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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