Thursday, September 30, 2010

Savitri and The Life Divine as guiding lights

Economists and their forecasts based on mathematical modeling suffered a severe drubbing in the wake of the recent financial meltdown. The SR/OOO camp attempted an upsetting paradigm shift in the arena of Western philosophy. The Heehs imbroglio exposed many fake faces and lowered the respect for the Westerners. Gadamer or Godard perhaps will never be short of fans, but the Asian upsurge is likely to push them outside focus.

Universities in India have admirably furthered the cause of Western culture and literature even at the risk of neglecting the indigenous diversity. What emerges from the melting pot of globalization in India is not at all clear at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century. For Savitri Erans, however, Savitri and The Life Divine will be the guiding lights for a long time to come where the East and the West cohere. [TNM]   

Noticing the slant

[A critique of the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs ... By General Editor
The following notice was put up on the Sri Aurobindo Ashram's notice board on 23.9.2010 afternoon and then removed the same evening. It was put up again on the 24th afternoon and again removed on the 27th afternoon. Since this notice has significant bearing on the recent controversies surrounding the book, we hope that its circulation in public will help to clarify things and lead to better understanding among all. -- Editorial Team]

[The notice signed by the Managing Trustee, Manoj Das Gupta, you refer to in your posting was removed a first time because comments had soiled it. A clean, fresh notice was then put again – and this time it was torn. – Paulette 29 Sep 2010]

The two versions tell two different stories. This is how the truth is mauled by its avowed messengers. [TNM]

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ashram lacks the leeway that Savitri Era Party enjoys

Savitri Era Party doesn’t nurture any rancour against Peter Heehs and respects his dignity and freedom. The work he has produced over the years is in the public domain which others may rightfully critique. Errors, if any, can be rectified or refuted in matching publications.

Savitri Era Party also maintains that he has the right to publish and distribute The Lives of Sri Aurobindo in India or wherever he likes. The book has terribly hurt a section of devotees, but it has supporters too. In any case, the damage can never be undone and the only recourse at present is to grin and bear it.

The responsibility of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, however, is more critical and it will be forced to take certain administrative steps in this regard. If a considerable number of inmates continue to protest against Heehs’ stay, the situation might turn volatile. Das Gupta is now safe in his seat till the case is disposed, but he lacks legitimacy and the moral staff.   

Savitri Era Party hopes that the internal affairs of the Ashram are conducted with fairness and transparency. While on the horns of a dilemma concerning political correctness, safeguarding the core functions by the Ashram assumes priority. The Ashram, thus, lacks the leeway that Savitri Era Party can boast of. [TNM]     

Ashram is answerable to the devotees

The announcement that the Ashram does not approve the book has brought tremendous relief to the devotees who were agitated over the issue for the last two years. This, in years, has made it clear that the Ashram is answerable to the devotees and is sensitive towards their concerns. It would have been ideal to display the notice on the official website, but that day may not be very far.

It is in the interest of everyone that the prestige and credibility of the Ashram is restored but that is not possible unless a new Managing Trustee takes over. May the Ashram become a lighthouse of inspiration instead of a cesspool of deception. [TNM]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Derivatives in democracy

Derivatives in finance are well entrenched in India but the democracy in the country is yet to experiment with more deepening options like proportional representation and its many variants like the list system. Rajya Sabha can very well be constituted by this system based on the results of the Assembly elections held from time to time. Moreover, smaller groups have a chance of putting their representatives in the legislatures through this system bypassing the majoritarian hurdle. [TNM]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Das Gupta is a captive of Heehs camp

[All we did was to introduce the Commonwealth to Indian standards of hygiene and the Commonwealth became a gibbering wreck. The world is amazed only because it has always underestimated India’s destructive capacity, which is second only to India’s self-destructive capacity. Much Good from a Bad Games ]

[Before a community implodes or capitulates to its most extreme elements there is generally a loss of decency among those leading the charge against its more tolerant members. admin Posted September 25, 2010 at 5:10 pm Permalink]

[while they will exert themselves to quash rumors about their own actions/inaction as Ashram trustees, they are perfectly fine with rumors and gossip being spread about Sri Aurobindo. Comment posted by Govind]

By now it is clear that Das Gupta is a captive in the hands of Heehs camp and signs on dotted lines. He is also bound by the commands of his advocate dealing with the court cases. Pity that the head of such a haloed institution becomes a prisoner of such extraneous elements. [TNM] 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let the error of Dr. Ambedkar be reversed

Dalit votaries usually get worked up against various provisions of Manusmriti. Paradoxically, they love to overlook that it is the Constitution of India that has permanently chained them to the age old derogatory identity under a new tag called Scheduled Castes. Despite the daring Hindu Code Bill promulgated more than half a century back, why they hark bark to Manusmriti is riddlesome.

