28 Dec 2012

Letter of Kittu Reddy, Ranganath Raghavan & Sumita Kandpal to Manoj Das Gupta on 28 May, 2010

[The following letter was written by three senior Ashramites – Kittu Reddy, Ranganath Raghavan & Sumita Kandpal (retired Collector) – to Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. The letter stated the views and concern of most of the Ashramites and devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother regarding the Peter Heehs issue. The letter is still relevant to the present situation which has more or less remained unchanged as far as the intransigent attitude of the Managing Trustee is concerned.] 

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22 Dec 2012

Letter to the Ashram Trustees – by Nanjappa

The senseless writings of Heehs will be countered by real scholars even outside the Ashram and without its patronage, as it has been done in the case of Sri Ramakrishna  vis-a-vis  Jeffrey Kripal. The spiritual stature of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and their philosophical insights will stand the test of time as they are based on profound Truth. Sadly, what stands exposed is the lack of vision and courage on the part of the present Trustees of the Ashram. [extract]

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16 Dec 2012

Togo Mukherji Passes Away – Baikunth

Togo Mukherji passed away on 14 December, 2012 at Puducherry. An excellent article covering the notable aspects of his life has been written by Anurag Bannerji on his site, which I would recommend for reading to all those who are interested to know the details of  his life. 

I will limit myself here to the most prominent aspect of Togo, his bravery and audacity to challenge the powers that rule, which he obviously inherited from his grandfather, the legendary Bagha Jatin (Jatin Mukherji, one of the two Jatins who were contemporaries of Sri Aurobindo and fought in the first freedom struggle of India). His grandfather challenged the British, the grandson challenged the present Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Togo flouted the authorities by openly discussing with pusillanimous Ashramites the issue of Peter Heehs in the Ashram Dining Room and circulated articles exposing the distortions and misrepresentations in the Lives of Sri Aurobindo. Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the present counterpart of the British Viceroy during his grandfather’s times, deprived him of his food as a punishment. Togo could have apologised and got back his Dining Room facility, but he did not give in. Not only he participated in the two dharnas that were held in protest against the support of the Trustees for Peter Heehs, but he even deposed in the Puducherry Collector’s enquiry on the Ashram Trustees. This enquiry has been temporarily stayed by the High Court of Chennai, but once the stay is lifted, Togo’s signed statement along with thirty other depositions will be of great use to dethrone the present Trustees and bring a new era of peace and justice in Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Thus Togo Mukherji would continue to fight injustice even after his demise. 

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11 Dec 2012

Radhikaranjan Das Wins Court Case – by Sridharan

On the 5th of December, 2012 the Puducherry Court granted relief to Radhikaranjan Das who was abruptly deprived of his Sanskrit classes in the middle of the last academic year by Manoj Das Gupta, Registrar of the Ashram School cum Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The Court granted an injunction restraining the Registrar and the Ashram Trustees from disturbing or depriving Radhikaranjan of his classes in the Ashram School. The court case was hard-fought by two of the best lawyers of Puducherry, Cyril Mathias Vincent and Palaniappan, who represented respectively the plaintiff (Radhikaranjan Das) and the respondents (Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and four other Trustees). Despite the false allegations of the Managing Trustee on Radhikaranjan Das spoiling the minds of the children, the line of argument that the Trust lawyer took up in the Court was totally different. The point that was stressed by him was that there was no contractual or employer-employee relationship between Radhikaranjan Das and the Ashram Trust like in regular educational institutions. That whenever the inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram voluntarily came forward to offer their services to the Ashram as a means of their sadhana, the Trustees gave them work without assigning any reasons and without any written appointment. Therefore whenever the Trustees likewise felt that the inmate should be removed from his existing work, they could so without any written explanation whatsoever. This arbitrary method of administration was hotly contested by Radhikaranjan’s lawyer saying that it went against the basic principles of natural justice which required of the Registrar to give at least a chance to the aggrieved party to explain his position and demand a written explanation for the punishment meted out to him. As no reasonable and fair procedure was followed by the Registrar in dismissing Radhikaranjan from his work, it was prayed that the latter should not be deprived of his teaching work in the Ashram School. The Court granted this prayer after hearing out lengthy arguments from both the lawyers during the last six months.

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29 Nov 2012

Lokpal for Sri Aurobindo Ashram – An Ashramite

Considering the present impasse in Sri Aurobindo Ashram in which the Trustees are locked in a grim battle with some of the inmates and beneficiaries, how much better it would have been to have an independent Lokpal within the organisation to adjudicate matters? Had there been a quasi-judicial body which enjoyed the confidence and support of the community, and if this body were independent from the influence of the Trustees with the right to rule over their decisions, how easily matters could have been settled internally! I would therefore suggest a Lokpal for the Ashram community in the future.

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23 Nov 2012

Squint-Eyed Scholarship – by Nileen Putatunda

Earlier this year, former New York taxi driver Peter Heehs, based in India since the 1970s, was in the news for his controversial book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo published by Columbia University Press. There was an attempt made by devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, who were outraged by this book, to deny Heehs an extension of his Indian visa. Some supposedly-eminent Indians rushed to the rescue of Heehs by appealing to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, and Heehs was allowed to stay on.

