Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kittu Reddy, Ranganath Raghavan, and Sumita Khandpal

Hindutva exercises a weighty bearing on Heehs' imbroglio Heehs' imbroglio continues to ferment and newer dimensions of practical aspects of spiritual life and organisational shortcomings come to light constitutin...

Response to FIRSTPOST on the Scheme Suit issue – by Bireshwar Choudhury -On 14 January 2016, the Editor of the *FIRSTPOST* has referred in passing to the petitioners of the Scheme Suit in a most disparaging manner in an article ...

For those who do not know what transpired prior to the filing of the Scheme Suit, let it be noted in indelible letters that the Ashram Trust did not even listen to the protesting disciples in most cases, and even if they gave a hearing, did very little to soothe their feelings with regard to the vilification of Sri Aurobindo. It is primarily this intransigent attitude of the Trust that aggravated matters to a flashpoint and left the disciples no other option but to seek justice in the Court of Law. In the beginning of the crisis, when Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya (personal attendant of the Mother and head of the Ashram Physical Education Department) supported the view of the disciples, the Trust resorted to a cat and mouse game with him because of his huge popularity among the followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, both within the Ashram and centres outside. A petition signed by him and the majority of the Ashramites, demanding (1) the immediate removal of Peter Heehs from the Ashram Archives and (2) issuing a public condemnation of his book, was handed over to the Ashram Trust in October 2008 – only to be contemptuously ignored.

After Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya died in January 2010, there was no strong personality for the Ashramites to rally around and to oppose the Trust’s wilful inaction with regard to Peter Heehs. In May-July 2010, three senior disciples of the Ashram, Kittu Reddy, Ranganath Raghavan & Sumita Khandpal (an ex-Collector) exchanged letters with the Trust after a couple of fruitless meetings with the ever evasive Manoj Das Gupta, the Managing Trustee. The correspondence abruptly ended with the Trust threatening them with stern legal action in its letter of 2nd July, 2010.  (Should this be called intimidation of the Trust by the disciples or the reverse? The truth is that the present Ashram Trust has constantly intimidated the inmates by the threat of the withdrawal of food, shelter and other basic necessities of life, because of which most of the inmates have been forced into silent and shameful submission.) At this point, after all that had happened, Manoj Das Gupta said he was constrained to bring back Peter Heehs to the Archives – this was the last straw on the camel’s back. It was after he voiced this preposterous intention to reinstate Peter Heehs as the chief Editor of the Ashram Archives in spite of writing such an obnoxious biography of Sri Aurobindo, that the Scheme Suit was filed by five Ashramites on the 23rd of August 2010.

The fact that the Scheme Suit was admitted four times, twice in the Pondicherry Court and twice in the Madras High Court, shows that it was certainly not a frivolous suit meant only to harass the Trustees of the Ashram. It should also be mentioned that the Supreme Court did not deem it frivolous either. It dismissed it for the very technical reason that the Orissa High Court had not arrived at a final judgment on the book, without which the Scheme Suit could not be admitted, because the latter was closely linked to the former. The Scheme Suit was filed to dismiss the Trustees for not taking action on Peter Heehs, who was an inmate and had written a book that went against the very grain of the Ashram. But as long as the final judgment on the book itself was pending, there was not sufficient ground to dismiss the Trustees, despite the Gazette Notification of the Orissa Govt. banning the book in April 2009.

All said and done, the Ashram Trust has managed to win the case through clever court tactics, deceitful public stands and tacit support to Peter Heehs. In the Court it has praised to the skies his so-called scholarship! Outside the Court, it has expressed its strong displeasure with regard to his book, and removed him from the Archives. (It has yet to be seen whether Peter Heehs will be reinstated with full honour as the Chief Editor of the Archives!) Finally, it has defended him tooth and nail on the basis of free speech, while at the same time taking severe action on all those who dared to criticise him and the Trustees. This is the sordid tale of the Ashram Trust’s duplicity and double game behind the serene atmosphere of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Incidentally, this serene and peaceful atmosphere, which every sensitive visitor to the Ashram spontaneously feels, is due to the occult presence of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother which persists not because, but despite the arrogant and inept administration of the present Ashram Trust.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hidden distortions and deconstruction

