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. 


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)
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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


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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6 Jun 2012

Members of Parliament Seek Clarifications from Ashram Trustees

The mismanagement of the Heehs affair by the Ashram Trustees has become a national issue ever since Heehs’ deportation order was discussed in the national media.
Sixty-eight sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) have signed a letter seeking clarifications from the Ashram Trustees. The list of signatories includes sitting Cabinet Minister Shri Srikant Kumar Jena, Ex Chief Minister of Bihar Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ex President National Commission for Women Dr Girija Vyas, etc. The letter was mailed to the Ashram Trust Board by Ex-MP Dr Kartikeswar Patra who then sought a meeting with the Board to discuss the issues raised by the Hon’ble MPs.
Unfortunately, as is the habit of our present Trustees they played a dirty game of deception and outright lies. First, they tried to prevent him from meeting the Board. When he insisted on the meeting, they refused to permit his colleagues to attend the meeting, although they had their assistants present throughout. In the meeting they asked for another two months to reply to simple questions that everyone has been asking for the last several years. When Dr Patra insisted on an immediate reply, they promised to give a written reply the same evening, and then late at night sent an unsigned note saying they will take several months to reply as suggested by him! This is not only an insult to the signatory MPs but also an insult to the Indian State and the People of India whom the MPs represent.
Inebriated with their extreme arrogance, the present Trustees have lost all sense of propriety and basic values. They are trying to deal with Members of Parliament with the same high-handedness with which they deal with Inmates of the Ashram. Perhaps the years of exercising absolute power on utterly dependent and meek Ashramites has caused these Trustees to lose touch with reality. Having entrenched their autocratic rule in the Ashram, they want that the whole of India also must bow down to their whims and fancies in the same manner as Ashramites are being forced to do every day for the last 20 years!
Below are the two relevant letters.
1.       Letter of 68 Members of Parliament with signatures. (Signatures are partially covered to protect from misuse.)
2.       Letter of Dr Kartikeswar Patra after he was snubbed and deceived by the Trust Board.