Being a humble admirer of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother over many years, and having delighted in attending a monthly reading session here in Kolkata of Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri, I got hold of a copy of Heehs’ book to see what the din was about. Having read every word of the book, I must say that I was disappointed with the scholarship in this part-serious, part-frivolous effort by Heehs which pop historian, Ramachandra Guha has described as: “The product of a lifetime of scholarship, its empirical depth and analytical sharpness is unlikely to be surpassed. For Heehs knows the documentary evidence on and around Aurobindo’s life better than anyone else.” 
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16 Nov 2012

Ashram Trustees Criticise the Republication of the First Edition of Savitri – by Sridharan

A letter of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust has recently been published in the All India Magazine of Sri Aurobindo Society in the issue of November 2012, strongly criticising the republication of the first edition of Savitri by Helios Books. Not only the letter is written in extremely bad taste, but totally irrelevant and misleading comparisons and statistics regarding the various editions of Savitri have been quoted in it to impress the lay reader without actually touching upon the central issue.
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12 Nov 2012

A Short Note on TLOSA by Seshachalam Dutta

The author is patently ignorant of Indian History and harbours an obvious, unreformed racist bias.  He calls the “revolutionaries” “terrorists.”  Even the British knew the difference in those days. Heehs ought to know the distinction: terrorists kill their own people or innocent people to create terror to achieve political ends, the revolutionaries and freedom fighters are those who fight foreign invaders and occupiers. [extract]

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5 Nov 2012

Fifth Letter of the Bengaluru Study Circle to the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Pratap Bhanu Mehta admits to “have had a long professional interest in [Sri] Aurobindo”. Are we to assume that this interest drove him at some point of time to study for himself Sri Aurobindo’s oeuvre diligently if not comprehensively? If he had really done so, he would have by now come to know the crucial distinction between the subconscient and subliminal consciousness and understood where precisely Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis belongs. And of course he would have also been more enlightened on the subject of “madness”. This is what happens when people choose to read about Sri Aurobindo rather than Sri Aurobindo. It has calamitously led to uncritical acceptance of Peter’s Book on its face value almost as an article of faith. Quite surprisingly Peter Heehs himself seems as confounded on his understanding of Freud, of madness and yogic experiences. His clumsy effort at connecting all the three in Sri Aurobindo’s life are the result of this confusion unless of course it is by wicked design! [extract]

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27 Oct 2012

Ashram Trustees Rush to Chennai High Court to Stop Enquiry of Puducherry Govt

On the 5th of October, 2012 the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram filed a writ petition in the High Court of Chennai and got a temporary stay on the probe/enquiry initiated against them by the Collector of Puducherry. The allegations against the Trustees submitted in a memorandum to the Collector on the 13th of August, 2012 by a group of Ashramites and devotees accompanied by MLA Ashok Anand, ranged from “denial of basic constitutional rights of Ashramites, financial mismanagement” to “denial of security for women inmates who have spoken against sexual harassment and victimization” and “illegal sale and lease of Ashram properties”. Shocking, isn’t it, for those who don’t know what is happening at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram!
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20 Oct 2012

Laxmidhar Samantray Passes Away

Laxmidhar Samantray was only sixty when he passed away in the afternoon of 18.10.2012 at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Nursing Home, Puducherry. He died of renal failure but he suffered from thyroid cancer, epilepsy, asthma, constipation and what not! Dr Gayatri once told him that everything was wrong with his body except his heart! One could add that his emotional and psychological heart too never failed him. For his faith in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother never wavered and his will to be on the side of the Truth never faltered or gave clever excuses to his mind. “Tell X to keep up the fight with the Trustees! Don’t leave them!” he told a well-wisher during his last months, while he himself fought undeterred with his own body, going through a period of excruciating physical pain during which he underwent  thyroid surgery and daily dialysis.
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14 Oct 2012

East and West – Sri Aurobindo

The unification of the East and the West is the religion of today. But in this task of unification, if we consider the West as the foundation or the chief support we shall be making a grievous error. The East is the foundation, the chief support. The outer world is established in the inner, not vice versa. Respect and emotion, or inner attitude (bhavā), are the source of energy and activity, one has to be faithful to one's inner attitude (bhāva) and sense of reverence, but one is not to be attached to the application of force and the external forms and means of activity. The occidentals are busy with the outward forms and means of democracy. But the external form is only for the purpose of expressing the inner attitude; it is this attitude that shapes the form, it is one's reverence that creates the means or the instrument. The occidentals are so attached to the forms and instruments that they are unable to notice that in their external expressions the inner attitude and reverence are languishing. These days in the eastern countries the inner attitude and respect for democracy are becoming fast clearer and creating external means and building its outward forms, while in the western countries that feeling is getting dimmed, that respect is much attenuated. The East has set its face towards the dawn, moving towards the light—the West is moving back towards the dark night.

