Jul 18, 2014

Reply to Manoj Das’s Letter to Niranjan Naik (2) – by Bireshwar Choudhury

Manoj  Das suffers from an uncontrollable itch to put down his critics. It would have been so much better had the writer’s itch channelised itself in a more fruitful manner in his own realm of creative writing. But I have been told that from the last decade or two his literary creativity is ebbing in inverse proportion to his mounting desire to be honoured by all sorts of awards. The last big award he successfully managed to canvas for was the Padma Sri award, accorded by the Govt. of India in 2001. Now I suppose he is eying for the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan. But what is he doing at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry, and how does the Ashram help him in his enterprise?

No, he has certainly not thrown fame to the winds to attain the Supramental Transformation or even to achieve a Yogic poise! If he had really done so, why would he rush out for a fresh round of self-promotion each time he receives an invitation from literary circles?  Why would he criticise other awardees who have outshone him in literary output and perhaps deprived him of the award that he might have won instead? And why is he so keen on saving his reputation which has recently plummeted in his home state of Orissa after this site published the less known details of his activities in Pondicherry?
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Jul 11, 2014

Reply to Manoj Das’s Letter to Niranjan Naik – by Sripad Singh

Dear Mr. Das,

I have read your letter of 15.06.2014 to Niranjan-bhai (Niranjan Naik). As you have requested him not to say anything about you, I am interested to reply to your letter because I am thoroughly conversant with the facts of the controversy. Also the nature of your letter demands an answer.

On 10.05.2013 in your article “Last Appeal”, you had said that you will not to write anything more on the present controversy in the Ashram. As you frequently break your own promise and baffle the common devotees and disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, an answer to your letter is therefore badly needed. All your letters like the present one are factually wrong, unsubstantial, discordant, irrelevant and full of unnecessary emotion.
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Jul 5, 2014

Sources of Sri Aurobindo’s Philosophy

Sri Aurobindo’s intellect was influenced by Greek philosophy.

[SRI AUROBINDO's Correction:] Very little. I read more than once Plato’s Republic and Symposium, but only extracts from his other writings. It is true that under his impress I rashly started writing at the age of 18 an explanation of the cosmos on the foundation of the principle of Beauty and Harmony, but I never got beyond the first three or four chapters. I read Epictetus and was interested in the ideas of the Stoics and the Epicureans; but I made no study of Greek philosophy or of any of the [? ]. I made in fact no study of metaphysics in my school and College days. What little I knew about philosophy I picked up desultorily in my general reading. I once read, not Hegel, but a small book on Hegel, but it left no impression on me. Later, in India, I read a book on Bergson, but that too ran off “like water from a duck’s back”.
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Jun 28, 2014

Rajiv Malhotra on Hegel

But it was Hegel, among all German thinkers, who had the deepest and most enduring impact on Western thought and identity. It is often forgotten that his work was a reaction against the Romantics’ passion for India’s past. He borrowed Indian ideas (such as monism) while debating Indologists to argue against the value of Indian civilization. He posited that the West, and only the West, was the agent of history and teleology. India was the ‘frozen other’, which he used as a foil to define the West.
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Jun 19, 2014

Introducing "Being Different" by Rajiv Malhotra

[Being Different by Rajiv Malhotra (published by Harper Collins, 2011) is a must read not only for young Indians of modern India, especially those who are ashamed of being Hindus, but also for the followers and disciples of Sri Aurobindo, who have sometimes the misguided notion that Sri Aurobindo rejected Hinduism. The first effect the book has on you is that it makes you proud of being a Hindu, of Being Different from what the West wants you to be. One of the frequent accusations of Westerners on India is that it is a Chaos not only materially but also spiritually, and that there is no Order, which is so prominent in the West. Rajiv Malhotra brilliantly explains this point and analyses the nature and reason for this difference between Westerners and Indians. The Chaos, he says, is only apparent for people who look only for one Order whereas Indians have learnt to live with multiple orders from times immemorial, and have therefore acquired a far greater complexity of mind and attitude than Westerners. I reproduce below an excerpt from Being Different by Rajiv Malhotra. -- by Krish Patwardhan]
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Jun 12, 2014

Anti-Hindu Rant on the SAICE Forum – Sridharan

Sridharan: Prophet cum Historian Benimadhav Mohanty Speaks, or shall we say more appropriately, Beni Speaks Nonsense Again!

The following is a forward sent to the SAICE forum by Benimadhav Mohanty, an SAICE product! (The quality of academic production in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Centre of Education, Pondicherry, certainly seems to have hit the rock bottom.  It is perhaps time to infuse some foreign funding to raise the standards!) What Benimadhav has forwarded on 8 June, 2014 is an atrocious rant on Hinduism by another ex-student to his brother in Australia. Benimadhav finds this “interesting” to read and forwards it to the rest of the SAICE alumni as if they are eagerly waiting to lap up this hate speech on Hindus. Now Benimadhav cannot simply shrug away his responsibility by saying that he has not written it, because it is he who has found it worthy of attention and brought it to the notice of the other members of the SAICE forum. As for the author of the piece itself, he should either be behind bars or sent to a madhouse. But I will nevertheless respond intellectually to this foam spewing hatred of the Hindus. As I don’t know the name of this frustrated ex-student, let me call him Anti-Hindu for the sake of convenience.
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Jun 7, 2014


SRI AUROBINDO: Somebody has said that I have a great similarity to Hegel because I used the word "synthesis" and he speaks of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. But I must confess I have no idea of what Hegel says.
Western philosophies are so mental and dry. They seem to lead to nothing, only mental gymnastics trying to find out things like, "What is judgment?" and "What is not judgment?" They appear to be written for the purpose of using the mind, not for finding or arriving at the Truth.

