9 Dec 2013

Reply to Samir Sarkar – by Bireshwar Choudhury

[Samir Sarkar, son of Kalu Sarkar, objected to the publication of the letter of Kalu Sarkar to Manoj Das Gupta on this website. The following is a reply to his letter by Bireshwar Choudhury.]

Samir Sarkar: Dear Administrator,
I write to you on behalf of my father, Kalu SARKAR, after having consulted him.

I know that my father was disturbed a few years ago in regards to Peter Heehs' book. Most of his opinion was built on hearsay. Having said that he DOES NOT subscribe to the views in the above letter any longer. 

Bireshwar Choudhury: Dear Samir, first of all, why should you write on behalf of your father Kalu Sarkar? Why cannot he speak for himself? He is after all the son of a revolutionary who faced the wrath of British rule in pre-independent India! He should not withdraw a statement that he undeniably made when the Peter Heehs issue rocked the entire Ashram community in the year 2008. Moreover, you seem to be patronising your father, pooh-poohing him like an excitable kid, who had gone berserk in a state of emotional frenzy. This is exactly what the Managing Trustee said and did at that time with those who rightly and bravely reacted against Peter Heehs’s derogatory book on Sri Aurobindo. He also put on an air of “dignified silence” and pretentious samata, when he was actually dictated by other compulsions. Can you also be more explicit about how your father does not subscribe to the views that he had expressed earlier? If he now thinks that Peter Heehs should be given the Nobel Prize for literature for the Lives of Sri Aurobindo, let him say so himself, and we will publish his statement on this very blog! He might now withdraw his criticism of the Managing Trustee, but that does not exonerate Peter Heehs. His harsh criticism of Manoj Das Gupta was made in relation to the Peter Heehs issue, so the two cannot be easily separated! Finally, it has come to our knowledge that it was because of the admission of his grandchild (meaning your child) that he stopped roaring like a wounded lion and started whining like a cat waiting for its daily quota of milk. If this is right, shame on him and shame on you!

Samir Sarkar: My parents are part of an extended family of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. They as well as I believe that problems between family members should be solved internally as far as possible. Life isn't without problems and differences, but as far as I know my parents have lived a beautiful life at the Ashram and they have no reason to campaign against the Trust of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

Bireshwar Choudhury: The fact that your parents have lived and are still living a beautiful life at the Ashram has nothing to do with the present issue. Your father was deeply disturbed at one point of time, and he wrote what he wrote in a state of acute emotional anguish, which was shared by most of the devotees and disciples of Sri Aurobindo. So he need not be ashamed of it! But the castigating letter that he wrote to the Managing Trustee of the Ashram need not be a sign of campaigning against the Trust, for he has the right to give a piece of his mind to the Managing Trustee when there is a serious administrative lapse. So rest assured, your father will not be blamed of going against the Trust for merely speaking out his heart in one letter.  On the contrary, what he will be blamed for by people staying outside the Ashram (who have no material stake in it) is why he was silent all these days! Why did he not speak up earlier when the issue was burning? And why is he now so afraid of the Trust’s reaction and wants to withdraw his fiery letter against the Managing Trustee? Finally,  they will say, “Shame on Kalu Sarkar! His father Sudhir Sarkar went to the Andamans in order to save Nolini Kanto Gupta from going to prison, and he (the son) has betrayed Sri Aurobindo in order to admit his grandson in the Ashram School!

Samir Sarkar: Lastly if this letter was written by Kalu SARKAR to the Managing Trustee of the Ashram, I do not understand why it should be published on a public website without the permission of its author. I  hereby request you to remove this letter from your website with immediate effect.

Bireshwar Choudhury: The letter was written to the Managing Trustee of a public institution with regard to a public issue, and not with regard to any personal or domestic matter. Actually hundreds of such letters were written to Manoj Das Gupta at that time and he quietly suppressed them. Thousands of personal calls were made to him regarding the same issue, and he deliberately ignored them with a broad smile of condescension, pretending as if nothing had happened. So the letter of Kalu Sarkar is pretty much a public statement and our website will shower praises on Kalu Sarkar for having had the courage to tell the truth. He has also chosen one of the most apt quotations from Sri Aurobindo’s works to describe Manoj Das Gupta’s spiritual fall.

Samir Sarkar: Assuming he has written the above letter to Manoj DAS GUPTA, (many years ago presumably and which I would like to believe he has not), I would be happy to have a signed copy of the same. Please hand it over to me since it is neither addressed nor copied to you. 

Bireshwar Choudhury: Why do you doubt that it is Kalu Sarkar’s letter after defending him in every way for writing the same? The original letter is in Kalu Sarkar’s own handwriting, so there should be no doubt about it. If you still would not like to believe that it is his letter, it is not my business to interfere with your personal belief, which I suppose is “built on hearsay” as much as you have accused your own father to have done the same with regard to the Peter Heehs issue.

Samir Sarkar: Hoping for the best in these testing times ...

Bireshwar Choudhury: The times are testing for those who do not want to see the writing on the wall and close their eyes because of their selfish interests.

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