[This is the second and final part of Bireshwar Choudhury’s reply to Prof. Manoj Das’s response to Sricharan Singh’s “Manoj Das has Sold his Soul to the Devil”. See the previous posting to read the first part of Bireshwar Choudhury’s reply. The text of Manoj Das's response is indented and in italics while Bireshwar's reply is without indentation and in Roman.]
“Sricharan Singh” has repeated that old old lie about the Ashram lawyer saying at the Krishnanagore court that the Mother did not understand Savitri! The lawyer said nothing of that kind. He has also given a statement challenging this allegation against him. Still the drum-beaters of that lie do not stop. Years ago when two small groups of people distributed leaflets against me on this issue, I was surprised that while these people believed somebody from far who transmitted that blatant lie as a gift for them, they did not have the patience or a bit of respect for truth to ask me about it though I was amidst them, an inmate of the Ashram like them. They even sent a lawyer’s notice to the Trust to expel me from the Ashram on this account.
By and by it became clear to me that all they wanted was to create an atmosphere of hatred against me. But what for? It remains inexplicable to him. I was for a while representing the Ashram in the courts where several cases were filed against the Trust because it brought out a revised version of the Master’s epic, Savitri. It was ‘revised’ in the sense that errors (typographical, punctuation, omission, words not properly deciphered in corrected proofs, etc) were removed through years of study and scrutiny. When, as a purely academic exercise a booklet was published by the Ashram Archives listing the changes, it suddenly struck a gentleman to drag the Trust to the court alleging that it had tampered with Sri Aurobindo’s writing. (What may sound incredible to many, he even discovered an unknown nephew of Sri Aurobindo and made him go to court and suggest by insinuation that he was the copyright-owner of all the works of Sri Aurobindo, not the Ashram. By implication, all the earnings from the works of the Master over the past years were his!)
I was convinced that the Revised Edition of the epic is the most authentic one. Once again it is a matter of common sense that the Ashram had no reason to alter a single word of Sri Aurobindo. On the other hand it had a responsibility to see that error-free versions of His works were available before the copyright period expired. That is what Ashram did despite the illogical and superfluous commotion made by some people. (Manoj Das)
Things always seem inexplicable to Manoj Das whenever he courts a controversy, as if the people who are against him are inexplicably bad and he himself is inexplicably good! The Savitri revision controversy has rocked the Ashram for a decade or two, and even now there are senior scholars of the Ashram who are not satisfied at all with the way it has been handled by the Trustees. R.Y. Deshpande was part of the team that finalised the Savitri revisions and he says that even Nirodbaran (on whom the final decisions depended) expressed his unhappiness over some of the revisions. Deshpande himself was extremely unhappy over some of the revisions suggested by the Archives editors. The late Jugal Kishore Mukherji, former head of the Higher Course of the Ashram School, wrote a fifty page letter to Amal Kiran on these revisions and some of his suggestions were accepted by Amal Kiran! Why was Jugal Kishore Mukherji disgusted with the whole affair? If after all this discontentment, Manoj Das still finds things inexplicable, then I will simply call him a hypocrite! Even here, I will throw him a challenge which R.Y. Deshpande has long been insisting upon: Make all the Savitri manuscripts public. Put them up on the Net for all to see and judge for themselves the legitimacy of the revisions of the Archives editors. Moreover, after the Peter Heehs controversy, who is going to trust the Archives editors?