14 Oct 2017

"Deliberate Distortions of Sri Aurobindo's Life and Yoga" – edited by Raman Reddy

The above book is available at:

Preface

This book is a counter to the vicious attack on Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual stature that came in the form of a hostile biography of him by Peter Heehs entitled The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, published by Columbia University Press in 2008. All the articles in this book are in defence of Sri Aurobindo and many of them have been written by well-known historians and academicians. Though the book is written in support of the disciples and followers of Sri Aurobindo and their spontaneous rejection of the gross distortions of their Master’s life and teachings, the refutations themselves are based on a scholarly study of Sri Aurobindo’s works and a thorough examination of the historical facts of his life. I hasten to make here a necessary clarification with regard to the study of great spiritual personalities such as Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

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2 Sep 2017

Manoj Das Gupta Interrogated by the Police ─ Anirjeet

On the 25th of August 2017 the Pondicherry Police whisked off Manoj Das Gupta in a Police jeep around 7 a.m. from the Ashram Dining Room, where he had gone to collect his breakfast. The Police took him to the station for questioning with regard to the rape of a minor girl by a minor boy committed in the premises of the Ashram School on 21 July, 2017. Manoj Das Gupta happens to be the Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the Registrar of the Ashram School, which is a powerful and influential position to hold in Pondicherry, so it is extremely surprising that the Police dared to treat him like a common citizen. He was even made to undergo the utter humiliation of waiting in the Police Station for two hours and told to come the next day for interrogation. The next day he was accompanied by Dr. Dilip Datta (Trustee and head of the Ashram Medical Services) and Matriprasad Satyamurthy (Secretary of the Ashram Trust) to the Police station. The same week writer Manoj Das (Sahitya Academy award winner and recipient of Padma Shri) was summoned to Chennai and interrogated by the Intelligence Bureau. All of a sudden the long delayed karmic hand has caught up with the actions of this nefarious group of the Ashram and the fortress of invincibility they had built up in the public domain over the last twenty years seemed to fall like a house of cards.
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19 Aug 2017

Relinquishing Responsibilities – Anirjeet

Our last post of 7th August, 2017 (Two Shocking Incidents – by Anirjeet) has set the alarm bells ringing, not in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, as much as in the Sri Aurobindo Centres closely connected with it. The inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram will naturally pretend ignorance and vehemently deny these incidents out of sheer fear of retribution from the Trustees, for whom it is a question of public shame and accountability. And even if the inmates reluctantly admit in private a watered-down version of the two incidents, they would gallantly come to the rescue of the Trustees by saying that these were after all isolated incidents in the otherwise island of peace and psychic growth of the children in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Centre of Education. But then if you look backwards, these kinds of incidents (relating to drugs, sex and alcohol) have happened before, and it is only recently that the skeletons are tumbling out of the musty and suppressed annals of Ashram history.
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7 Aug 2017

Two Shocking Incidents – Anirjeet

The following post, dated 6 August, 2017 on indiatoday.in with the title “SC rejects plea of woman ‘abused’ at Puducherry’s Aurobindo Ashram” is highly misleading, even going by the report that follows underneath. On 28 July 2017, Chief Justice Khehar dismissed the impleadment petition of Hemlata Prasad in the Writ Petition filed by Gayatri Satpathy & Others against the Ashram Trustees in August 2014 for a number of complaints, including sexual harassment of minors, death by medical negligence, shady land dealings and other financial irregularities. The Chief Justice however granted the liberty to Hemlata Prasad to “initiate proceedings if the applicant is so advised in her own right”.  In other words, the Chief Justice did not reject her plea of being abused but instructed her to file it separately on her own. So while the title gives the impression of the Ashram Trustees coming out clean in the eyes of the Supreme Court, the actual content of the story should hardly make them comfortable, especially when the Centre (MHA is a party to the Writ Petition) has “favoured an independent inquiry into the affairs of the Ashram”.

In the meanwhile two more shocking incidents have come to light in the Ashram, which should make the Ashram Trustees literally squirm in their seats and regret why they ever sat on them.
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4 Mar 2017

The Wrong Notion that Sri Aurobindo Rejected Hinduism – Raman Reddy

(With specific reference to The Clasp of Civilisations (2015) by Richard Hartz, published by Nalanda International, and Nationalism, Religion, and Beyond (2005), a compilation of Sri Aurobindo’s writings on Politics, Society and Culture, edited by Peter Heehs.)  

I was rather disappointed after reading The Clasp of Civilisations by Richard Hartz because I expected from him a better understanding of Hinduism than most Western scholars.[1] The book starts off well with a sense of universality in spiritual matters which justifies the title, but gets caught halfway through with the usual antipathy towards Hinduism that is so common among secular scholars of India. The chapter on Vivekananda’s famous address in the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in September 1893 is indeed well-written and the circumstances of the historic event depicted in a most interesting manner with an undercurrent of humour. But the chapter on Hinduism titled “Untold Potentialities: Jawaharlal Nehru, Sri Aurobindo and the Idea of India”, in which Nehru is elevated into a spiritual figure and Sri Aurobindo converted into a secular icon, shows the fundamental flaws of Richard’s scholarship. One immediately gets the impression of encountering one more Hinduphobic armchair scholar, who meticulously builds his arguments on the works of other Hinduphobic scholars who also have never empathised with Indian culture. Ironically, Richard Hartz has studied the Vedas and is an expert in Sanskrit, but this only shows that mere scholarship does not open the gates of spiritual comprehension. After all, Peter Heehs, his colleague, did the same, wasting forty years of research on Sri Aurobindo and producing such a hostile biography that the disciples of Sri Aurobindo had to go to the Court to take him to task. But let us come back to Richard Hartz who could have easily come to his own conclusions instead of following the path of Peter Heehs with regard to Hinduism, or what is in fact the path of leftist secular scholars of India and abroad which Peter Heehs himself follows faithfully for the sake of his academic career. After all, for him academic success is more important than stating the fundamental truth of Hinduism!   
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