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28 Sep 2012

Trustees Start a Signature Campaign at the Ashram – By An Ashramite

A desperate signature campaign is going on at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry at the behest of its Trustees.  The inmates are being forced to sign a petition saying that “the Ashram is a haven of peace and protection (!)” and that the “trustees are law-abiding long-serving inmates who help to steer the community rather than rule over it”. What an irony of Fate! In 2008 when around five hundred inmates of the Ashram spontaneously signed denouncing the book of Peter Heehs, the Trustees themselves said that signature campaigns are demeaning to the hoary spiritual traditions of the Ashram and are below the dignity of the disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In a meeting of senior inmates of the Ashram arranged in the Ashram School in September 2008, Ramraj  Sehgal, the spineless chief sycophant of the Managing Trustee, stood up with his head high in the style of a Roman senator and expressed his deep anguish over what had happened at the Ashram. “A signature campaign”, he uttered with deep disgust. “Signature campaign”, seconded Manoj Das Gupta, the Managing Trustee, imploring the gods in heaven. “Signature campaign” joined the mournful choir behind composed of the helpless servitors of the Managing Trustee. But alas, the day has come when the same “divinely appointed” Trustees themselves have to carry out a signature campaign in order to save their own skins and escape the law!

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21 Sep 2012

Puducherry Government Launches Probe into Mismanagement and Corrupt Practices of SAAT Trustees!

In response to repeated and serious charges of grave financial mismanagement and corrupt practices of the present Trustees of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, the Government of Puducherry has launched a high-powered Enquiry/Probe into the workings of the SAAT Trust Board.

By their letter dated 17th September 2012, the Government of Puducherry had directed the present Trustees of the Ashram Trust to publicly place their Notice announcing the probe in the Ashram Main Building's notice board, the Dining Hall, the Ashram school and the Medical Services facilities immediately, and to report to the Government their compliance in writing.

Even though the Government's letter was received by the Trustees on the same day (17th September 2012), in blatant defiance of the instructions of the Government of Puducherry, the Trustees have so far evaded compliance and have not placed the Government's Notice on the designated Ashram notice boards.

The Notice issued by the Government, intended to be seen by all the Beneficiaries of the Trust including Devotees, Disciples and Inmates, is attached below.

Let the truth be exposed and may justice prevail.

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20 Sep 2012

Talk by Sraddhalu Ranade at Baroda on Affirmative Spirituality

Language: English/Hindi

Venue: Jagdish Hall, Adjoining Sardar Baug, Race Course, Vadodara.

Date: 26th September, Wednesday, 2012

Time: 6 pm to 8.30 pm





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11 Sep 2012

A Basic Scheme for Sri Aurobindo Ashram – proposed by an Ashramite

The Advisory Board

The Ashram community’s primary objective is to practise the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. As the Trustees have failed to keep in mind this primary objective while disbursing their duties, an alternate administration is required to look after the problems of the community. This self-governance not only requires accountability, internal checks and balances, but also a process of election by which new administrators are appointed or old ones dismissed. Until now, the Trustees were all-powerful. Henceforth, it is proposed to give powers to a larger body of about thirty to forty members, which we shall name as the Advisory Board. This board will appoint a five-member Governing Board for a five year term. It will appoint the departmental heads as and when required. It will appoint the members of the Election Office and the Grievance Redressal Office.
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8 Sep 2012

Letter to the Trustees from Ahmedabad Centre

Dear Trustees,

We, the undersigned Trustees of Shree AuroMa Trust (Ahmedabad) run Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Kendra. We would like to put a few words about Peter Heeh's book 'The Lives of Sri Aurobindo', the stand you have taken regarding the book and its author and also the stand we expect you to take.

After perusal of certain texts from the book and correspondence by some learned, eminent devotee-scholars and institutions. We are thoroughly convinced of the following:

(1) Peter has stolen and misused privileged material from Sri Aurobindo Archives for his personal gains.

(2) Peter has violated copyrights of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, impersonated as Founder of the Archives and has numerous, serious criminal lapses too in the publication of the book.

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5 Sep 2012

Fighting the Five Sisters – A Pondicherian

This is with regard to the news item published in the Sunday Times of India, Chennai on September 2, 2012. The title of the story “HC asks five sisters to vacate Aurobindo  Ashram” immediately catches your attention and you wonder as to whether it is the same Sri Aurobindo Ashram whose members always speak of spiritual families, spiritual relations and world unity! Then you find out from the news item that the disagreement between both parties began in the year 2002, which means that the five sisters have been legally hounded for ten long years by the Ashram administration. Giving the full benefit of doubt to the Trustees of the Ashram, assuming  for the moment  that the five sisters lodged false complaints of sexual harassment (which is anyway so difficult to establish in the Court), assuming  that they were quarrelsome and mischievous sisters who gave sleepless nights to the Trustees and made them so wild that they spent a  fortune to evict them from the Ashram, is it really worth all the trouble? Does it not actually speak volumes on the maladministration of the Trustees? 
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30 Aug 2012

A Hatchet Job on Sri Aurobindo – Bhaskar Menon

Peter Heehs, the American author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo (Columbia University Press 2008), has been an archivist at the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry for over 40 years. However, long familiarity with his subject and with India has not translated into insight or even understanding. His 496-page tome seems to have been written by some racist koi-hai from the colonial era.
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25 Aug 2012

