28 Mar 2010

Alok Pandey Responds to Debashish Banerji

DB contradicts himself by saying that most people in the Ashram are not there for sadhana and at the same time concluding that they created a homogeneous approach. This could mean either of the two:

a. The approach of this “inchoate” mass is not an approach to sadhana.

b. Or else the large majority have taken an approach to sadhana which is not the right approach to be taken in the Ashram.

In the first case, he is contradicting himself. In the second, he himself is redefining the sadhana as it should be in the Ashram. [extract]


Alok Pandey Responds to Debashish Banerji

I think there are some fundamental errors of presumption in Debashish Banerji’s response to Raman Reddy’s rejoinder published in Auroville Today, March 2010:

1. DB is presuming that not accepting PH's book or being critical about it is being intolerant of a variety of approaches. That is not at all the case here. The sharp response to PH’s book is only to his repeated denigration of Sri Aurobindo while being part of the Ashram community. The response is sharper than before because of a cumulative effect and because he denounces other approaches as hagiographic as opposed to his book which he presents as the sole objective biography. It is also because he has used unpublished material without permission while being entrusted with the work at the Archives, which is a serious lapse. Finally, the response escalated to this extent because of the lack of response from those whom we appealed to take some action. It has nothing to do with PH’s individual sadhana or approach; as long as he did not step on other approaches and start denouncing them as theatrical, dogmatic, etc, it did not at all matter.

2. DB contradicts himself by saying that most people in the Ashram are not there for sadhana and at the same time concluding that they created a homogeneous approach. This could mean either of the two:

a. The approach of this “inchoate” mass is not an approach to sadhana.

b. Or else the large majority have taken an approach to sadhana which is not the right approach to be taken in the Ashram.

In the first case, he is contradicting himself. In the second, he himself is redefining the sadhana as it should be in the Ashram.

3. DB makes a completely unfounded statement (and I wonder how AV Today has published it) that the large majority of those who have come here are an “inchoate mass”. Only a most arrogant mind can make such a preposterous statement about anyone. Perhaps he is basing himself upon the Mother mentioning the complacency of those who lived here and did not give the much desired response in spite of everything being provided for them. That much desired response is presumed by DB to be a non-religious response. In fact, it is a lack of transparency, receptivity, openness, a state of constant doubt and disbelief, lack of obedience and even simple trust in the Divine, in the Mother etc.

As a matter of fact, it is PH and people like DB who are trying to redefine Integral Yoga to suit their intellectual preferences and other tendencies. What is worse is to quote from Sri Aurobindo’s writings to justify their point of view. DB should know that for each quote there are quotes that can be used to justify the very opposite point. Spiritual truths are not understood by only reading books and being able to quote from them. They are subtle and need a supple as well as wide and plastic intelligence to comprehend them. Whether the author of TLOSA or his likes have it or not is not for me to decide. But let this much be known that it is most dangerous to turn this controversy surrounding a single author into a west-east, intellect-devotion and other such divides. This would be to read things that were never intended by us.

Court cases are another matter and if anybody has a problem with that, they should directly approach the persons who have initiated them and ask them why they have done so. I am sure they will reply suitably, for they have their own reasons. Why not ask them directly? Or does he think that they are also part of the inchoate unthinking masses? Perhaps all who do not agree with him are simply unthinking and inchoate and who are not here for sadhana but just to pass away their time. What a foolish generalisation and presumptuous judgment upon a whole group!

Another repeated presumption he seems to make, perhaps quite unconsciously (though it is very implicit in what he says), is that devotion is religious whereas intellectualisation is spiritual. The Religion that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother did not want is the traditional kind – mechanical outer rituals, the proclamation that ours is the only or the best path etc. But devotion, surrender, faith, obedience are the very fundamentals of yoga and are not merely part of religion. They are the first elementary lessons and the basics of spiritual life. I am surprised how people who have read Sri Aurobindo for so long can still be prone to this confusion.

Alok Pandey

28 March 2010


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