Monday, February 20, 2012

Inmates and devotees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram demand Dismissal of the present group of Trustees

[The following application to the Pondicherry administration for the silent protest of January 1-6, 2012 was made by a few inmates of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Six of these inmates received show-cause notices from the Trustees. Why? Because they were bold enough to sit for a silent and peaceful protest against the inaction of the Trustees with regard to Peter Heehs. So what makes the Trust inactive in one case and super-active in another? That is a million dollar question! In any case, this application, which has a very good summary of events that have led to the present crisis, was attached to the show-cause notices of those inmates who signed it.]

Since the Trust Deed does not define the method of selection of the Trustees nor the method of their removal, the present Trustees have taken full advantage of this lacuna and have formed a self-selected coterie of vested interests who are freely and openly misusing their position… As a result the Ashram community has found its interests hijacked by a small coterie of people who want to harm Sri Aurobindo’s name and his Work. (It is pertinent to note that none of the present trustees of the Ashram Trust were nominated by the Mother.) Senior members of the Ashram community, who have worked closely with the Mother, felt that they had to take suitable action to defend the reputation of Sri Aurobindo and to protect the long-term interests of the Ashram community for which the Mother created the Trust. The senior members held several rounds of discussions with representatives of various groups of devotees and the members of the Ashram community sharing their pain and deep distress. Many attempts were made by them and by various independent groups to resolve the problem internally by dialogue, mediation, discussion, pleas, etc, with the Trustees. All these attempts failed as the Trustees declared that they were answerable to nobody in the Ashram, and refused to explain or justify their misuse of Ashram funds and the Ashram’s name to harm Sri Aurobindo. All these attempts have failed and the Trust Board has instead launched a widespread campaign of intimidation and rule by fear and threat…
Application and Demand of the Inmates and Devotees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram
In view of the above and having exhausted all means and measures of an internal amicable and peaceful settlement, the inmates of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and devotes of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother seek the permission and sanction of the Police and local authorities concerned to press for their legal grievances and demands, namely:
1.     Dismissal of the present group of Trustees of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
2.    Unconditional reinstatement of all who have been victimised by denial of food, work, and other facilities of the Ashram community life.
3.  Cessation and withdrawal of all threats and coercive measures initiated against the inmates and residents of the Ashram community and devotees.
4.    Immediate expulsion of Peter Heehs from the Ashram community.
5.    Recovery of all documents belonging to the Ashram which are still kept in the exclusive possession of Peter Heehs.
6.    Public declaration by the Trust that the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo authored by Peter Heehs is factually incorrect and does not represent the views of the Ashram community and the Ashram Trust and that Peter Heehs has abused his position at the Archives and indulged in criminal impersonation as the Founder of the Ashram’s Archives Department.
7.    Withdrawal of copyright permission to Columbia University Press which has published the offending book without suitable copyright permissions.
8.    Public apology by the present members of the Board of Trustees for having promoted abuse and insult of Sri Aurobindo’s name, and for causing so much pain and distress to the inmates and residents of the Ashram community and to all devotees at large.

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