Rich, I agree to most of the stuff you have explained. That SA/M have not intended to make a religion out of their teachings. All their teachings are for getting in contact with the Divine or spiritual rather than religious and are meant for submitting to the Divine will. But they have not refused to use the knowlegde and spiritual practises of hinduism which have been developed by many great yogi's, bhaktas etc. If the spiritual practises look religious to others then whose fault is it? You cannot look at a person from outside and say if their practise is religious or spiritual.
It might be true that there are some people in the Ashram who may have deflected from seeking the divine as their primary aim and getting lost in religious practises. This result is also natural as Sri Aurobindo has mentioned that this IY is first realised by a few individuals and there could be many individuals misunderstanding their teachings in the Ashram itself. This has happened even when they were alive.
The question that if SA/M were the leaders of the organisation and why did it turn into what they have not intended can be easily explained. If people do not obey their instuctions what can they do. The Divine does not impose its will , the Divine gives freedom to choose the right will.
I have come to know what the Divine means from them so I would not question their knowledge or if they were perfect or not? I have come to know the definition of an Avatar from the Letters of Yoga. I assume they were perfect. How do I question someone who has given me this supreme knowlegde which converts itself to ananda, if they were perfect or not? I would call this stupidity.
I am sure they knew when publishng these letters that there would be many people who would misinterpret them but they still allowed for the benefit of the few who are sincere and earnest in seeking the Divine.
All the spiritual practises which may look religious but which help the growth of conciousness can be used in IY. We have to learn to accept that there will be people who will misinterpret their teachings. There could be people who may deify SA/M without even knowing their IY teachings. What can we do about it. It is a natural consequence of Ignorance in humanity. We have first accept it and then try to find solution to the problem instead of not acknowledging that the problem exists as you have pointed out. There is a problem on the organization level and how do we find solutions for a harmonious functioning? There are people in the organisation who deviate into fundamentalism or sectarianism instead of seeking the Divine in everything ? How does the organisation deal with such problems? Does it take any action at all and what is the impact of these deviating people on the organisation.
Rich says: "take special care that some followers will not become attached to the forms of worship and inevitably confuse levels of consciousness, as well as secular and sacred, subcultural and cultural, theocratic and democratic values"
IY is a spiritual teaching. Its concentrates on the change of consciousess of the individual and his nature. Each individual is different. There cannot be a mass following in IY as Sri Aurobindo has pointed out several times and even the path on traverses to the same goal is also different depending on ones nature. One cannot impose ones opinions or cultural conditioning on other sadhaks. One has to learn to accept others way of approaching the Divine. Reply
RY, I am reproducing the entire text (that I happened to fortuitously come upon) of the Mother's statement of "...the decisive action direct from the Supreme". It is interesting to note that she closes it with "And I am just trying to fulfil that action". Would you read into it the fulfillment of that "action" is the supramentalisation of the body? Here is the text.
"The essential mistake was to have considered Sri Aurobindo's teaching as one among the spiritual teachings - and the work done here now as one among the many aspects of the Divine works. This has falsified your basic position and has been the cause of all the difficulties and confusions. If this mistake is corrected in your mind and in your attitude all other difficulties will disappear easily. You must understand that what Sri Aurobindo represents in the world's history, is not a teaching, not even a revelation; it is a decisive action direct from the Supreme. And I am just trying to fulfil that action."