Sunday, October 31, 2010

Courts invoking the occult

Even in an elementary liberal sense, shouldn’t the right to dissent or even rebel and secede be granted to citizens as both individuals and groups? What else do we have our liberal constitution and its florid, archaic prose for?
… if there is no right to secede, then we are all prisoners of the present nation-state, including its territorial boundaries. At least I do not interpret our “liberal” constitution in that way. “To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India” might well involve redrawing the boundaries (secession) and/or renegotiating sovereignty within existing boundaries (rebellion). The constitution did not say the “unity of India as of 15.8.1947″ (or any such date). By Uday on October 30, 2010 at 8:23 AM Reply]

[The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Opinion | The Ayodhya judgment - Any retreat to pre-modernity is dangerous for democracy 12 Oct 2010 Prabhat Patnaik 
There are three obvious problems with the Allahabad High Court judgment on the Babri Masjid issue. Each of them in isolation is potentially damaging for the constitutional fabric of the country; together they can cause irreparable harm. …
Secondly, issues like this leave behind wounds that fester and can cause damage later even if there is no immediate cause for concern. Justice needs to be done, in a manner that is in conformity with the blindness of the maiden. That is the only firm basis on which a modern State can be built; and the resolution of even specific issues like this lies ultimately in the building of such a modern State. Hopefully, the Supreme Court to which the matter will be referred will be mindful of the pitfalls of quick fixes and will uphold scrupulously the cause of law. The author is professor, Centre for Economic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi]

All these years the Constitution of India had seemed to be a very secure and mature shelter. No longer. It looks like there are one thousand and one misgivings about it by various quarters. Courts invoking the occult and anarchists marshalling their dubious polemics can prove too costly for the health of the nation and its reliance on parliamentary democracy. [TNM]   

We have no mandate to mix

From Tusar N. Mohapatra tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com date 31 October 2010 19:06
The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have set forth a new path for their works, to follow which also demands that we eschew the tenets of traditional enunciations. The latter may seem impressive and imposing but we have no mandate to mix them with what are specifically prescribed by the masters.

This is the most difficult aspect of their teachings although initially one is drawn by the liberal notion that The Mother & Sri Aurobindo leave out nothing and synthesize everything. No doubt, they used to tolerate the fancies of their disciples until one was aware. But the basic principle was always the same: unreserved surrender. [TNM]

More or less

The plethora of choices one encounters in every field of life today is simply mind-boggling. A surfeit of terms referring to the same thing is another perplexing affair. For example, one has moved from Cinema to Picture to Film, and then to Movie at various points. Similarly, surfing the newspapers online turns taxing because the edit-page has various names like Views, Opinion, Editorials, Columnists, Blogs, etc.

The stock markets, by contrast, have standardized the nomenclature of complex instruments to facilitate trading on global platforms. This uniformity has crystallized out of sheer necessity despite the fact that the very concept of market is almost a synonym for choice. The two-party system, likewise, is also considered by many as an advancement over the multi-party chaos.

Limited human capability and life span forces most people to cling to a tiny range of the available diversity. This entails widespread marginalization and ghettoisation. The same is also true for technology as well as entertainment where sophistication often comes wrapped with deception or perversion. The mainstream media is now a glad accomplice in the game having abdicated its role at scrutiny and calibration.

The evolutionary imperative of Unity, Mutuality, and Harmony, in this context is not easy to perceive and pursue. Nonetheless, the primacy of unity, in spite of its hegemonic apprehensions, is an ideal worth striving for. A wide imagination has the power to transform the puny circumstantial boundedness of an individual. This would mean, paradoxically, a shrinkage in the realm of languages, religions, and nationalities. [TNM]  

Friday, October 29, 2010

A random click can do the trick

Pageviews of Savitri Era Open Forum has crossed 8000 this month while that of Savitri Era Learning Forum is yet to reach 800. This shows how controversy has more pulling power than the educative. Even, the combined figure for the rest of the 20 blogs is not much ahead. Readers, however, can lend a helping hand by randomly clicking a page or two of their goldmine (archives). [TNM]

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dr. Raghu can still redeem his reputation

Heehs imbroglio continues to spawn high quality dialogue as fresh Acts are unfolding and the entry of Dr. Raghu has enlivened the whole scene. He has been the butt of many jokes and the target of numerous invectives. He has weathered it all and yet remains defiant.

