Connecting the dots between the anti-Ashram nexus
The court case of the five Prasad sisters has thrown up bits and pieces of information that are seemingly disconnected, but which when seen in their totality reveal that there exists a strong nexus as well as a concerted attempt by a varied group of players to undermine the institution of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
Whether it is for settling personal scores, an expression of a rancorous vendetta, personal ambition, power or authority (financial or ‘spiritual’) or even for more mundane reasons such as the Ashram’s attractive real estate, the common objective of these anti-Ashram elements has been to attack the Ashram from as many sides as possibles in order to try to weaken it, break it apart and take it over.
The present attack against the Sri Aurobindo Ashram which is led by Raman Reddy, Sraddhalu Ranade, R.Y. Deshpande and their anti-Ashram colleagues are starting to reveal many of those who have mobilized considerable resources and opened up as many fronts as possible against the Ashram during the last few years. Their website ‘thelivesofsriaubindo.com’ is not only testimony of their relentless attempts to inflict injury to this institution but it has also provided many of the clues that are exposing their anti-Ashram nexuses.
If at first some believed that these attacks were the spontaneous reactions of some angered, disgruntled members of the Ashram and thought that this would blow over with time, they have all now realized that they were mistaken. Because almost six years later, any hint of spontaneity has faded away into the background and their unmistakable, malicious designs and machinations have increasingly come to the fore. The principal players pulling the strings from the back cannot hide themselves any more. Their actions, however sly, are inevitably starting to betray and expose them.
The information that has been recently posted on this website by several of our keen and well-informed readers provides us sufficient material to start connecting the dots between the various anti-Ashram actors as well as the nexus that exists between the various players that are actively involved.
We present here some of the information that has been shared with us by some of our readers and we let the others determine for themselves whether they see any pattern, design or nexus in all of these events.
1) Are the five Prasad sisters acting independently or are they supported and sponsored by other vested interests?
The case of the five Prasad sisters, that the siblings have succeeded to drag on since the year 2001, has revealed that they are backed by one of India’s topmost law firm ‘Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co‘. This is a law firm that is out of bounds for most ordinary citizen and are known to have some of the world’s largest and wealthiest multinational business corporations as their clients, because it is only such firms that can afford such onerous legal services. For instance, when such top, senior lawyers represent their clients in court their bill can run into lakhs of rupees (1000s of US$) for just one hearing. Ironically, the same law firm representing the five Prasad sisters has argued in court that their client are so ‘poor’ that the Ashram should pay them a stipend of a little less than 5000 rupees per month (less than 100 US$ per month) for each of the sisters for their maintenance when they get removed from the Ashram. With a stipend of about rupees 5000 each, assuming that they can save some money to pay for their lawyers’ fees, it would take all the five siblings together several decades of savings to pay the law firm Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co for just one hearing in court. How the five, ‘poor’ Prasad sisters can afford such un-affordable lawyers leaves most of us puzzled. If these siblings are indeed unable to afford the legal services of such a firm, they must then be having one or more sponsors.
2) If the five Prasad sisters are sponsored by someone who could it be?
Among the several large and wealthy business corporations that avail the services of the famous law firm Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co there is one name that has begun to crop up increasingly within the circles of those involved in attacking the Ashram. The name is Indiabulls Real Estate controlled by the Narendra Gehlaut family. See here the connection between Indiabulls and the law firm Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co. Could Indiabulls Real Estate or Narendra Gehlaut have a part to play in supporting those who are attacking the Ashram?
3) How is Narendra Gehlaut connected to Indiabulls and anti-Ashram elements?
a) Narendra Gehlaut is the Managing Director of Indiabulls Real Estate.
b) Narendra Gehlaut is also the registrant of the Savitri Foundation’s website domain name. The Savitri Foundation is run by R.Y. Deshpande and must be his brainchild. The primary purpose of the Savitri Foundation is to establish itself as the leading authority on Sri Aurobindo’s poem Savitri. This is done by flooding the internet with content from the poem Savitri under the name of the Savitri Foundation which is a rather crass display of sheer volume of meaningless information without any consideration for quality and substance. This is the hallmark of R.Y. Deshpande who sees and portrays himself as the only person after Sri Aurobindo who is able to understand and draw that thin line that apparently exists in the choice of words and their various interpretations in the Savitri poem, based on which – according to him – the Universe’s evolution will either fail or succeed!
Those who sponsor R.Y. Deshpande in his endeavors must either believe in his delusions and want to have a share of that unique privilege that gives them control over the fate of the Universe’s success for which they too must hope to get a share of the proceeds. Or, they plainly find R.Y. Deshpande to be a deluded and frustrated individual that can be handily used as a pawn to keep hammering a wedge into the Ashram by keeping the Savitri controversy alive so that the Ashram can be divided over this issue. The issues concerning the editing of the Savitri are poorly understood by most because of their complex technicalities, but have been effectively used by R.Y. Deshpande and his ilk to misinform people in order to evoke strong emotive and irrational reactions which they direct against the Ashram.
