19 Jun 2009

Note of Clarification (from Alok and Sraddhalu)

Note of Clarification (Dated 10th May 2009)

Dear friends,

1. It has been a week since Alok Pandey's and Sraddhalu Ranade's detailed letters were issued in response to the personal attacks by IYF activists. The reaction from the spokesmen of Peter Heehs has again ignored critical issues which were outlined, and instead, further abuses have been heaped on us. While this does not help the general atmosphere already thick with hurt emotions, confusion and divisive tensions, such reactions in no way help Peter Heehs' cause either. Therefore, it was felt that a note of clarification is in order.

2. Let it be placed on record that Alok Pandey and Sraddhalu Ranade have never been the authorised spokesmen of the vast majority of silent and deeply anguished devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother at the Ashram, Auroville, in India and the world at large. They have been merely representative and possibly more visible individuals on the Internet. Consequently, Alok Pandey and Sraddhalu Ranade, while always remaining open to dialogue and constructive debate, cannot and must not take it upon themselves to even attempt to resolve what is clearly a very complex and apparently impossible imbroglio.

3. It is the belief of Alok Pandey and Sraddhalu Ranade that solutions to problems faced by a community, however complex their nature, are to be found within and by the affected community, and to that end the role and involvement of the elders and leaders of the community in question are sine qua non.

4. If Peter Heehs wishes to reintegrate himself into the community, the following practical steps are proposed in all humility:

  1. Peter Heehs must speak for himself and avoid proxies who have at best a dubious stake in the matter. He owes answers to the community that he has so long been a part of.
  2. He must enter into serious, direct and transparent discussion with the Ashram Trust and make a sincere attempt to understand and address the concerns of Shri Manoj Das Gupta, Dr Dilip Datta, and Shri Dilip Mehtani. If these senior sadhaks and Trustees thought it fit to express their anguish and disappointment in writing and initiate disciplinary action against Heehs, surely they must have had good reason to have done so.
  3. Peter Heehs must have an open and constructive interaction with Pranab-da in order to understand what led to his being disbarred from the Physical Education Department. Should not an attempt be made to find out what, if anything at all, may be done to remedy the situation?
  4. The simplest way to deal with allegations of copyright violation would be to obtain a written clarification regarding the matter from the Ashram Trust, and make the document public.
  5. Allegations of Intellectual Property theft can be countered by obtaining a written and signed clarification regarding the matter from Peter Heehs' erstwhile colleagues at the Archives, and making the document public.
  6. If Peter Heehs is of the view that Columbia University Press (CUP) has erred in labelling him "founder" of the Ashram Archives and that he is not himself in any way responsible for it, a letter to this effect may be obtained from CUP and made public.
  7. Sri Manoj Das may be consulted on factual distortions and offensive or objectionable passages, and signed summaries of these consultations be made public.
  8. Devotees cannot be faulted for filing criminal cases as an expression of extreme anguish when all other options have failed – this is an accepted, normal and civil way of dispute resolution. Peter Heehs owes it to himself, more than anybody else, to respond to Court Summons, defend himself, and come clean of the charges levelled against him.
  9. Lastly, the book in question was proscribed in India not by the issuance of a "Fatwa" by Alok Pandey or Sraddhalu Ranade, but by the Government of the day after due process of law had taken its course. It is incumbent on Peter Heehs to make an attempt to understand the causes of this serious Government action, and all ridiculing of courts and Government agencies involved must be avoided.

5. The above steps are all independent of Alok Pandey and Sraddhalu Ranade, and in no way require their involvement. The solutions to Heehs' predicament are entirely in his hands without reliance on anybody else.

6. We remain available in all humility and sincerity to render any support or assistance as may be required at any point if called upon to do so.


Alok Pandey <taijasalok@yahoo.co.in>

Sraddhalu Ranade <sraddhalu@auromail.net>

[Originally posted at 5/10/2009 06:34:00 PM]

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