“Who this Dr Raghu is?” many are anxious to know, but I have no clue. He started out as a rationalist and collated references as to where Sri Aurobindo can be shown as a mere human being devoid of any divinity. So far so good. Because the truth is that I have no means to prove that Sri Aurobindo was divine; and rather out of my self-interest I attribute divinity onto him. It’s a free choice and others are equally free to treat him as per their sweet will.

In this sense Dr. Raghu’s objections were dispensable. But soon he was found to be a convenient tool by the Heehs’ hounds as all their responses were routed through him. Overnight, Dr. Raghu metamorphosed into an authority on Sri Aurobindiana. Such forsaking of honesty by an avowed rationalist is surely atrocious but perhaps an essential episode in this sordid drama.

Dr. Raghu can still redeem his reputation if he conducts his interrogation a bit impartially. He can start with the poser no 1: “Is Peter Heehs the founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives?” [TNM]  

Heehs’ hounds may hurry up

Heehs’ hounds have been refuting all criticisms against him and his book with religious rigour. The secret of what cements their bond is not clear but such support from diverse quarters is really rare.  Prof Kamal Das (or whatever his name is) has asked half a dozen pointed questions which, in all fairness, need equally pointed answers. But the response of the Heehs’ hounds so far has been to circumvent them. Please expedite. [TNM]      

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Moral vs. political

“Consider divorce in America: it has taken sociologists forty years to conclude that divorce, in a strictly statistical sense, is not good for children. … Sociologists, once responsible for understanding the nature of moral and social life, grew silent in their regard for moral judgment, except as political judgment.”
Here is an essay of mine on Peter Berger -- who also thought (thinks) sociology has lost its way -- that Imber published in his journal Society.]

Exactly, and whether our relationships should be so interchangeable. [TNM] By: Tusar N. Mohapatra on October 27, 2010 at 1:43 PM Reply
True, but any conceptualization would mean some kind of relatedness. A too reductive analogy can engender delusions and hence is a methodological hazard. [TNM] By: Tusar N. Mohapatra on October 27, 2010 at 6:27 PM Reply

Savitri Eran sabre rattling

[Christianity and its others from The Immanent Frame by Peter van der Veer
In South, South-East, and East Asia, we find extraordinary competition between different religious movements: Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and others. Also, within these religions this competition is intense—for example, between Shi’as and Sunnis, or between Protestants and Catholics. Since Christian missions were the first modern endeavors of their type in the world, many of their tactics and strategies have provided models for other religious movements. Education, health care, and social welfare are the fields in which these movements are competing with each other, often without much presence of the state. In refugee camps in Asia, one finds also a heated competition for the souls of the displaced. 12:54 PM]

Savitri Era Religion too will not shy away from conflict and the current imbroglio presents an extraordinary opportunity to hone our skills in sabre rattling and polemics. [TNM]

Mother vs. spouse

This marriage analogy is admittedly disconcerting vis-à-vis the mother and son relationship with the nation that we have grown up with, especially when love and emotions is the issue. [TNM] By: Tusar N. Mohapatra on October 27, 2010 at 11:25 AM Reply

Monday, October 25, 2010

Postmodernism's sensitivity towards diversity

One of the major contributions of Postmodernism is sensitivity towards diversity which was steamrolled under the juggernaut of modernity during the past few centuries. Significantly, Sri Aurobindo also championed this by counseling unity instead of uniformity.

There will be a class of devotees of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo who will stick to the narrow religious way. Another class of followers may not prefer any public display but continue to be practitioners of Integral Yoga. Many more admirers will be there who might shun religion and spirituality but are drawn by the intellectual challenge. Besides a large section will be there who are just neutral or harbor a casual respect.