Dr Alok Pandey Replies to T.N. Chaturvedi

I may like to add in passing that in these matters the views of historians such as Romila Thapar, whose tilts and biases are very well known, or of the honourable ministers such as Jairam Ramesh whose knowledge of Sri Aurobindo’s life and works is at best fragmentary and at worst picked up from popular tabloids, means nothing. Being a Scholar does not necessarily make one an all-knowing Omnibus; being a historian does not automatically guarantee faithful chronicling of all things; least of all, it assures authenticity since that involves certain human qualities of compassion, honesty, sincerity, especially a spiritual sensitivity which is very much wanting in the author of the said book. As someone rightly put it, he deals with his subject as if he were bludgeoning him into a shape desired by him.  [extract - read full letter below]

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20 Aug 2012

Public Protest and Memorandum Submitted by Devotees, Disciples and Inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram

The Devotees, Disciples and Inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry have been protesting publicly in large numbers the mismanagement by the Trustees of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. In particular they highlighted the following:
  • Denial of basic constitutional rights of the Inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram including freedom of expression and access and appeal to the Police and the Media.
  • Absolute and unfettered concentration of power in the hands of five Trustees with unlimited tenure and absence of basic checks and balances.
  • Absence of any democratic mechanism for election of Trustees and violation of fundamental democratic norms and lack of transparency, accountability and responsible governance.
  • Legally unacceptable bylaws that deny Inmates basic human rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, including access to Police protection and Media.
  • Denial of access to financial data and audited Statements of Accounts to the Public in general and the Inmates in particular.
  • Financial mismanagement including diversion of Trust funds.
  • Summary denial of food, work and medical facilities to any Inmate who speaks out against the Trustees.
  • Denial of security for women Inmates who have spoken out against sexual harassment and victimisation.
  • Allegations of abuse of the Ashram’s financial and other resources in order to gain favours with the local Administration and the Press.
  • Allegations of illegal sale and lease of valuable Ashram properties by Trustees for personal gain.
Ashok Anand (MLA) led over 250 Inmates, Devotees and Disciples to the office of the Collector, Dr Deepak Kumar in order to present a Memorandum demanding an immediate Government probe into the sordid activities of the Trustees and asked for the appointment of an Interim Administrator by the Government in order to protect Inmates from sexual harassment, intimidation and victimisation.

Selected photographs of the meeting and the full text of Memorandum are given below:
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15 Aug 2012

Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya's Scheme for the Sri Aurobindo Ashram

[The late Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, who was the director of the Ashram Physical Education Department and the closest aide of the Mother, wrote this long letter in 1978 to Padmanabhan Counouma, the then Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Pranab-da expressed his deep discontent about the Ashram administration after the Mother's passing away and proposed a more broad-based scheme for it. A meeting was called by the Trust and he was given a good hearing, but nothing actually transpired from it. Pranab-da, according to a senior sadhak, remarked after the meeting that he had done his duty and kept quiet henceforth, though he kept insisting all throughout his life on a larger body for the administration of the Ashram. Almost 35 years have elapsed since he wrote this letter, but many of the points that he raises therein are still relevant in the present crisis that the Ashram is facing. ]

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11 Aug 2012

Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram apply for a Counter Dharna!! – by Sridharan

The Puducherry Police has not permitted the silent protest (Dharna) against the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram which was planned to be held on August 12 & 13, 2012. The reason, though not officially stated by the Police, is that the Trustees have also applied for permission to do a Dharna at the same time and place as those who are protesting against them!!! Trustees doing a Dharna for what, you would wonder. But don’t ask me, just guess and you can be as irrational as you like: (1) to protest against the protesters; (2) to show that they too can sacrifice their dignity and sit on the footpath; (3) to revive the tradition of the Mother’s Balcony darshan; (4) to show their strength in public so that people don’t dare go against them (4) or (the very opposite) to convey their helplessness and misery to the Govt. with regard to those “nefarious elements” who are disappointed with the Ashram administration?   poor Trustees (tut, tut, tut) have so much to bear with after victimizing so many Ashramites and furiously sending them show cause notices. 
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9 Aug 2012

Nexus Between Gautam Chikermane and Ashram Trustees Exposed!

Gautam Chikermane, the self-righteous and fraudulent reporter of Hindustan Times, stands exposed. Over the last six months, Chikermane has been writing concocted and factually wrong news items in the Hindustan Times praising Peter Heehs' book and the Ashram Trustees, all in the name of freedom of speech and moral integrity. Now we know why!
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8 Aug 2012

Why Do A Dharna? – by Sripad Singh

Surrender at the Feet of the Guru 
or bow down at the feet of a foreign imposter.

A devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had joined in the silent protest (Dharna) that was held from 26.2.2012 to 28.2.2012. It was against the Gurudrohi, Matrudrohi, Deshdrohi and Ashramdrohi Peter Heehs and the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. After the Dharna, when he returned to his state, many devotees asked him about it and expressed their deep sorrow for the disrespect shown to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother by the power-blind, arrogant Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. A few others, who act as “preachers” of the ideals of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, scolded him for joining the Dharna. They showered him with questions as if they were God-appointed guardians.
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5 Aug 2012

Letter to the Trustees from the Disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in Madurai

Respected Trustees

We are disciples and devotees of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. As disciples and devotees we owe a legal duty and moral responsibility to write this to you since Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry includes everyone related to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, Ashram and their teachings.
We have a great respect for Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry which is a spiritual center. Our lives and families have changed in many ways because of the teachings of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, and our regular visits to the Ashram.
We are deeply hurt to see that the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo written by Peter Heehs is still not disapproved by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust in spite of repeated requests and submissions to the Trustees by inmates of the Ashram, disciples and devotees from all over the world. This has been delayed and neglected unduly since 2008.
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1 Aug 2012

The Last Bow – by an Observer

Some of the present members of Sri Aurobindo Ashram have been almost brought up by the Mother. They have now ascended to the helm of affairs at the Ashram: they have been elected to be in its special core group, they control and co-ordinate the activities of the Centre of Education and other departments, and they have been inducted as Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. They have done a lot for the growth of the Ashram in the past, but many of these special people have also been fostering the growth of anti-divine activities. Today they may be powerful and may have a lot of supporters, but once dead, what will they be remembered for? Man tends to forget the earlier deeds and retains only the recent events. So the new generation will judge these authorities by their last stand, which is against the ideals of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.  [extract]

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The Book that Bombed -- by Krish Patwardhan

On reading the Lives, you get the impression of a monkey who plays to the audience by constantly jumping from one branch of learning to another without assimilating anything. The monkey often breaks some of the branches in a fit of rage, sometimes the very branch on which it was sitting a few minutes ago, and is so restless that it cannot settle anywhere on the tree!
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30 Jul 2012

Letter to the Managing Trustee by Shri Ramsinh Rathwa, Member of Parliament, Vadodara, Gujarat

Namaskar,                                                   16 July, 2012

Jai Bharat. My visits to the Sri Aurobindo Baroda centre for the purchase of art paper during my days as a student of Fine Arts in the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, presented me with the opportunity to become acquainted with the life of Sri Aurobindo. Interestingly, this iconic freedom fighter, philosopher, and yogi stayed in this city for 11 years, serving the Maharaja in various capacities till 1906 when he left the position of Vice-principal, Baroda College, to plunge himself in the revolutionary movement against the British in Bengal. Baroda also happens to be the place where he realised his first major spiritual siddhi.

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27 Jul 2012

Fourth Letter of Bengaluru Study Circle to the Trustees

Dear Shri Manoj Dasgupta,

It may kindly be recalled that you had once raised with the Mother the question of attack of hostile forces (Georges Vrekhem, Beyond Man (2007), p 315) albeit in a different context. That was long ago in 1955 when you were still a student at the Ashram school. We do compliment you on these concerns voiced precociously at such a young age. These hostile forces are still at work of which Peter is a symptom. And isn't it also an uncanny coincidence that the responsibility of leading the fight against these forces of falsehood now rests with you as the Managing Trustee?

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25 Jul 2012

Malice in Wonderland ─ An Observer

However, since a few years, there is a growing malice in this Wonderland. Deliberate efforts are made to avoid transparency, to distort things and maintain double standards. The malice is very deep-seated and the devil seems to be smiling at his own success. Now I am particularly pointing at the two news items titled “MPs seek ashram explanation on Heehs's book”, and “Ashram takes neutral stand on Heehs issue” in the The Times of India  dated 12 and 13 July, 2012 respectively. Both the reports have been obviously drafted with the consent and at the demand of the Ashram Trustees. First of all, the said book has been officially banned by the Indian government and a proper gazette notification has been issued by the High Court of Orissa. Why was the matter not challenged then and taken up now after 3 years? Why is this basic point always evaded in the media? [extract]

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22 Jul 2012

Letter to the Managing Trustee by Shri Balkrishna Shukla, Member of Parliament, Vadodara, Gujarat

Dear Sir,

Sri Aurobindo – a freedom fighter, yogi, philosopher, and seer – through his spiritual writings has comprehensively covered all dimensions of human life. Countless devotees, scattered throughout the world, inspired by these writings and having faith in his Integral Yoga are practising sadhana and endeavouring to lead a higher life in the light of the same.

With utmost reverence the Indian Parliament has enshrined the statues of Mahatma Gandhiji, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Shri Vallabhai Patel and other such eminent personalities in the Parliament House. In a similar manner, the statue of Sri Aurobindo too has been installed there proving to be a source of inspiration to the Members of Parliament and to the citizens of India. Thus, the Parliament, which is symbolic of all Indians, pays too obeisance to Sri Aurobindo.
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19 Jul 2012

Two Comments by an Inmate on “Misconceptions About the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust Deed”

http://www.thelivesofsriaurobindo.com/2012/07/misconceptions-about-sri-aurobindo.html
[1]

A most essential truth regarding the management of Ashram properties was put in writing by the Mother on 10 February 1933, long before it became one of the key reasons for rushing through the Trust Deed, the way it had to be done:

The Ashram with all its real estate and moveable property belongs to Sri Aurobindo… and if my name sometimes appears…, it is…, a matter of convenience for the papers, since it is I who “manage” everything, but not because I really own them.” [CWM 16:8]

