28 Mar 2012

Sudha Sinha Writes to Manoj Das Gupta

Ashramite: "After speaking with you, I have peace of mind. One request. Please don't reveal my name."

Myself: "Why this secrecy?"

Ashramite: "Because if Manoj Das Gupta comes to know that I am raising such questions, he will stop my food, expel me from the Ashram. With what face shall I go back to my village which I have renounced as my house. Sudha-di, I don't want to go away fom Ashram. I like to stay here." (extract, read full letter below)

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25 Mar 2012

Let Every Ashramite Fearlessly Vote on the Present Issue!

[The following anonymous letter is recently making the rounds in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. It apparently arrived by post to a number of persons, who found it interesting enough to make copies and distribute them to their friends. The letter makes a very bold suggestion, that of letting every Ashramite fearlessly vote on the present issue of Peter Heehs and the Trust’s inexplicable support for him. But the options of voting are so limited and impractical that I would request the writer to rethink about them. The writer seems to have forgotten that there is the more acceptable option of a democratic setup where both Manoj Das Gupta and Sraddhalu Ranade don’t figure – in fact, Ranade & Co. were never averse to this option and their scheme suit pleads for an interim receiver appointed by the Court until there is a new structure in place. The present setup of “divinely appointed” Trustees with unlimited authority would then have to be replaced by a system which would make them more accountable and therefore more responsible towards the beneficiaries. It will also grant a limited period in office, say three to five years, after which they would have to hand over the reins to the next set of  democratically elected Trustees. It is because this suggestion has been made that we publish the following letter, not because it makes fun of some of the Ashramites mentioned therein. The letter can be criticised in many ways, but it should be appreciated because it raises certain fundamental questions and shows a growing discontent with the present setup. The winds of change are surely blowing in the right direction.] 
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24 Mar 2012

Letter to Manoj Das from the People of Odisha

March 22, 2012

Dear Shri Manoj Das,

You have been at the forefront in criticising Peter Heehs’ insulting book on Sri Aurobindo. You were the first to identify and present to the public more than 90 perverse passages from this book which you said are damaging to Sri Aurobindo and to His Ashram. Subsequently the Government of Odisha proscribed the book exposing its perverse contents and malicious communal intent.

But now we find that you are telephoning Devotees in Odisha and members of political parties in Odisha to tell them that there is nothing wrong with the book and that everybody should keep quiet and do nothing about it!

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20 Mar 2012

Show Cause Notice to Prof. R.Y. Deshpande

Prof. R.Y. Deshpande has been at the forefront of the intellectual rebuttal of Peter Heehs’s mischievous book on Sri Aurobindo. His site Mirror of Tomorrow thoroughly exposed the misrepresentations in the book and drew a number of intelligent netizens from various parts of the world into the often lengthy discussion that followed some of his postings. The site has certainly carved for itself a spiritual/cultural/scientific niche which fulfils the need of a mature readership. Prof. Deshpande was formerly the editor of Mother India (a monthly English magazine of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram) from 1996 to 2004. He resigned from the Mother India because his freedom of expression was curtailed by Manoj Das Gupta, the same person who now so sanguinely defends Peter Heehs’ freedom of expression to denigrate Sri Aurobindo from within the Ashram. The same Managing Trustee has recently issued a show cause notice to Prof Deshpande for daring to criticise the Trustees in a public forum. Is there not something obviously wrong about the Managing Trustee’s stand and does it not show double standards? Freedom of speech for Westerners (especially Americans with the conscience of taxi drivers like Peter Heehs) is allowed – I suppose they have to be treated like newborn babies who have to be pampered even if they bawl and spoil the floor of the house. But no freedom of speech for erudites like Prof Deshpande – they have to be suppressed, knocked down, relieved of their work and perhaps even expelled from the Ashram.
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18 Mar 2012

Manoj Das Gupta Stops Sudha Sinha’s Hindi Classes

[On the 14th of March 2012, Manoj Das Gupta (Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram) abruptly stopped Sudha Sinha’s Hindi classes. Sudha Sinha happens to be an eminent writer in Hindi. She has 24 books to her credit and was presented the National award for writers in 1967. She was also nominated the best writer in the State of Bihar in 1986/1987. Her translations of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s works into Hindi were greatly appreciated by the publication department of the Ashram until she became a petitioner in the case filed against the mismanagement of the Trustees in August 2010. After that, her translation of Volume 4 of the Mother’s Collected Works was cancelled at the stage of printing and she was told not to proceed with her translation of Sri Aurobindo’s Autobiographical Notes. If the management had been less vindictive and thought of the larger benefit of her work to the Ashram, it certainly would not have acted in this manner. After all, who has lost more in this battle, Sudha Sinha or the Ashram? The Hindi speaking disciples and devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have been deprived of excellent translations and the students will no more have the privilege of being taught Hindi by a renowned writer. Sudha Sinha will now get more time to write and continue with her translation of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s works, whether the Trustees approve of it or not. We publish below the two letters which she wrote recently to Manoj Das Gupta.]

