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.
1.  Let us start with paragraph b on page 3.  It has been stated in your reply “that the book is subject matter of adjudication by the High Court of Orissa”.  Are you not aware that the book has been banned by the courts of Orissa and a notification from the Government of India? Is this another smoke screen to cover up your involvement to support Peter? Is it not a fact that in your interview with us you have stated that the book is not acceptable and that in private you have condemned the book in strong terms? This contradiction is most confusing and puzzling!

2.  Or is this the first step to revoke the ban on the book by going on appeal to the courts? If this is your intention, please be prepared for a violent reaction from the inmates of the Ashram and the devotees and disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In any case, whatever might be the reaction of the inmates, it is evident that you are playing a double game by stating privately that this book is abhorrent and at the same time supporting the author of the book.  What is it that you have to hide? We would also like to know what documents have been given to Peter confirming that he is indeed one of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives.

3.  Let us now come to the issue of the Raghavan House. You claim that this was an issue between the father and his son. It is known that the father was owner of the house and not the sons. Yet you entered into a dubious deal with the son. Even after the property was purchased, why was the rent being paid until the father became aware of the sale? Was this not an exercise in deception towards the father?

4. Regarding the New Guest House accounts, you claimed that you were not aware of any wrong doing; when Kittu met you a few days after sending you the questions and told you that you had the proof, you denied it and even went to the extent of saying that if you had the proof and did nothing about it, you would have failed in your duty. Well, the proof was there in the form of an audit report addressed to you by Deepak Dutta Gupta drawing your attention to the fraud that was being perpetrated in the New Guest House; he even made certain recommendations. Please note that the letter was dated 23rd March 2009. One whole year has passed since then and you were all the while feigning ignorance; it was only after our pointing out to you that you set up a committee to investigate the matter. Is this not a proof of the Trust having failed in its duty or, much worse, is also a party to this game? We have further reliable information that food from the canteen used to be freely supplied on a regular basis to some of the favourites of the Trustees including Matriprasad. Is it not reasonable to say that this practice is not right?

5.  Secondly where has the money gone? We are told that the amount is a very considerable sum. Is it in the safe custody of Matriprasad and is it being used illicitly for satisfying and pacifying officials and others? We want answers to all these questions.

6.  Regarding the Mamata case, we would like to know all the details. It is surprising to note that the girl who has been molested has been asked to leave the Ashram while the “worthy” gentleman is left scot-free. In your interview with us, you stated that Nolinida had told you that we must be very strict with accounts and sex matters. Do you realise that in both these matters the Trust has failed miserably? Why are the offenders being let off free and the offended being punished in so many cases?

7.  We had asked you for the accounts of the Ashram for the last 20 years and the details of the amount spent on the court cases for the last 10 years. You have not mentioned anything about this in your reply. We are now repeating this demand under the provisions of the Right to Information Act. We hope that you will supply them to us within a week of receiving this letter.

8.  It seems to us that the issue of the book has boiled down to choosing between two options: Freedom of Speech and Loyalty to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. While we are totally supportive of freedom of speech in the world at large, we are of the firm conviction that this cannot apply to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The very basis of the Ashram is loyalty to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo; if one does not subscribe to this value, one should not join the Ashram in the first place and one is free to leave the Ashram at any time and then express one’s views with full liberty. But to be a member of the Ashram and express freely one’s views, detrimental to the institution and its leaders and gurus, is betrayal of the institution. It becomes much worse when the authorities support this. It almost seems that in the present situation, one can get away with any criticism of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, but one will land in serious trouble if one has any adverse comment on the Trustees.  And we have Peter who is openly and proudly declaring his having no devotion for Sri Aurobindo, let alone the Mother. And yet we have the Trustees coddling, protecting and promoting him and his book which is defamatory of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

9.  The quotation from the Human Cycle is ludicrously out of context. If it were to be applied to the Ashram community, we would be flooded with atheists and non-believers and doubters of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. We refer you to the Preamble of the Trust Deed which states clearly that the Sri Aurobindo Ashram is meant “to be the home of persons who are the followers of Sri Aurobindo, having faith in his philosophy and Yoga”.

10. Regarding Peter Heehs' book, the enclosures supporting it are written by persons who have nothing to do with spiritual matters or communities. They are laymen who support freedom of speech and who appreciate a well-researched book. They do not understand the contrariety of a sadhak member of the Ashram community, eating its food and enjoying all its facilities and then turning traitor and criticising the guru and head of the institution, let alone a divine incarnation. We have no problem with outsiders finding fault with Mother and Sri Aurobindo. They would be exercising their right to freedom of speech. But a member of the Ashram has automatically and willingly abandoned that choice. Besides, Peter Heehs is strutting about flaunting his lack of faith as a precious quality and virtue that he possesses. He is also masquerading as the Founder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives and the Trust seems to be supporting him, even after he has pilfered sensitive documents from the archives, without the knowledge of the authorities.

11. We have never demanded that we be consulted in all matters. We are only insisting on the right to information. Is it your contention that you have the right to take secret decisions for the SAAT without the knowledge of the beneficiaries?

12. Bringing in Ranganath’s going to Kolkata for the Savitri case is most inappropriate. He had nothing to do with the case, just as was also the case with the head of SABDA. All the other accused were a party to the decisions regarding the changes in SAVITRI.

13. Pranabda had never pardoned Peter, nor was Peter ever repentant. He has repeatedly defended his own position to several persons obstinately sticking to his precious stand. It is a complete lie that Pranabda had stopped you from expelling Peter from the Ashram. This is borne out by persons very close to Pranabda.

14. What are the facts in the Ambi case?

15. You have mentioned that the Trust Deed is a sacred document and that you are humbly discharging your duties in letter and spirit. We are sorry to say that we do not agree with you on this issue. Your actions and conduct in the last 20 years or so are not in keeping with this.  On the contrary you are using the Trust Deed as an instrument to keep absolute power in your hands without any accountability.

16. The present situation in the Ashram is very disturbing and precarious. The discontent among Ashramites with the Trust management is very wide-spread and many among them may resort to inviting outside intervention. It is quite possible that government intervention may occur. This would certainly not be desirable.

Keeping this in view, we would request you to please act with responsibility and understanding. Apart from the demands already made by Pranabda regarding Peter Heehs, we request you to initiate the changes needed in the Trust Deed, which having been drafted more than half a century ago, is not fully relevant to our present conditions. The changes suggested are as follows:

a)    Restrict the tenure of office for trustees to a fixed limited period.
b)    Set up a legal mechanism for the selection of trustees, based on a representative  system.
c)     Ensure transparency and accountability in the administration of the Ashram.

If these suggestions are accepted, a dialogue could be started between you and a selection of senior sadhaks of the Ashram.

This process will pre-empt all possibility of government intervention. But if these suggestions are not accepted, the consequences may be very serious for the future existence of the Ashram. It would be best to solve the present problems within the Ashram community itself. If we fail to do this, there are dark days ahead for us.    

Kittu Reddy

Ranganath Raghavan

Sumita Kandpal.

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