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Happy Birthday to the Sri Aurobindo Society

September 19, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Today is the 52nd anniversary of the Sri Aurobindo Society. Happy birthday, SAS!

Recently there has been considerable interest in the history and present status of this venerable institution. We had several posts on the subject [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], which have brought a gratifying amount of traffic to our humble site and elicited a number of comments. There also has been a fair amount of discussion of the topic on the SAICE forum, some extracts from which are available here.

On this auspicious day of the SAS’s birthday, we would like to review some of our earlier findings and present a few more.

The “anniversary” of the SAS commemorates the day — September 19, 1960 — when four businessmen, two industrialists, two advocates and two solicitors signed the Memorandum of Association of the SAS in Calcutta. The Mother did not sign this document, nor is there any evidence that she had anything to do with its drafting. Yet for years the SAS has bent over backwards to convince people that the Mother did in fact sign it, speaking of her signature on the last page of a fair copy of the SAS’s Rules and Regulations (in which she simply certified that the document before her was a “true copy of the Rules and Regulations of Sri Aurobindo Society”) as though it was her signature on the Memorandum of Association.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the SAS has deliberately tried to create the impression that the Mother personally gave the mission contained in the Memorandum of Association to the SAS and its officers. As far as we can see, the ten gentlemen who signed the Memorandum of Association gave this mission to themselves and afterwards tried to make the Mother responsible for their activities.  We are sorry that the SAS has so far not revised the largely fictional account of its “Origin” on its website.

Further examples of the SAS’s habitual, almost casual use of verbal distortion may be found in its invitation to its birthday party, captured yesterday from its website.

click to view the complete invitation

The writer begins by alluding to the Supramental Descent of 1956. We are at a loss to understand what this great event has to do with the SAS. The writer then says that the year 1960 was special because it was the first leap-year anniversary of February 29, 1956. Fair enough. The writer then adds: “Sri Aurobindo Society was formed on 19th of September with the Mother as the Founder and Executive President.” It is true that the SAS was formed by ten gentlemen in Calcutta on 19.9.1960. It also true that the Memorandum of Association lists the Mother as “President”. It is not true that she is listed as the “Founder” of the SAS and there is no reason to believe that this noun can rightly be applied to her.

In regard to the Mother’s being listed as President, it should be recalled what the Mother said in her conversation of March 4, 1961: that she agreed to accept this designation solely “to give an entirely material guarantee that the money donated will really and truly be used for the Work to be done and for nothing else; it’s only a moral and purely practical guarantee.”

The writer of the invitation then quotes the first object of the SAS, namely:

“to make known to the members and people in general the aims and ideals of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, their system of Integral Yoga, and to work for its fulfilment in all possible ways and for the attainment of a spiritual society as envisaged by Sri Aurobindo.”

This is quoted in a way that suggests (and no doubt is intended to suggest) that it is a statement made by the Mother, rather than the first object of the SAS as stated in its Memorandum of Association. By mentioning the Mother as ” Founder and Executive President” of the SAS immediately before the quote, the writer clearly is trying to perpetuate the now familiar falsehood that the Mother signed the Memorandum of Association, thereby giving the SAS the mission outlined in it. Because this falsehood has been repeated so often, we repeat that the Mother did not sign this document, as we have shown, and that no evidence has been adduced that she had anything to do with it.

The writer then adds that “The Mother gave a Motto for the Society”. This is followed by a colon and the message, signed by the Mother, “To know is good, / To live is better, / to be, that is perfect.”

The writer fails to mention that this is simply the New Year’s Message of 1960 (see Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 15, p. 173), which the Mother gave not to the SAS but to all the members of the Ashram and all her children on January 1, 1960, nine months before the SAS was founded in Calcutta. (It may be that the Mother at some point told a person or persons in the SAS that they could consider the New Year’s Message to be the motto of the SAS, but if this was the case the writer should have made it clear.)

The writer concludes: “On this day we rededicate ourselves to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and to the realisation of the great future they have revealed to us.” There is, to be sure, nothing wrong with such a act of rededication and we encourage all the members of the SAS, indeed, all those who love and serve Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, to make such a rededication not just on September 19, but on every day of the year.

Here we must observe that the objects of the SAS (even if, as seems likely, they were written by one or more of the ten signatories of the Memorandum of Association with no input from the Mother) are in themselves blameless and even noble — not because of the role they assign the SAS but because of the support they promise to the accomplishment of the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

In exposing the deceptive language used by the SAS in grossly overemphasizing its place in the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, we are not opposing that work, but only revealing the duplicity of the SAS’s current leadership. This duplicity, we fear, is also apparent in the Executive Committee’s attitude in regard to the current crisis, as shown by its tacit approval of the anti-Ashram agitation carried out by persons closely associated with the Executive Committee, if not by members of the Committee themselves.

We wish to make it clear that we have nothing but admiration for the sadhaks and devotees of the SAS who have given their time and energy over the years to help fulfil the objectives of the SAS. But we feel obliged to add that we have serious doubts in regard to the present Executive Committee, in particular the Chairman and the Member Executive, whose attitude in the current crisis has been, at best, ambiguous, and also in regard to the Executive Committee member who is the father of Jayant Bhattacharjee and father-in-law of Geetanjali Jain Bhattacharjee, whose long-continued anti-Ashram activities the SAS is yet to condemn.

The question remains: what should be done to prevent the Executive Committee of the SAS from betraying the ideals of the SAS? Those of us who are not members of the society can only look on helplessly as the officers and members of the Executive Committee continue implicitly to support the anti-ashram agitation that is being carried out by people who have family or other connections with them, and (if persistent reports are to be believed) are themselves working behind the scenes to destabilize the Ashram.

We feel it is the duty of the ordinary members of the SAS to bring these questions to the attention of the Executive Committee, so that the SAS can once again return to its founding ideals, giving its support to the Ashram, and especially to the Ashram’s Centre of Education (which it is obliged to support by point (c) of its objectives), and in so doing, turn its back on its recent excursions into crooked anti-Ashram politics.

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  1. P. Bono
    September 21, 2012 at 7:37 am

    In my legal opinion, the SAS’s false account of its origins constitutes fraud. Fraud, according to an online legal dictionary, is

    A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.

    Fraud must be proved by showing that the defendant’s actions involved five separate elements: (1) a false statement of a material fact, (2) knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue, (3) intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim, (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.

    The SAS has publicly made a false statement of a material fact (that the Mother signed the Memorandum of Association). The members of its Executive Committee are not likely to be ignorant of this fact. It won’t be hard to prove, either, that there was an intent to deceive present and/or prospective members of the SAS about its origins, and that those who have read the SAS’s false account of its origins rely on its accuracy.

    This leaves open only the question, has there been any injury to present or prospective members of the SAS?

  2. auro plumbers
    September 21, 2012 at 9:59 am

    P. Bono :

    This leaves open only the question, has there been any injury to present or prospective members of the SAS?

    That ought to be much easier to prove than the alleged injuries attributed to the author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by contributors to CHOLATLOSA (not to mention the four other points).

    Examples:

    “Peter ends up injuring both his readers and the great subject of his book” found in a post by Raman Reddy.

    “he is now desecrating the Ashram and adding insult to the grievous injury that he has already inflicted on all of us” found in a post by General Editor.

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