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.

Unable to reply to their deep, serious and philosophical questions, he only said, “I thought that you, who are preachers of the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, will appreciate my joining the Dharna because it was meant to restore Their Truth and Their Prestige. Instead of that, you all are standing in opposition! I am not as knowledgeable as you to give answers to your questions, but I can express my heart’s sincere feelings. Before joining the Dharna, there was a slight hesitation in my mind as to whether I was acting against the ideals of the Ashram or not. But upon joining it, I felt deeply the Mother’s Presence, Peace, Silence and Ananda. Then all my hesitations were completely washed away from my mind. There was some doubt in me as to whether I was fit for the yoga, but the act of standing up for the prestige of my beloved Mother and the Lord has given me a sense of fulfilment. I expressed my deep gratitude to the Mother and decided:  ‘In future, if there is another Dharna for the same purpose, I will join it without asking or caring for anybody’s opinion.’ ’’ This was what the devotee replied to the preachers. I will now mention below the questions posed to him by the preachers with my answers to them:

Q. 1: How could you participate in the Dharna against the Ashram?

The two Dharnas were not against the Ashram. They were clearly against the pseudo-disciple Peter Heehs and the arrogant, egocentric, power blind, wanton, anti-Guru, anti-Mother, anti-Ashram and anti-national, shameless Trustees of the Ashram. The Ashram is not made up of five self-appointed, self-willed Trustees. They are in that position for only a temporary period. The Ashram was started on November 24, 1926 whereas the Trust Board was created on October 7, 1955. According to the Ashram Trust Deed, the Ashramites, devotees and disciples all over the world are the beneficiaries of the Ashram. They constitute The Ashram and not merely the five Trustees. The Ashram is an eternal institution whereas the Trustees are ephemeral persons.

Q. 2: Generally political parties do Dharnas. Why did you do a Dharna?

Not only political parties, but every citizen of India has a fundamental right to do a Dharna. The previous two Dharnas held in the Ashram were not Dharnas in the true sense of the term. They were silent and peaceful protests without any fasting, slogan shouting,  gherao or violence. The only slogan was “Vande Mataram” meant for the victory of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The purpose of the Dharna was made public through printed pamphlets. The Dharnas were like peaceful collective meditations.

Q. 3: Can a devotee support such things?

The answer is, “Only a true devotee of the Divine and the Guru can do it. Why would someone other than a devotee bother about insults to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother? Only a devotee will give his life for the Divine without hesitation.

Q. 4: Why should we interfere in Ashram’s internal problems? The Ashramites and the Ashram Trustees are there to look after them.

For the minor problems of the Ashram, the outside devotees don’t need to bother. But for major problems, such as the insulting of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother through a book written and published by an inmate with the approval of the Ashram Trustees, the outside devotees have equal rights and responsibility as the inmates. According to the Ashram Trust deed, both Ashramites and devotees are the beneficiaries of the Ashram. In such a grave matter where the Trustees deliberately and the Ashramites fearfully remain passive and silent, the interference of the devotees from outside is imperative.

 Q. 5: If we throw stones at a mountain, will it affect the mountain? Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are like mountains. Nothing will happen to them if anybody throws insults at them.

It is true that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are like mountains. But if before our eyes, a foreign taxi-driver with the help of the Trustees throws dirt and stones in the form of written abuses and insults at our Guru and the Mother, how can we remain silent spectators saying, “Nothing will happen to our Guru and the Mother”? Such a character assassination has to be opposed with determination.

Q. 6: If Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are insulted, are they not capable enough to find the remedy? Should we worry about it?

It is true that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are capable of doing everything. But for an effective manifestation of their action here on earth, mediums are required such as the monkey-soldiers of Sri Ram and the Pandavas of Sri Krishna. If Sri Aurobindo and the Mother can do everything, why are we reading books, doing sadhana, taking classes, organising centers and spreading their ideals?  We should not try to deceive ourselves by giving this excuse when something difficult is demanded from us. These situations test our sincerity towards Them. On a similar question like this, Sri Aurobindo has replied to Sahana-di, an elderly Sadhika. “If one is among the disciples, the seekers of the Truth, one has to take sides for the Truth to stand against the forces that attack it and seek to stifle.” So as devotees and disciples we have our own roles to play.