However, if group-F feels that group-D is out to destroy their ideal, then the situation becomes conflictual. But, group-D also has the right to prevent the core from dilution, and hence animosity simmers. There should be mutual respect, therefore, between different groups. Recognizing that various levels of appreciation are possible and have to be tolerated is a great help. One can start with Brecht, Barthes, Bakhtin, & Baudrillard. [TNM]

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Presence of hostile elements within the Ashram can prove costly

Banerji has argued in the past that this is no conventional “Ashram,” and so the norms for other Ashrams don’t apply here. He is right in the sense that the way the Ashram came into being has no parallel as The Mother’s unique vision navigated it for half a century. But the same can’t be said after she left the scene.

Significantly, the three major controversies involving Satprem, Savitri, and Heehs surround publications. Understandably, publishing is a peripheral activity not indispensable for spiritual pursuit. But now it seems to occupy a central place because of power and fame as well as commerce and glamour. Copyright, archives, editing, and the journals have assumed critical importance over the years.

This along with the round the year ceremonials of religious nature are the most visible face of the Ashram. Thus, the conceptual uniqueness that Banerji underscores has undergone material alteration during the last three dozen years. It would, therefore, be safe to infer that Sri Aurobindo Ashram as it exists today is no different from its peers.

Additionally, the Ashram is now responsible for the safety and security of the Samadhi. This is an onerous task and the presence of hostile elements within the Ashram can prove costly. Now that the knives are out in the wake of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, testing the loyalty and commitment of the inmates turns crucial. [TNM]  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Juvenile wrangling and unwarranted belligerence

About a dozen regulars are currently running the discussions over at SEOF. Most of them prefer to be anonymous or pseudonymous. This is quite strange. Many of them might be professionals who are not officially permitted to air free opinion in public. But this dual allegiance also brings in warped thinking and unwarranted belligerence. 

The Heehs imbroglio is only a minor symptom of a much wider malaise involving the management of the Ashram, the administration of Auroville, the functioning of Sri Aurobindo Society, and the ownership of thousands of institutions named after The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. Besides, major players like Cuttack, Kolkata, and Delhi pursue their own separate agenda and cultivate independent followings.

Financial indiscretions are easily cloaked and the whistle blowers are generally eased out. What is needed, therefore, is the courage to face these facts and forthrightness to divulge such transgressions. Otherwise one turns an accomplice in these misdeeds masquerading as spirituality. SEOF facilitates such exposes and it is the responsibility of the contributors and participants to maintain civility as well as seriousness.

The divinity of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo and their role in history are open questions. Perceptions differ widely and admirers and adversaries galore. A rationalist wrestling with a devotee on this score is therefore an absurdity. Such conversations can become fruitful if the participants disclose their identity and personal beliefs. Dialogues are best fostered in a climate of mutual respect.    

Savitri Era Party defends the rights of the readers to read what Heehs has written, but maintains that Heehs has no right to write what he has written. Further, all published writings of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo has become a contested domain. A more transparent editorial process has to be put in place, but relevant priorities can be thrashed out through honest online discussions. Such constructive approach is essential now instead of the entertaining juvenile wrangling adorning the pages of SEOF. [TNM] 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dr. Ryder’s masterstroke is a proud moment for SEOF

Leibniz was a scribbler, a letter writer. Even his massive New Essays on Human Understanding was a letter to Locke, abandoned when he died. Leibniz was gregarious and communicative, craving, it seems, talk above all else (let’s not forget he was also a diplomat). … There is something beautiful in the epistle and in many respects blogging is, as Mel put it to me recently, the new epistlary. …
Rather, originality follows the logic of Lacan’s tuche or chance encounter. … An encounter with the unfamiliar, with alterity, generates an unassimialable kernel with respect to what I had previously been focusing on. That kernel functions as a seed to throw thought in motion, generate new conceptual spaces, form a weave of relations to make sense of these disparate worlds, thereby generating the work of writing.]

