23 Jan 2013

The Present State of Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Baikunth

The following sentence from the last chapter of Sri Aurobindo’s Human Cycle reflects the psychological state of most of the present inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram:

The holding of an ideal becomes almost an excuse for not living according to the ideal; the existence of its institutions is sufficient to abrogate the need of insisting on the spirit that made the institutions.

(The Human Cycle, CWSA, Vol. 25, pp 262)

I translate it into more real terms. Pay lip service to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, bow down to their Samadhi and recite your favourite lines from their works on special occasions. (For it is only the special occasions that matter!) Go about leisurely within the security net provided by the Ashram, because that is not only practical but prudent. Get your daily food in time, get your laundry in time, do your daily physical exercises and avail of free medical care. And finally do a little bit of sadhana as and when you feel the rare inner pull!

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15 Jan 2013

The Price of Conscience

The Trust Board of the Ashram Trust is scrambling for damage control following the conscientious resignation of the senior-most Trustee of the Ashram, Albert Patel.

At first the Trustees begged Albert-da not to resign. When they found him adamant, Manoj Das Gupta, the Managing Trustee, put great pressure on him to sign a second letter of resignation where he would declare his resignation on grounds of “loss of memory and ill-health”. This is a dangerous trick that he has played with others earlier, but which everyone sees through now.

Failing all these options, Manoj Das Gupta has now ordered his men to spread the word that Albert-da is resigning only in March and not before.

Meanwhile the Trustees are in a desperate search to find a suitable successor. But this is not an easy task any more. To begin with, any successor must be someone who will swear personal loyalty to Manoj Das Gupta as against Sri Aurobindo. Some of the names being discussed include Vishweshwar, Chitra Sen and Swadesh Chatterjee who have for long proved their personal loyalties. But the thinking within the Board is to try for a better public profile to soften the widespread criticism. Two names are being discussed openly: Jhumur Bhattacharya who has been one of Manoj Das Gupta’s preferred girl-friends from his young days at theatre, and whom he has been steadily promoting first as a spiritual figurehead and later as head of the Ashram’s college and its alumni journal, and now as keeper of the Mother’s room. But the dark horse is Meera Gupta whom he had earlier assigned as head of the Ashram’s book distribution agency, and who was recently working overtime organising the Ashram-wide signature campaign to garner support to save the Trustees from going to jail.

But therein lies the rub. Although there are enough people waiting to serve the Trustees in their abuse of Sri Aurobindo, none of them is keen to go to jail with them!

Vishweshwar and Chitra Sen are already telling all those who care to ask that they are too old to take up such responsibilities. Swadesh, it is felt, does not bring any value to the Trust Board. Jhumur Bhattacharya is excusing herself saying she already has too many responsibilities. Meera Gupta alone has kept a strategic silence. When asked of her chances of becoming a Trustee, she merely said, “It is for them to decide.” But she did not appear too enthusiastic. After all selling one’s conscience is easier than going to jail for life.

Albert-da may well turn out to be smartest of them all.
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7 Jan 2013

Enough of Falsehood – Ashram Trustee resigns!

This morning saw high drama in the Board of Trustees of the Ashram Trust.
          In the general backdrop of the ongoing Probe of criminal actions of the Trustees by the Government of Puducherry and their desperate attempts to stay the probe by legal devices, several members of the Board of Trustees have been expressing their discontent with the high-handedness and wrong decisions of the Managing Trustee Manoj Das Gupta which have brought the entire Ashram into disrepute.
          Especially in the last one year, there have been many disagreements in the Trust Board, but always the high-handedness of the Managing Trustee has trampled upon others, and his personal interests have prevailed over the collective conscience.
          In the last four months, in desperation, the Trustees have chosen to plunge head-on into battle with the Government of Puducherry, and it is obvious that they are at the losing end of their struggle against the inevitability of the law of the land. Their well-wishers and advisors have warned them repeatedly that if they do not solve their problems in-house they will surely end up in jail. And their time is not far.
          Overwhelmed by the circumstances and under pressure of his own conscience, this morning Albert Patel, the senior-most Trustee of the Ashram Trust, submitted his resignation to the Trust Board, and walked away from the Board meeting.
          The rest of the Trustees followed him to his house and pleaded with him to stay on at least till the 21st of January when the battle in the High Court is going to decide the fate of the Trustees. Albert Patel steadfastly refused. Eventually, Manoj Das Gupta declared in his typical high-handedness that he would only accept the resignation after the 21st and not before.
          We can only hope that if any of the other Trustees still have their conscience intact, they too will follow the sane example of the eldest Trustee.
          A copy of the resignation letter, in wide circulation in the Ashram, is given below.

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6 Jan 2013

Letter of Kittu Reddy, Ranganath Raghavan & Sumita Kandpal to Manoj Das Gupta on 2 July, 2010

Manoj Dasgupta
We thank you for the letter dated 21-6-10 containing the reply to our questions. We are however both surprised and disappointed that the letter was not signed by you but by Dilip Dutta. You will remember that this whole process started when we wanted to talk to you and you alone and not to the other members of the Trust. We would like to know your reasons for not signing the letter. Are you in disagreement with the contents of the letter?
Secondly, as quite expected from the authors of this letter, it is an exercise in obfuscating facts and  in deception. Many issues have been  avoided altogether.
We shall now take up some of the issues raised in this letter. It is not our intention to reply to all the points for that would require at least a volume. We are therefore taking up some specific points.
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Ashram Trust's Reply of 21 June 2010 to Kittu Reddy, Ranganath Raghavan & Sumita Kandpal

Dear Friends,

Your above letter was placed before the Board of trustees.

Essentially the letter dated 28.05.2010 focuses on the following broad issues:

a.     Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust and the responsibilities of its trustees

b.     The book entitled "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo".

c.     Whether the author of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" continues to remain an inmate of the Ashram, and if so how and why

d.    Whether the finances of the Ashram are misused and

e.     Disciplinary proceedings regarding some persons who were inmates of the Ashram.

Here are the answers for your satisfaction.

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