Sometimes under the pretext of Samata, peace or harmony, we try to remain inactive. But Sri Aurobindo has written about this situation to Sahana-di quoting the words of Sri Krishna in the Kurukshetra war: “Fight, destroy the adversary, conquer…. Have Samata and seeing clearly the Truth, fight.” Our peace, surrender and Samata are not static.  They are all dynamic in our yoga. Our aim is not to be a realised saint. We have to manifest the truth of the soul in our outer nature. Truth has to conquer falsehood and manifest itself. So we have to act relying on the Divine.

Q. 7: To protest against the insults on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is a reaction of the lower vital nature. If we wish to participate  in such  an activity, should we not go deep within ourselves and get the approval of our psychic being?

This preacher has already said that to protest against the insults to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is a sign of the action of the lower vital, so the sanction of the psychic being will not be available for it. But if this preacher’s wife, sister or mother is disgraced by somebody on the street, will he first go within to get the sanction of the psychic being to act? If not, why this argument has come up in the case of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother? Is our effort to protect the prestige of our Guru an anti-psychic activity? When it suddenly rains on the way, do we take the sanction of the psychic being to open our umbrella? Only a bogus preacher can murder the Divine by using such arguments!

Q. 8: Have you read the book ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’ written by Peter Heehs?  Without reading the book yourself, you should not be carried away by other people’s opinions.

A learned gentleman in the Ashram, well-known for his ill-advice to the Trustees, poses this question to all who complain about Peter’s book in order to discourage them: ‘‘Have you read The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs?’’ The gentleman can be asked a similar question, “Have you seen or realised the Supramental Truth or your psychic being? Then how can you go about speaking and giving lectures on these truths?’’ If he says that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have seen, realised and written about them, then we also can say, “Our sincere, learned disciples, devotees, judges of the Court and high officials of the government have read the book and banned it for its derogatory contents. So why should we read a vile book which has already been banned for its obnoxious contents?

Q. 9: Every man is entitled to freedom of speech. So why should Peter be driven out from the Ashram?

Because he has broken the basic discipline of the Ashram while being an inmate of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Can a member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram write a book against Sri Aurobindo and still remain in the Ashram? He can do so by going out of the Ashram. There he is free to exercise his freedom of speech. We have no problem with that.

Q. 10: The Mother has appointed the Ashram Trustees. So to go against them is to go against your own Sadhana.

None of the present Trustees have been appointed by the Mother. The last Trustee appointed by the Mother was Dyuman-bhai, who passed away on 19th August, 1992. According to the Trust Deed, the present Trustees have no right to appoint another Trustee or accept new Ashramites or expel them. These powers come under the sole discretion of the Mother.

 Q. 11: Is it right to protest against the Ashram Trustees instead of sitting with them for a mutual solution?

The so-called well-wisher suggested that instead of protests and court cases, the problem could have been solved by mutual discussion with the Trustees. But several attempts were made to settle the matter by mutual and amicable discussion with the Trustees and all these attempts failed. The arrogant managing Trustee did not even listen to the decision of the other Trustees to stop the publication of the derogatory book and remove Peter from the Ashram. If the book could have been stopped in the beginning, the matter wouldn’t have gone so far. The inmates and devotees were then compelled to take the help of the court and sit in Dharna.

Q. 12: Has the Mother advised anyone to go to the court or to sit in Dharna against the Ashram Trustees?

Has the Mother ever said that an Ashramite has the right to denigrate and disrespect Sri Aurobindo and Herself? Everybody knows the answer to this question! Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have warned the Ashramites in unmistakable terms against this attitude. Once an elderly disciple wrote an article directly insulting other Gurus and indirectly attacking Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. When he wanted Sri Aurobindo’s permission to publish his views, Sri Aurobindo wrote to him:

“…If words have any meaning, that is the clear purport of what you have written. Yet you expect me to sanction the publication of this stuff which, whether under your name or anonymous, is perfectly incompatible with what at least is supposed to be your position here. I refuse sanction altogether.

P.S. I may say that publication without permission will be incompatible with your remaining here.”

