1950s, Ambedkar turned his attention to Buddhism and travelled to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to attend a convention of Buddhist scholars and monks. While dedicating a new Buddhist vihara near Pune, Ambedkar announced that he was writing a book on Buddhism, and that as soon as it was finished, he planned to make a formal conversion to Buddhism. Ambedkar twice visited Burma in 1954; the second time in order to attend the third conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists in Rangoon. In 1955, he founded the Bharatiya Bauddha Mahasabha, or the Buddhist Society of India. He completed his final work, in 1956. It was published posthumously.

Dr.Ambedkar embraced Buddhism on October 14, 1956 at Nagpur. Bhante Chandramani administering the oath in Pali to Dr.Ambedkar & Dr.Mrs.Ambedkar Devipriya Valisinha, General Secretary, Mahabodhi Society, is seen in center.

Ambedkar organised a formal public ceremony for himself and his supporters in Nagpur on October 14, 1956. Accepting the Three Refuges and Five Precepts from a Buddhist monk in the traditional manner, Ambedkar completed his own conversion. He then proceeded to convert an estimated 500,000 of his supporters who were gathered around him. Taking the 22 Vows, Ambedkar and his supporters explicitly condemned and rejected Hinduism and Hindu philosophy. He then travelled to Kathmandu in Nepal to attend the Fourth World Buddhist Conference. He completed his final manuscript, The Buddha or Karl Marxon December 2, 1956.

Dr.Ambedkar delivering his historic speech “Buddha of Karl Marx” on November 20, 1956 before delegates of the 4th World Buddhist Conference held at Katmandu (Nepal). His Highness the Prince of Nepal, Dr.Mrs.Ambedkar and Bhante Chandramani are also seen.

Dr.Ambedkar addressing the World Buddhist Conference held at Rangoon (Barma). Shri.V.V.Giri Indian High Commissioner and Dr.(Smt) Ambedkar are seen. (December, 1954)

Since 1948, Ambedkar had been suffering from diabetes. He was bed-ridden from June to October in 1954 owing to clinical depression and failing eyesight. He had been increasingly embittered by political issues, which took a toll on his health. His health worsened as he furiously worked through 1955. Just three days after completing his final manuscript The Buddha and His Dhamma, it is said that Ambedkar died in his sleep on December 6, 1956 at his home in Delhi. Thousand and thousands of people watched the funeral procession and expressed their sorrow and admiration. Five hundred thousand people witnessed the last rites.

Dr.Ambedkar died on December 6, 1956 at his residence 26 Alipore Road, New Delhi. The historic (biggest in Bombay History) funeral procession started from Rajgraha on December 7, 1956

A Stupa situated at Chaitya Bhoomi, Dadar Choupati, Bombay where Dr.Ambedkar was cremated on December 7, 1956.

A memorial for Ambedkar was established in his Delhi house at 26 Alipur Road. His birthdate is celebrated as a public holiday known as Ambedkar Jayanti. He was posthumously awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna in 1990. Many public institutions are named in his honour, such as the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, the other being Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur, which was otherwise known as Sonegaon Airport.A large official portrait of Ambedkar is on display in the Indian Parliament building.

Dr.Ambedkar’s Statue in the Campus of Parliament House, New Delhi. Dr.Ambedkar – an eternal source of inspiration to the Indian Parliament.

“Bharat-Ratna” India’s Highest Civil Award was conferred on Dr.Ambedkar (Posthumously) on April 14, 1990. H.E. Shri.R.Venkatraman, President of India Presented “Bharat-Ratna” to Dr.Mrs.Savita Ambedkar, wife of Dr.Ambedkar at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.