1. Letter from 68 Members of Parliament (MPs)
The Board of Trustees
represented by Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee
Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 605002
15th May 2012
Sub: Request for Clarifications from Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Dear Shri Manoj Das Gupta,
Sri Aurobindo is a national and international figure widely recognised as a freedom fighter, national leader, yogi, philosopher and poet. Over the last hundred years his writings have increasingly inspired people all over the world by their depth and insight and their inspirational and practical content. He is revered and worshipped by millions of people in India and abroad.
The controversy surrounding the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs, an inmate of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, has raised questions and issues which require immediate clarification and resolution.
As you will agree, while the Ashram community in Pondicherry is representative of the worldwide followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the Beneficiaries of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust (a public charitable Trust) number in millions and are spread all over. As Trustees of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust you remain answerable not only to the immediate community in Pondicherry but to all Beneficiaries wherever they be, in India and the world. As Members of Parliament from various States, we the undersigned deem it our duty to speak on behalf of the people we represent and raise the issues that concern them. Besides there are matters of national interest and security and these need to be considered in all their details. We would be obliged if the following questions are answered by you at the earliest.
1.       The ambiguity of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust with regard to the book by Peter Heehs is intriguing and disturbing. You are on record as having stated that the book has crossed all limits of simple decency!”, that the book does in fact “denigrate Sri Aurobindo”, you have warned of its “potential danger”, the need to ensure that it “should reach as few readers as possible”, and you also claimed that he had “initiated” “a few corrective measures” with “more on the anvil”. You have confirmed that Peter Heehs has impersonated himself as the “Founder” of the Ashram Archives to give his book credibility, and you claimed to have initiated “disciplinary action” against him. Manoj Das, scholar of Sri Aurobindo’s life and multiple National Awards winner and a former Trustee of the Ashram, identified ninety passages in the book that he found damaging to Sri Aurobindo and his Ashram, and read out each one of them to you explaining why and in what manner they were harmful. He asked for and received your promise to stop the book and remove Peter Heehs from the Ashram.
        Further you have claimed that “Legal aspects are being looked into as to whether the Indian publication may be at least modified if not stalled.” You have acknowledged that the book involved theft and misuse of “access to privileged material” and recognised the publisher’s malafide motives saying “the publisher would be only too eager to exploit the situation in order to promote its sales!” In response to pleas for legal action to stop the book you wrote if you feel that some legal action is the need of the hour, I am game for it.
However we find that your recent media releases and statements are the exact opposite of your earlier position. You seem now to support and promote Peter Heehs and his book. What is strange is that you profusely quote supporters of the book who are not scholars of Sri Aurobindo and whose first point of contact with Sri Aurobindo is through this controversial book, while you deliberately and entirely ignore the extensively documented criticisms of the numerous longstanding scholars of Sri Aurobindo’s life and teachings. It is to be noted here that these extensively documented scholarly objections against the book numbering in hundreds have not been responded or scholarly refuted to by Peter Heehs or for that matter by any other scholar during the past four years giving credence to the conclusion that the book is defamatory, denigrating and perverse.
Please explain the reasons behind your change of mind and your new public position as well as your obvious bias to praise the book. Are you under pressure from some external agencies?
2.       Peter Heehs by his letters dated 24.9.2008 and 13.10.2008 addressed to you has confirmed his a) violation of copyright, and his b) not being the Founder of the Archives. Additionally the erstwhile colleagues of Peter Heehs at the Ashram Archives by their letter dated 8.9.2008 had complained and brought to your notice the theft of the Ashram’s intellectual property. Late Shri Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya vide his letter dated 5.8.2009 had listed numerous and serious criminal lapses of Peter Heehs in the publication of this book.
                                In spite of the above, we find that you have initiated no legal or criminal actions against the author nor against the publisher Columbia University Press in order to safeguard the intellectual property assets of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
                Please explain this apparent dereliction of duty as 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.
3.       The Government of Odisha vide its Extraordinary Gazette Notification dated 9.4.2009 has proscribed the offensive book and has stated unambiguously that the sole intention of the author Peter Heehs is to denigrate and defame Sri Aurobindo and to create communal strife and tension within the country. This is a very serious indictment and yet you have continued to harbour, shelter and promote Peter Heehs within the Ashram community and have issued letters to the Ministry of Home Affairs recommending extension of his visa!
                Please explain this very serious lapse and this anti-national stance given your position of responsibility in a public charitable institution.
4.       What is extremely disturbing and worrisome is that the nationwide public condemnation by devotees and disciples alike is falling on deaf ears. There appears to be no attempt from your side to explain, reconcile or resolve the problem. Things have gone from bad to worse in the last 4 years and the recent public protests and dharnas by devotees have brought public attention on your lapses. What is even more disturbing is that you have initiated legal action against very senior and responsible members of the Ashram, academics and professors for taking part in the public protests and for making statements to the Press.
                Please explain your attempts to gag the inmates and devotees, and your avoidance of any attempt at clarification and reconciliation.
5.       Over many years now there has been a growing concern and chorus regarding the manhandling, theft and abuse of the original manuscripts of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo stored at the Ashram Archives. It must be noted that these are priceless national treasures and of immeasurable spiritual and cultural value. These are not in safe hands as has been demonstrated by Peter Heehs’ violation of copyright and alleged abuse of intellectual property as well as the numerous accusations of his tampering with Sri Aurobindo’s writings. In view of the above, it is imperative that an independent and external audit is conducted in order to assess the damage as also to verify inventory.
                Please explain why no such action has been initiated by you so far.
6.       The recent public outrage over the misconduct and alleged racial abuse by Dilip Datta, one of the Trustees, and his daughter with regard to devotees of Odisha is a matter of serious concern.
                Please explain why no action has been forthcoming from the Trustees to address the issue by taking appropriate steps against Dilip Datta and tendering a suitable apology by the Trustees to the People of Odisha in spite of petitions with thousands of signatures which have been submitted to you.
7.       It is found that there are over 160 Court cases against you as Trustees of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust filed by the inmates of the Ashram and pending in various Courts all over the country. These cases involve serious violation of human rights, sexual abuse, financial impropriety, abetment of murder, etc. It is deplorable that a spiritual organisation should have so many cases filed against it by its own inmates within the short span of the last 15 years, and reflects a deep malaise and complete failure of administration.
                Please explain what has gone wrong with your administration in the last 15 years, and what steps you have taken to cultivate internal transparency, democracy and administrative reforms.
It is imperative for us to know how much money has been officially spent by the Trust on these legal matters, and whether inmates of the Ashram and Beneficiaries were taken into confidence.
The issues raised above deserve your urgent attention and a detailed response at the earliest as they are of concern to large numbers of Devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother all over India. This is a matter of national interest.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Signatures of 68 Members of Parliament