It is most significant that thus informed, Mother’s son André, who could have legally claimed all Ashram estates & properties, remained – in thought, word, & deed, – perfectly obedient to his mother’s gentle warning. Was every Trustee or his/her representative or Dept. Head who had the responsibility to “manage” any, even the most ‘insignificant’ Ashram estate or property, as fully conscious as Mother & as perfectly obedient as André – in thought, word, & deed – that he/she was ‘managing” Sri Aurobindo personal estates & properties & not his own? Whatever the answer(s) may be, those who sincerely believe that both Sri Aurobindo & Mother are as actively present as ever, can rest assured that They know even more fully than any Trustee or representative ever did or do, not only the answer(s) but everything that flowed from it, for ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

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18 Jul 2012

Importance of being an Example ─ Ritwik Banerji

Mother wanted teachers to be living examples in their life. Where shall we find them now? True that one should set the example first before wanting it in others. But now our eyes are focussed on the Ashram and these eyes see Manoj Das Gupta as a liar, a hypocrite and a treacherous and shameless person. He gives protection and shelter to a criminal in the Ashram and is furious when someone raises a finger at him and, posing as a hard task-master, takes disciplinary/punitive action against him/her.

It is high time the world knows what he really means by saying that the book of Peter Heehs is neither "prescribed nor proscribed' and it is for each reader to judge it individually. What emerges from this is:

(1) First and foremost, the other trustees, under the spell and pressure of Manoj Das Gupta, are not at all sincere and open to the truth.

(2) Secondly, unwittingly, the statement is an admission on their part that the book is a betrayal of the Ideals of the Master which the Ashram stands for. Otherwise, why should they leave it to the reader to judge it for himself? The same statement should be equally valid for Sri Aurobindo’s own works such as The Life Divine, etc. which are sponsored by the Ashram. There are so many articles published in Ashram journals. Are they all left to the readers to judge for themselves? Is there no editorial discretion or control exercised over them?

(3) So far neither any reviews nor any extracts from the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo have appeared in Ashram journals and newsletters even while reviews of other books feature regularly. Why? Obviously because the trustees have no guts or face to say that the book is a work of ignominy and villainy.

(4) A few disciples and devotees have courageously taken on their shoulders the task of exposing the nexus behind all this, and they are criticised and opposed like enemies of the Ashram and put to all sorts of inconveniences.

(5) Should one imagine now that Manoj Das Gupta is too great a sadhak of Integral Yoga to abdicate his power and position for anybody else to take over?

Ritwik  Banerjee  
  ...full text...

13 Jul 2012

MPs seek ashram explanation on Heehs’s book

The Times Of India Chennai; Date: Jul 12, 2012;
Bosco Dominique / TNN

Puducherry: The controversy over the biography ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’ by US histo­rian Peter Heehs refuses to die down with dissenting views cropping up again over the book. Several MPs across the country have questioned the Sri Aurobindo Ashram trust­ees for not taking any action against the historian.

Sixty-eight MPs, including Union minister of state (inde­pendent charge) for statistics and programme implementa­tion Srikant Kumar Jena, for­mer Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and former chairperson of National Com­mission for Women Girija Vyas, who are of the view that the historian made “denigra­ting and unacceptable re­marks” on Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa, fondly referred to as the Mother, sought clarifi­cation from the trustee for “the mismanagement of the Heehs affair.”

In a letter (dated June 6) ad­dressed to the board of trustees of the ashram, the MPs de­manded an explanation from them for not initiating any ac­tion against the historian de­spite the trustees going on re­cord to say that the book had “crossed all limits of simple de­cency” and in fact “denigrated Sri Aurobindo”. The trustees had later changed their stance on the book. The MPs in their letter, a copy of which has been obtained by the TOI, ques­tioned whether they were “un­der pressure from external agencies”.

Claiming that former col­leagues of Peter Heehs had brought to the trustees’ notice the theft of the ashram’s intel­lectual property the MPs ac­cused them of failing to initiate legal or criminal action against the historian-publish­er. “The assets of the Sri Auro­bindo Ashram belong to the beneficiaries in particular and the public at large and one indi­vidual cannot be permitted to gain financially at the cost of the institution,” they argued.

The MPs said the recent public protests by devotees had brought public attention on their lapses and questioned them what went wrong with the management recently and what steps they have taken to “cultivate internal transparen­cy, democracy and administra­tive reforms”.
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9 Jul 2012

Misconceptions about the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust Deed – From the History Desk

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust Deed was signed on May 1, 1955. The circumstances which necessitated the formation of the Trust were very material, namely the transfer of French India (of which Pondicherry was the capital) to independent India on November 1, 1954. On this date, the transfer that took place was de facto, which means “existing in fact”. It took a few more years for the transfer to be de jure, that is, to be legalised and ratified by both the French and Indian parliaments. This second and final de jure transfer happened on August 16, 1962 – that is why Pondicherry celebrates August 15 & 16, one for the independence of India and the other for the merger of Pondicherry with India. The Ashram Trust was thus formed to safeguard the numerous Ashram properties which were in the name of the Mother, who remained a French citizen. The Mother had requested the Indian Govt to grant her dual citizenship, French and Indian, because she said she was French by birth and Indian by soul and spiritual choice. But the Indian Govt did not concede to her request.