Spiritual Distortions – All Life is Yoga! – by Baikunth

There is a need to define at present what is not the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, more perhaps than the need to define what it is. Of course, the two functions are interdependent and cannot be dealt in an exclusive manner, for one often defines something by what it is not. But the mere positive definition leaves out the hidden distortions which you only come to know after a long period of gestation, and not in a one-hour lecture on the Integral Yoga, however inspiring it may be. There have been in the past, and there still are a number of brilliant speakers who mostly fulfil their role in the positive definition of the Yoga and philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, but very few as yet have sufficiently dwelt on its negative definition, by which I mean explaining elaborately what it is not.

Comment by Tusar Mohapatra (Savitri Era Forum):

Unshelling the Ashram

A basic element of any self-appraisal is to focus on weaknesses and threats. The present goings on in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry has facilitated informed delineation of limitations and inadequacies experienced by the inmates while pursuing a life of aspiration and Yoga. It means mere provision of outward necessities of life is not enough, or in other words, it actually comes at a very high cost as one needs to mortgage not only his intelligence but also the conscience to please the Management.

Another feature of the Ashram is it’s like living in a huge joint family. The personal history of too many people constitutes an unnecessary burden on the memory of any one individual. The security and vitality of collective living thus comes at a substantial price. Merger of the home and work environment is certainly not a happy situation as unsavory feelings seamlessly run. To be in relationship with such a large number of people also gives rise to excessive attachments or deceptive benevolence.

Since Integral Yoga defies standardization and any form of evaluation, the Pracharak system of the RSS seems to be a feasible option. Inmates can be sent outside for a certain period of the year so that they periodically brush up their knowledge while interacting with the people. Chasing targets also can expand their creative abilities as well as the protagonist spirit. On the whole, a more proactive role of the Ashram in engaging with the outside world is a must.

Many of the ideas and themes of the Lurianic Kabbalah are also present in systems of thought (Indian philosophyPlatonism,Gnosticism) that, according to many scholars, antedate the Kabbalah, and (at least in the case of Platonism and Gnosticism two) seem to have impacted upon the development of Jewish mysticism. The Kabbalah, however, is unique in its position in the history of western thought, acting as it were as a "switching station" in which the biblical tradition, oriental mysticism and western philosophy converge. In the Kabbalah of Isaac Luria these traditions combine with Luria's profound spiritual insight and intense mythical imagination to produce a comprehensive philosophical and psychological vision of the nature of God and humankind that was only imperfectly represented in the prior traditions.

Of equal significance, however, is the relationship between the Kabbalah and more modern systems of thought and practice. The Kabbalists had a profound impact upon such Christian mystics as Jakob Boehme, and through them, on the German romantic philosophers, Schelling and Hegel. The basic metaphors of the Lurianic Kabbalah are psychologized in Freud, and Jung. Jung, whose psychology is in large part derived from a meditation on the spiritual aspects of alchemy, was greatly influenced by the Kabbalah, and can be said to have extracted the Kabbalistic "gold" that lay buried in the alchemist's arcane formulae for the transmutation of metals. Finally, Jacques Derrida, the founder of deconstruction, explores many themes that are quite reminiscent of Kabbalistic ideas. These include Derrida's notions of "difference" and the "trace," which have much in common with, and are llluminative of, the Lurianic symbols of Ein-sof and Tzimtzum, as well as the notion of "deconstruction" itself, which can be understood as a contemporary interpretation of the Lurianic "Breaking of the Vessels."

Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.
Sri Aurobindo charts out an Evolutionary path for the whole mankind in accordance with the Vedic dialectic resonating with Lurianic Kabbalah.

