[The following letter was written by three senior Ashramites – Kittu Reddy, Ranganath Raghavan & Sumita Kandpal (retired Collector) – to Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. The letter stated the views and concern of most of the Ashramites and devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother regarding the Peter Heehs issue. The letter is still relevant to the present situation which has more or less remained unchanged as far as the intransigent attitude of the Managing Trustee is concerned.]
28 Dec 2012
22 Dec 2012
The senseless writings of Heehs will be countered by real scholars even outside the Ashram and without its patronage, as it has been done in the case of Sri Ramakrishna vis-a-vis Jeffrey Kripal. The spiritual stature of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and their philosophical insights will stand the test of time as they are based on profound Truth. Sadly, what stands exposed is the lack of vision and courage on the part of the present Trustees of the Ashram. [extract]
16 Dec 2012
Togo Mukherji passed away on 14 December, 2012 at Puducherry. An excellent article covering the notable aspects of his life has been written by Anurag Bannerji on his site, which I would recommend for reading to all those who are interested to know the details of his life.
I will limit myself here to the most prominent aspect of Togo, his bravery and audacity to challenge the powers that rule, which he obviously inherited from his grandfather, the legendary Bagha Jatin (Jatin Mukherji, one of the two Jatins who were contemporaries of Sri Aurobindo and fought in the first freedom struggle of India). His grandfather challenged the British, the grandson challenged the present Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Togo flouted the authorities by openly discussing with pusillanimous Ashramites the issue of Peter Heehs in the Ashram Dining Room and circulated articles exposing the distortions and misrepresentations in the Lives of Sri Aurobindo. Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the present counterpart of the British Viceroy during his grandfather’s times, deprived him of his food as a punishment. Togo could have apologised and got back his Dining Room facility, but he did not give in. Not only he participated in the two dharnas that were held in protest against the support of the Trustees for Peter Heehs, but he even deposed in the Puducherry Collector’s enquiry on the Ashram Trustees. This enquiry has been temporarily stayed by the High Court of Chennai, but once the stay is lifted, Togo’s signed statement along with thirty other depositions will be of great use to dethrone the present Trustees and bring a new era of peace and justice in Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Thus Togo Mukherji would continue to fight injustice even after his demise.
11 Dec 2012
On the 5th of December, 2012 the Puducherry Court granted relief to Radhikaranjan Das who was abruptly deprived of his Sanskrit classes in the middle of the last academic year by Manoj Das Gupta, Registrar of the Ashram School cum Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The Court granted an injunction restraining the Registrar and the Ashram Trustees from disturbing or depriving Radhikaranjan of his classes in the Ashram School. The court case was hard-fought by two of the best lawyers of Puducherry, Cyril Mathias Vincent and Palaniappan, who represented respectively the plaintiff (Radhikaranjan Das) and the respondents (Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and four other Trustees). Despite the false allegations of the Managing Trustee on Radhikaranjan Das spoiling the minds of the children, the line of argument that the Trust lawyer took up in the Court was totally different. The point that was stressed by him was that there was no contractual or employer-employee relationship between Radhikaranjan Das and the Ashram Trust like in regular educational institutions. That whenever the inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram voluntarily came forward to offer their services to the Ashram as a means of their sadhana, the Trustees gave them work without assigning any reasons and without any written appointment. Therefore whenever the Trustees likewise felt that the inmate should be removed from his existing work, they could so without any written explanation whatsoever. This arbitrary method of administration was hotly contested by Radhikaranjan’s lawyer saying that it went against the basic principles of natural justice which required of the Registrar to give at least a chance to the aggrieved party to explain his position and demand a written explanation for the punishment meted out to him. As no reasonable and fair procedure was followed by the Registrar in dismissing Radhikaranjan from his work, it was prayed that the latter should not be deprived of his teaching work in the Ashram School. The Court granted this prayer after hearing out lengthy arguments from both the lawyers during the last six months.