Home > serious posts > As a community we have ceased to live any inner life (1)

As a community we have ceased to live any inner life (1)

October 20, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments
This and and the following two posts provide easy (and uncensored) reference to three documents:
  1. Letter by Sraddhalu Ranade to Manoj Das Gupta, the present Managing Trustee of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, dated June 25, 2010
  2. Letter by Manoj Das to Sraddhalu Ranade, dated June 28, 2010. Manoj Das, a scholar and journalist, was a Trustee of the Ashram from 1992 to 1994, when he resigned from this post after differences with Pranab-da (also known as Dada), the then Director of the Ashram’s Department of Physical Education
  3. Letter by Sraddhalu Ranade to Manoj Das, dated July 28, 2010, in reply to 2.
The title of these posts alludes to a sentence in the second letter: “If we make a little introspection, it will be obvious that as a community we have ceased, at least temporarily, to live any inner life”.
 

25.6.2010

Dear Manoj,

I have seen your letter dated 21.6.2010 to Kittu, Ranganath and Sumita where you have quoted me out of context to claim contradiction in my position on Peter Heehs’ latest book which abuses and defames Sri Aurobindo.

My position on the book is unambiguously on record, and there is nothing to say further to clarify it. You have quoted from my personal note to you dated 14th October 2008, when the controversy was in its early stages and was limited to the Ashram community, but the Indian edition of the book was about to go public in another fortnight. The entire Ashram community was seething in anger against the book, and in frustration from your inaction. People still respected you because all of us still believed that you intended to do the right thing, and that the delay was only from your normal style of working. But your subsequent actions have painfully proved us wrong.

At that time, I had just read your letter to Dada dated 5th October 2008 where you claimed to be in “my present dilemma” about whether to remove Peter from the Ashram which “will only make PH … a martyr”, and therefore you chose to maintain “a dignified silence” to the detriment of Sri Aurobindo’s reputation and the entire Ashram community. At that time, believing that you were keen to do the right thing but confused, I felt I should make one last attempt to meet you personally to help you find clarity in the matter, hoping that things might still be resolved in‐house before they went public.

But when I telephoned you and asked for an appointment to discuss this, you refused to meet me without giving reason or explanation. That was when I decided to write to you my note dated 14th October 2008. My letter began by paraphrasing your dilemma: contrasting the community’s demand to expel Peter with your own fear that he might become a “martyr”. You quote from this portion of the letter as if this represents my views. But in fact my message to you, which you completely ignore, begins only after this.

My note of 14th October 2008 specifically asked you not to get confused by Peter’s words, but to probe the truth hidden in Peter’s mind and heart. In the confusion that you found yourself in, I asked you to apply the only criteria that matters here: Peter’s commitment to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. What is left unsaid and which everyone knows, is that Peter commonly abuses and ridicules the Mother and trivialises Sri Aurobindo as just another thinker – views that he has openly expressed in his book. In my letter, I then asked you to take action to withdraw the copyright permission granted for the book. It should be obvious to all that I have only stated, respectfully and compassionately, what has always been my position on the matter. Rather than taking action on my note, you now quote me out of context to try to fool people, presenting my summary of your dilemma as if it is my position! I am not surprised.

Your recent actions have been those of the proverbial devil quoting scriptures. You misquote the Mother to justify your selective inaction, rejecting the Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s explicit call to action to protect their reputation and the truth they stand for. You falsify your conversation with Pranab‐da to claim that he “prevented” you from expelling Peter from the Ashram, when everyone knows that at that time his note demanding Peter’s expulsion was on public display on the Ashram’s notice board (– and it continues there even today in spite of your best efforts to have it removed). Considering all these falsehoods that you are willing to commit to defend your love for Peter Heehs, your latest attempt to confuse people by misquoting me is nothing new.

But since you appear so keen to refer to my advice, I place here once again my consistent position on the matter from the beginning of the controversy: you should take immediate steps to a) publicly dissociate the Ashram from the book, b) publicly declare the book as perverse and false in its contents and conclusions, c) stop the book from circulation by withdrawing copyright permission. I may add: act now, it is still not too late. The entire Ashram community will stand by you if you choose to do what is right.

But if you love Peter Heehs more than you love Sri Aurobindo, if you believe that abuse of Sri Aurobindo by an Ashramite under any pretext needs your personal protection, if your personal interests are in conflict with the Ashram’s and are causing pain to the Ashram community, then you should resign from your official position, and make way for others who will do what is right.

Your forceful actions to defend Peter Heehs, to promote his abusive book, and to attack and blackmail critics of his book, will all have their repercussions on you spiritually, morally and legally; but right now your actions are doing far more harm to the Ashram community and to Sri Aurobindo’s work. Hence it will be your greatest service to Sri Aurobindo, if you willingly step down from your position and save the Ashram further agony and falsehood arising from your vested and misplaced interests.

Sraddhalu

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