Letter from Orissa to Sraddhalu Ranade, Raman Reddy, S. Ramanathan, and Niranjan Naik [facsimile] IY Fundamentalism
Dear fellow devotees,
Messers Sraddhalu Ranade, Raman Reddy, S. Ramanathan and Niranjan Naik.
We, the devotees of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo are addressing this letter to four of you and not to your collaborator, Sudha Sinha since we have no knowledge of her status or credentials. In your complaint against the Ashram Trust she is identified as a 'resident inmate of the Ashram'. On enquiry we find it to be untrue. However, we have expectations that you four will reflect on our submission with understanding and good will. Suffice to say that as devotees and frequent visitors to the Ashram our only concern is the image of our sacred spiritual home as well as the well being of its inmates including you four.
You have gone to the Court of Law with your prayers that the Court must formulate a scheme to manage the affairs of the Trust (as if what The Mother Herself, the founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, has signed and executed is not enough and clear and what She Herself had declared is now in need of further clarifications or elaborations by someone—even if it be a court of law). Your case is based on a controversial book. While the book is condemned by so many—though our enquiry reveals that most of those who condemn the book have formulated their impression on the basis of quotes widely circulated speaking objectively, we have also come across people who have read the book and are of the opinion that while the book contains irrelevant matters which when read out of their context appear offensive, there is no reason to create a panic situation out of it. There are even many, both Westerners and Indians, who find nothing offensive in the book and they are surprised that such a furore could be possible on such an issue. It is not our intention to go into merits and demerits of the book.
We do not dismiss your objections to the said book as meaningless. You are entitled to your opinion as others are to theirs. The future will decide how sensible or insensible the present furore was. No human voice of a given time is the voice of the ultimate Truth and we have to accept the fact that certain issues will remain disputable till Time, in its own passage, is pleased to pass its verdict.
What agonises us is that you could find this a cause for welcoming the intervention of an external authority on the very basic spiritual structure of the Ashram, seeking a complete departure from the Code of management the Mother had chosen to lay down.
We expect that at least three out of you four had joined the Ashram at an age when you were fully aware of the rules of this Institution as well as of what is common knowledge about the Mother's advice regarding anyone going to courts. Let us not forget how sad Mother is whenever Her children quarrel. We have gone through your plaint filed in the court carefully. The cause of action and the averments contained there are not unassailable. One thing we take exception, and deny and object to your self assumed assertion that you, petitioners, are the representatives of the disciples, followers and devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. This claim, to say the least, is preposterous. We do not intend to comment on the points raised by you, since the matter is subjective. The Mother will decide the right time for intervention by right persons.
You have profusely quoted from the Trust deed and charged the present Trustee for dereliction of duty for nonperforming their duties and responsibilities bestowed on them as you hold these provisions sacrosanct and simultaneously you have prayed to the court to change the entire trust board. The mechanism for nomination/selection of Trustees is in place in the trust deed itself. I[f] the provisions, quoted by you in your plaint, are sacrosanct, is this provision selection of Trustee less sacrosanct? All provisions in the trust deed are Mother's words—hence inviolable and infallible. Your attempt to go against The Mother's wish is practically a revolt. You want to substitute another authority overriding Mother's intention. All inmates of the Ashram shall have to conduct themselves within the framework the trust deed and the numerous letters of the masters to the disciples as all citizen·in
India shall have to abide by constitutional provisions or the constitution of . Is it not audacious you intend to flout Guru's advice. Is this not then a Gurudroha, treason in constitutional parlance? India
Peter' s book, containing sacrilegious remarks, were not at least a revolt or a flagrant violation of Gurus' advice and instructions. Please think over whether you are not committing more sacrilege amounting almost to blasphemy!
More inferences could be draws from various clauses of the deed. We do not want to venture into that arena. Eminent jurists and legal experts would do it better at the right forum at the right time.
You must be aware, judicial proceedings, particularly under the civil procedure code is a time-consuming process. The recent verdict of Allhabad High Court in Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute is an example. It took sixty years for the court to come to a conclusion. Preparations are on to challenge the verdict in the supreme Court. God knows when verdict of the
Apex Court world come. Even then the Verdict of the Apex Court may not pacify the contending parties till this controversy is hushed in silence and effaced from human memory in the long act of time. Posterity may look at it in a different prospective and ridicule it as fiasco. Can you deny similar would not be the result of your endeavour? However only one thing will remain indelible in human memory is the act of perpetrators of blasphemy—revolting against the Gurus teachings. Posterity could view this as a despicable act.
We are told, Peter has been divested of all his assignments in the Ashram. As per your own admission in the plaint the sacrilegous book has been banned for publication, distribution and sale in
both by court and govt. Your purpose has been achieved, your target has been targetted. Mother has brought the glory for you. What remains then to agitate? Presumably your personal animosity for the present trustees. Is this an ideal conduct of sadhaks of integral yoga! Why not sit together across the table and reconcile differences. Can we expect this gracious and benevolent reaction form you all! India
We are constrained to remind you that the Ashram is not a cooperative society, it is a spiritual institution in which one must trust in the Divine. You have joined it out of free will for Sadhana; not go to the court when you find that the management is not acting according to your preference. The management may err, even then the management has to be there. One should withdraw from the Ashram if one finds the Trust deed that governs it, inconvenient. One may have a hundred differences with the trustees of a given time, they are not infallible, but they also grow within like all of us who are open to the Mother. Besides, they are not immortal; new trustees will take their place. But we don't see how a circumstance could have arisen out of a book when you could take such an unhealthy step.
We urge upon you to reconsider your attitude and take steps accordingly. In case you find that to be not possible, we request you to withdraw from the Ashram and then fight to change its fundamental nature. It will not be conscientious of you to continue as Ashram inmates under the auspices of its present constitution and try to change it. We say this not to embarrass you, but with a broader practical picture in view, imagine a future when any Ashram inmate, while enjoying all the privileges of the Ashram, could go to the Court of Law for any issue on which he did not like the stand of the Ashram Trust. Suppose you or people of your liking become trustees tomorrow and their decision on a matter of policy goes against some other inmates' opinion, should the latter rush to the court? You are creating an unfortunate precedent. Those who are so serious as to go the court must be prepared to set an example of sacrifice. Your withdrawal from the Ashram will become that sacrifice. Only then we can believe that right or wrong, you are at least serious.
We would not be surprised nor frustrated if our pleadings go unheeded and you remain obstinate and implacable. Ultimately the Mother's will be done, we have that trust, confidence and certitude. But we being humans and ignorant having limited vision, are afraid of a situation like what Sri Aurobindo wrote in Savitri "An idiot hour destroys what centuries made". We pray and believe in the present Divine dispension that such an hour would not come.
With love and regards,
Yours in Mother Love.
Biharee Lal Patnaik, I.A.S. (Rtd.), Bhubaneshwar
Premananda Swain, Dy. SupIdt. of Police (Rtd.),
Harapriya Das, Lecturer on History,
Gokulananda Padhi, Advocate, Orissa High Court