14 Nov 2014

Forgotten Values and Upholding the Ideal – by the Speaking Tree

These days some of the inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, seem to be living in a fool’s paradise. They think of themselves as sadhaks and sadhikas of Integral Yoga without even knowing what it means. They are buried under the weight of their own ego without letting any opening for the entry of Light. They boast with great pride that our Ashram is a laboratory, the cradle of the new race and think that one fine morning we will get transformed without any personal effort. Yes, no doubt, the Divine Mother with Her infinite compassion has given us a golden chance to participate in this great advent and be in the Ashram in the “Hour of God”. But have we ever introspected to find out whether we are using or misusing this unprecedented privilege?

We should seriously think as to why as a collectivity we have failed to live up to what is expected of us. Sri Aurobindo’s prophetic vision saw this danger long back when he wrote in the Human Cycle,  

For the way that humanity deals with an ideal is to be satisfied with it as an aspiration which is for the most part left only as an aspiration, accepted only as a partial influence. The ideal is not allowed to mould the whole life, but only more or less to color it; it is often used even as a cover and a plea for the things that are diametrically opposed to its real spirit. Institutions are created which are supposed, but too lightly supposed to embody that spirit and the fact that the ideal is held, the fact that men live under its institutions is treated as sufficient. The holding of an ideal becomes almost an excuse for not living according to the ideal; the existence of its institutions is sufficient to abrogate the need of insisting on the spirit that made the institutions.[Emphasis added]

(Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Volume 15, The Human Cycle, p 247)

The aim and ideal of this Ashram is higher than the Himalayan peaks and vaster than the ocean; that is why it is incomprehensible to the ordinary mind. But we cannot discard and divorce basic human values from our nature as if, intoxicated by the pride of being the Mother’s instruments, we slip to subhuman standards in our day to day life and dealings with our fellow inmates.

No one can deny that the Ashram was created by the direct supervision of the Mother and is and will be sustained by Her Consciousness-Force acting through human instruments. But human beings should prepare the adhar to become Her able instruments.  Sri Aurobindo says,

“The divine perfection is always there above us; but for men to become divine in consciousness and act and to live inwardly and outwardly the divine life is what is meant by spirituality; all lesser meanings given to the word are inadequate fumblings or impostures”.

(Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Volume 15, The Human Cycle, p 247)

Again He says:

A society that lives not by its men but by its institutions is not a collective soul, but a machine; its life becomes a mechanical product and ceases to be a living growth.”

(Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Volume 15, The Human Cycle, p 248)

No conscious follower of Sri Aurobindo can deny the fact that our Ashram has reached the state of a machine without any living growth.  We are in a precarious state.  Our behaviour reflects just the opposite of our expected ideal. The following example will explain the facts. The Mother says, “We are expected to give to the world an example of better life but surely not of misbehavior.” (The Mother, MCW, Volume 13, 119)

But misbehaviour here has become licensed conduct. Nowadays visitors to the Ashram complain about misbehaviour at the reception, guest houses and the dining room. They keep quiet because their protest falls on deaf ears. A most shocking example of gross misconduct is in the Health department of the Ashram. Some of the Ashramites working there have the worst kind of behavior, unheard of in any health care unit in the whole world. Service should be the motto especially of this sector. (Of course, all the departments of the Ashram should work with the spirit of service, which is a forgotten dream nowadays.) To everybody’s utter surprise, the staff of this department has made misbehaviour their code of conduct. They go on harassing people by using abusive language at the pharmacy’s dispensing counter, making the inmates of the Ashram come and go several times for no reason, deliberately supplying medicines other than what is written in the prescription given by the doctor, not supplying medicines in time and sometimes even asking the inmates to go to outside shops to procure medicines, knowing very well that the Ashram management does not give money to the inmates for personal expenses. The staff does all this with the motive of putting the inmates in a stressful state. But the most unfortunate thing is the mind-set of these Ashramites who legalise their misbehavior by the convenient argument that the misbehavior of sadhaks was well known even during Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s time, thus asserting it to be the accepted norm of Ashram life.

It goes without saying that the individual has a crucial role to play in collective life and that the collective consciousness will grow or deteriorate in proportion to the individual’s growth or decline. It is also expected that when someone joins the Ashram, he or she is expected to imbibe its values and ideals and act accordingly. Now the choice of upholding the Ashram’s ideals lies with each Ashramite – whether he or she remains satisfied with his or her own state of consciousness and the general condition of Ashram life now or whether he or she consciously and joyously participates in the upward evolution of humanity for which the Ashram was created. We should then try to mould our life according to the ideals of our great institution rather than live by our egoistic preferences in order to save our collective existence from its present predicament.


  1. Anonymous comment:

    most ashramites there today, didn't come to imbibe any values or ideals. prime location, free food, no work.... so forget about any evolution. i just hope they don't do the opposite of dragging the rest of us into some dark abyss.

    Polite? thats the deviant trait thats found in less than handful of people in the ashram outlets.

  2. The state of affairs narrated is quite true as experienced by us often during our visits to Ashram for Darshan. Today only (17/11/14) my wife was misbehaved badly by a male sadhak while she was silently standing in queue in Dining room to deposit utensils in the wash area. It is a pity that there is no one to oversea as to how the visitors/devotees coming from far flung areas are being treated by the so called Ashramites.