[We publish here Raman Reddy’s response dated 10 August, 2010 to the Managing Trustee’s long explanation of his stand in the controversy over the Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs. Manoj Das Gupta (presently Managing Trustee of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry) had written an eighteen pages long explanation justifying his stand in the controversy.]
28 Feb 2013
25 Feb 2013
Except to those enslaved to their bare necessities of life – status, position, security, etc – the physical organisation called “The Sri Aurobindo Ashram” has long been materialising Sri Aurobindo’s diagnosis of 19 July 1926 – before its ‘birth’: “All ashramas have a tendency to degeneration. It is due to the incapacity of human nature. Whatever it receives from above, it spoils very soon. As long as the influence of the founder lasts, his teaching remains pure, but then his disciples, who cannot fully grasp it or can only grasp it intellectually, deform the whole thing.” [Conversations, Sri Aurobindo Circle, 1978]
17 Feb 2013
The following are the relevant passages of the Court Order given by the 2nd Additional Munsif of the Puducherry Court in Radhikaranjan’s case. An oral order was given on 5 December, 2012 followed by a written order on 8 February, 2013 restraining the Ashram Trustees from stopping Radhikaranjan’s classes in the Ashram School. Normally, in such circumstances, when the court verdict is overwhelmingly in favour of the aggrieved party, the authorities (be it an educational or a business institution or the Govt itself) graciously accept defeat and quietly implement the Court Order without further ado. After all, who would like to face charges for contempt of Court? But no, the Ashram Trustees, especially Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee cum Registrar, can never accept defeat! He will fight till the point of landing behind bars, hoping that the aggrieved party will run out of money and patience. So even though contempt of court has been filed against him in Radhikaranjan’s case, the latter will have to wait for some more time to get relief. The Ashram Trust will certainly file an appeal in the next 30 days, and in the case of a second adverse order, will go for further appeals. This is how the Ashram Trust presently functions – filing appeal after appeal for very personal reasons and wastefully spending the money of devotees and disciples all over the world, who donate for the cause of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s work, and certainly not for legally harassing the inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
8 Feb 2013
[This is the last letter that the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram wrote to the group of three senior Ashramites – Kittu Reddy, Sumita Kandpal & Ranganath Raghavan. If there is one characteristic that defines the letter of the Trustees, it is “arrogance” – the arrogance of being unquestioned and unquestionable Trustees in “a Providentially ordained game”. The very tone and tenor of the letter, the constant denial mode and the counter accusations leveled at the three senior Ashramites, who dared for the first time to question their authority, leave hardly any room for a healthy debate. The correspondence thus abruptly ended here with the Trustees rattling their legal sabres, “Our lawyer will respond” though we are not under any “legal obligation to reply”, and finally, “The futility of continued correspondence is thus obvious.” As there was no scope for further discussion, Kittu Reddy’s group did not reply to the letter. Sumita Kandpal remarked that she had never received such a rude letter during the entire period of her service as a Collector. The Trust thus lost one more golden opportunity to put its house in order and settle matters internally. The attached endnotes contain a few responses by the editor to some of the issues raised by the Ashram Trust.]
1 Feb 2013
[The following is Raman Reddy’s response to the Ashram Trust’s letter of 21 June, 2010. Though he was not part of the group of three senior Ashramites (Kittu Reddy, Ranganath Raghavan & Sumita Kandpal) that met and corresponded with Manoj Das Gupta, the Managing Trustee, during this period, it is worthwhile reading his response to the Ashram Trust. A copy of it was sent at that time to the Managing Trustee.]
The Trust asserts its legal authority
I quote from the letter of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust dated 21 June 2010 to Kittu Reddy, Ranganath Raghavan and Sumita Kandpal:
The Mother while entrusting the responsibility to the Trust to manage the assets of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, thought fit in Her wisdom, not to include any clause or direction to even remotely suggest that all beneficiaries, be they devotees or inmates, should necessarily be consulted at any stage in the management of things or in the decision making process – if at all it be even logically possible to consult everyone belonging to such an open ended and amorphous body consisting of all the inmates of the Ashram and disciples of Sri Aurobindo. (p 2)
The Trust has literally alienated the entire Ashram community along with the admirers and disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother all over the world with one well-constructed sentence defining its autocratic legal position vis-a-vis the beneficiaries. But have we ever denied its legal authority, or said that we “should necessarily be consulted” in the decision making process? All that we insist upon is the right to ask questions whenever their decisions don’t seem right to us, and receive satisfactory answers. Even Sri Aurobindo and the Mother cared to explain to their disciples the reasons behind their administrative decisions. One has only to read Nirodbaran’s correspondence with Sri Aurobindo to see how much time the Master spent in keeping the disciples happy and clearing their misunderstandings.