11 May 2012

Cancellation of Sraddhalu Ranade’s Talk by Auroville WC ─ by Sridharan

It is with a deep resentment and sadness that I draw the attention of our readers to the recent high-handedness of the Auroville Working Committee (WC) and the Bharat Nivas authorities (BN) in cancelling Sraddhalu Ranade’s talk on Peter Heehs’s obnoxious book on Sri Aurobindo. The lecture was supposed to be held at SAWCHU in Auroville on Friday 11th of May, 2012 at the invitation of a small group of Aurovillians who dared to stand up for the freedom of expression of Mr. Ranade. Mark the hypocrisy of the WC and BN who have fought tooth and nail for the freedom of expression of Peter Heehs but flex their muscles and even threaten to use police force in order to bar the same freedom of speech to Mr. Ranade. I quote from the WC’s email of 5 May, 2012:

We have never given any permission and the tactic is to try to ask people who do not know the controversy (in the case of SAWCHU a newcomer). The immediate response of the BN was to say that this wasn’t going to happen and that the gate would be locked on that day, if necessary with a police presence. [emphasis added]


It is shocking to read such statements from those who are in charge of a city which is supposed to be dedicated to human unity. What highfalutin presentations are given to thousands of visitors to the Matrimandir on the spiritual values of Auroville and the future unity of mankind! I hope some of those visitors read the above statement which stands in stark contrast not only to the ideals of Auroville but to the very fundamental rights of India.

Think for a moment! Even if Sraddhalu Ranade would have misrepresented Peter Heehs (let us ignore for the present that Peter Heehs himself has misrepresented Sri Aurobindo), what would have been the effect of his speech in Auroville? Even if Ranade had managed to convince a few Aurovillians (as a matter of fact he has already done that), how would it have posed a grave threat to Auroville? The reaction of the WC and the Bharat Nivas authorities has been extreme; it is as if Ranade was a terrorist or a drug addict, and as if his speech would have caused law and order problems. Is there not something fishy about the whole affair? It is evident that the WC and BN are composed of supporters of Peter Heehs and that this violent reaction against Ranade is due to their inherent fear that he might indeed expose Peter Heehs. This inordinate fear might be due to the fact that they know in their heart of hearts that Ranade is a brilliant speaker with a profound knowledge of the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, which very few Aurovillians can match up with. He has been groomed from his very childhood by Madhav Pandit, one of the secretaries of the Mother and a scholar in his own right, having authored more than 150 books. Ranade is also an expert software designer, so he is not an outdated fogey who has not kept himself abreast of modern developments. Naturally, the members of the WC and BN, with their sparse knowledge of everything but local politics, had indeed something to fear! There was certainly a real and present danger! Not to Auroville, but to the cloud of disinformation they have spread on the issue of Peter Heehs!

Fortunately, for Auroville and mankind in general, the WC members are elected for a period of only two years unlike the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram who, once designated by their fellow cronies, rule over terror-stricken Ashramites for the rest of their lives. Perhaps it is precisely because of this short term that the WC members have acted with such foolish haste in the above mentioned event!


1 comment:

  1. This is a very sad development. The elites at Auroville, whom we look forward to espouse the cause of universal unity and bold research-minded openness to study all situations, have reacted as fanatics with a feet of clay.
    People, who are vested with some powers and authority, are supposed to be large-hearted and understanding, so as to provide enlightened leadership. Alas, they have failed again. They are perhaps not aware that their actions are being watched by other saner persons in the community.