Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sri Aurobindo did not run away from the revolutionary movement

A critique of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs and its ...
The problem is not so much with the likes of Heehs and Doniger. Born in an alien culture, fed by the staple diet of Freudianism or else serving ...

But I have no problem with Peter Heehs or Bratya Basu, the cheeky Bengal tourism minister who, I am sure, would never like to speak about the spiritual dimension of Sri Aurobindo’s retirement from politics, because that is taboo in Bengal, the birthplace of so many great spiritual personalities of India. I fully agree that people have a right to express their opinions, though the ones who keep insisting on free speech are the ones who generally have the worst opinions! However, truth is not simply plurality of opinions and living in a state of profound mental confusion, but what gets established over time despite all negative criticism. Therefore when a playwright courts unnecessary controversy in order to achieve quick fame, the record has to be set right in the public domain by those who totally disagree with him, and especially by those who hold responsible public positions. So when Matriprasad Satyamurthy, the secretary of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, comes up with the following remark in the face of this controversial take on Sri Aurobindo, I do have an objection. The Times of India reports,

Matri Prasad, a Sri Aurobindo Ashram inmate in Puducherry, isn’t closed to the idea of the play. “Everyone should be free to approach the truth in his own way. Why doubt the efforts of a playwright? I understand Bengali, but won’t go the extra mile to watch it.”

To come back to the main issue, what did I expect Matriprasad Satyamurthy, a person holding such an important position in the Ashram, to say? To declare at least the official position based on Sri Aurobindo’s own words, which I have quoted at the end of this piece for the convenience of the readers ― that Sri Aurobindo did not run away from the revolutionary movement, that he was not a coward, and that the Divine commanded him to work not only for the spiritual rebirth of India but of the world as well. That this spiritual work was of far greater importance than the revolutionary movement, due to which he had to concentrate all his energies on it. That in any case he had the inner assurance that India will be free, and that he felt his personal intervention in politics was no longer necessary because there were others to carry forward the freedom struggle. That would have been sufficient and you don’t have to be a learned scholar to state this position!

But what did Matriprasad Satyamurthy say? That “everyone should be free to approach the truth in his own way. Why doubt the efforts of a playwright?” Does he realise the implication of this highly irresponsible remark for somebody in his position? It means that even the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, which is an institution started by the Mother to preserve the spiritual legacy of Sri Aurobindo, does not  know the reason why Sri Aurobindo left the revolutionary movement! An Ashram spokesman is not required to say “that everyone should be free to approach the truth in his own way” – that is best left for the critics of Sri Aurobindo to insist upon when they are confronted with the official view of the Ashram Trust. The official view again is not what the Trustees or the disciples of Sri Aurobindo interpret or misinterpret but Sri Aurobindo’s own views in the matter. So what was the problem in stating Sri Aurobindo’s own position instead of passing such an ingratiating remark on a playwright who is bent upon portraying Sri Aurobindo in the wrong light? But perhaps Matriprasad Satyamurthy really believes that Sri Aurobindo escaped to Pondicherry out of fear than was moved by an inner Adesh!

I never thought that Raman Reddy, Sraddhalu Ranade and R.Y. Deshpande have the sole preoccupation of a smear campaign against the Ashram Trust. But judging by the write-ups in the Wellwishers’ site in recent years, the trio (along with Alok Pandey off and on), are attributed as those behind every disturbance in Pondicherry! It is extremely generous of thewellwishers site to pay credit where it is not due and bury their heads in the sand when confronted with the real mischief mongers of the Ashram, viz, those who undermine the very spiritual teachings of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

It is ironical that Shri Jayantilal thought that spiritual issues are before the Courts. Definitely not! 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.

Incidentally there is another mix-up: the Wellwishers site construes  criticism of the misdeeds of the Trustees as criticism of the Ashram. 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. 

A critique of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs and its ...
May 29, 2012 - Being unwelcome outsiders, we have been studying carefully the comments on what seems be only a social networking site with practically no intellectual content. On following it closely, one gets the impression of a street-show – remember the monkey-man performing on the streets, thrashing himself and the miserable little monkey with a whip, forcing it to do somersaults in front of an audience which throws a few pennies at them. You get the same kind of impression of awe and pity on the SAICE forum. The larger forum witnesses the star-performers in silent awe while Aurofilio Schiavino, Arindam Das, Auroskand Vepari, Ashit Mitra and an occasional lady join the performance. The show generally begins with Filio furiously wielding the whip on Sraddhalu Ranade, Govind Nishar, Dr. R.Y. Deshpande, Dr. Alok Pande or Srikant Jivarajini, making the most insulting remarks on them. These “intelligent” remarks are seconded by more “intelligent” comments, until the conversation reaches a vitriolic climax. The audience then disperses and the star entertainers call it a day with the great satisfaction of having won the battle on the Internet. Surely they have, when nobody even knows about it and people are hardly aware of what they have said except the Ashram “supramental” elite!! Let these Ashram ex-students speak out in the open and let them find out for themselves where they stand on the social or intellectual scale. Let them come out in full public view and dare to face people from outside the Ashram. Right now, the SAICE forum is like a closed room where Kindergarten children raise a big ruckus over who is not on the side of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, because according to these star-performers, everyone faithful to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother has to be faithful to “Sri” Manoj Das Gupta!