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FACTUAL ANALYSIS OF THE CONTROVERSY INITIATED BY SOME DEVOTEES III

August 19, 2014

The following write-up has been submitted by one of our regular contributors as an elaborate comment on the issue of the Prasad Sisters.

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  1. Our Ashram truly belongs to the Mother and is set up for providing reasonable facilities to the people who have dedicated themselves to the pursuit of sadhana in accordance with the Teachings of the Mother. If so, the beneficiaries of these facilities are not supposed to have any claim over the rights usually claimed by the employees of a business establishment, primarily because they are not the employees. Second, because the Ashram has not invited them to join. They on their own have come to Ashram, which has admitted them and has provided them available facilities. These facilities are invariably linked to the spiritual pursuit, and become bereft of value when this relationship disappears.
  2. There is a clear distinction between an inmate of the Ashram, who is a Sadhak, and its employee. In view of this the reasonable option available to an inmate who is not satisfied on any count with his/her stay here is to voluntarily leave it for a haven elsewhere. It applies to Prasad Sisters, Gayatriji and their likes and also to their supporters and instigators who are honoured by people because of their association with the Ashram.  It appears that the Prasad Sisters have failed to appreciate this distinction and have virtually treated themselves as employees of the Ashram, which they are not. Besides, the behaviour of these Sisters proves beyond doubt that they are not even distantly related to Sadhana. It seems that they have deliberately dissociated themselves from the Teachings of the Mother. As such spiritually, they are not even inmates of the Ashram although they stay here. It is a happy augury that the Courts of Law have also rightly given credence to this fact which is  reasonably undeniable.
  3. Thus, these sisters have no locus standi in connection with their representations Moreover their representations are found to be of no worth after reasonable inquiry even by the Apex Court of the Country, besides the Women’s Council of India, that addresses itself to the grievances of women. Thus as their stance is not reasonable, much less spiritual, they, on their own, stand disqualified to continue their stay in the Ashram and have not to wait till a law enforcing agency throws them off, if they have an iota of self-regard or a sense of personal identity. It is a pity that they are required to be enforced to follow even the civil norms. It is an indication of the fact that they are really sub-humans, the immature humans for whom the reason is still a far cry, leave aside spiritual orientation. These persons comparatively have a low degree of self consciousness and are driven by vital impulses only, while spirituality is only a mask for them.
  4. One feels greatly shocked when so called gurus who masquerade as propagators of spirituality and profess of being forerunners of the Life come to support their indefensible ventures and instigates them to continue the same. It is quite shocking to see them not appreciating the distinction between an Employee and an Inmate. They have become totally oblivious of the fact that it is the sincerity of the purpose that is of value to an inmate and not his learning and his skill of effective and impressive presentation, or his charisma. These qualities too are of value but only when they reflect fundamental sincerity.
  5. It is further shocking that being influenced by such a quasi guru, a so-called devotee of the Mother could make a public declaration that henceforth she would not give any donation to the Ashram. While doing so she conveniently forgets the distinction between donation and offering. She also forgets that the Ashram had never asked for her donation nor does it survive on such donations. As we know, the Mother had rejected a large amount of governmental grant only because the same was linked to the conditions that were not in tune with Her working. There was also an instance when She had picked up only a token of  money from the large amount offered, even during a period when the Ashram was facing financial crisis, only because She did not desire to boost up the ego of the donor. These people who are not accustomed to such a mode of working and are given to self-aggrandisement, usually become stumbling blocks in the March of Humanity towards its Luminous Future. They somehow get entry in the Spiritual Institutions like our Ashram and knowingly or unknowingly endeavour to spoil its work. But the Spirit of Time would not allow their offensive designs to succeed. Meanwhile, we who love Her have to stand by Her and behave as if She is looking at us, and this is not only a goody – goody advice.
  6. The situation becomes extremely grave when these self-styled gurus, who have no source of personal income endeavour to explore the favour of businessmen and politicians. They have to carry out effectively their dubious program of launching propaganda drives and holding dharnas and also for availing the services of costly lawyers to fight frivolous suits instituted against the Ashram in order to defame  its present management and upset its working. They need, to fulfil this self-chosen task, a continuous flow of money along with extra-constitutional political patronage. In order to serve this purpose,  they  had transferred their loyalty to the Politicians and Corporate houses replacing their loyalty to the Mother in the style of a Jaichand, who had invited foreign invasions to serve his petty interest. It is a pity that they do not feel ashamed of their design to make provision for political or governmental interference in the working of the Ashram only because they feel that this is the only means to fulfil their ambition. They do not feel ashamed of disowning the Mother who had brought them up. And this is done under the banner: Cling to Truth. Thus, they have descended to the lowest valley of falsehood under the pretext of scaling the highest peak of Truth. One would be prompted to use the words like ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘stupidity’ in this context.
  7. It is the right time for us, the children of the Mother, to see that this design does not succeed. She is with us and will certainly help us and eventually it is Her will that will be fulfilled.
  8. I present these observations, not with a view to defending our Ashram. The Ashram is an extended body of the Mother and stands on its own. It does not need any defence. Thus, these observations are meant just to clarify our understanding about the issues that we are presently facing.