Dr. Ryder’s verdict on the Heehs imbroglio seems to be the final one. No one has been able to refute his formulation till now. This is perhaps an apt example of lateral thinking, and the way he traps Heehs by the latter’s own smart tricks is really a masterstroke. Thus, Heehs stands convicted even before the book has seen the light or anyone heard about it.

It is a proud moment for SEOF that in its pages a two years’ tussle has been resolved. Many are dismissive of the site for washing dirty linen in public, but we have always believed in the power of discourse. Dr. Ryder hit upon a gem in the course of such a dialogue without perhaps realizing it. Apart form the therapeutic potential of speech, the context of a conflict, paradoxically, also needs to be appreciated for such intuitive inventions.

Now that the book issue has been settled, our energies must be directed towards the Ashram. More discussions on its functioning and probable reforms can go a long way in bringing clarity to our understanding of it. May be some one like Dr. Tyger comes up with an innovative solution. [TNM] 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sri Aurobindo is the star of 20th Century

'Makers of Modern India', edited and introduced by Ramachandra Guha, is published nationwide by Penguin India on October 25 ... reflects on the 19 men and women who made India a unique ...
Makers of Modern India is a rich and comprehensive repository of India's of India's political traditions. ...
These makers of modern India did not speak in one voice: their perspectives are sometimes complementary, at other times contradictory. The topics they explore and analyse include religion, caste, gender, language, nationalism, colonialism, democracy, secularism and the economy—that is to say, all that is significant in the human condition.]

Sri Aurobindo failed to make it to Guha’s list of 19 confirming the latter's notoriety. Such blind and ungrateful pen pushers of our time! [TNM]  

We replaces the State

The basic flaw in the statements like, There has to be control of speculation and regulation of markets to curb price peaks and bottoms and we can well manage without the State, is often overlooked. By removing the State the ‘we’ remains which replaces the State. Further, the role of the State becomes all the more crucial in the times of agitation, war, and calamities. Whosoever assumes the leader’s role in such moments becomes the State. That some are directors and others followers is part of the natural order and hence the age-old fourfold division of society seems to be a more reasonable arrangement. [TNM]

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Savitri Era Religion is emerging as a red rag

The Mother’s divinity constitutes a threat to the dominant religions of the day and the more she is talked about the more curiosity will be aroused in more and more onlookers. Zealots of other faiths will adopt various tactics to belittle her and sow seeds of doubt in the minds of the followers. Even the atheists would jump into the fray sensing an easy prey.

But she was cleverer and built on firm foundations with much prescience. Her countless devotees would never betray whatever may be the provocations from the Heehs camp. It is a matter of immense glee that Savitri Era Religion is going to be a red rag to many a raging bull. [TNM]    

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Life Divine is the crest jewel of human thought and hope

The Life Divine is a definitive work of philosophy as well as prophecy. Religious scriptures and various theological texts of the same genre are in currency from the dawn of the human civilization. But The Life Divine is the most modern treatise that easily substitutes all the rest. Even grand philosophical tracts of great sophistication turn pale before the Himalayan heights of The Life Divine. Its monolithic ontological architectonic stands supreme and unsurpassed even as its evocative prose congeals a transformative atmosphere.    

The Life Divine borrows extensively from the ancient Hindu literature, but it cannot be termed strictly as Hindu philosophy. Sri Aurobindo, with his background of Western education, has executed a deft amalgamation with speculative metaphysics as well as scientific inferences. The result is an integral body of knowledge which the mankind was in search of in fits and starts. Disengaging philosophy from specific religious anchorages, he sets forth a universal explication of being and becoming as a fountainhead to quench man’s perennial thirst for knowledge.