Dr. Ambedkar awarded them the benefits of reservations which they vigorously defend. But clinging to the appellation Dalit or the lowest stratum of society comes with the bargain. Generation next is also forced by the parents into this identity against their wishes. Whether one can willingly opt out lawfully is also not clear.

The easiest route to be rescued from this mess is to embrace Savitri Era Religion. It has no past baggage and is futuristic in orientation. It is high time that the error of Dr. Ambedkar is reversed and the Dalits in India live as equals and with dignity. [TNM]  

Who earns money by selling Sri Aurobindo’s reputation?

[I had then said that payment of commission to agents and middlemen was common. But, rather than order a probe, the Rajiv Gandhi government flatly denied any wrongdoing and termed the allegation a "conspiracy". This was a mistake.
It was pathetic to see Rajiv, well-meaning but ill-advised, later telling Parliament: "I can assure you, Mister Speaker, that I or my family members have not received any money." He never recovered. India recovers from years-old ‘Bofors fatigue' New Straits TimesOct 5, 2009  by Mahendra Ved]

The book took birth from the womb of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the author was the chief of the archives who incorporated research conducted by the staff in it. The Trust vetted it and entered into necessary agreements with the publisher. The Trust also retained its right to receive the royalties. And now when it says that it “has nothing to do with the book,” then to whom it is fooling?

Moreover, what the Trust has said after two years is less important now than the question why it had to say so; what are the compulsions? It is a pathetic moment for Manoj Das Gupta. And if the “Trust does not approve” the book, then the devotees have a right to know what disciplinary action it proposes to take against the author and his accomplices.   

It is atrocious to earn money by selling Sri Aurobindo’s reputation and hence Savitri Era Party demands that the Trust clarify about the royalty accrued. Now that high profile supporters of the book have eaten crow, Manoj Das Gupta should submit his resignation forthwith by owning up breach of trust. [TNM]

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nationalism, a quandary for Savitri Erans

The last 50 years are just a speck in comparison to the 5000 years of history of India, yet phenomenal changes have occurred during this short span. Democracy has coagulated, no doubt, but nationalism remains nebulous. This fiercely contested turf has votaries of various hues. Vedanta, Ram, and Vande Mataram are at the one extreme while the post-partition boundary and the Constitution are at the other. Debates have drastically narrowed down their gap especially when religion is no longer untouchable but the jury is still out.

The issue, for the Savitri Erans, is a bit complicated. One section anchors the idea to the Bande Mataram phase of Sri Aurobindo. For another the Foundations is the bible. To a more liberal group The Ideal of Human Unity is the right base. To still others the August 15, 1947 Message constitutes a much broader framework. Each of these strands is quite impressive theoretically, but the problem is how to weave a viable fabric that is acceptable to the vast populace spread across diverse cultures.

Globalization is perceived in India basically as a euphemism for cultural adaptation and integration with the West; a continuation of the effects of colonialism. As a voluntary mode of embracing liberty and modernity this popular phenomenon has been unstoppable. The current ‘back-to-tradition’ policy in China, however, is apparently an interesting contrast. The future of nationalism against such a backdrop becomes all the more hazy.

The hybridity that The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have fabricated is a still more puzzling dimension. The Judeo-Vedic wisdom on the one hand and the Indo-French (East-West) cultural confluence on the other are decisive interventions the potential of which is difficult to predict at present. Nationalism can hardly breathe in such rarefied air.