– Govardhan Dave

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8 Comments
  1. Ranjan Parikh permalink

    Indeed it is a factual analysis of the situation. It is never too late to think clearly leaving our ego aside and act positively to protect the interest of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. It is equally important not to support falsehood and ignorance of any kind. if we are able to achieve a bit on protecting Sri Aurobindo Ashram’s interest in a holistic way then we are one step ahead in being sincere to Our Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Best Regards. Ranjan Parikh

  2. Debashish permalink

    Govardhanji,
    This is very well written and presented. It is so very encouraging to find that the right attitude towards the S.A. Ashram still exists firmly. Offering one’s service without asking for anything in return is one of the basic attitudes required at the Ashram.
    The Prasad Sisters and those like Sraddhalu Ranade, Raman Reddy, RY Deshpande who support them, have proven that they do not belong to this or any other Ashram. They only represent petty, vested interests. They are not in the Ashram to give, but only to take. That too, they not only take more than they deserve, but they even demand to have what is not theirs.
    Such despicable behavior, displayed publicly will only be their undoing, thankfully.

  3. Dear Govardhan-ji,

    A wonderfully accurate analysis.

    To claim that one is feeling oppressed or suffocated in the Ashram and yet pretend that one is a practitioner of Integral Yoga is ridiculous. Indeed if the life in the Ashram does not suit a person, he or she should leave the Ashram. No one will be able to prevent such a departure. And there is nothing wrong in it fundamentally. One can be a follower or even disciple of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and yet choose not to stay in the Ashram. That is perfectly alright.

    But to live in the Ashram and wallow in one’s misery is despicable. Further to trumpet that one’s freedom is being curtailed and crushed would be a joke – were it not also a tragedy. No one can take away my inner freedom which is required for my Sadhana. And given the liberal atmosphere in the Ashram if for the sake of cohesion and discipline some of your fancies are not permitted, then let us be clear that so called freedom is quite dispensable for the purpose of Sadhana. The loss of such so called freedom cannot be an obstacle for my Sadhana.

    One more point: Unfortunately some organizations who prefix the sacred name of Sri Aurobindo to themselves and who are going about like an octopus spreading its arms or a business tycoon aggrandizing his financial empire, have been trying to appropriate to themselves the legacy of Sri Aurobindo, claiming subtly as if it is their sacred mission to “organize” Sri Aurobindo’s Vision. In the process it is the Ashram with its liberal spiritual foundation that suffers, being bracketed with such organizations simply because of the name of Sri Aurobindo that they prefix to their own identity.

    Let us hope that the world will wake up to the essential difference between the Ashram and such organizations.