Sri Aurobindo wrote in another letter:
“I do not know to what you refer in your arrogant letter to the Mother. If anyone questions the right of the Mother to control the Ashram or to control his own conduct, his place is outside; there he can exercise his full civic or other rights and do what he pleases…. There is a discipline of obedience and of abstention from forbidden acts in this Ashram and whoever refuses to recognise it has no “right” to remain here.”

When the Mother was physically present, the slightest disrespect for Sri Aurobindo  annoyed her and she once wrote to a disciple:

“I was painfully shocked when I heard the translation of the leaflet you are distributing here in the Ashram. I never imagined you could have such a complete lack of understanding, respect and devotion for our Lord who has sacrificed himself totally for us…. And when one cannot understand, the only thing to do is to keep a respectful silence.” (CWM, Vol. 13, p 7)

So instead of giving importance to the result, we should concentrate on the cause which has brought about the result. Here the main cause is disrespect of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother by an Ashramite supported by the Trustees and the results are the court cases and Dharnas. So the evil must be removed at any cost.

The Trustees did not listen to the requests of thousands of disciples and devotees from within the Ashram and outside the Ashram; even the words of senior and most respectable sadhaks fell on their deaf ears.  In spite of the Orissa Govt’s ban of the controversial book of Peter Heehs and the Central Govt’s deportation order, the Ashram Trustees supported, helped and encouraged him, and delayed the court cases misusing the Ashram money, power and prestige. The book was safely protected and vindictive action was taken on the Ashramites who went against him. So there was no other way out except to sit in Dharna for the grief-stricken children of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Even the Ashram Service Tree which the Mother has called a Rishi, sacrificed one of its biggest limbs on the night of April 18, 2012 when the Ashram Trustees gave their strong recommendation to extend Peter’s visa for one more year. The sacred tree could not tolerate the disrespect for its Mother and Master within the Ashram and its intense agony broke its limb. When will we human beings, who boast of our power of thought and speech, realise this and stand for our beloved Master and Mother  for whom we say we have sacrificed our lives?
Sripad Singh

(A child of the Mother)


  1. Blog wars, dharnas, court cases have become the means of engagement of this duel between Truth and Falsehood.

    The crucial thing is the Victory of Truth.

  2. We may also remind ourselves, what the Mother said on a similar question. [in CWM: 15, pages: 16-17]

    When people speak against you, I feel as if a big flame with many tongues is arising in me and the person in front becomes docile.
    It must be Kali’s force which you evoke.
    I want to ask you a question concerned with my reaction to the inconsideration and vulgarity in X’s letter about Sri Aurobindo. I remember an occasion many years ago when a lady friend of mine spoke unbecomingly of both of you. I verbally choked her off at once, but the indignation within me went on burning. It was like a sword of fire leaping out of my chest, striking and striking through the hours. My mind could serve only to direct it accurately;
    it had itself little part in the actual violence. The next day the lady had a terrific attack of diarrhoea.
    A similar blaze began to go out of my chest yesterday on reading Y’s letter. I had no scruple in directing it at his journal as if to consume its future to ashes. But although I also struck out at Y himself as if to destroy him, I did not encourage the fiery onslaught. I started wondering if it was right to attack like that a person. At times I
    thought I was perfectly justified. At other times it seemed to me that I should offer my sword of fire to you and Sri Aurobindo and leave it to you both to use it instead of myself concentratedly directing it at Y. I shall be thankful if I can have some words of guidance from you. Please keep in mind that I am not talking of a mere outburst of anger: some force appears to be there which wants to destroy and which feels it has the power to destroy. Of course I would never think of using it for my own private ends.
    It is evidently the working of the Kali force that has lit and is directing this fire in you. There is nothing wrong in its action; it is not an anger personal to you but the wrath of a divine power
    and it must be allowed to act; in fact, I think you could not stop it from burning in you even if you wanted to stop it. This man has drawn it on himself and there is nothing wrong in what is happening, he alone is responsible. Of course, it must not be
    used for any personal aim or in any self-regarding way.
    8 October 1950
    Of all the aspects of the Mother, Kali most powerfully expresses vibrant and active love, and despite her sometimes terrible aspect, she carries in herself the golden splendour of an
    all-powerful love.
    24 February 1965