These are politically explosive issues, especially when a surcharged atmosphere has built up around the Ayodhya verdict. It is essential that we discuss and debate these basic questions relating to our citizenship and social existence. A clear understanding conforming to our ideals can save us from falling prey to undesirable and emotive propaganda. [TNM]     

Puducherry, the pivot

Sri Aurobindo Ashram has had an uneasy existence in Puducherry from the outset. It has been an alien presence for the local population for obvious reasons. The clout and capital it has acquired over the years has been a cause of jealousy for the city politicians. As a large organization in a small town, the Ashram exerts a disproportionate weightage all over. More so because it is run by strings pulled from various national and international locations in a town which itself is a Union Territory.

No individual or organization can be immune to its environment. A prolonged life induces diverse adaptations and inculcates an instinct towards symbiotic relationships. The emergence of Auroville has further cemented this propensity and the Ashram today is a major stake holder in the life and economy of this erstwhile French colony. With its enterprises scattered all across, the Ashram is vulnerable to making contracts and compromises with the local administration as well as other major players.

These logistical obligations when judged against the subtleties of Integral Yoga present an opaque picture of practice. The Ashram as a source of inspiration for numerous devotees the world over and the Ashram as a corporate entity entailing large scale production, consumption, and commerce seem to stand as strangers to each other. But that is the dialectics The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have designed deliberately. Harmony in humanity will generate from such kneading of unlikely elements which are otherwise despised. [TNM]    

Half life is yoga

It is a commonly observed amongst those who have awakened to the spiritual path that once they have ceased to be selfish, they start thinking of ways to uplift the rest of the world.  One may feel despondent at the chaos in society and seek some semblance of stability or some foothold on which a better future can be built.]

This post bristles with myriad misleading propositions and contrived contradictions. Writing a point-wise rebuttal is easy but I am wary of displeasing a wise co-blogger. [TNM] 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

History torn between Heehs & Vrekhem

[One Cʘsmos: The Pneumatic Bleat By Gagdad Bob
In fact, nor did Aurobindo write any books, the 35 volumes of complete works notwithstanding. Come to think of it, this was one of the first things that intrigued me about him, in that he produced all of this material in a relatively brief period of time by merely downloading it from beyond, so to speak, with no real plan or preconceptions, and certainly no eye on the book-buying public.
Rather, he just sat there in his little room and banged it out.]

Thanks for elucidating the scenario as Vrekhem narrates them. But interpreting the past events has its own hazards as Heehs has demonstrated recently. [TNM] 

The Life Divine as antidote to intellectual logjam

[Get rid of our The State. Say "NO" to socialism; say "NO" to democracy too. Let us live in a "natural order" of Private Property, Private Money and Private Law. Let us run our cities and towns ourselves, without "politics."  We can hire a team of "city managers" to run cities under an elected Mayor - so we do not create a bureaucracy.  …
Politics in India is all about centralized, hierarchical political parties - and these are more like criminal organizations who conduct all their affairs in secret. We are fortunate in India that we have a lot of "free politics" - in journalism, among NGOs and so on. Our bane is the centralized political party - which is almost always a criminal gang. Politics - India's Bane from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik]

[Party politics is the most meritocratic profession of all in democracies. The partyless wonders Shekhar Gupta indian express: Saturday, May 02, 2009]

[One mystery of the first decade of the 21st century is the decline of democracy. … Democracies seemed blocked, as in Belgium, or corrupted, as in Israel, or parodies, as in Italy, or paralyzed, as in the Netherlands. … And democracy is still an idea worth the fight. Op-Ed Columnist - Democracy Still Matters - NYTimes.com By ROGER COHEN, LONDON — September 20, 2010]

[Here is an egg — the thesis; we then break the egg — this is the negation or antithesis, and make an omelet — the synthesis ... The use of philosophy - Page 207 - Hans Peter Rickman - 1973 - 220 pages - Preview]

[But the confrontation between capitalism and socialism in the last century was only the most recent in a long series of historical battles between the forces of freedom and individualism on the one hand; and the forces of tyranny and collectivism on the other. We are in the middle of a battle in that long war right now in the U.S. RATIONALIZING SOCIALISM'S FAILURE from Dr. Sanity]