    – A humble disciple (non-zombified of course)

    • Jeev permalink

      Humble Disciple says: “But to live in the Ashram and wallow in one’s misery is despicable.”

      What about those who wallow in their misery and go around tom-toming about their misery as though it is their greatest virtue???!!!!

  4. sanjeev permalink

    Dear Govardhan-ji,

    In case you have not seen Sridharan’s response to you on Sradhalu’s website (http://www.thelivesofsriaurobindo.com/2014/08/response-to-govardhan-dave-by-sridharan.html), I wish to suggest to you to invite Sridharan to share proof of his identity such as his postal address or a copy of an ID. Your identity is transparent and your message straightforward and lucid. On the other hand Sridharan calls you a hypocrite and his language is full of dirt and murky. Let us see if Sridharan will dare to oblige or is he going to be scared to reveal who the real hypocrite actually is?

    Sincerely.

  5. govardhandave12 permalink

    Analysis of the response of Sridharan
    1. On a friendly advice of Sanjeev, I read the rejoinder of Sridharan to my earlier write-up. On prima facie look I find that its mode and style has revealed his true colors. It is an apt demonstration of how one’s academic training could be misused to serve a dubious cause. His retaliation seems to be his reaction on getting exposed through my factual analysis and has sought in vain to rebut through pseudo-logical arguments in which usually pre-conceived conclusions precede the premises, mostly twisted or fabricated, an art refined by the Sophists of ancient Greece, and expressed in a language that lacks basic civility, a language which would be alien even to a man of culture, leave aside the one who has chosen a spiritual aim in his life. It seems that he has responded not to my analysis but to an imaginary presentation, which has become an occasion for him to target his sharp arrows towards an imaginary opponent that he has found in me. As is said, “यदा यदा मुञ्चति वाक्यबाणम् तदा तदा जातिकुलः प्रमाणम्”. Thus he on his own has given an indubitable proof, a प्रमाण of his real self beneath the appearance of being a devotee, leaving no space or scope for me to add to his self-revelatory exposition. Thus since he himself has already completed my task, then why to waste my breath?
    2. Although he has taken pains to give point by point reply to my analysis, he has conveniently ignored responding to fundamental questions involved in the discussion, and in fact, slipped into venting out frustration through emotionally charged response, which amounts to admitting his inability to meet his critics intellectually. In this context, I am reminded of a saying in Nyayashashtra: शेषम् कोपेन पूरयेत. When you are not left with any reasonable option to win a point, the deficiency is filled up by giving expression to anger. Thus a man having the slightest regard for logical reasoning would find that the entire presentation of Sridharan is only an emotional outburst and not an argument. Hence, I do not dare to counter him and join him in verbal duel, as I am no match to him in this art which is usually employed in petty quarrels. I outright admit defeat.
    3. With regard to the suggestion of Sanjeev to ask Sridharan for his identity proof, I believe, there is no need, since it is by now already fully revealed through his act of providing shelter to several miscreants. I suppose the word miscreant is appropriate here as a standard dictionary defines it as ‘an unprincipled person who does something inappropriate or behaves badly’.
    4. While equating the meaning of the word ‘offering’, which is denoted by the word अर्पण in most Indian languages, being synonymous to ‘donation’, on the basis of its meaning found in a dictionary, Sridharan seems to have conveniently disregarded its normal usage in context of spiritual disciplines and has missed its real import, its distinctive mark that is not covered by the word ‘donation’. Besides, in the spiritual parlors throughout the ages all over the world a real offering does not carry the tag of helping the survival or maintenance of a Guru or his Ashram, while the resultant survival and maintenance is only incidental and not intended. And it is the associated intention that matters in determining the value and significance of an act.
    5. Thus the word offering has a specific meaning and is treated as a means of spiritual growth, because of which the sense of obliging, normally linked with donations is replaced by that of being obliged. This factor makes a fundamental difference. This subtle difference could only be ignored by a person who is quite alien to spiritual discipline. Therefore, an effort to limit the spiritual value of offering on the basis of the testimony of a dictionary, which has failed to appreciate this fundamental difference, only reveals a scant regard for Logic, besides his stance of belittling the status of our Ashram, also of the Mother.
