27 Apr 2013

Fall From Grace? ― Outlook, issue of March 12, 1997

Once known for its spiritual atmosphere, the Aurobindo Ashram today faces internal dissent and charges of sexual excesses

By A.S. PANNEERSELVAN in Pondicherry

The spiritual curtain has lifted on the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pon­dicherry. With its net assets over Rs 500 crore, a flourishing business in leather goods, computers and hand-made paper, and a premium on its brand equity, the ashram's spiritual con­cerns seem to have been abandoned in favour of more materialist pursuits. And now the internal discontent is threatening to spill over outside as a section of its inm­ates have decided to settle matters in court.

The legal battle has been joined by polit­ical parties and human rights organisati­ons who are demanding a full-fledged probe into the activities of the ashram. The PMK, the Samata Party, the Samajwadi Party, both factions of the DK, the BSP, the Dravida Peravai, the CPI(ML) and the Peo­ple's Union of Civil Liberties have called for accountability and democratisation of the insular institution. While the political parties are interested in the ashram beca­use of its growing economic clout (it emp­loys about 3,000 people in its various divi­sions) and its huge real estate holdings (more than 70 per cent of the old French buildings near the beach), the discontent within has emerged over the spiritual devi­ation that has taken place in the ashram over the last two decades. Labour exploita­tion, tax evasion, sexual excesses, sexual violence, paedophilia and laundering of public funds are some of the crimes the ashram has been accused of perpetrating.
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22 Apr 2013

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram Inmates’ Association – by Bireshwhar Choudhury

It all started in November 1996 when Bailochan Parida and Narayan Swain formed the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Inmates’ Association in order to protect the interest of the inmates of the Ashram. Things had sufficiently gone wrong by then to warrant the formation of an association within a spiritual community. Harikant Patel was the Managing Trustee, Manoj Das Gupta was next in command though he was the driving force from behind even then. Parou Patil had died in 1996 making way for Dr Dilip Datta to become a Trustee and make a mess of the future administration of the Ashram – the legal harassment of the inmates of the Ashram began with Dr. Dilip Datta.

When the Inmates Association wanted to register their association, the Puducherry Registrar told them to get a No Objection certificate from the Ashram Trust. Meanwhile, the Ashram Trust acted with extreme high-handedness. Four members of the Association, Bailochan Parida, Srikant Jivarajini, Dilip Agarwal and Kamal Dora, were expelled from the Ashram in January 1997 because they had dared to form an association. They were immediately debarred from taking food in the Ashram Dining Room. The henchmen of the Trust then swung into punitive action. Dilip Agarwal’s room in the Laundry was locked from outside while he was sleeping inside – he had to escape through the window. Kamal Dora’s room at the Lake Estate was literally ransacked and his personal belongings thrown out – a criminal case was filed against those who had raided his room. Srikant Jivarajani was threatened at his residence and told to vacate the house. Only Bailochan was spared because he stayed in his own house.
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15 Apr 2013

Professor Manoj Das has Sold his Soul to the Devil ― by Sricharan Singh

Most of us know Christopher Marlowe’s drama “Doctor Faustus”. Doctor Faustus was a very famous Professor in Germany. Within a short time, he surpassed all the other professors in knowledge. But the thought came to him that in spite of his present status he was still a human being. So he wanted to achieve extraordinary powers by learning black magic and go beyond ordinary human beings. When he was thus contemplating, a good angel came and tried to dissuade him from going ahead with his plan. But an evil angel lured him into it and he listened to his advice. Dr. Faustus then met Mephistopheles, the assistant of Lucifer, the Lord of Darkness. Mephistopheles told him that he could achieve miraculous powers with the help of Lucifer on one condition. The condition was that he should forsake the Divine and sell his soul to Lucifer. Then by the power of Lucifer, he would be able to fulfil any ambition and indulge in all the enjoyments of life for 24 years. But after that, he would have to live forever in eternal hell. As instructed by the evil angel, Dr. Faustus signed the pact with his blood. For 24 years he enjoyed power, prestige, wealth and sex to his heart’s content. Then came the time to go to eternal hell.  At this point, the good angel advised him that, even if he had committed an unforgiveable blunder, yet the compassionate Divine would forgive him if he repented for his misdeeds and prayed to Him for His help. Dr. Faustus tried his best, but he could neither repent nor pray to the Divine, and finally had to go to eternal hell.

A similar professor named Manoj Das joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram as an inmate.
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8 Apr 2013

The Ashram Trust’s Notice on Sri Aurobindo’s Relics – by Sridharan

The Ashram Trust has recently put up a notice on the enshrining of the Relics of Sri Aurobindo in the April issue of Mother India. [See below] The notice vindictively targets a particular person (whose name I would not like to mention here), while warning others not to do the same. What heinous crime did this person commit? He enshrined the relics of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother at a Sri Aurobindo centre with which he is connected. This was supposedly done without the permission of the Trustees – I say supposedly, because apparently the Managing Trustee himself gave permission for this particular installation! But why is the Managing Trustee objecting to it now? Because this person has bravely stood up against the mismanagement of the Trustees! Now is not the Managing Trustee getting too personal in his behaviour towards fellow disciples? After all, he is the Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo’s own Ashram and one would certainly expect more equanimity from him! I quote below from the Trust’s notice and make my comments.
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