14 Sept 2013

Parents Made to Sign a Letter Defending SAICE ― Sridharan

Of late the Well-wishers of Sri Aurobindo Ashram have been quite active in assiduously defending the Ashram Trustees like well-paid clerks without any opinions of their own. Their views faithfully reflect the stand of the Ashram Trustees, and they make it a point to counter every posting on our site which questions the credibility of the Trust. The Secretary of the Trust, Matriprasad, has therefore written a long reply to the Tehelka reporter who wrote a pretty damaging article on the Ashram Trust. The reply of course gives only a one-sided picture on various criminal matters, giving references to documents which are not even published, so that we don’t even know whether they exist or not.

The latest posting on this site is a letter of the parents of the children of the Ashram School to the Governor of Puducherry. The letter states that there is no molestation or sexual harassment of children in the Ashram School as alleged by the recent posters that came up in the town, and that their children feel safe in the hands of the present management of the School. First of all, it should be made clear that if the children of these parents have been so far safe, it does not mean they will be always safe, given the lackadaisical approach of the School management towards school discipline. Secondly, it certainly does not mean that there is no basis for the complaints that have been made until now, for no number of signatures will annul the veracity of these complaints. After all, a rape, such as the Delhi rape incident, will be considered criminal even if all the residents of Delhi sign a petition denying the incident.

In September 2007, a few teachers of the Ashram School had complained about the sexual exploitation of minor girls of the Ashram School by one Nikhil Virani, but no action was taken on him. On the contrary, severe action was taken on those who brought it to the notice of Manoj Das Gupta, the Registrar of the School, who happens to be also the Managing Trustee of the Ashram Trust. In fact, after putting up a hypocritical show of shock and disbelief and loudly lamenting on the falling morals of the Ashram community in the style of a Roman senator, the Registrar (according to these teachers) suggested that those who see wrong in others had themselves something wrong. In other words, the teachers (who had been victims of this known sexual predator) were far more perverted than the predator himself, implying that it would have been better had they not raised up the issue at all and turned a blind eye to such deviant behaviour. Now this kind of administration is indeed dangerous for any society, leave alone a spiritual institute, where moral standards should actually be higher than in secular institutions. It also encourages the likes of Nikhil Virani to defiantly indulge in such reprehensible activity without any fear of disciplinary action.

One lobby of the Trust’s sycophants has indeed played down the complaint against Nikhil Virani as trivial and prudish, and firmly stood by their father figure Manoj Das Gupta in encouraging such revolutionary or rather “modern” sexual behaviour. Times are changing, they say, this is the age of co-education and free relationships. The natural instincts should be left free to express themselves and not repressed by artificial and outdated social rules. Let us be avant garde, we are not living anymore in the Middle Ages! On the face of it, this seems a fine argument! But will the parents of the school children agree with it? Will they surrender their children to the natural instincts of the likes of Nikhil Virani and more such predators in the making? Or will they say that there is a time for everything, a time for sports and studies and a time for marital relations, and that they would rather not combine the two in a foul smelling mixture? I understand the parents’ concern to preserve the reputation of the Ashram School where they have admitted their wards. But why go overboard to disprove what has actually happened in 2007 and perhaps what is still going on unnoticed? They should, on the contrary, roll up their sleeves and demand disciplinary reform instead of meekly acquiescing to this fake signature campaign forced on them by the henchmen of the Trustees.

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