The Well-wishers of Sri Aurobindo Ashram website which follows closely our site has recently done some “remarkable investigation” and announced how it has “connected the dots” between the so-called anti-Ashram nexus. Let me first remind these “highly intelligent sleuths” that Sri Aurobindo Ashram (Pondicherry) is different from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust (Pondicherry). The Ashram Trust was created by the Mother in 1955 for protecting the assets and properties of the Ashram, whereas Sri Aurobindo Ashram spontaneously began in 1926 when Sri Aurobindo gave “the spiritual and material charge” of his disciples to the Mother after the Siddhi Day. The Ashram is the spiritual institution and the Ashram Trust is only a legal body, whose administration has at first gradually and then rapidly deteriorated in recent times after the passing away of its Gurus. A section of the Ashramites are extremely unhappy with the corrupt and dictatorial functioning of the Ashram Trust and have therefore gone against it in various legitimate ways. They have not gone against the Ashram itself nor do they want to destroy the Ashram from the face of this earth, as the supporters of the Ashram Trust would like the ignorant public to believe. The solution to this rudderless present situation of the Ashram without any spiritual heads, or rather with the present Trustees who always get into loggerheads with anybody who differs from them, is an alternate system of fair and democratic governance. If this is difficult to understand and highly objectionable, then I think we have to set the clock back and go back to pre Magna Carta days.
Jul 28, 2014
Jul 25, 2014
[Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya (1922-2010) was one of the closest attendants of the Mother and the Director of the Physical Education Department of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Physical Education is taken very seriously in the Ashram, far more than what most people would expect in an institution dedicated to spiritual growth. Literally all the members of the Ashram have a daily routine of physical exercise interspersed with work and meditation. All the students of the Ashram School have compulsory physical education every day for an hour and a half. The Dept. of Physical Education is thus very well-organised and pools the talent of more than a hundred voluntary captains, coaches and helping instructors, without mentioning those who maintain its numerous grounds for playing football, basketball, hockey, volleyball and other games. There is also enough infrastructure for the regular practice of Athletics, Swimming, Gymnastics and even Combatives. Competitions are held every year in which older Ashramites vie with the young students of the Ashram School. Ashram records are timed with stop watches, carefully measured with tapes, and systematically noted down. These are then databased and preserved for posterity so that you can get an analysis of your athletic performance twenty years back at the touch of a button. One would actually wonder as to whether the Ashram is a Yogic or a sports institution! But no, in the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, sports can be turned towards Yoga, and the perfection of the body can become a Yogic ideal. At the same time, physical health undoubtedly imparts a great stability to life, whether you choose to do Yoga or not.
Jul 18, 2014
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?
Jul 11, 2014
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.
Jul 5, 2014
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”.
Jun 28, 2014
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.
Jun 19, 2014
[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]
Jun 12, 2014
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.
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)
Jun 1, 2014
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:
May 23, 2014
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.
May 16, 2014
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: