Govardhan Dave is perhaps at his illogical best in the recent posting of 19 August 2014 on the Well-Wishers’ forum. Logical analysis was never his strong point, but what concerns me is that he is also an ignoramus on life in Sri Aurobindo Ashram and on the stormy events that have recently occurred there. What is more disconcerting is that he proceeds to write a factual analysis of the controversy with this half-knowledge and with his half-baked mind. This double deficiency makes him indeed a dangerous disseminator of wrong information which gullible strangers might readily believe. Hence I will take the trouble to rebut him instead of dismissing him as a harmless nincompoop who is being used by the Well-Wishers’ forum to shoot over his shoulders. I quote below his so-called analysis with my comments below.
29 Aug 2014
22 Aug 2014
The Well-Wishers of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Forum is active again. This Forum can be considered as the unofficial mouthpiece of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust with Matriprasad Satyamurthy (secretary of the Ashram Trust) and Richard Hartz (controversial editor of Sri Aurobindo’s publications) hiding behind pseudonyms and spewing hatred at what they call anti-Ashram elements. Let me remind you once more that we had made a clear distinction between the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust in our last response to this forum. Therefore the Ashramites who have filed this “new case” are not against the Ashram but the Ashram Trust, which runs the Ashram in the most irresponsible manner. Their demand is to revamp the present administration through a Government intervention without which no structural changes can be brought about in the governance of the Ashram. The changes will ensure transparency and accountability, the utter lack of which is the hallmark of the present setup. The introduction of some democracy into the highly autocratic functioning of the present Trustees would also be a welcome measure. All these demands are fundamental to any institution in modern times and, if the excuse for not conceding to them is that the Ashram is a spiritual institution and not a secular one, then show me these “highly spiritual disciples” among the present Trustees who can guide the Ashram to its spiritual destiny!
16 Aug 2014
Interviewer(s): Pranab-da, you said that on the 24th April, 1945 you marched in front of Sri Aurobindo. Where and how was it?
Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya: It was in 1948. It was in the Darshan Room. He was sitting in the Darshan Room and we did the march past in the hall that is above Meditation Hall [downstairs]. We came in by the staircase door that is nearer to the staircase, and then took a round and came out by the other door. Two in a row and we told everybody not to do pranam and all that, as that will spoil the march past. Just turn your head and see. In bhakti, you know, if they did pranam, they would spoil everything (laughter). So the whole march past took some three or four minutes and we got the advantage of going again for the second time, so we had two Darshans.
Interviewer(s): She said anything after that?
PKB: She liked it very much. Sri Aurobindo was amused, that is what Mother said. There was a little smile on his face, we could see that. And when it was finished, I went and told him that it was over and he gave me a nod. Then Mother told me that the way I had come and said the thing was over was liked very much by Sri Aurobindo.
9 Aug 2014
It has been a long time since the “No Religion” refrain in Ashram and especially in Auroville is becoming louder and louder to the extent of becoming “No Spirituality”. The cry against Religion has now become so belligerent that there seems to be no place left for spirituality, no place for devotion and reverence, no place for the aspiration of the soul, and finally no place for Sri Aurobindo and the Mother themselves. The reason that is promptly given is that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were themselves against the founding of a new Religion, and especially the Mother’s sharp remarks on Religion in the Agenda seemed to have sealed its fate for good, that is, if you believe in the Mother as the final authority in these matters, which ironically becomes again a sort of Religion. So you really cannot disprove Religion by quoting Mother if you adopt a religious attitude towards Mother herself! Either you throw the baby with the bathwater, that is, throw religion out of the window along with its founders, or accept what they say and try to understand the difference between spirituality and religion, and where exactly religion becomes spirituality or how spirituality deteriorates into religion. The problem then becomes complex and you begin to grasp the various nuances, and of course you can give a rational explanation to this highly emotive issue to diehard anti-religionists.
3 Aug 2014
Interviewer(s): How did your family come here?
Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya: My family? All that I have given in my paper. My grandfather died and my father and uncle wanted to have some spiritual guidance, they were looking for a Guru. All that I have said, I need not repeat.
Interviewer(s): When you first came here, did Mother say anything?
PKB: That also I have said, there was no talk, but I felt that she liked me from the beginning. I had a plan about which I have not spoken in that paper. I have told you that I opened a physical culture club there, and though it was a physical culture club, I was moulding the character of the boys. It was my idea that I would prepare good specimens of men who would make the country rich by their experience and their service. That was my idea, and it worked quite well. I was at that time 17 or 18 years old, and it worked very well.