2. Letter of Dr Kartikeswar Patra
The Board of Trustees
represented by Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee
Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust,
Sri Aurobindo Ashram,
Pondicherry 605002
3rd June 2012
Dear Shri Manoj Das Gupta,
Sub: Clarifications sought from Ashram Trust by Members of Parliament
Ref: Our meeting this morning
1. With regard to the above and with reference to our meeting, I place on record my deep disappointment and regret at the deceitful behaviour unbecoming of Trustees of a spiritual institution and of a public charitable Trust that was displayed by you and your fellow Trustees.
2. While the letter requesting clarifications by the MPs had been sent to you by Registered Post earlier, and you had adequate time to prepare a reply to the clarifications sought, it was unfortunate that an attempt was made by Shri Matriprasad to prevent me from meeting the Trust Board members. It is only upon my insistence that today’s meeting was arranged.
3. I began the meeting this morning by reiterating that I have come here to meet you in a spirit of goodwill and not of confrontation in order to convey the concern of a large number of Members of Parliament at the state of affairs with regard to the administration of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
4. Upon being told that you would take two months or more to provide replies to the questions raised by the Hon’ble Parliamentarians, I expressed shock and disappointment at your frivolous approach to a serious and pressing matter. I was then assured by you personally that you would reconvene in the afternoon and provide me with a detailed written reply to the queries of the Hon’ble Members of Parliament as also a signed Minutes statement of the meeting by 5.30 pm today.
5. To my utter shock and dismay, this evening no written reply was provided, and I was handed over an unsigned statement of the Minutes of the meeting full of false statements. It is falsely stated inter alia in the unsigned Minutes that I have agreed that you could take as much time as you wish to reply to the queries of the Hon’ble Members of Parliament. I deny this emphatically and remind you that the matter is extremely serious and an urgent response is due from your end.
6. Your deceitful response and handling of the matter is disrespectful of the Members of Parliament who are elected representatives of the People of India, and your attitude deserves to be condemned.
7. It is more than evident that you do not wish to face the issues at hand and provide the necessary clarifications as requested by Hon’ble Members of Parliament. This is irresponsible and deplorable.
8. I shall convey the above to the Hon’ble Members of Parliament.
Dr Kartikeshwar Patra (Ex MP)
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4 Jun 2012

Second Letter from Bangalore Study Circle to the Ashram Trustees

Dear Sir,                                                         15th May, 2012

We, the devotees in Bengaluru, are greatly heartened to learn that the Trustees of the Ashram as well as Sri Aurobindo Society have openly dissociated themselves from the book in question declaring its contents unacceptable. In the wake of this development the continued stay of Peter Heehs in the Ashram becomes patentlv anomalous and untenable.

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2 Jun 2012

An Appeal to the Supporters of a Gurudrohi − Hrushikesh Acharya

An Appeal:

Guru-Drohi is that person, who, directly or indirectly, does any activity which slanders the status and image of the widely-revered figure of the Guru. Over the ages, such activity has been regarded as an unpardonable, heinous and sinful act for any follower/devotee/Sadhak, in whatever state he may be. 

Unfortunately, there is another set of familiar people, who do not have a direct hand in any activity of Guru-Droha. But for various personal reasons of favour, power, patronage, allegiance or lack of sincere love and devotion for the Guru, they support the activity of a Guru-Drohi or the supporters of a Guru-Drohi. In addition, they use all their influence and pressure on other sincere Sadhaks to oppose their genuine personal expression of anguish and protest against a Guru-Drohi and his activity, as if they have no freedom in such expression. Are we not seeing some of our friendly & familiar Sadhaks in this act?
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