Ranganath Raghavan's Response to "A Declaration of Solidarity" from A critique of the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs To Jay Raichuria and Meera Gupta (Sabda)
To anyone reading your “Declaration” casually and superficially, it will appear to contain very sound reflections and plausible ideas. But a closer scrutiny will reveal that the words are high sounding without solid content. We are having a closer look at your declaration in a more deliberate manner and these are my reactions.
1. It is NOT an attack against the Ashram, it is a peaceful protest by some of the Ashramites and devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother against the non-action (or rather active support) of the management, against an offender who, even while being an Ashramite, thinks it is admissible, even justifiable to find fault with the Guru. This is absolutely inadmissible in any spiritual life, specially so in the Indian tradition.
2. Not true. Several members of the Ashram have been removed from their usual work, thus interfering with their normal functions. This has been done often for petty egoistic reasons, allowing the members to draw the conclusion that to insult Sri Aurobindo is admissible but to criticize other Ashramites is punishable. What could be more foolish than this!! Besides, we may say that individual sadhana is not the only purpose in the Ashram. The collective sadhana is equally important and this imposes many responsibilities on the management which they have to discharge with great care and equity. Removing members from their work spots on relatively flimsy grounds does not seem to meet the requirements expected of the trustees.
3. Where is the MUTUAL respect? Respect seems to be demanded only as a one-way traffic towards the management.
4. The largest threat is the tolerance, nay the protection and support to those who find fault with the Guru, within the community. This is more than a threat—it has the potential to destroy the institution. This cannot be envisaged in the Ashram as tolerable. There are any number of cases where both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have acted against individuals who had these tendencies. There are even letters that testify to this fact, apart from information in many cases.
5. This is what many senior members like us are asking for, “all the data in any given case” Why is there no transparency, no openness? Is there a good reason for not communicating with the rest of the members?
6. Best interests? How to know what that is? Can there be no difference of opinion in this matter? Is it in the best interests of the Ashram to act in such a manner that it attracts innumerable court cases? Is it in the BEST interest of the Ashram to keep the Police happy and supportive of the management in every case, whatever the merit of the case? Is it in the interest of the Ashram to get a member of the Ashram arrested by the police in a surreptitious manner? Can the management claim that their actions have been always in the best interest of the Ashram? One may argue that another management may also err and take decisions that may go against the Ashram. That is why it has been suggested that openness and a larger body be involved in a consultative process.
7. But this is precisely what the present management is doing by NOT discussing issues with the others of the community, who may have better ideas and solutions to problems that have cropped up. The final decision can always be taken by the competent authority whoever that may be, but why not get the issues discussed in a larger forum? Why claim exclusive right over the final decisions without any wider consultations?
8. When the trustees state in writing that they have been placed by
in their present position and they need not consult anybody, are they not
claiming precisely that? Providence
9. The Mother is guiding only the trustees? She is not guiding the others? And guidance is one thing and understanding the guidance and acting according to it is another matter altogether. The guidance is received in proportion to the purity and receptivity of the individual. And when a trustee himself admits to being “confused”, can it be claimed that the guidance is received perfectly?
10. This entire passage may well apply to all human beings and both parties in this unfortunate confrontation, although clearly you mean by it only those who are protesting against the protection of Peter Heehs by the trustees.
At this point, let it be clearly and loudly stated that the SRI AUROBINDO ASHRAM is built by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and its truth is eternal and deeply planted. But the present management is composed of ordinary human beings, whose sole responsibility is the external management of the organization and its smooth functioning. To equate the present set of five mortal transient, imperfect human beings with the true and deeper reality of the institution is a devious trick intended to mislead those of mediocre intelligence, who are more than willing to transfer their allegiance from Mother to the trustees. This is a truth that will stand against all false attempts to insist on the contrary ─ which is that the trustees represent the Ashram spiritually! Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is a simple fact that was so well understood even by Monsieur André Morisset, the Mother’s son. He kept insisting on this truth. To call those who stand by this truth “deluded” is itself an act of supreme delusion.
11. Certainly it is clear that all internal problems should be resolved by the members themselves within the organization itself. No one would like an outside intervention, except when there is no other choice left. The question is who is responsible for this unfortunate pass. When arrogance, inflexibility are the norm and not sympathetic dialogue and a spirit of accommodation, then there is no option left except unusual methods.