[I agree with Talal Asad when he suggests that we should be studying the varieties of secularism. We must remind ourselves that the Western path to secularism is not the only path, and that other historical experiences may give rise to different sorts of secularism. China’s case is distinct from the Western path to secularism in three ways. First, there is a long premodern tradition of secular agnosticism in Confucian thought. Second, modern Chinese secularism was propelled by the colonial situation, a threat to nationhood posed by both Western and Japanese imperialisms. Third, there was Marxist discourse and the Soviet influence. The future of China’s past: an interview with Mayfair Yang from The Immanent Frame by Mayfair Yang]

Neat critiques of socio-political phenomena are suspect because the target of their attack is also part of the whole scenario contributing to the current outcome. No theory, for that reason, has the Archimedean advantage and hence indebted to its opposition as well as the overall milieu. Very few works are a combination of a thoroughgoing ontological system with an earnest socio-political vision like The Life Divine. Savitri Era Religion, therefore, has the potential to stir the imagination of the whole humanity that seems to be caught up in an intellectual logjam at present. [TNM]    

Sri Aurobindo resolves the riddle of this world

A century after Schopenhauer, Sri Aurobindo resolves the riddle of this world in a fashion that can’t be glossed over. Speculative and intuitive at the same time, his ontology has a tranformative dimension too which transports to a question-less zone. [TNM] Reply

Das Gupta has to accept exemplary punishment

Both the agitations led by JP and VP spread nationwide on the issue of corruption. But the outcome was overthrowing those in power and installing new regimes. Some cosmetic changes were visible initially which vanished with time and the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same” proved right.

The present campaign to unseat Manoj Das Gupta, however, forms a different category. He is not being charged for incompetence, corruption, or tyranny. Rather, he possesses experience and commands the goodwill and respect of a great many. But an unfortunate single lapse on his part has landed him in trouble and he has to accept exemplary punishment for that.

This is required because a credible inquiry can be conducted to find out the facts and bringing the guilty to book, whom he might be shielding otherwise. Secondly, a tenure system needs to be followed for preventing vested interests growing root. And finally, realizing that his present position is not a permanent entitlement or inheritance and consideration for other aspirants is befitting of a bhadralok. [TNM]

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Heehs at the helm

The forthcoming issue of Blitz in its much awaited Tomorrow's News Today column informs that Manoj Das Gupta has handed over charge to Peter Heehs. The correspondent further elaborates that Heehs has major expansion plans including establishment of 1) Abanindranath Tagore International Institute of Art History, and 2) Swami Vivekananda Renaissance Research Centre by upgrading the present Archives.

Savitri Era Party perforce welcomes the change and provisionally sends its good wishes to the new incumbent in the interest of Human Unity. [TNM]

Savitri Era Party is against book banning

Sadhaks living in an Ashram do not have academic freedom (neither Peter Heehs nor RYD); … I support the ban on the book because there is no other choice.  It is an exceptional situation.]

Savitri Era Party firmly opposes any ban on the book. It is for the author, publisher, and sponsor to decide what to do with their creation at their own volition. [TNM]

Saiceite in shining armour

as RYD has deliberately gone public and as his vulgar message is evidently being picked up by other equally notorious and gossipy websites, it is a little difficult to ignore this episode in the light of all that is happening around. - Aurofilio Schiavina, Wednesday, September 22, 2010 11:44 AM]

This name we have heard earlier and hopefully he is not a mask. Now that he has mustered courage to come overground as a knight in shining armour, we expect a good harvest of gossips to regale our regulars. Watch out! [TNM]  

Numbers and bombers

As I read more and more about “Global Christianity,” I am growing increasingly uncomfortable with the focus on numbers and growth rates. My objection isn’t that religion shouldn’t be quantified, etc., but rather with the ways that the inevitable breathless recitations of statistics seem to fit all too well with stereotypes about the seething horde of humanity in the Third World, with its unstoppable frenzy of breeding and spreading — such that “they” are in danger of taking over Western countries or bringing the earth itself to its knees through their demands for resources, etc.]

Savitri Era Religion has been wrestling with resistance from both the rationalists as well as Christians. It is, therefore, not easy to rule out tacit incitement by both the groups in the Heehs imbroglio. The recent phobia of being Bangalored is also an added dimension now. [TNM]  

Heehs & Banerji come scavenging

Question for Mr. Cohen: if government officials and the courts are free to choose which words of the Constitution to “adhere to” and which to ignore, what meaning does the Constitution really possess?]