Either way, for its survival and existence the Savitri Foundation needs to discredit the restorative work that was undertaken on Sri Aurobindo’s poem Savitri by the Ashram in its archives department and they need to promote their own version of the Savitri poem. These provocative actions are clearly designed to cause disturbance, discontent and to divide the Ashram and its collective. All those like Narendra Gehlaut who take part in these hostile actions are therefore participating in these kinds of hostilities.
c) Narendra Gehlaut is not only supporting R.Y. Deshpande’s anti-Ashram activities through the Savitri Foundation, but he has also endorsed R.Y. Deshpande’s anti-Ashram position by expressing himself against the editing of the Savitri poem by offering his enlightened “insights.” In the chapter titled “This whole Theory of Authentication and Approval” of R.Y. Deshpande’s book “Man-handling of Savitri” the final paragraph reproduces Narendra Gehlaut’s following quote:
“That Sri Aurobindo delayed or rather timed leaving his body to the finishing of Savitri, cannot not be considered as a context to the final approved version of Savitri. Also the care Sri Aurobindo had taken in preparing multiple drafts, checking and rechecking, all is evidence in itself to the finality or the final draft to his satisfaction. If there was any doubt in Sri Aurobindo’s ‘mind’ regarding finality of revision he surely would have given detailed ‘instructions’ to the Mother. It is his consciousness which had affirmed “perfect perfection”; can we expect Sri Aurobindo not to have thought through this matter of his highest concern? I am inclined to assume that Sri Aurobindo would have delayed his leaving of the body if there was pending work of revision left.”
Whether Narendra Gehlaut’s insights on the Savitri poem’s editing make any sense or not, the point is that he agrees with and supports R.Y. Deshpande’s anti-Ashram stand.
d) Narendra Gehlaut and R.Y. Deshpande have other common interests and activities. For instance they like showing to the world at large how devoted and interested in Savitri they are!
4) How else is Narendra Gehlaut connected with other anti-Ashram activities?
a) Narendra Gehlaut’s spouse is the ex-Member of Parliament Jyoti Mirdha.
b) The noted journalist Rambahadur Rai had exposed Jyoti Mirdha’s close, active links with anti-Ashram activities. In his well researched article he writes:
“The Board of Trustees receives a letter written on 5th May by a Lok Sabha MP, Jyoti Mirdha, representing Nagaur in Rajasthan. Then a second letter, written on 22nd May and similar to the one of 5th May, is addressed to the Board of Trustees. Both these letters are given to the Board of Trustees via Manoj Das Gupta, the Managing Trustee. The second letter has 67 signatures. Most of these signatures have also the division number written on the side. The second letter also has Jyoti Mirdha’s signature. Both the letters look amazingly alike. Not a word is different nor any new questions have been added. The first three paragraphs are the same and then the 7 bulleted points for which clarification is sought. It is clear that the letter has been drafted somewhere else. Both the letters are identical. Isn’t it bewildering then that the paper on which the Members of Parliament have affixed their signature does not contain a single word that has emanated from them, except their signature?”
c) The letter mentioned above that was signed by 67 or so MPs has Jyoti Mirdha’s name printed on the signature form, which is not the case for the other MPs. Moreover the box containing Jyoti Mirdha’s name is not only right on top of the page but, but is the only one having the text “Yours Sincerely.” This points to the fact that Jyoti Mirdha printed the letter along with the signature form and also coordinated the entire signature campaign in parliament against the Ashram. This is also further corroborated by the fact that a large proportion of the MPs who signed that petition and whose names can be deciphered are MPs from Rajasthan, the same state from which she has been elected and to which she belongs, and are also all from the same political party. There is no doubt that Jyoti Mirdha has played an active role in trying to politicize Ashram’s internal affairs in order to cause trouble for the Ashram. Her actions can be considered to be hostile towards the Ashram.
5) Apart from the moral and logistical support to the anti-Ashram elements, is there also financial support being given to them?
There is unquestionable proof that Jyoti Mirdha, spouse of Narendra Gehlaut, Managing Director of Indiabulls has pumped an amount of Rs. 24.4 lacs (about 40,000 US$!) directly into the coffers of the Savitri Foundation. How and for what this money is being used is unclear to most of us. What is known however, is that R.Y. Deshpande, Raman Reddy, Sraddhalu Ranade, and their anti-Ashram colleagues have not shown to have any dearth of resources when they want to attack the Ashram. They have been filing court cases against the Ashram at a drop of hat. They rent conference halls in luxurious hotels where they hold talks on “Affimrative Spirituality” in which they promote anti-Ashram propaganda. They hire vehicles for transporting their supporters to the courts in Pondicherry as well as to the High Court in Chennai during which their supporters also have to be fed. Sraddhalu Ranade travels across the country and also overseas to deliver more talks on “Affimrative Spirituality” in which he spreads more anti-Ashram propaganda. Last but not least, let us not forget that the five Prasad sisters can afford India’s topmost law firm to fight their case against the Ashram.
With the available information that is now in front of us, we let the readers decide whether they see a nexus between the various actors who are overtly or covertly involved in attacking the Ashram.
– Well-wishers of Sri Aurobindo Ashram –