There is no dearth of people who give lectures on Sri Aurobindo’s teachings without going through The Life Divine. There have also been attempts in the past to distort its profundity and parody its message, thus confusing the gullible. Overall, the book has been a target of religious antipathy, political conspiracy, and intellectual arrogance. There are sympathizers too, but few take the trouble of reading more than a thousand pages. The Life Divine is the crest jewel of human thought and hope and hence each one of us must read this essential work. [TNM]  
[The Life Divine Sri Aurobindo

Too clever by half

Before a middle class society came into existence, there was patronage and privilege. While the lesser orders bowed and scraped as good courtesans, the nobility could be filthily abusive. A middle-class society changed all that. From now on, everybody was middle class regardless of their economic condition. The emphasis was not on acquisition or wealth, but on how one related to other people. The first rule, the warm-up, was to internalise the dictum that our social positions are interchangeable. 
Catching up with the West begins with good manners; not cars, stereos or even blue jeans. It is simply a matter of putting the horse before the cart. Manners are all about how we treat others whom we don't know personally, and probably never will. If Europe has a head-start of more than a hundred years over us, it is not because they got to commodities first. The advantage they sprung on the rest of the world was in evolving social manners. While we were still aspiring to be good clients to mercurial patrons, they were learning to treat their social others as equals. 
As early as 1873, Professor Thomas E Hill wrote a runaway best-seller called the Essential Handbook of Victorian Etiquette. It flew off the racks and even carried the recommendation of Schyler Colfax, then vice-president of the USA. It was not just another book destined for libraries, but was read and re-read avidly by the public. It had a mass appeal because it addressed a genuine social aspiration. This work is essentially about manners. It instructs us on how to behave with those who may not be equally fortunate. …
Copycat materialism is clearly not working. It's not in the Yellow Pages, but there is a one-stop shop for good manners. It is run by the Welfare State and open only to the middle class. The writer is former professor, JNU.]

Hans-Hermann Hoppe's Democracy: The God That Failed analyses the failures of this deity very well. The book is sub-titled "The Politics and Economics of Monarchy, Democracy and Natural Order." The key difference between monarchy and democracy is this - the time horizon. A monarch looks far into the future, when his son will rule. A democrat only looks at his term - and loots and scoots, leaving hell to pay for the next guy, who does the same. Further, the monarch is quite separate from the masses - he does not have a "party" of looters to gift public offices to. He therefore rules with the "capital value" of his State in mind, seeking to maintain it for his successors. If he borrows in emergencies, he borrows less and he repays fast. If he goes to war, these are "limited wars." US democracy has unleashed permanent unlimited wars everywhere. Unlimited borrowing. Unlimited fraud with the currency. This is true of India as well - and the UK. Democracies have squandered the "capital value" of their states. Thus, while we have had long histories of "civilisation" under traditional monarchies, under modern mass democracies all we see is "de-civilisation" because of rapid "capital consumption" on a massive scale.]

For us, Heehs represents the last heap of the decline of the West. [TNM]

Full accountability and communication

[The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Opinion | The Ayodhya judgment - Any retreat to pre-modernity is dangerous for democracy. Prabhat Patnaik, Tuesday, October 12 , 2010 
Hence the verdict of the Lucknow bench that Ram was born at the very spot which was the sanctum sanctorum of the Babri Masjid, because “people” believed this to be the case, is as mystifying as it is retrograde.
There are, to start with, the obvious, but weighty, questions of who these “people” are, how many such “people” must be there to qualify being called “the people”, and what evidence the Lucknow bench had, even regarding the views of the “people”, other than what it might have gathered as a result of the activities, claims and mobilizations of a few Hindu organizations which professed to speak in the name of the “people”. To take the word of organizations that claim to speak in the name of the “people” as the voice of the “people” is dangerous enough. But to take the “beliefs” of the “people”, even assuming these are indeed the well-established “beliefs” of a very large number of people, as synonymous with “facts” strikes at the very root of the rationality that must underlie a modern society.]

[Time For A Fresh Start - The Times of India  Chetan Bhagat, Oct 9, 2010
So what would be the better product offered by the BJP? First, they will need to clarify their core values and goals in brief. Manifestos are too long and archaic. The core values should fit on the back of a visiting card, or fit in an SMS, and be easy to understand. A possible set of core values can be full accountability and communication; zero tolerance for corruption; youth representation and secular, inclusive, pro-business growth.]