The same question can as well be asked about the words of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo constituting Integral Yoga. Heehs & Banerji are striving to derive the maximum leverage out of this soft spot using the book as the fulcrum of power play. [TNM]

Insult vs. expulsion

Banerji & Sons are fond of raising the bogey of global fundamentalism against the anti-book campaign. They insist that the book has no blemish and blaming it is only an alibi for capturing power within the Ashram. But their open appreciation for the present management spurs suspicion and signals partisanship. However, installing a bulwark against expelling Heehs can be said to be their major achievement. Seen against the backdrop of probable covert racial discrimination, the significance accentuates manifold and their aggressive intervention earns a halo.

Most Westerners siding with Heehs perceive this as a just cause. The expulsion is an emotive issue before which a few disputed words in the book look inconsequential. And then, they plead, the author has mentioned that the Ashram is not responsible; so why protest? The spectre of “persecution” of Heehs assumes a much larger importance than the original insult to Sri Aurobindo. That such unanimity of perception is driven by much meaner instincts is not difficult to decipher.  

Strangely, this community would not be bothered at all if Heehs’ opponents are ever evicted. Votaries of human rights, they are fulminating against the aggrieved five filing a suit. What can be a better instance of travesty of truth? [TNM]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Waiting for goat

Most of the affidavit is devoted to a repetition of the unfounded charges made over the last two years by Ranade, Reddy and others against The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. The book is described in the wildest and most irresponsible terms which do not correspond to anything Heehs has written. - Debashish Banerji, Rich Carlson, & David Hutchinson]

Deceitful opinion of three persons can prove a goat to be a dog, tells an Odia tale. Banerji & Sons are a burning example of such a troika out to overturn what is sach. Honorable men, and versed in hermeneutics as they flamboyantly are, why they so vehemently prohibit alternative interpretations, defies commonsense.

Ranade & Reddy are surely entitled to their favored readings celebrating Indian democracy. Savitri Era Party has every right to disseminate its deliberately jaundiced propaganda. Manoj-duo-come-lately are catching up with pamphleteering and long to steal a march by covering the last mile via vernacular ventures. And in all this the text and its web of words are to blame and not the reader ("The death of the author is the birth of the reader," at the risk of repeating ad nauseum, the Barthes bite).

The courts, after all, are meant for conflict resolution, and their reading will be binding. But in the Ashram there is no separation of powers and therefore this feeling of inconvenience. Even a sensible voice like Lipschutz’s terms it as a politicized public court, whatever that means, alas! [TNM] 

Heehs like Kalidas has committed the Cardinal Slur

Heehs toying with the idea of provoking a riot in the very preface of the book is quite intriguing. Predictably, the examples of Rushdie, Taslima, and Hussain must be playing in his mind and he perhaps secretly yearned for basking in reflected (vain)glory. His tryst with bombs having bombed at the box office in the past, he obviously craved this book to top the charts. Recall how Carlsciyon was braying about violence and baying for blood the shameful screeds of which he has hidden to wash his past.   

Heehs, like Kalidas (straying to utter my name), has committed the Cardinal Slur and no amount of seena jori can condone that. The consequences are on the autopilot which, sadly, his allies will also partake in proportion to the delay they engender. Rich and famous can Heehs become leading a colorful life but won’t be able to bury his past. His reputation besmirched and writing career shattered, infamy and ignominy will dog him. Better therefore he seeks salvation in the Murphy-Kripal Math. [TNM]       

Manoj duo have turned Heehs Das

The unholy alliance of Manoj duo with Banerji & Sons in shielding Heehs and his ilk is definitely not ensuing from an enlightened-liberal-yogic inspiration. Rather, the lure of power and money is at play lubricating a loose ideological consensus. If they succeed in pushing the line they are pursuing at the moment, then the Ashram will become just a satellite of Auroville. Inmates enjoying autonomy and untrammeled freedom will turn it into an inn.