    6. Besides, the mischievous assertion of Sridharan that the Ashram survives on such offerings, gives a further twist to his already confused argument, because accepting an offering does not amount to seeking it. It is well known that the Mother had never sought any such financial help, much less under the cover of offerings, nor has Her Ashram, even after she left the Body. Thus this assertion has succeeded only in revealing his clearly dubious intention to put the trustees in bad light, incidentally also the Ashram, simultaneously trying to justify the indefensible declaration of the lady who was encouraged to make a public declaration that henceforth she would not help the Ashram and instead she would only be helping the people who conduct anti-ashram movement. Yes, they do need help for their survival in their ill-conceived movement intended to damage the reputation of the Ashram, and it appears that some business tycoons also have duly obliged them, might be to serve their own purpose.
    7. Sridharan while pseudo-wisely branding me as an ignoramus has pointed out what he calls ‘a prime error committed by me in applying the early unwritten principles of Ashram life adopted during the bodily presence of the Mother to a later period when She had left the body’. It is well known that when Sri Aurobindo had left body, the Mother had declared that although He had left body, He has not left us. Similarly the Mother too has not left us, even the earth atmosphere, and this Ashram continues to be Her Ashram only, and the early unwritten principles of Ashram life hold good even now. Else the Ashram would lose the raison de etre of its existence.
    8. Regarding the mode of appointing trustees it is well known that The Mother used to choose them during Her physical life time and these trustees used to perform the duty as prescribed by Her. Now the trustees are chosen according to the directions laid down by Her and are performing the same duty with due regard for the early unwritten principles of Ashram life. Thus there is no significant change in the operation of the Ashram trust.
    9. Moreover, during the period that She was physically present amidst us, She had put emphasis on the necessity of developing inner relationship with Her, instead of merely relying upon Her physical intimacy, for the purpose of obtaining guidance in all our affairs, the same emphasis continues to be of prime importance even now. Thus as She is here all the while, although not in body, spiritually the atmosphere of the Ashram and its organization is the same as it was, barring a few physical changes including the provision for better facilities as required with the changing time.
    10. While dwelling upon this real state of affairs of the Ashram and its trustees, I do not claim that these trustees are infallible, none of us is so, but they are certainly amenable to correction as expected even of us. Nor do I ever dream of their replacing the Mother or usurp Her role as our Guru or Head of the Ashram. Even now She is the head and the trustees are Her servants, Her workers who are committed to act in accordance with Her guidance, Her instruments meant to accomplish Her work. I suppose that they are quite aware of this position which has enabled the Managing Trustee Manoj Dasgupata, and even others, to keep balance under the most adverse circumstances.
    11. Hence, It would be a grave blunder to disown those early principles as it would amount to disowning Her and saying Her bye bye, while declaring to the effect: “Dear Mother, now it is no more your Ashram and we would work out here our ideas only, which are much better than yours, because we are much wiser than you, and since we have come to age, since we are now grown up and are not mere children, it is time for you to retire and admit शिष्यात् पुत्रात् पराजय.” Those who have a little understanding of the work undertaken by Her on this Earth know that Her work continues and this Ashram is truly Her Ashram only and would ever remain so and it is only Her consciousness that is our guiding Spirit as was the case when She was here in body.
    12. Sridharan has duly admitted that even during the period of the bodily presence of the Mother there were incidences of dissensions and violation of the Ashram Discipline and the disciple concerned on feeling uncomfortable had left the Ashram on their own. This supports the distinction made in my earlier write-up between inmates and employees of the Ashram. Accordingly even now the same option to leave the Ashram is available to those who feel uncomfortable here in the set up of this Ashram.