Friday, January 8, 2016

SC drops enough hints as to dereliction of duty by Trustees

In Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust and Ors vs R Ramanathan and Ors, a Supreme Court bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and SA Bobde, refused to intervene in the dispute between the Aurobindo Ashram Trust and the respondents over the former’s failure to take steps to seek confiscation of copies of the book, “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo” written by Peter Heehs.
The book was published by Columbia University Press in the US in 2008, and is reportedly critical of Aurobindo. The respondents allege that the book contains deliberate and baseless distortions relating to Aurobindo’s life, to the effect that he had romantic affairs with the Mother, involving veiled tantric practices; that he was a frequent liar and lied about his spiritual experiences, that his spiritual experiences were based on sexual and schizophrenic stimuli and that he was the initiator of the Hindu-Muslim divide and was responsible for the partition of the country.
The respondents also alleged that Heehs impersonated as one of the founders of the archives of Aurobindo Ashram. The Odisha Government has ordered forfeiture of the book under Section 95 of the CrPC for being a work punishable under Section 295A of the IPC
The state government concluded that the objectionable book contained matters which were deliberately and maliciously intended to insult the religious beliefs of the devotees of Aurobindo. [...]

Although the Supreme Court did not go into the issue of whether the order banning the circulation of the book was justified, its defence of the Ashram, is interesting. In effect, it says that failure to seek the banning of the book is no reflection on the administration of the trust. This can be construed as a minor triumph for freedom of expression, even if remotely relevant.

A critique of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs and its ... › dismi...
Ashram Trust has taken advantage of the pending case in the High Court of Orissa to absolve itself of the guilt of not taking the appropriate action against Peter Heehs. It is as if the Ashram Trust has passed the buck to the Orissa High Court, saying that the latter was in a better position to judge the distortions in the book, while it pretended to have no intelligence of its own, because it did not want to take a quick and independent decision in its own internal matters! The Trust has also been very clever to take the bare minimum of administrative measures against Peter Heehs by dissociating itself from his book in an internal circular dated 11th of November 2008, and by removing him from the Archives Dept. of the Ashram, so that it cannot be accused of gross dereliction of duty. Thus the half-hearted and meagre punishment that it finally meted out to Peter Heehs is what actually saved it from adverse judgment! [...]
The decision of the Supreme Court has been technically correct, and the Ashram Trust has managed to free itself legally by a combination of clever court strategy, covert support to Peter Heehs and a reluctant dissociation from his book within the Ashram community. But the blot of shame on the Ashram Trust for not coming out forthwith and publicly condemning the book, such as the Sri Aurobindo Society has rightly done, will perhaps remain forever in the collective conscience of the disciples and followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Manoj Das Gupta, the Managing Trustee of the Ashram, who is at the centre of the controversy, will certainly go down in history as the man who betrayed Sri Aurobindo and the Mother after staying for 70 years in their Ashram. From a larger national perspective, he will be remembered as a classic example of the weak and servile Indian prostrating himself in front of impudent foreigners who want to become famous overnight by vilifying the great spiritual Masters of India.

Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Whether Heehs' book is objectionable or not is pending before the Odisha High Court

#TopStory : #Aurobindo Ashram Trustee cannot be removed for failure of taking steps for banning a book against...

Aurobindo ashram trustees get relief

The Asian Age - ‎11 hours ago‎
It is unfortunate that this state of mind has persisted with both parties who are well educated and perhaps have a philosophical and spiritual bent of mind, being trustees and residents of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry and followers of Sri ...
The Bench pointed out that whether the book is objectionable or not has to be decided by the Orissa High Court where the matter is pending. Until that determination is made, it would be premature to expect the appellants to take any precipitate action in the matter against the author.

SC sets aside HC verdict on trustees of Aurobindo Ashram

Business Standard - ‎20 hours ago‎
The Supreme Court today set aside the verdict of the Orissa High Court holding that the judicial process to remove trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust can continue on account of their alleged failures to take steps for banning a book, critical of ...

Apex court against removing trustee for failing to ban book

Deccan Herald - ‎16 hours ago‎
The SC overturned an order by the Orissa HC granting permission to R Ramanathan and others, residents and followers of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, to initiate proceedings for removal of the administration over their failure to stop publication ...

The Supreme Court delivers a much awaited blow and outcome In a nutshell, yesterday, on the 5th of January 2016, the Supreme Court has effectively dismissed lock, stock, and barrel the case that was filed and suppo...