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17 Mar 2012

No Food for Togo Mukherjee

The senseless victimisation of Ashramites by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust headed by Manoj Das Gupta has to be brought to the notice of the general public. One had the impression a few years ago that the members of the Ashram followed a difficult path of Yoga and lived on a high moral ground of perfection. It was also assumed that the administration of the Ashram was carried out by the Trustees keeping these noble principles in mind. But what do we hear of late? Meaningless, senseless victimisation of Ashramites who are hapless because they have no way to defend themselves!

The latest victim is Togo Mukherjee, grandson of the famous Bagha Jatin (Jatin Mukherjee who was an associate of Sri Aurobindo in the early days of the Indian independence movement). Manoj Das Gupta has instructed the Dining Room not to renew Togo’s yearly Dining Room pass for which he has been paying regularly from the last 18 years.

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16 Mar 2012

Auroville Working Committee Stops Sraddhalu Ranade’s Lectures at Savitri Bhavan

Shortly after the incident of 27 February, 2012 (the so-called scuffle between Dr Datta and those who protested against the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram), the members of the Working Committee of Auroville stopped Sraddhalu Ranade’s lectures at the Savitri Bhavan. The WC members were too eager to listen to the grossly exaggerated account of Arindam & Co, who presented it as a physical assault on Dr Dilip Datta by a violent group of fundamentalists. This is certainly not a sober reaction from people who claim to represent an attempt at world unity. It looks more like a bunch of virulent supporters of Peter Heehs who would speak of freedom of speech when a fellow American is affected and pontificate on collective responsibility when they want to crack down on the freedom of speech of their enemies! What hypocrisy! Besides, have the WC members thought of the political consequences of such an immature decision apart from the Western chauvinism that is so starkly exhibited? Have they also not been caught in this Westerners vs Indians conflict unleashed by Peter Heehs?

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15 Mar 2012

Dr. Gayatri Resigns from the Ashram Nursing Home

Though Dr. Gayatri resigned on the grounds of ill-health, it is obvious why she resigned from the Nursing Home. She had dared to be frank and outspoken on the issue of Peter Heehs and had condemned his book without any fear of retribution from her superior, Dr Dilip Datta, chief of the Ashram medical services and one of the decision-makers in the board of Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Dr Dilip Datta and his daughter Shoma have been of late mired in controversy surrounding their racial remarks on the devotees of Orissa who had come to protest against the Ashram Trust’s blatant support of Peter Heehs’s book. Dr. Gayatri will continue to serve her patients from the Dispensary but the patients in the Nursing Home will miss her dedicated 24 x 7 services rendered by her for more than a decade.   ...full text...

11 Mar 2012

Spirituality, Religion, Fundamentalism -- by Ranganath Raghavan

Does open-mindedness and catholicity become so vast that you allow violence against yourself?  And allow yourself  to lose your own aims and values ? Do you grow so vast that you become a colourless, featureless neutrality and fall prey to an attack at the very foundations of your spiritual life? (extract)
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6 Mar 2012

There Was No Assault!

There is no mention of the grand “assault” that took place on 27 February, 2012 in Dr. Dilip Datta’s own FIR filed at the Grand Bazaar Police Station, Puducherry. According to him, he was prevented from entering the office and someone tried to snatch the files that he was carrying. He does not mention of any physical contact whatsoever though he uses the word “scuffle” (which means “a short and sudden fight”, so I suppose he used the word in a vague sense, without knowing the exact connotation). This shows that Ajit, Arindam, Bulu, Gautam and Filio, who have gone on overdrive to disseminate the wrong information, are simply too hot-headed to be reliable. We quote below the relevant portion of the report of these ex-students along with the content of Dr Dilip Datta’s FIR. We also quote the version of the devotees and disciples who participated in the Silent Protest of 26 to 28 February, 2012.
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3 Mar 2012


We are disappointed that wild rumours are being circulated by vested interests regarding alleged acts of violence against the trustees of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust during the Silent Protest on February 26th, 27th and 28th of 2012. It is not surprising  that some individuals and institutions associated with these vested interests have begun smear campaigns and have announced radical and fundamentalist responses based on these wild rumours without verifying facts.

Here are the facts backed by video recordings and footage of the events:

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The Scuffle That Never Happened

We correct the gossip of the so-called "scuffle" that took place between the devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother with the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram by publishing a letter written to  Manoj Das Gupta by the said devotees. The letter demands an unconditional apology from Manoj Das Gupta for not accepting their petition and for being insulted in the most racially discriminating manner.

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