Heehs cleverly camouflaged his loose talk under swathes of hard data and cold facts thus maneuvering his acquittal. He has been winning every war since 1986 trouncing stalwarts like Jugal and Pranab and hence was sure of his invincibility. With the solid backing of the Ashram Trust and influential Westerners he had only contempt for religious minded Indians and their pathetic rhetoric. In one stroke he catapulted himself to the status of the Supremo with minions slugging for him in each place including the archives. So much so that Manoj duo have turned Heehs ‘Das’ by sacrificing their experience and mortgaging their conscience.

The current ‘India Shining’ wave is a disconcerting phenomenon for the Westerners long used to the spontaneous awe and admiration expressed by the locals. Neither their languages nor their jargonized theoretical formulations carry the same appeal as happened earlier because of which they miss the ‘recognition’ now. This loss of esteem is posing a serious crisis for the foreign nationals sheltered in the Ashram. Nostalgia for their fatherlands and respective religions is also a debilitating factor.   

Obviously, there would be case wise peculiarities but we hardly hear such sociological confessions or analyses. Heehs, in particular, has much to hide about his past and that falls under the now infamous rubric of “dignified silence.” But why the same dignity vanished while talking about the Masters so uncharitably, no one is willing to explain. Rather, people are falling over each other to defend Heehs to ensure his fixture within the Ashram.

The die is cast. Heehs, the author and Heehs, the ashramite are two separate personas. Only one has the right to live, and the choice is free. [TNM]  

Monday, September 20, 2010

The book is a frontal attack on Savitri Era Religion

Savitri Era Religion was formalized in 2006 and the book appeared in 2008. The divinity of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo was openly challenged by the author in his promotional pronouncements. In the guise of documenting the outward events in the life of the Master, the author injected liberal doses of doubts, half truths, and misinterpretations. The thrust of the book was to portray Sri Aurobindo's feats and foibles as a human being disregarding the divine aspect. The Mother too received a miserable treatment in Heehs’ hands.

Overall, the book is a frontal attack on Savitri Era Religion. The author has no concern for the devotees and their sentiments. Devotional performances are anathema to him. The basic moral feeling of respecting others’ faith and not disturbing their source of solace has dried up in him. He vents all his repressed frustrations by this sadistic venture of maligning The Mother & Sri Aurobindo.

In three sentences he demolishes whatever good deeds he might have performed in the past three dozen years. He demolishes the sacred throne of The Mother which the devotees carry in their hearts all their life through umpteen trials and tribulations. He demolishes the profound significance of the momentous meeting that took place on March 29, 1914.

It is a dastardly and cruel act, acting from the very precincts which he was entrusted to guard and preserve; which sustained him all his adult life. But the adulteration that he has perpetrated has no remedy. He knew it well and applied his lethal stroke. But how can he escape the consequences? As the enemy no. 1 of Savitri Era Religion he has already earned immortality. Epics will be written to sing his notoriety and Heehs will be jeered for ages to come. [TNM]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Manoj duo lend legitimacy to Heehs' loose talk

For a long time there was reason to presume that in this slugfest between the supporters and detractors of the book there exist a few who would don the role of the umpire. At least for the sake of engaging the two sides in dialogue, if not for arbitrating over the issue. That hope has receded to the point of vanishing. There are clear two sides arrayed against each other at present, not even fence sitters. But the gravity and complexity that this imbroglio assumes is due to intermingling of the three different factors involved.

First the book. No doubt it contains hostile remarks on Sri Aurobindo, and hence is unacceptable to the devotees. They expect the Ashram to disown the book which unfortunately has been turned down.      

Second the Author. It is far from convincing that his removal from the archives is a commensurate punishment while the disputed book sells worldwide. His continuance in the Ashram (and defence by the Manoj duo) lends legitimacy to his utterances affecting the reader near her bed light.

Third the people. Not a very neat category to define, but broadly the ashramites, and next the devotees and workers scattered worldwide including the aurovillians. (Somehow the civil society crowd on both sides of the ideological isle have been cold to this case till now.) For the ashramites, both the book and the author are threats, and there is no reason why they have to be put up with. They want an unpolluted home (“An individual should be left if by his sacrifice the whole family is saved” - Chanakya) which is perfectly valid. What other sections say is secondary and counts less.