Thus the Ashram Trust deed was not drafted keeping in mind the future of the Ashram. It was primarily meant to protect the properties of the Ashram in the changed political circumstances of Pondicherry, for the Ashram properties might have been even confiscated under the Indian law which had not yet come into force in 1955. The Trust Deed was thus hurriedly drafted and registered at Vanur, which comes under Tamilnadu (formerly Madras State which was part of independent India). The Ashram apparently had to show the ownership of some property in Indian territory in order to be able to register the Trust Deed, so it bought the Lake Estate for the said purpose. [extract]

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6 Jul 2012

Our Ashram Belongs to Sri Aurobindo: who does not know this? ─ Kavita Singh

Now we see that there are two movements here, the first which automatically attracts the second: Heehs’s book rocking the very foundations of the Ashram with Manoj Das Gupta’s sanction to it, and the second movement of protest destabilising the Trustees.

If the Managing Trustee gives sanction to a book that intends to break the very foundations of the Ashram, he naturally draws upon himself and the other Trustees (for we don’t know why they all mysteriously follow him!) their own destabilisation.

In the field of work we have to often carry out things as instructed by those who are in charge, but our work itself, our life, our thoughts and all that we are belong to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and nobody else. We are not subordinates to the person whose instructions we have to obey.

Therefore, though we have to carry out the instructions of the Trustees (which must be in line with what the Mother has chalked out for us), we need not obey them when that means turning our backs to our Gurus. [extract]

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3 Jul 2012

Letter to the Trustees from Sri Aurobindo Centre, Gandhinagar, Gujarat

Dear Trustees

We are disciples and devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother from Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

We are deeply pained to see that the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo written by Peter Heehs is not yet disapproved by the Ashram Trust.

It is more than 4 years and the Ashram Trust has failed to act in spirit and action to disapprove the book publicly and officially and remove Peter Heehs from the Archives department and the Ashram.

The book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo written by Peter Heehs is defaming and denigrating the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and twist their teachings. The managing trustee himself has accepted this and issued a statement officially. But the Ashram Trust has not acted yet.

We are disturbed by this fact and hence we undersigned disciples demand the following remedies to be done without fail and immediately.
  ...full text...

30 Jun 2012

Third Letter from Bengaluru Study Circle to the Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Dear Sir,
We, the devotees in Bengaluru, are really not surprised that despite mounting protests Peter Heehs continues to brazen it out in the Ashram. This only reinforces our conviction that he is one of an insidious mafia that is strongly committed to destroying the heart and soul of this country by infiltrating and undermining its spiritual institutions in every way. Peter's publications so far, including his book, are solely intended to smear and serve this dark purpose. All those gullible knights in shining armour who spring up in his defense from time to time do not evidently realize that they are being fooled by a dangerous Pied Piper who has a sinister agenda of his own.
  Peter poses a far greater threat than meets the eye. Has he not already lured away the media, the political class, self-styled "intellectuals", uninformed public at large and the high and mighty not to speak of sundry busy bodies? Has he not successfully wrested his extended stay in this country for yet another year in the face of stiff opposition? Has he not polarized the entire community of the Ashram and associated bodies for the first time ever into two warring camps — the "Pro" and the "Anti"? Has he not in effect reduced all of us to a set of jackanapes eating out of his hand? Aren't these enough evidences of his evil prowess at work when it comes to the question of him having his way?
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28 Jun 2012

Call for Collective Meditation

Dear friends,

We all are now facing a huge battle as a result of Peter's writing. It should not have happened. 
  
Followers of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo are observing a special collective meditation everyday at 8:30 pm - 8:45 pm, wherever they are.

This will be a regular feature and yet another golden chance for us everyday to collectively connect ourselves to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo on this issue. Even in Ashram a section of people have started it. 

Friends in Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Madurai, Orissa, Bangalore and other places have been informed. 

You can inform your other friends as well. 

Om Anadamayi Chaitanyamayi Satyamayi Parame.
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Aravindaya.
Om Aayahi Satya Aavirbhava. 
Victory to the Divine Mother. 

Sincerely

Param and Ojasi

Dr K. Parameswaran
Associate Professor of Law (Public and Private International Law)
Gujarat National Law University, Atalika Avenue
Knowledge Corridor, Koba - Gandhinagar 382 028 (Gujarat)
INDIA
  ...full text...

24 Jun 2012

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its Internal Management ─ by Ranganath Raghavan

Our world is the sphere of imperfection and limitation, but it is moving towards perfection, though through a long, laborious aeonic process of evolution. But the affairs of men cannot wait for that far-off ideal to be materialised. Therefore the search for improvement in every field is constantly present and operative—again through stumblings, errors and blunders.

There is absolutely no doubt that, after the Mother  left her body, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram has been beset with problems — externally, due to the pressure, impact and invasion of world forces and negative influences; internally, due to our own errors (inevitable, be it noted) of judgment, mismanagement and partisan attitude.  How then do we solve this fundamental problem not peculiar to our own institution?