(Nirodbaran, Talks with Sri Aurobindo (2001), 18 January 1939, pp 172-73)
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Jun 1, 2014

Sri Aurobindo and Hegel (1) – Krish Patwardhan

Situating Sri Aurobindo – A Reader, edited by Peter Heehs and published by Oxford University Press in 2013, is one of those arid unreadable books, the heavy metaphysical content of which simply puts you off. The book is almost entirely a compilation of articles by professors in American Universities who evaluate, analyse, dissect, compare, and situate Sri Aurobindo within the framework of their disciplines. Though most of the essays are surprisingly favourable assessments of Sri Aurobindo, considering that they have been chosen by Peter Heehs, one still gets the impression (except in a few cases) that the professors are straying beyond their legitimate and natural boundaries. Understanding Sri Aurobindo certainly needs some spiritual empathy, and that comes from a little inward opening, even if it be only a drop of genuine spiritual experience. Otherwise one commits not only spiritual but intellectual errors such as some of these professors have made, despite the expertise in their own fields. I bring to the notice of our readers one such major misunderstanding by Professor Steve Odin of the University of Hawai’i, which should be set right before it spreads further in the academic world. I quote below his conclusion with regard to Sri Aurobindo and Hegel:
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May 23, 2014

The Supreme Court Verdict on the Five Sisters – Bireshwar Choudhury

Three newspapers (Times of India, New Indian Express & Deccan Chronicle) have recently reported the adverse judgement delivered on the Five Prasad Sisters by the Supreme Court of India on the 29th of April 2014. The sisters have been ordered to vacate their present quarters in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, by July 31st. What is however strange is that none of the newspaper reports mention that the Ashram Trust will have to bear the expenditure of the Five Sisters staying outside the Ashram premises! The Ashram Trust will have to pay them a minimum of Rs 29000/ every month (subject to fair review and appeal on account of inflation and other factors as this amount was fixed by the High Court a long while ago) for accommodation, food and other basic necessities of life until the original suit pending in the Pondicherry Court since 2005 has been disposed of.
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May 16, 2014

History of the Ashram School (6) – Kittu Reddy

 We shall now go into the details of the points mentioned at the end of the previous article.

1. The first point was Mother’s keenness to introduce the free system from the Primary section to those children who were ready; this was to be done in a graduated manner starting at the age of 7-9 in the section known as Avenir. Almost from the very beginning of December when the interviews began, Mother wanted us to explore the possibility of finding out the children in the Primary section who were ready to use their freedom in the right way. As expected there was some resistance from some teachers and a lot more from parents; there were also some minor misunderstandings among the teachers. Some of them wrote to Mother to explain their position; while Mother appreciated their goodwill, She was firm that this should be started and tried out on however small a scale. Consequently She sent Tanmaya to identify these children and two or three were chosen with Mother’s approval. Here is an extract from the Mother’s talk:
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May 12, 2014

GURU NINDA ― by Niranjan Naik

[There is a story behind this article. It was originally written in Oriya for the November 2008 issue of Navaprakash by Niranjan Naik, who was its editor for the last 38 years. The Peter Heehs controversy had erupted around mid-August / September 2008, shocking the devotees and disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The question that figured most prominently in their minds was how an Ashramite could insult the Guru. Niranjan Naik answered the question indirectly in his article without mentioning any names. The November 2008 issue was printed and even bound at the Ashram Press when the matter was brought to the notice of the Ashram Trust. The Managing Trustee, on the advice of Manoj Das, immediately ordered the scrapping of the article and 9700 copies of the magazine had to be redone. The cover pages were torn and the pages of the article were shredded to bits. Luckily, a few copies of the article were preserved, xeroxed and distributed in Orissa where it elicited a highly favourable response. It is in the light of this event that readers of this site should judge the dubious public statement made by the Ashram Trust in 2012 with regard to freedom of speech and belief in Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

The story does not end there. Niranjan Naik was later removed from the editorship of Navaprakash in January 2011 under pressure from Manoj Das. His daily work of carrying the letters and offerings of devotees in Orissa to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s rooms was abruptly taken away from him by Manoj Das Gupta. Even now, he constantly faces harassment by the henchmen of the Trustees in spite of lodging two police complaints. This is the mundane reality of the present Ashram administration. – Bireshwar]
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May 8, 2014

The History of the Ashram School (5) – Kittu Reddy

Before we move on to the next part dealing with the meetings with Mother, it is important to mention about another aspect of the project of The Spiritual History of India. Manoj Das Gupta wrote a letter to Mother regarding the project to which Mother replied with a long comment in a conversation with Satprem. We are reproducing the conversation below.

5 April 1967  
(Mother writes a note.) It is an answer to a question. Do you know what I told the teachers of the school? I have been asked another question. Here is the beginning of my reply:  
“The division between `ordinary life' and `spiritual life' is an outdated antiquity.”
Did you read his question? Read it again to me.
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