Thursday, July 29, 2010

Managing Trustee refused to do his job and expel the author from the Ashram

From auroman de le Miroir to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date 29 July 2010 00:52 subject Reply to Dr Raghu
Dear Tusar,
This is my reply to Dr Raghu.  Please remove my email address. Best 

What Sri Aurobindo would have done in any given circumstance is anybody's guess. There is no canon or scripture which can tell you that.  It is like asking "What would Jesus do?".  Either side can pick some verse from scripture to justify its approach.  Sages typically arrive at their decisions by using their subtle vision to see the soul of  the person in order to understand why he behaves in a certain manner.   In the absence of such vision, either side could be right in a given argument.
Most people are getting sidetracked by the secondary issue, which is that the book is being banned.  There would be no need to ban this book if it hadn't been for the fact that the Managing Trustee refused to do his job and expel the author from the Ashram. We don't go around banning books in general.  People who live outside the Ashram are free to write critical books on Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and his disciples.
But when you voluntary join the Aurobindo Ashram, it presupposes that you have accepted Sri Aurobindo as your Guru and that must inform the judgements you make while writing a biography.  If you think Sri Aurobindo was a liar and you want to distort his version of the story, then please leave the Ashram and join a University where you can exercise your free speech rights.
Which principle to apply in a certain situation requires some wisdom. Rights comes with responsibilities. The rules of secular society cannot be directly applied to a person working in an institution. Doesn't a person working in the White House in USA have his free-speech rights constricted? He works no longer for himself but for the President. The same analogy can be applied to a disciple living in the Ashram.
I would encourage Dr Thill Raghu to get back to his teaching job and leave us to our woes.  His students return for classes in about six to eight weeks. 

Govind has left a new comment on your post "As a man imbued with liberal values, Sri Aurobindo...": 
You are confusing Sri Aurobindo's "liberalism" with an "anything goes" attitude. I think you need to brush up a bit on life in the Ashram. Certainly, there is much more freedom there than other institutes that go by that name. However, when it came to Sri Aurobindo and portraying Him in a "critical" manner to the rest of the world there was never a point in time where any Sadhak was given absolute license. In fact, I would like to challenge you to prove to me otherwise. Posted by Govind to Savitri Era Open Forum at 5:14 AM, July 29, 2010


  1. "Auroman" writes that "What Sri Aurobindo would have done in any given circumstance is anybody's guess."
    While I understand the need to project one's own waffling opportunism on to Aurobindo, there are reliable accounts which state that he had a strong moral character and high principles, unlike some of his self-styled followers. I believe it was "The Mother" who once described him as a "true gentleman". So, based on an understanding of his character, his principles, and the examples of his responses or approaches to issues, one can justifiably conclude that he would have acted in a way consistent with that character, those principles, and examples on the same or similar issues.
    The main issue is whether Aurobindo would have supported the call for a ban on Heehs' book on the grounds that it diverges, justifiably or unjustifiably, in certain respects from other "official" accounts. We have well-documented examples of Aurobindo's own responses to accounts of his life offered by some of his contemporaries. None of those critical responses hint even vaguely or remotely at censorship or suppression of those accounts he considered erroneous.
    Anyone familiar with inductive reasoning would see that one can justifiably infer, from the available record of Aurobindo's own responses to erroneous accounts of his life, that while he might take exception to or correct Heehs' account of certain events, he would never have supported the mean-spirited and abusive personal attacks on Heehs and the ludicrous attempts to ban his book!
    "Auroman" stumbles and falls headlong into the FALLACY Of FALSE ALTERNATIVES: Heehs should be expelled or his book must be banned. It requires a serious deviation and deformation of consciousness and reasoning, of the sort which happens to those who get lost in what Aurobindo called the "intermediate zone", to set up this kind of false alternative! It should be obvious that there are other reasonable alternatives to Heehs' expulsion or suppression of his book. It should also be clear by now that neither of the two stated alternatives have any good reasons in their favor.
    I have already pointed out that Aurobindo's liberal approach is completely antithetical to the spirit and efforts of the group which has called for a ban on Heehs' book.
    "Govind" attacks a strawman. (By the grace of Allah, I seem to have a harvest of fallacies today!) I did not argue that "anything goes" for Aurobindo because he was a liberal. Obviously, as a liberal, he was opposed to fascism, totalitarianism, communism, and religious fanaticism!!!
    What I did argue, if Govind would learn to read my posting carefully and calmly, is that Aurobindo's liberal attitudes were remarkable and quite ahead of his times and that, therefore, we could be quite sure that he would not support the suppression or banning of Heehs' book. Let us not forget that despite his opposition to Nazism and his personal revulsion for Hitler's Mein Kampf, he did NOT call even for that book to be banned!!! It should not impose any undue strain on one's powers of inference to conclude from this that he would not support the call for banning Heehs' book!
    Do not presume, Mr. Govind, that I am unaware of life at the Ashram and Auroville. I have been familiar with both places since 1978!
    You also commit the fallacy of false alternatives in the manner of "Auroman" (I hope I am not dealing with "Twin Minds" here!) in thinking that it is a matter of either giving absolute license to someone, or suppressing their work, or expelling them. Consider other available and reasonable alternatives!

  2. Brilliantly put drraghu...