    13. Now the five sisters who felt uncomfortable in the Ashram, instead of following this discipline, and leave the Ashram voluntarily, have preferred to invoke the law of the land for getting the desired relief and had approached Law Courts. Thus they have willingly accepted the jurisdiction of Courts, which has made irrelevant for them the jurisdiction of the Ashram and thereby they had virtually ceased to be its inmates. Thus they have agreed, may I say virtually on oath, to abide by the Court Verdict.
    14. Under these circumstances when even the Women’s Council of India found that the woes of these sisters were self-created and the Apex Court of the Country found them guilty while passing an order asking them to leave the Ashram and advising the Ashram of taking appropriate legal measures in case of any disobedience, Sridharan has attempted to precipitate the crisis by supporting them in their move to disobey. Now if Sridharan and his associates had some regard for even the Law of the Land, leave aside Spirituality and even their own conscience, they would have advised these sisters to respect the verdict of the Court and thereby honour their own commitment, and thereafter would have helped them to get settled elsewhere, in case they were tied to them by a chord of sympathy. Instead, in order to protect the unjustifiable interest of these sisters, he and his colleagues are virtually inciting them to stand against the order of the Apex Court. Is it in lieu of the valuable fabricated material provided to this group by these sisters to target the trustees in different Courts?
    15. The Mother has emphasized the necessity of following discipline without which the work of any Institution would be completely jeopardized. Accordingly She had advised to follow the prevalent regulations until the one is adequately tuned to the Higher Consciousness facilitating the operation of the Divine law. As we all know that the word disciple entails discipline and शिष्य entails शिस्त. Besides, since we think that eventually this discipline should lead to self-discipline – आत्मानुशासन, that we find here in this Ashram a minimum of regulations with a provision to explore the possibility of self-governance in accordance with the Higher Consciousness.
    16. In contravention of this specific characteristic of this Ashram of the Mother Sridharan on one hand treats those who support them including these sisters as holy cows and stands firmly in their defence, irrespective of their merit, and on the other hand act equally forcefully to discredit the trustees, who are abiding sincerely to the arrangement made by the Mother and maintain their balance even when they had to perform a tight-rope walking. Is this a fault of these trustees that they do not serve the recently acquired dubious interest of this group and get tuned to follow its arbitrary wishes and hence are not deviating from their assigned duty? However, it is quite deplorable that my judicious appreciation and acknowledgement of this role that these trustees have been playing has earned for me a title of ignoramus that is qualified by several derogatory adjectives. It appears that Sridharan and his associates are bent upon creating chaos in the Ashram which would put on stake its identity and very raison de etre of its existence. The pertinent question here is how Sridharan would justify the mode of operation of his group and the goal that is set up and whether all this is in consonance with Mother’s teachings?
    17. I am presenting my views on the website of the ‘Well-wishers’ not with a view to get engaged in a verbal duel with the Anti-Ashram group, which if not overtly but certainly in essence is an Anti-Mother group, although it offers lip service to Her or rather to their image of Her, and win a point over them or vanquish the oppositions. I do not entertain such tall claims. My humble effort is primarily meant to serve the bona fide interest of the well-wishers of the Ashram, including myself, by clarifying the issues that we as the Ashram Community are presently facing so that we really cling to truth and be worthy of being Her Children. However, if this group feels exposed in its foul game it is just incidental and not intended. Govardhan Dave

  6. govardhandave12 permalink

    I agree with the observation of the “Humble Disciple” about the misunderstanding and confusion created in Public Mind with regard to the role of Sri Aurobindo Ashram by the contrary operations of some organizations which have prefixed “Sri Aurobindo” in their name. It appears that they are interested in their version of ‘Sri Aurobindo’ that suits to their vested interest. They are not aware what disservice they are doing thus to the mission undertaken by Sri Aurobindo, under the pretext of rendering service. It is simply irresponsible to say the least. Govardhan Dave

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