24 Mar 2014

Sridharan’s Response to Aurofilio’s Email on Auroconf

Filio: Hello SSK [Sotantar Singh Khalsa],    17.03.2014

 In your email you have asked a question about the troubles of the Ashram and have touched upon other points concerning Auroville and Integral Yoga.
     If I am not mistaken, I believe that the hostility that the Ashram, Auroville and IY collective are witnessing from within the IY collective is because some people from within believe that these places are no more the “Lab(s)” of our Masters.

Sridharan: What do you mean by “Labs” of our Masters when the Masters themselves are physically absent? They are of course spiritually present, but how many of us can constantly feel their presence apart from the  improbable fact of being constantly guided by them, in which case only we (especially those who are in charge of the administration) have a right to talk about the “labs of our Masters”? Otherwise, all that we have right now are the fading remnants of a great experiment in spiritual evolution which is facing gradual annihilation at the hands of the usual vital and physical forces that successfully operate in the world. I am not being overly pessimistic because I still believe that this great experiment can be continued, provided the present authorities of the Ashram accept that it is not their Ashram but Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s Ashram. It is only when this happens that a larger perspective can be arrived at and most of the present problems of the Ashram can be solved by the formation of a larger group of committed followers and disciples who will act in a more sensible and democratic way than the present miniscule group of autocratic Trustees. Basic democratic principles have been always spurned and flouted by the current administrative setup with the excuse that spirituality is not for the masses but for the elite, the underlying implication being that they, who are in power, represent the spiritual elite of the Ashram. But do they really? Are they ready to say that in public? Can anyone among them pretend to replace Sri Aurobindo and the Mother?

The other excuse that the Trustees get away with is that they look only after the material administration of the Ashram and the spiritual aspect is not their concern. But is it so? Are spiritual and secular matters so unrelated to each other, especially in a Yoga which believes in life? When Peter Heehs barks at his own Master and the Trustees support him on the basis of secularism in spirituality in the most absurd manner, is not spiritual life affected in the Ashram? If tomorrow the Ashramites openly indulge in sex (as many have already done discreetly), will it not have bad spiritual and moral consequences?  Or if the new generation goes one step further and decides to swindle public funds, take drugs and molest young ladies with the excuse that spirituality is above morality, will it not have disastrous consequences for the Ashram?  The free fall that we are presently witnessing might indeed land us into deep trouble and invite one day definitive interference from the Government, which will simply get fed up and say, “Enough is enough, look here you guys, do Yoga or live a good moral life like people in the rest of the world. But don’t become a social nuisance!”

Filio: For instance, Chema condemns the Ashram and thinks that “the Ashram is ruled by Lower Prakriti.”

Sridharan: Of course, the Ashram as well as Auroville and other allied institutions are ruled by the lower Prakriti. But we also admit the difficulty of transforming this sticky lower Prakriti despite all our good intentions. Therefore, in the absence of people who are ruled by the higher Prakriti, the best alternative is to have a sufficiently democratic setup which will have checks and balances on those who are given the onerous task of governing others despite their inherent defects.

Filio: Sandeep suggests that the Ashram is stagnating when he pokes at Surendra for his efforts to preserve the “Status Quo” – which, if I have understood Surendra well, is based on a belief and faith that our Masters have been, are and shall always be the Masters of their “labs”, irrespective of whether we understand what goes on in there.

Sridharan: Preserving Status Quo serves only the interests of those who are presently in power and those who enjoy their protection. Not many people know about the material benefits these people enjoy under the garb of long time disciples. Even the Trustees sometimes cannot take action on some of these well-entrenched departmental heads. Keeping Status Quo indicates helplessness, reluctance to take action, and irremediable and hopelessly deficient administration.

Surendra & others, who have lived in the Ashram only for a few years, want status quo because they would like to preserve in their minds the image of the Ashram as it was thirty years ago. But the Ashram has deteriorated much in the last few decades with the departure of the first batch of disciples who had settled in Pondicherry in the late twenties and thirties. The Ashram is now run mainly by the spoilt children of the Mother, who pretend to be “sun-eyed children of a marvellous dawn” when they are actually full of common human defects. What they need is sober introspection and a good dressing-down by people with enough common sense to call a spade a spade!

Filio: And Sraddhalu, his followers and cronies have declared that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lacked vision when they founded the Ashram and Auroville and encouraged an IY collective around them.