In the light of the above, the following points are thrown into sharp relief:
  • That the book would have faced no opposition had it been written by an outsider,
  • That the author’s freedom is limited to the extent he doesn’t harm others;
  • That only the opinion of those protesting against the book matters even if they are a minority within the Ashram.  [TNM] 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Odisha will lead

Manoj Das has written a 10-page reply to Niranjan Naik which could well have been published in the Navaprakash for its literary merit. Why the devotees are being kept in dark about the goings on in the Ashram is difficult to guess.

Manoj Das seems to have equated the trustees with the level of the gods and is ready to do their bidding as a humble soldier. He also advises Naik to emulate him in this regard. Agreed that living long years within a feudal set-up can blunt one’s democratic antenna. But such an example of servility is absolutely shameful.

Savitri Era Party calls upon the countless devotees of Odisha to hold their head high with self-respect and reject the plea of this slave of Manoj Das Gupta. [TNM]

How many gods?

A thoroughly reformed man today, I think it would be best if the disputed site was converted into a monument for communal peace and harmony, a monument to the gods of all faiths, a memorial to all those killed in communal conflagrations. Let us seek the blessings of all the gods of all faiths - and let us de-politicize the issue, thereby nullifying the BJP.]

Chakraverti has overlooked the fact that “all the gods” is a Hindu concept and other religions don’t sanction it. His cogent reasoning in economics should ideally acquire sound ontological undergirding. [TNM]

Life Divine is still better

That is the new Roger Scruton book, which I finished with pleasure.  Here is one good passage:
“Optimism...is the other side of a kind of existential despair, a longing to retreat from the complexities of the great society to the primordial simplicity of the undifferentiated tribe.  It expresses a kind of distrust of humanity, an inability to allow that we can actually move on from our original nature, and create a flexible, reasonable and charitable "we," which is not a collective "I" at all, but the by-product of individual freedom.  But this distrust is unfounded.  The world is, in fact, a much better place than the optimists allow: and that is why pessimism is needed.”]

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo’s vision, we take pride, are the most optimist. But optimism as portrayed by Scruton seems to be an escapist propensity bordering on the Freudian longing for the idyllic idleness of the mother’s womb. He, however, rightly concludes that the world is a better place but a Life Divine is still better. [TNM]

Loyalty vs. survival

The campaign against the book and its author has now dovetailed into a court case for removing the trustees. The inevitable has happened, the seed of which can be said to have been sowed in the book itself. Questioning the divinity of Sri Aurobindo by the author was the first signal, and deprecating the earlier writer-disciples was clearly confrontational.

Antipathy towards public display of devotional practices and performance of rituals collectively which has condescendingly been termed as religion (and hence, fundamentalism) served as a sound pretext. Instead of rationalizing these within the wide spectrum of Integral Yoga, the tendency to see them as hindrance or even negation became the elite attitude. Thus, the American author had increasingly become enamored of the Esalen and CIIS perspectives.

The more the author was cited by others, the more were the demands of objectivity on him. His loyalties got divided in the process and he estimated the dividends accruing from outside as more in magnitude as well as magnificence. Instead of serving the organization that sustained him for three dozen years, he played into the hands of left leaning activists.

Each sentence and paragraph in the book has been crafted so ingeniously that blaming it becomes difficult to substantiate, yet an informed reader feels slapped in every page; his reverence for The Mother & Sri Aurobindo takes a beating. This pain and anguish, coming as it does from an ashramite, becomes all the more offensive. More so because the book has been sponsored and continues to be supported by the Ashram itself.

The Trust is defending the book to the hilt, the ethic and hermeneutic of which is hard to digest. The book has verily become the pivot of power equations within the Ashram and also in the wider community of the followers of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. The future of various connected institutions spread across the country and abroad is also at stake. The author of the book has eventually become the author of this whole churning.

Predicting the direction of time’s arrow is certainly not easy. But a lot of deception and pretence is coming out of the closet. Let’s not forget that individual self-interest and survival is at play in all these grandstanding and exchange of allegations. But at the end of all this drama what will endure is pure loyalty and love. The end and the means are equally crucial, therefore. [TNM]