Yesterday Benimadhav Mohanty took a nasty swipe at a friend of mine who (along with many others) had the gumption to take on the Ashram Trustees when they shamelessly supported the denigration of Sri Aurobindo in his own Ashram by Peter Heehs. As we all know, the crisis in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, still continues, and perhaps by the end of this month the Supreme Court of India will give a major judgment in the Enquiry Case pending against the Ashram Trust. It is in this backdrop that I am replying to Benimadhav Mohanty who made the silly accusation of “self-aggrandisement” on those who have stood up to the Trust instead of whimpering down like puppies, as most Ashramites have done, to the insidious threats of the Ashram Trustees
Jul 27, 2015
Jul 22, 2015
The attack against Rajiv Malhotra is being portrayed as a kind of revenge for the court case against Wendy Doniger’s book “The Hindus” that led to its withdrawal from the Indian market. The implicit assumption behind this view is the hypothesis that had Doniger’s book not been withdrawn, Rajiv Malhotra’s enemies in the US & India would have rolled out the red carpet for his books. No proposition could be further from the truth.
The coordinated attack against Malhotra, initiated by followers of Sheldon Pollock & led by Richard Fox Young, an internet troll consumed by an anti-Malhotra obsession, has come at this time solely to prevent the launch of his forthcoming book “The Battle for Sanskrit” which has the explosive potential to seriously hurt future funding & thus endangering the work of those who Malhotra refers to as “American Orientalists” and who he has exposed as seeking to dominate global discourse about the ancient traditions of the Hindus.
Jul 19, 2015
Indian culture has been from the beginning and has remained a spiritual, an inward-looking religio-philosophical culture. Everything else in it has derived from that one central and original peculiarity or has been in some way dependent on it or subordinate to it; even external life has been subjected to the inward look of the spirit.
(Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 20, The Renaissance of India, p. 108)
It is this inward-looking religio-philosophical culture which goes by the name of Hinduism.
Jul 12, 2015
There is widespread belief among a certain section of intellectuals and historians – both Indian and abroad – that Sri Aurobindo was responsible for the partition of India and the consequent blood letting and other problems that followed. The reason given to justify this position is that Sri Aurobindo during his active political career stressed heavily on Hinduism and on Hindu nationalism and this provoked a natural and inevitable reaction among the Muslims; this reaction led ultimately to the formation of Pakistan. [extract]
Jul 7, 2015
Jul 2, 2015
Freedom to Choose a Personal Path (Svadharma)
In most dharmic traditions, each individual has a unique ‘svadharma’ (personal dharma) or purpose in this world. This is based on his or her ‘svabhava’ (character) as shaped by past karma and gunas and on the context or circumstances of the person’s life. Buddhists have the notion of’upaya’ (skilful means), which becomes the basis for mutual respect between those who are different. In the Jain tradition, principles of relative and multiple perspectives of truth, combined with the inherent uncertainty in knowledge, serve as protection against dogmas and universal absolutes. All of this demonstrates that dharmic spiritual practices are diverse, eclectic, and adaptable by communities, families, and individuals, and for specific circumstances.
Jun 25, 2015
Freedom from History and Institutional Authority
In Hindu traditions, the state of consciousness of Jesus is achievable by each one of us and is not dependent on belief in a specific deity or historical event or institution. Nor do we have to die in order to achieve this state of consciousness; we can do so while living in this world, just as Christ presumably did. ‘Dhyana’, ‘jnana’, ‘tantra’ and ‘bhakti’ are some of the do-it-yourself methods and techniques that do not rely on external authority. There is no church, pontiff or central authority. Rather, numerous incarnations, prophets, saints and spiritual methods over several millennia have kept the traditions alive with fresh interpretations. As Sri Aurobindo puts it:
Jun 15, 2015
The religious culture which now goes by the name of Hinduism … gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adhesion, asserted no sole infallible dogma, set up no single narrow path or gate of salvation; it was less a creed or cult than a continuously enlarging tradition of the Godward endeavour of the human spirit. An immense many-sided and many-staged provision for a spiritual self-building and self-finding, it had some right to speak of itself by the only name it knew, the eternal religion, Sanatana Dharma…. (Sri Aurobindo, 1919)
Of recent years there has been an academic controversy amongst the more scholarly followers of Sri Aurobindo on the subject of whether he should be considered a Hindu and whether his teachings could be classed as Hinduism.
Jun 7, 2015
It is to Dara  that Sri Aurobindo wrote the following letter in the thirties, dissociating his Ashram from Hinduism:
The Ashram has nothing to do with Hindu religion or culture or any religion or nationality. The Truth of the Divine which is the spiritual reality behind all religions and the descent of the supramental which is not known to any religion are the sole things which will be the foundation of the work of the future.
(Bulletin, Feb 2001, p 72)
(Bulletin, Feb 2001, p 72)
Jun 1, 2015
And if we are asked, “But after all what is Hinduism, what does it teach, what does it practise, what are its common factors?” we can answer that Indian religion is founded upon three basic ideas or rather three fundamentals of a highest and widest spiritual experience. First comes the idea of the One Existence of the Veda to whom sages give different names, the One without a second of the Upanishads who is all that is and beyond all that is, the Permanent of the Buddhists, the Absolute of the Illusionists, the supreme God or Purusha of the Theists who holds in his power the soul and Nature,—in a word the Eternal, the Infinite. This is the first common foundation;
May 26, 2015
Religious fundamentalists are on the rise and that is bad for our societies. Most people will agree on this. Yet few examine who religious fundamentalists are. Obviously, such persons would want to stick to the fundamentals of their religion. They want to live a life that is advocated in their holy books and would please their God. Now, since religious fundamentalists pose a problem, does it mean that the fundamentals of religions are bad for our societies? Let’s look at the three biggest religions:
May 19, 2015
[The following extract from Jugal Kishore Mukherji’s first letter to the Ashram Trustees in June 1986 shows that Matriprasad Satyamurthy (the present secretary of the Ashram Trust) has been colluding with Peter Heehs for a long time. Peter Heehs was then editor of the Ashram’s Archives and Research magazine in which he first published his “great discoveries” on how Sri Aurobindo was a coward, on how he played a double game with the British police, on how he lied to the public with regard to instructing his lawyer Chittaranjan Das who defended him in the Court, etc, etc. This particular extract deals with the last distortion – that Sri Aurobindo continued to give advice to Chittaranjan Das in the Alipore Bomb Trial despite what he said in the Uttarpara speech on having left everything to God during his year-long confinement in Alipore Jail! – Bireshwar Choudhury]
At times, in the pages of our Journal Archives and Research, accounts of events given by some sundry persons are made use of in order to prove Sri Aurobindo wrong!! Sri Aurobindo’s own spiritual statements are controverted and are sought to be proved false – and that, too, on the authority of our young friend MATRIPRASAD! Too strange to believe? – Yes, so is it. Let me explain.