Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sri Aurobindo doesn’t ask to believe, but to experience

Auroville Today also publishes the background and possible implications of an application filed in the Court in Pondicherry, seeking the leave of the Court to institute a suit against the Ashram Trust and its Trustees for committing a gross breach of trust by “instead of promoting Sri Aurobindo's tenets and philosophy … continue to harbour, defend and openly extend support to Mr. Peter Heehs, who authored ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo', a sacrilegious book ...” The article gives the arguments of the applicants as well as of those opposed to the suit who consider the arguments against Peter Heeh's book unfounded, and the suit as an attempt to replace the trustees, “the balanced and judicious men who are long-time direct disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother with ambitious figures….” Lastly, the article presents the views in Auroville and within Auroville International. [...]

The views in Auroville and of Auroville International
Many Aurovilians have read Heeh’s book. In the main, the response has been very positive, although some Aurovilians had reservations. However, the filing of the affidavit at the Puducherry District Court against the Ashram and its Trustees, which is perceived as an attack upon the Trustees, has been universally condemned. Deeply upset, the Working Committee of the Residents’ Assembly, on 17 September, 2010, sent a letter of solidarity and support to the Ashram Trustees. Individual Aurovilians have also written to the Trustees offering their support. A posting on Auronet, Auroville’s internal website, drawing attention to the filing of the affidavit received a record number of ‘hits’. However, Aurovilians and friends differed in how they felt we should respond.
Some felt this was an Ashram matter and that Auroville should keep out of it. Others said there should be no collective action on Auroville’s part but that individuals should respond as they felt moved. Those who felt strongest about Auroville becoming involved pointed out that Auroville was associated in many people’s minds in India with the Ashram and that disunity there would inevitably reflect upon Auroville. Others were disturbed that one of the main petitioners, Shraddalu Ranade, is allowed to continue his classes at Savitri Bhavan in Auroville as this might be understood that Auroville was supporting his stance. In fact, some Auroville International Centres and some Sri Aurobindo Centres in the USA have already, months ago, dissociated themselves from Shraddhalu. Savitri Bhavan has not given a public explanation of their position but in an email to AVToday its executive Shraddhavan wrote, “I deeply regret all these happenings which express and threaten to widen a deep split amongst people connected with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother; but Savitri Bhavan has always been open to the whole Aurobindonian family, as well as welcoming members of the general interested public, and I hope that it can remain that way.”
Another concern raised by some Aurovilians is the statement in the affidavit that Peter Heehs is ‘an unbeliever’. This implies that the work of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother can be regarded as a religion. Both Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have on more than one occasion categorically stated that their work cannot be considered a religion and that the Ashram is not a religious association. The Supreme Court of India pronounced upon the issue in 1982 when it judged that “the teachings of Sri Aurobindo only represent his philosophy and do not constitute a religion.”
Sri Aurobindo doesn’t ask to believe, but to experience. This statement in the affidavit effectively reduces His and The Mother’s teaching to a religion and a dogma. Auroville International expressed its concerns in an open letter to the members of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry [see box].
It is sad that for two years, since the publication of the book, the detractors and supporters of the book have not been able to resolve the conflict amongst them. Since the petitioners have taken it upon themselves to challenge the Trustees by filing a suit, it has now fallen upon the Puducherry District Court to consider the merits of the case. Carel


  1. If they were having experience they wouldn't need to change Sri Aurobindo's writings, it is the ones who don't have spiritual experience that support and alter to fit their beliefs the eternal truths that Sri Aurobindo has brought for mankind.
    The current Trustees or mainly one Trustee the rest are followers are not about the divine and the Truth. This may sound strong but this is a fact and in that space such things are encouraged and Peter's biography which has a hidden agenda of falsifying Sri Aurobindo come to exist.
    Sri Aurobindo's Truth belongs to the whole world, to alter it and those who support this alteration are not Sri Aurobindo's disciples. Sri Aurobindo is not to be subjected to anybody's fancy writings and the Ashram because it is currently a corrupt management allowed that gets to be responsible for the wrong doing and hurting the sentiments of thousands of disciples.
    Sunil S R

  2. Carel joined Auroville in 1985. He has served repeatedly in the Working Committee and The Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) of Auroville, approved by Parliament, respectively by the force of the Auroville Foundation Act (1988) and the additional Rules and Regulations (1996).

    Carel has a degree in law and, whenever the need arises, acts as liaison with external legal agencies. Since his early days he has been busy drafting legal documents and policies. A piano player entertaining the Aurovilians in musical soirees, Carel is also part of the editorial team of Auroville Today.