6 Dec 2014

On Manoj Das’s Clarification with Regard to the Seashore Chit Fund Scam – by an Inmate of the Ashram

We, the devotees of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo in Odisha, read on 28.10.2014 in the Odiya dailies about Shri Manoj Das’s clarification “Kinchit hatachakita jane lekhakara prashna o pratibedana” [a befuddled writer’s question and submission] regarding his involvement with the scam-tainted Seashore Chit Fund. Since we feel sorry for such a famous writer like him getting involved in such dubious money matters, and as we found some discrepancies in the submission of his position to the dailies, we request him to provide further clarifications. Besides, since we are associated with Sri Aurobindo Ashram for a long time, the magical word craft of Shri Manoj Das cannot sway us enough to lose sight of the reality staring at us.

Here are the following discrepancies: -

1. Generally Shri Das states Sri Aurobindo Ashram as his address below his articles, but in this case why has he given “Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education” as his address?  Has the Ashram Trust Board forbidden him to use the Ashram name? Is it because the Ashram Trust then might get dragged into the controversial company? But just by changing the address, would he be able to keep the Ashram Trust out of the controversy that arose out of Shri Das’ questionable activities?

2. Shri Das states, “I had no idea as to what a chit fund is…yet why did no one ever indicate to me that there was something fishy about this academy (Seashore Literary Academy). Most people cannot believe that a person of Shri Das’ political and literary eminence does not know what a chit fund is. Moreover, he has himself stated in this article that about a year and a half ago Shri Prashanta Pattnaik had criticized him in the Odiya daily ‘Sanchara’ about his involvement in such a dubious company as the Seashore. Prashanta Pattanaik himself has written in the Odiya daily ‘Sambada’ on 30.10.2014 under the heading ‘Manoj Dasanka lekha upare spastikarana’: “Respected Shri Das was involved in one of the most controversial chit funds in Odisha called Seashore and that he was receiving rupees one lakh per month from the company was published a year and a half ago in the Odiya daily ‘Sanchara’  in my column under the heading ‘Sidhakatha’ [straight speak]… I was certain that one day this company would come under scrutiny. Although Manojbabu’s involvement with such an organization would increase its reputation, yet when an enquiry would be held regarding the amassment of unlawful wealth, all those who were connected with the company would come under scrutiny. I wrote that piece to warn Shri Manoj Das in order to avoid such a situation. …after the publication of the above mentioned column, it was also put on Facebook…the fact that people in Odisha disapproved of Shri Das’ involvement with  Seashore was clear from their reactions.” Therefore, how on earth could Shri Das write that he had no idea as to what a chit fund was and that nobody had hinted that there was anything suspicious about his involvement with Seashore? Is he not contradicting himself?

3. In his submission Shri Manoj Das writes, “I do not crave for money nor am I averse to it in the form of awards and honours. Money is a benign force. I have the right consciousness to make the best use of it and I have been doing so for the past fifty years.” Is not Shri Das concealing the truth here? As he is an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the Ashram bears all his expenses and he has accepted the ideal that all he is and all he has belongs to The Mother. So how could he donate the amount he received of rupees ten lakhs and his assistance’s due of rupees forty five thousand to the Odisha Chief Minister’s Relief fund? According to the opinion expressed in the “Ashahaya data” [helpless donor] in the editorial of the Odiya daily ‘Samaja’ dated 2.11.2014, it would have been better if Shri Das had returned the money to the Seashore Chit Fund. In this way he would have been ‘freed’ from being blamed and the poor people who had invested their hard earned money in the dubious company would have got at least some of their money back. By donating the amount he received to the Odisha Chief Minister’s Relief fund, does he not prove that he has received and spent the money as he likes?

4. The following question also arises: Why did Shri Das, instead of returning the scam-tainted money to the Seashore company, donate it to the Odisha Chief Minister’s Relief fund? Shri Das who has himself pointed out more than ninety factual errors in the denigrating biography of Sri Aurobindo [The Lives of Sri Aurobindo] written by Peter Heehs, an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, is now supporting the same author to please the Managing Trustee of the said Ashram. It is common knowledge that the government of Odisha has banned the controversial book by a gazette notification dated 9.4.2009. Shri Das through the author Peter Heehs, has filed a case in Odisha High Court to annul the gazette notification by the Odisha Government. So, in order to influence the chief minister to withdraw the ban, he has written a letter on this matter to the Chief Minister. Can Shri Das deny this fact? Such dubious and clever manipulation by Shri Das is not known outside the circle of devotees and disciples of Mother and Sri Aurobindo. The great Indian tradition of ‘ Guru-shishya” will never forgive him for such heinous ‘ Guru-droha’ activities.

5. Shri Das writes, “Within the past four years my personal expenses were mostly incurred for treatment at AIIMS in Delhi, flight charges and other related expenses. In spite of the main treatment being free of cost, the reason for giving the above details is to explain to my serious critics that the money received from Seashore was used for this purpose alone. But to satisfy them further, I have had to spend the money a second time.” This means, according to his own statement made in his clarification,  that he had to borrow rupees ten lakhs, which he had already spent for his treatment, from his friend in order to donate it to the Odisha Chief Minister’s Relief fund just to silence his critics! But the truth is that his treatment in Delhi, that is, his Knee Replacement, was done long before he got involved with Seashore and was paid by the Ashram Trust. And regarding the treatment of his recent illness, we are sure that the Ashram Trust is bearing all his expenses as per the Ashram rule. One can get full proof evidence from the Ashram Accounts department. Since he has become an inmate, the Ashram has paid for all his expenses relating to his treatment. Can he deny this fact?

6. An important question for Shri Das:

Has he taken permission from the Ashram Trust, whose rules and regulations he had accepted when he became an inmate, before involving himself in the Seashore affairs? When he found out that the company with which he was financially involved was under CBI scrutiny, and he "helplessly" donated the amount he received to the Odisha Chief Minister’s Relief fund, did he seek permission from the Ashram authorities for doing so? Shri Das jolly well knows about Rule No. 8 on page 26 of the ‘Rules of Sri Aurobindo Ashram,’ published by the present Trustees to whom he has always shown loyalty by sacrificing his own conscience, “An inmate must not involve himself in any private or personal business or take up an employment outside the Ashram. In very exceptional cases an inmate may do so with the prior express permission of Board of Trustees. The decision of Trustees shall be final and binding on the inmate.” Sri Das is not only involved in the present Seashore scam, but he has also been personally involved in  earning money by neglecting his assigned work  since he joined the Ashram. So, following his footsteps, many  young Ashram inmates have also involved themselves in personal businesses. When questioned, they cite his example first, which silences the Trustees. Of course, their silence has its own meaning.

However, he is a good literateur. After he settled in the Ashram, the people of Odisha looked up to him as an example or ideal. But living in the Ashram in the guise of a Sadhak, he has only sought to further his own objectives and ambitions with total disregard for the established principles of the Ashram and indirectly his own Guru. Being idolized by young sadhaks, he has become one of the main causes of the Ashram’s downfall.
We would have nothing to comment about him if he were not associated with the Ashram which we believe is the cradle of future humanity and the centre of our hope and aspiration. Now, he himself is providing ammunition for attacking him.

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