The core values suggested by Bhagat can as well apply to the Ashram Trust. [TNM]

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Political passivity is unethical and cowardly

[Comment posted by Sandeep: Re: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust does not Approve The Lives of Sri Aurobindo
If we are satisfied so easily, we are only thinking of our discomfort and how to get out of the unsavory situation.
I have noticed that some people are unable to sustain a protracted conflict.  Their vital shrinks from it. It’s like "Oh, lets just have some peace and quiet :-)".
One should be able to debate happily without losing one's composure even in an unpleasant situation.   That would be another mark of a Stithaprajna (Gita 2:55-72)]

Most people in the initial stages of the spiritual path attain what may be called a "passive calm". The glow on their face lasts only as long as they are surrounded by kind and gentle people like themselves. Faced with a protracted conflict, they either shrink from it in revulsion or unexpectedly lose their composure in exasperation. One must ...]

Shortly after The Mother passed away, students protested in Patna in March 1974 leading to the flaring up of the JP movement. Criticisms against it of turning fascist in the name of Democracy may have some substance, but the good that came out at that point far outweighed the negative points. Hindutva elements, unfortunately, tasted power at the Centre and they are a formidable force after three decades.

Savitri Erans have avoided conflicts like ostriches, and their silence has been misappropriated by vested interests. Lending intellectual legitimacy to spurious forces in such a passive manner is unethical and cowardly. Why should we be allowed to be exploited in this fashion has no rationale. Institutions, admittedly, have their own compulsions. But why individuals don’t come out forcefully with political statements is a mystery. 

Don’t be under the false notion that you can conquer the Kingdom of God without first conquering the kingdom of man. The fight is very much here and clarity on political issues is a must. [TNM]

Friday, October 08, 2010

That was 20 years ago

Sunil S R’s litany of woes may be shared by many today but someone from the other side will immediately respond that these are a bundle of lies. There is no means to verify these charges and counter-charges, but they verily pile up as the chronicle of the Ashram, albeit in a cumbersome form. Truth has become a casualty in the post-Heehs era, and may be some intrepid history buff in the future finds it as sumptuous fodder. [TNM]

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Heehs has questions (issues?) with the founders

Dr. Ryder rips open the lie of Peter Heehs with clinical precision. Never during the last two years was this simple fact articulated so clinchingly and so succinctly. Hats off! [TNM]   

Monday, October 04, 2010

No yoga sans The Mother & Sri Aurobindo

It is well known that Sri Aurobindo concentrated more on the future of India after its independence. And it can safely be concluded that the present shape of the country is not what he wanted to see. So, what are the parameters of the shortfall? Whether the deficit is only in magnitude or also in direction? These are surely inconvenient questions and are difficult to answer too.

Sri Aurobindo was emphatic that India will show the path to the rest of humanity. India, here, should be construed less as a nation or political entity and more as representing the Vedic wisdom. The core of these ancient utterances posits the hypothesis that the world we see is only the tip of the iceberg, the significant causal segments of which are hidden. So the imperative was to stay awake to the occult/spiritual/unseen realities.

This lesson as carried through countless streams of religion over vast stretches of time has a pan-Indian presence. The message has permeated the hearts of succeeding generations and is being perpetuated through popular culture. A continuous civilization has survived for more than 5000 years on the strength of such a cognitive consensus.   

The soft power that India possesses even today is something unparalleled. Family values and the wide diversity are aspects which the people of India would feel proud for. Religiosity pervades the community life even in the metropolitan cities. But what is missing is a willed pursuit of self-transformation which The Mother & Sri Aurobindo termed as yoga.    

Yoga as practical psychology is basically a self-management tool. Its efficacy or benefits are varied depending upon at what age one adopts its regimen. Therefore, the experiences of no two persons can be equal. Further, the personal relationship one refines with The Mother & Sri Aurobindo is purely unique, which is an essential aspect of yoga for receiving their evolutionary assistance.