12. Up to what degree is this freedom to be allowed? Taking a hypothetical case, where a serious illegal action has occurred, is the freedom still to be allowed? Should not the laws of the land take over? Now, who is to judge regarding the degree of illegality? Can anyone explain the innumerable court cases instituted against the ashram management? Why was even an arrest warrant issued against some of them? Freedom can never be infinite. There is always a limit to it. That is the reason why nowhere in the world is an individual elected to a position of power for more than a fixed period of time. It is a well known truism that all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is why these questions have arisen now in the context of the book maligning Sri Aurobindo. To maintain that the book is only “foolish” but harmless and the storm will blow over in time is to completely misunderstand the situation. The book is a direct attack on the Divine by a hostile force and if we give it protection in the Ashram, nothing could be more dangerous for the institution, which will render it open to constant problems of a more serious nature. There are those who think that the objectionable passages in the book by Peter Heehs are not at all bad, that they are merely harmless objective remarks, or at worst they are foolish and immature and need not be taken seriously at all. And that those who are raising a hue and cry about the book are completely mistaken or at best are exaggerating and are making a mountain out of a molehill. Those who hold that view may please explain how at first more than ninety passages were found to be “obnoxious” and the decision to expel Peter Heehs from the Ashram was taken, and how at the insistence of one individual, that decision was reversed within minutes. And all the others meekly agreed to tow the line laid down by one person!!! It appears that the real significance and danger of sheltering Peter Heehs within the Ashram has not been grasped by the trustees and their entourage.
13. The trust deed was made purely for legal reasons. It was drafted in a hurry and the result was not really satisfactory. There is no spiritual sanctity to it and we know that legal matters did not interest the Mother. We have some statements from her clearly expressing this view. It is also known that the Mother was not at all happy with the draft. This was known to several of the old sadhaks and specially Mr. Counouma, who had spoken about it to some people. So to claim that it is a sacred document and fully approved by the Mother is not the fact at all. Besides, nothing in this transient world is a rigid truth for ever. Changing times and circumstances always necessitate adjustments and alterations to suit the new conditions that crop up.
14. I do not think that anyone really wants to do that. But rigidity and inflexibility automatically invite forces that dictate change. The responsibility to avoid this is squarely on the shoulders of the management.
15. Even if there is no majority supporting the law suits, there is certainly a very large number of Ashramites who are highly dissatisfied with the management of the Trust. Besides, the numbers supporting either side can never be known unless a count is held. Therefore to say “nothing is farther than the truth” is a wild exaggeration and an assumption without basis.
16. That is exactly what everyone wants it to be. But right now, with all the policies and methods being adopted, we seem to be very far away from it. And we certainly want it to become THAT again.
17. Of course, by all means. But when you assert “we will not see” and “we will not allow”, you are imposing your own will and not necessarily the Mother’s will. The contradiction is obvious for even children to see.
18. Suggestions for discussions and creation of a broader base for important decisions had been made but were turned down with contempt. But if problems are to be solved internally, without external intervention, a sincere dialogue seems to be the only way. January 24, 2012 Ranganath Raghavan
Dear TNM, A discussion on the topic of Religion in the context of Sri Aurobindo's and The Mother's Integral Yoga is welcome, if deemed necessary. However, we are of the opinion that it is better to establish and lay down the facts before engaging in unending debates.
With regards to the Supreme Court Judgment, one can keep arguing about matters of Religion and Spirituality forever as these are merely a play of words. But for those who choose to play with words and the Law that is defined by these words, the Supreme Court Judgment establishes that enough has been said and argued on this subject and this matter can now be laid to rest, unless this Judgment is now sought to be reviewed or challenged.
Moreover, in the interest of Truth let us not get distracted by the never-ending arguments of legal experts or the polemics of self-appointed custodians of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Let us instead pay heed to the words and actions of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother who have: - Clearly stated that the ideals, teachings and the institutions they founded were not part of any religion whatsoever. They also acted according to these principles. - Have clarified that it is not their purpose to propagate any religion, new or old. - Unequivocally discouraged their followers from being religious. These are the undisputed facts and the only ones that matter. But in case there is any information that is to the contrary, you or others are invited to present it here, as the purpose of this website is to present information that is factual and truthful.
However, we would like to add that we are of the opinion that if some of Sri Aurobindo's and The Mother's followers wish to establish a new religion in the name, ideals or teachings of their Masters, they are of course free and welcome to attempt it. It is entirely up to them to try and reconcile their preferred personal beliefs and intentions while going against the directions and guidance of their Masters. If this is the path that these followers choose, so be it.
But there is absolutely no reason or justification for the rest of the followers to get misled by a few individuals who wish to further their personal views and preferences by creating the Myths of a non-existent religious movement. Editors, Auro Truths. February 3, 2012 at 9:27 am