Sridharan: It is not the Mother’s lack of vision that is responsible for things going wrong! Things go wrong because of our own insincerity and egoism, and our inability to follow the Mother’s vision. Or is it Filio’s theory that that things can never go wrong in Ashram and Auroville and all the institutions founded by the Mother, which incidentally includes Sri Aurobindo Society, the bugbear of Aurovillians? The Mother, I thought, gave a chance to everybody, even to those who later turned against her. That proves only her grace and compassion, not her lack of vision! Moreover, her force had spread and universalised itself  towards the end of her earthly life, so there is no need to imply that only the Ashram and Auroville are destined to be the labs of the Masters.

Filio: These newly-bred, self-proclaimed visionaries now want to re-script the manner in which the IY collective should be directed, what those who belong to this collective should or should not read, how they should or should not think and behave, etc., etc.

Sridharan: Any group works on principles that are collectively agreed upon, otherwise it is impossible to act, be it a spiritual community, a writers’ forum or even a workers’ union – this is common sense. The fundamental principle of a collectivity such as the Ashram is acceptance and faith in the Guru’s spiritual teaching, in the absence of which you should at least observe a respectful and discreet silence instead of writing a book against the Guru himself, and expect others of the same community to keep quiet and observe a respectful silence towards you. This is exactly what Peter Heehs did and expected others to do in the face of his monkey tricks, and this is what the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram are supporting him for! Leaving aside Peter Heehs, who by now has become a legendary monkey albeit a so-called intellectual one, I would like to know what high and noble collective principles justify molestation of ladies, eve-teasing, suicides, medical negligence causing death, misappropriation and large-scale financial irregularities which the Ashram has been recently accused of?

For the information of all those who are interested in the Auroville judgment, the Sri Aurobindo Society finally lost the case against the Govt. not due to Sri Aurobindo’s teaching not being a religion (as so many people keep parroting) but because of a damning audit report on the misutilisation and diversion of a funds received from the Central Govt. The Ashram in a similar situation would have perhaps lost the case long back and would have been indicted of a far greater amount of diversion and misutilisation of funds!

Filio: These last few years, after having witnessed some of the most absurd actions against the Ashram, Auroville and sections of the IY collective, I would suggest that all those who think and believe that they know how to run, manage and guide these “IY labs” should get together and decide who among them will henceforth call the shots on behalf of the IY collective.

Sridharan: The underlying message of Filio’s statement is, “Keep status quo. Don’t criticise the present management because either it is perfect or it is the best possible that you can get in the current situation. Therefore reject all democratic mechanisms with the excuse that the Gurus are behind whatever the present management does – good, bad, atrocious, forgivable and unforgivable.” Then the first thing to do is to wind up the democratic system in Auroville which many of the Ashramites actually admire and look up to. Filio basically wants to go back to the divine rights age of the kings in England or the brahmanical social order of India. Even Peter Heehs, the idol of Filio and the Ashram Trustees, would not approve of it!

Filio: This should keep them busy for the next century… and spare the rest of us from their frustration and hostility!

Sridharan: This is an outright denial of the possibility of collective decision-making by the followers and disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. But the second phrase “spare the rest of us from frustration and hostility” seems to be the angry expression of the Ashram Trustees than of Filio himself. As a matter of fact, Filio often acts as a faithful mouthpiece of Matriprasad, the secretary of the Ashram Trust, who has been nicknamed Mama Shakuni from the famous evil character of the Mahabharata. This is obvious for two reasons. One, Filio has hardly anything to do with the Ashram except for his son who has been admitted into the Ashram School with the blessings of Mama Shakuni. Two, Filio is more a specialist on the garden lizard (by his own proud admission) than the scandals of the Ashram, and he would never have been able to write his long tirades on some of the inmates of the Ashram. Not that research on the garden lizard would itself prevent him from writing his diatribes, but where would he get the raw data and the ability to express himself cogently if not from the wily Mama Shakuni himself?

1 comment:

  1. Comment by Sridharan:

    Filio: Come, come, get a little serious and start posting some credible stuff on your website that your readers can really believe for once. Make a fresh start with the boiler story and please publish these photos along with Matribhai's description of the boiler incident.

    Sridharan: Filio, why are you boiling so much over boilers? You have the habit of veering off at a tangent whenever you cannot answer back in a sober and logical way. Why don’t you take the points that you yourself had originally picked upon? I had only counteracted them. I refuse to boil over boilers!