When a spiritual institution is led by spiritual, highly enlightened beings, capable of right action and control of the forces referred to above, they have access to superior powers beyond the mental plane from where solutions are initiated and worked out. The higher the consciousness of the leader, the more the control and better the management of day to day events.
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21 Jun 2012

Court Grants Injunction On Not Disturbing Radhikaranjan’s Classes ─ Sridharan

The Puducherry Court granted an interim injunction on 20 June, 2012 restraining the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram from disturbing and stopping Dr Radhikaranjan’s Sanskrit and Biology classes in the Ashram School. The drama began a month ago on 18 May, 2012, when Dr. Radhikaranjan was summarily dismissed from the School for daring to write an article expressing his anguish with regard to Peter Heehs’s book “Lives of Sri Aurobindo”. He had also criticised the Trustees for their inaction against the author who, while being an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and insolently claiming to be a practitioner of the Integral Yoga, had denigrated both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in the public domain. The incident has all the more exposed the double standards of the Trustees, who have been putting up a show of great forbearance with direct attacks on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s credibility while taking severe and vindictive action on those disciples who have dared to criticise them or Peter Heehs. Actions always speak louder than words and the message that is conveyed by the recent actions of the Trustees is: Criticise Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as much as you like, but don’t you dare criticise me! Or Peter Heehs! (The other day, someone whispered to me: "Who is this Peter Heehs?" I said, "Hush! He is verily God himself!)

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18 Jun 2012

The Right to Reject Our Rulers – An Angry Ashramite

We certainly need a change in the present administration of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. But many Ashramites do not want a change, not because they find the present Trustees perfect or fulfilling their duties with tolerable human errors, but because a change might make things worse. They think that an Administrator appointed by the Government or another set of Trustees or a different system of administration will destroy the existing stability of the Ashram community. But have these complacent people thought what will happen if they simply keep quiet and let things deteriorate until the Ashram comes under the iron grip of a mafia of power-mongers? Imagine in the near future the wily and crooked Matriprasad as the Managing Trustee, Nirmal (the Ashram lawyer, or is it broker?) and Prabhou (the commission agent) among the other four Trustees: what an unbeatable gang would it be with a no holds barred attitude towards selfish gain in terms of money, power and sex! Not that there will be no “good guys” in the administration such as Dilip Mehtani or Batti (Prabhakar Pantulu). But they will be mere figureheads (as indeed they are now) in order to please the public’s desire to see honest men in the highest seats of power. Power they will have but without being able to execute it in the proper way, for the bad guys will run the administration from behind and justify everything underneath the sun in the name of political expediency or practical necessity. The good guys will only bow their heads in shame or wag their tails in approval, and quote beautiful quotations from the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to support the actions of their real masters. The present scenario is not very different from what I have described, but the situation will be far worse in the coming future when the little morality that is left will be thrown to the winds and naked falsehood will reign without any sense of shame. As it is, we have thrown overboard all moral rules at the Ashram under the pretext that we are above morality, when what the Mother really meant was that we should go beyond morality and not below it.

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15 Jun 2012

Democracy Sans Politics - by Aspirant

Most of us Ashramites are averse to politics and rightly so, considering the way it has been and is expected to be till there is a quantum leap in the social consciousness of man.

Whenever there is any talk of dissatisfaction with the way things are organized now, or of any aspiration for a better organizational structure, the typical Ashramite shrinks from it, considering it as politics.

There may be a justification for suggesting a better organization of the Ashram. The justification may arise from the following factors:

a) The current system encourages the misconception that the more powerful a position one occupies the higher or better his service to the Ashram is. This has led to a lot of busy-bodies trying to widen their sphere of influence as much as possible. (In the past it did work, as in the case of the physician who felt definitely justified in providing much better care to those who are considered powerful, thereby eventually becoming a Trustee, so that he can provide the “highest level” of service. But now that all the power has come to be concentrated in one multi-headed one, the last few Trustees were carefully chosen to guarantee that there are no dissenting voices.) Some of the current aspiring busy­-bodies are given more and more power in spite of their unscrupulous activities because they are the utility men for the authorities. Their enthusiasm towards work obviously lies in their seeking to enlarge their power base.

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12 Jun 2012

Letter to the Trustees from the Devotees and Disciples of Sri Aurobindo in Gujarat

OM ANANDAMAYEE CHAITANYAMAYEE SATYAMAYEE PARAME

To,
The Managing Trustee,
Sri Aurobindo Ashram,
Puducherry 605002.

We, the children of Mother India make to you the following appeal when Mother India is being outraged. Inspired by the writings, books, lectures, visions of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother we feel blessed treading on the path of a Divine Life. Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have given a new perspective to the ages old Indian spirituality, have given a new insight to it. In the most Gracious Almighty’s Endeavour of evolution, our Guru has offered his life. For the Awakening of mankind, for its progress, Sri Aurobindo has constantly been waging an inner war, has endured all pains. Salutations to our Gurudev! It is known that Sri Aurobindo has written that none can write about His life because it is not something to see on the surface level. A large number of Sri Aurobindo’s devotees, who are spread around the world, love Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, adore and pray to them and feel blessed by their Grace.
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