committed to objective, academic, respectful and honest discussions
JUL 18, 2014
Not many people are aware how Manoj Das uses the Ashram as a plank to increase his literary reputation. Being the only eminent writer around makes him the uncontested spokesman of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and he automatically partakes a little of the halo of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in the eyes of powerful Govt. officials and eminent public figures who often visit the Ashram. It is somewhat like what happens when you stand in the focus of blinding halogen lamps or when you pose in front of a magnificent temple or palace, especially when you are an expert on its history. Visitors are naturally awestruck by what is behind but they also tend to be impressed by the person in front, who has enabled their wonder and appreciation of the monument. It is after this initial razzle dazzle that a cordial and friendly contact is established and even hard-crusted officials melt and become vulnerable to aggressive hospitality. “Put in a word, if you can, to the Padma Awards Committee” comes of course at a later stage when the officials have been thoroughly brainwashed by the greatness of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, overwhelmed by their spiritual presence at the Samadhi and baffled by their lofty Yoga and philosophy. This is what is I call spiritual salesmanship, or rather how spirituality is used to promote sales! It is nothing new, it is as old as the hills, the clever Brahmins did it centuries ago and we do it even now.
Reading the portions quoted by Sripad Singh from Manoj Das’s letter to Niranjan Naik, you get the impression that Manoj Das is “Hypocrisy Personifed”.
JUL 28, 2014
Secondly, a successful businessman like Narendra Gehlaut cannot be faulted because he has gone out of the way to fund research work on Savitri (Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem) under the guidance of R.Y. Deshpande, who is an eminent scholar in his own domain. I wish the Ashram Trust had actually funded such projects instead of wasting all its time, energy and money in legal cases against its own beneficiaries.
I come now to the “irrefutable logic cum speculation” of the post, which can only be the result of the combined effort of Matriprasad Satyamurthy, the secretary of the Ashram Trust (which is evident by the sheer detail provided with regard to the Five Sisters’ case, the said law firm and the cost of litigation in the Supreme Court), and Richard Hartz, the main American editor of the 1993 revised edition of Savitri, in which many of the followers and disciples of Sri Aurobindo have now lost confidence. One can deduce the role of Richard Hartz by the very hatred expressed against R.Y. Deshpande, who has been his critic and contender from a long time. R.Y. Deshpande has challenged time and again the editing of Savitri and thereby exposed the arrogance of the American editors of Sri Aurobindo’s works, who think that they know better English than Sri Aurobindo himself. He has even dared them to publish their editorial work openly on the Net with the relevant manuscripts of Sri Aurobindo so that other scholars too can verify for themselves their editorial decisions. The Ashram Trust has never dared to do so because it knows that it will open the Pandora’s box!
AUG 9, 2014
AUG 29, 2014
When did the disciples who have stood up against the Ashram Trust say or act as if there was no distinction between an Employee and an Inmate? They have never asked for Provident Fund or the application of Labour Laws in the Ashram! How does asking for justice and basic subsistence due to every inmate of the Ashram put him on par with salaried employees? You are actually raising a hornet’s nest. Can you imagine what will happen if all the Ashramites start asking for regular salaries? The Managing Trustee will have to bolt for the Himalayas! Finally, if your assumption is that an Employee can demand for facilities that he has been unjustly deprived of whereas an Inmate should not, then all the Ashram inmates will rather become Employees of the Ashram Trust. We will then have a lot of fun with Ashramites being paid to do sadhana under the strict supervision of New Age American style “Yoga cum Bhoga” gurus such as Peter Heehs and Richard Hartz!
Everybody in the Ashram and all the devotees who visit the Ashram on a regular basis know that the Ashram does survive on public donations, that it will go bankrupt if the donations and offerings stop, and that its businesses can hardly provide the finance to make both ends meet. In fact Ashram businesses and farms are white elephants and are mostly run at huge losses.
JAN 27, 2015
MAR 22, 2015
APR 25, 2015
It is an observed fact nowadays that those who have everything give nothing to the Ashram. Some others who had precious nothing when they joined the Ashram, have worked their way up the power ladder and have now taken everything from the Ashram in the form of monetary allowances, vehicles, costly medical treatment and exclusive accommodation. Not for a moment they think of what is expected of them by The Mother.
Precisely because the Ashram finances owe largely to such offerings, there is need for probity and accountability in their utilisation. The funds should not be squandered on innumerable court cases to defend the wrongs perpetrated by the Trustees on Ashramites. Nor should they be wasted on travel jaunts or the private purposes of those close to the Trustees or to extend hospitality to Press personnel in order to publicly position the Ashram administration as an ideal setup and a paragon of virtue.
It is high time that the bluff of nomadic travellers / tourists / time-servers is called off, and the Ashram Trustees live up to the expectations of the public at large. Otherwise, it would only confirm the deep mistrust with which it perceives them now. If the Trustees refuse to mend their ways, it is better that they quit their positions so that the Ashram does not fall into further disrepute.
Today in the Ashram there are privileged classes and even privileged pets of the favoured ones.
Mundane organisational issues such as denial of food, medical facilities, sexual harassment and alienation of Ashram funds and properties are before the Courts, owing directly or indirectly to the whimsical andunaccountable actions of the Ashram Trust. Though the Ashram Trust would like to downplay the number of court cases, it is a fact that these are one too many. More than 160 cases were listed as of June 2008 by a social activist; the number by now would have easily exceeded 200. We need to thus ponder as to why so many voices are raised against the Trust. The answer is all too clear – it is the malfunctioning of the Ashram Trust and the arrogance of the Trustees who are at the helm of affairs. If the situation is not rectified, there is every danger that we as a collective would be consigned to the dustbins of history.
Let us be wellwishers of the Ashram – comprising of the extended family of devotees and disciples of The Mother. We should however not be devotees of the Trustees if they do not serve the cause of The Mother.