20 Oct 2009

Alok Pandey's Letter of Clarification to the Trustees

[One of the silliest rumours that went around after Alok Pandey wrote his first letter to the Trustees of the Ashram (published on this site), was that he (and later whoever took a stand against the deceptive book) wanted to “dislodge the Trustees”. Alok had to write the following letter of clarification to say that “nothing was farther from the truth” than the above allegation. I myself wondered how the administration would run if all the complaints were met with this accusation. Secondly, who would enjoy taking the brickbats the Trustees get from all sides, despite all our grouses? Alok had to therefore clearly state that he had no such ambition to replace them and he felt it was his duty to caution the Trustees against the book. His word of caution proved to be prophetic. He had written exactly a year back in this very letter that if no firm action were taken with regard to Peter Heehs, it would result in a trail “of dust and cloud and smoke”. This indeed happened in the form of numerous court cases filed by devotees in Orissa out of sheer frustration and even a signature campaign was conducted for the first time in the history of the Ashram. All this collective heartburn could have been so easily avoided by the concerned authorities making one truly public statement denouncing the book and distancing the Ashram from it! The book would have lost all public credibility and the right to freedom of speech maintained without hurting the Ashram’s interests.]
A Small Clarification

The Trustees
Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Dear and respected Trustees

I have been told of certain rumours floating about me that I want to dislodge the Trustees by using the issue of Peter Heehs as a hook. Nothing can be farther from the truth and therefore I wish to put it down in writing to settle the issue once and for all.

I have no interest whatsoever in a change of Trustees. Nor do I nurture any ambition of that sort whether in my department or anywhere else. Nor do I believe in groupism or lend any intellectual, moral or any other kind of direct or tacit support to any association that is anti-Ashram or anti-Trustees in its approach. Nor do I belong to any political or social ideology. I have no personal agenda to fulfill, no scores to settle with anyone, no hatred or enmity with any person, including the author of the book. I am here to follow the example of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and try to mould my life by the truth that they have brought down to earth and men. And it is precisely for this reason that I have taken a stand against Peter Heehs. It would be a disservice to the Ashram and the Truth that it represents, to remain passive and silent after knowing what I have come to know about this matter.

As far as I know, Peter is not here for yoga or a need to change and transform himself. His interest, which was primarily academic, has turned over the years an instrument that is playing to the wishes of his publishers and dancing to the tune of a perverse ideology that seeks to reduce everything that is sacred to the level of its own limited and muddy vision. So be it and to each his own freedom; but still to allow such things to spread from within the Ashram itself, even if by a tacit sanction and mental support, would be very dangerous to it. Besides lending credence to a false and erroneous vision, it would, by the mere presence of such a hostile element, attract forces inimical to the Ashram's growth towards the highest standards of inner life that demand an implicit trust and faith in the Master and His Vision. The bogey that is trying to justify itself through the flimsy excuses of appeal to the western audience and scientific objectivity, is a dangerous bluff. All of us, who know something of the West and have interacted intimately with the western audience and know its psyche, are aware that it is a blatant lie. The intent is so obvious in the way he has derived his conclusions, the direction and the slant, the subtle suggestions, the obvious omissions and the occult atmosphere of the book, that one has to be blind not to notice it.

It is for this reason and for this reason alone that I have spoken, out of my love and deepest respect for this wonderful institution that the Mother has created as a field for the sadhana of an Integral Yoga and not for a scientific analysis and a psychoanalytic research of the Master's life. It is out of my deepest and passionate love (and not weak sentimentality or emotional excitement) for Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that I have spoken up, and with no other motive. It is out of care and concern for the great and difficult Work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother of which this institution is the pioneer and the spearhead, that I have spoken, and not for any personal interest. Peter’s continuation would bring in its trail a heap of dust and cloud and smoke, and if we take no action to send him out of Archives and stop the Indian edition under the bogey of intellectual freedom, then the very core and foundation of the Ashram life is likely to come under subtle and open attacks. That the Mother will do everything is true but does that imply that our own choices have no consequences? In that case, nothing would matter and anything would be permissible under the guise of freedom, and anyone can get away doing anything, since what can be worse than publicly disgracing our own Guru, denigrating and belittling our own Master towards whom we need to have nothing but unflinching faith and endless gratitude.

It is out of these deep and serious concerns for the good of the Ashram and the Trust that I have acted. Hope you will understand.

In Their Love and Light and with regards

Alok Pandey

October 2008

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