29 Mar 2014

The History of the Ashram School (1) – Kittu Reddy

[Kittu Reddy came to Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, in 1941 at the age of five. The Mother started the Ashram School on the 2nd of December 1943 and he was among the first students of the school. He had all his education at the Ashram and was appointed a teacher in December 1957. In the middle of 1958, he joined the Registrar’s office and assisted the Registrar Kireet Joshi in the administration of the school. It is in that capacity that he often wrote to the Mother regarding the administration of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education.]

The history of the Ashram school – now known as the International Centre of Education – can be probably divided into four periods. The first period is from 1943 to 1950, the second one is from 1951 to 1958,  the third is from 1959 to 1967 and the fourth one is the period after that.

This article will deal mainly with the third period – that is to say from 1959 to 1967. However, the first two periods will be briefly touched upon.
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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?
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20 Mar 2014

Extracts from Swami Tyagnanda’s Rebuttal of Kali’s Child by Jeffrey Kripal

[The following are two extracts from Swami Tyagananda’s rebuttal of Kali’s Child by Jeffrey Kripal, mentor of Peter Heehs. Kripal wrote the blurb on the jacket of the Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs, who gave a copy of his MS to the former before the publication of his derogatory biography of Sri Aurobindo. They make good company for each other: the first discovered that Sri Ramakrishna was a homosexual, the latter uncovered the romantic relationship between Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Most disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are totally ignorant of the filth that this so-called scholarship represents, and they would not even like to read about it. On the contrary, they would even pretend that the filth does not exist, and that it is merely the Western way of looking at things, that we Indians should respect plurality of opinions even if our culture is grossly misrepresented. Have we not listened long enough to this hypocritical nonsense? Try to criticise some of these scholars in public and you will get a taste of their forbearance, make a psychoanalytic homeo-erotic interpretation of their own personalities and you will see them rant and rage. You should then talk to them about plural opinions! The truth is that these so-called scholars hide behind “freedom of speech” when they defile all that is valuable and sacred to you, and accuse you of defamation or vilification or even racism when the tables are turned against them.
     The following are the abbreviations of books referred to by Swami Tyagananda in his commentary below: Kali’s Child = “KC”; Kathamrita = “KA”; Lilaprasanga = “LP”.Bireshwar Choudhury]
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13 Mar 2014

Peter Heehs’s Attempt to Withdraw the Ban on his Scurrilous Biography of Sri Aurobindo ― by Sricharan Singh

The Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram are once again trying to reactivate the effort to denigrate Sri Aurobindo in the eyes of the public. The effort had been quelled earlier, but this time they have taken the help of Manoj Das, the well-known Odiya writer and inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

An American inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram by the name of Peter Heehs had written a biography called The Lives of Sri Aurobindo in May 2008, which was published by Columbia University Press. The book portrays Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as very ordinary human beings who lived very ordinary lives. The Government of Odisha in its wisdom had banned the book in India through a Gazette Notification on the 9th of April 2009 before the Indian edition could be published. Therefore Indian readers were fortunately saved from this distorting book, which is a deliberate and malicious attempt by a foreigner to denigrate our deeply adored national and spiritual leader.

Recently Peter Heehs has filed a complaint in the Odisha High Court challenging the Gazette Notification of the Odisha Government.
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7 Mar 2014

Colonial Hegemony of Indology – INDIA FACTS

[Another excellent article on Wendy Doniger, the negative type of Western research she represents, the colonial hangover Indian intellectuals suffer from apart from the economic interests behind this exercise of deconstructing Indian culture. – Bireshwar Choudhury]

THE FINAL WORD / Posted by Anirban Ganguly / 23 February, 2014

Those who are at the forefront of expressing their disgust and anguish at the act of withdrawing Wendy Doniger’s snigger of a book on the Hindus are a very distinct and peculiar type. They are a type which, because they have been the beneficiaries of the munificence of the “outsiders” can hardly ever come round to accept that the “insiders” may one day speak and talk back at “outsiders” who had hitherto been the sole arbiter and definer of their image. It was, most certainly, one of these types who must have peer-reviewed Doniger’s stuff on behalf of her publishers – surprisingly that act and actor has so far managed to avoid being discovered and discussed.  This type has modeled itself “on its departed counterpart” and has always viewed “any emphasis on the ‘glories of ancient India’ as an act of Hindu Fundamentalism.”[1]
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1 Mar 2014

Why the Wendy Doniger episode is not a free speech issue? – By Sandeep Balakrishna

[There are some excellent articles on the Wendy Doniger issue in email circulation now. This is one of those which I would like to share and even aggressively propagate to our readers because it indirectly explains the Peter Heehs issue from a larger perspective. – Bireshwar Choudhury.]

INDIA Feb 13, 2014

Before we begin we need to set two critical aspects in the proper perspective:

The episode of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An alternative history is not a ban of the book. It is a voluntary withdrawal of the book by its publisher, Penguin Books.

The episode is not an issue of free speech. Neither Penguin nor the petitioners acted outside the boundaries of the law concerning free speech in India.

The outrage over Penguin withdrawing Doniger’s book has emanated mostly from the section that calls itself secular and liberal, among other things. And this outrage cleverly sidesteps the valid and vast critiques of Wendy Doniger’s scholarship and frames the issue as one of a book ban and Hindu fundamentalism. The kind of arson and violence that erupted across the world in the wake of the Danish cartoons fits the definition of religious fundamentalism. It is clear that the petitioners simply took to legal recourse in this case. Besides, it was Penguin’s decision to voluntarily withdraw the book in an out-of-court settlement for reasons best known to it. Therefore, raising the din that freedom of expression is under threat by Hindutva forces is off the mark.
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