Appo Deepo Bhava.

Be a light unto yourself.

What stands out to me from the words of Gautam Buddha is his teaching about being your own light. He encouraged his followers to search for their own salvation. He said that he was not a savior, but the one who shows the way.

Buddha did not want his followers to be mentally paralyzed and ill-equipped but wanted them to reason. He taught them to be self-reliant, self-dependent, not wanting them to follow anyone blindly.

When his most loved disciple, Ananda, asked Buddha if there is a God, Buddha replied that he did not know but that his students and disciples should find out for themselves. He insisted that his disciples should not listen to him just because he was their guru (teacher) but that they should use their faculties to search out the truth. Hence, I really like this sentiment of seeking out after the truth. After all, Jesus also himself said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Ram Surat, a doctorate, has spent 27 years sharing the vision and mission of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar and fellow Indian anti-caste social reformer Jyotirao Govindrao Phule. Currently based in Bihar, India, he champions the cause of caste reconciliation among the Dalit and OBC communities in North India.