In this sense, recommending some new age practices gleaned from the traditional systems cannot stand as yoga unless it is tethered to the name of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. Besides, the volitional and behavioral modifications that we label as yoga hold true within a matrix of specific ontological assumptions. And sundry strands of perennial philosophy fail to aid here.

These two lynchpins being indispensable for the chariot of yoga to proceed, there can’t be any compromise or beating about the bush. The people of India, who are perennially in love with various religious rituals and lately with yoga postures, must be exposed to the words of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. Call it activism or call it religion; there is no other way. If we want to see a new India ready to lead the world, then The Mother & Sri Aurobindo must preside everywhere and people voluntarily hand over their business of life to them. [TNM]

Rival religions are proselytizing profusely

Many are insistent that one comes to the path of yoga only when the inner call rings. This neat formulation, however, is hard to prove. What about those born to families devoted to The Mother & Sri Aurobindo for three or four generations? They never chose, and rather were chosen even before their birth. On the other hand, there are umpteen examples of students of schools dedicated to the ideals of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo deliberately avoiding the spiritual path.

Thus, generalizations on this score are liable to be fallacious. Without resorting to the scrutiny of occult phenomena such as the inner call and psychic being, the common sense approach is to spread the teachings of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo by all available means. If we are convinced that their writings are helpful in life and these are not being supplied via the general education system, then special efforts have to be made in an organized manner. Technology is in place as a willing collaborator but unfortunately our flesh is weak.

The confusing ‘religion’ debate is another dampener as most are morbidly fearful of the word ‘proselytizing.’ At the same time we are blissfully oblivious of the consequences of other religions proselytizing profusely. Not the next species; the here and now, therefore, is a more compelling subject to ponder over and act upon. Wanted the collective zeal. [TNM]

Ashram suffers from flaws of collectivism

[A deeper justification for free trade is that it civilizes and enlightens.  … But the most fundamental reason I support free trade is that it is immoral for me to tell you how to spend your money and for you to tell me how to spend my money. An Open Letter to A Correspondent from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux, 3 October 2010]

[Ken Wilber developed a useful way of marking the distinction between the two, referring to the "interior collective" and the "exterior collective." The interior collective is to we as the individual is to I -- that is, an internally related center of order. For example, a passionate marriage is a true "we" at every level, body, mind, and spirit (and that is indeed one of its purposes, since it helps develop the "I" to its true potential, even while allowing us to transcend it in the "we"). 
But the exterior collective is not a spontaneous order. Rather, it is something that you are essentially forced to be a part of, like Obamacare. Ironically, collectivism can never be a true collective, since most people don't want or choose to be members of it. It is imposed from the outside to varying degrees, so it's only a "we" for certain constituents, eg., the MSM, Hollywood, the tenured, the stupid, the envious, the immature. 
But this is what defines the leftist spectrum, from Obama/Euro style democratic socialism, to authoritarian fascism, and on to totalitarianism. Disordered Reason and the Illegitimate Force of Obamacare from One Cosmos - Mar 27, 2010]

[The human spirit--a spirit which strives always to throw off the shackles hold it down; which constantly veers toward freedom and away from slavery--cannot ever be completely extinguished and will always rise from the ashes of the left's next failed utopian experiment. THE LEFT'S UTOPIAN AMBITION from Dr. Sanity, 3 October 2010]

The Ashram as an economic organization has many distinct advantages. A strict division of labor entailing commendable specialization involving dedicated hands at economical costs should have worked wonders. But the flaws of collectivism play their part. Lack of ambition and thirst for commensurate incentive keeps the production units moribund. Absence of exit route, product shifting/shuffling, and diversification are other probable factors for the commercial ventures not becoming competitive and successful.

The genesis of the Ashram invokes the aspirational aspect of the human beings, whereas the more mundane projections of human psychology play out in everyday functioning. Economics belongs to the latter category and unless its demands are met it languishes. Mythological pictures of an ashram tends to keep people bonded to the bygone days and nostalgia rules. The challenge, however, is to build a vibrant community by suitably responding to advances in media, machinery, and methods of learning. [TNM]