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Matriprasad’s statement on Ashram Dining Room boilers

My dear friend Sraddhalu,

Although I do read what is posted on this forum I rarely intervene myself. Nonetheless I realize that you, or at least your aliases, are obsessive in their firm opinion that I am lurking in every nook and corner, even drafting the usual barbs that are hurled against you, and assiduously endeavoring to ruthlessly pull down the edifice of your holy reputation.

But this time let me intervene and for a change let me ask you a few simple questions. You have said:

“…Another example, because it is obvious it is not a mistake. Dining Room boilers, they decided it is old, it has to be replaced. I don’t know whether if it was worthy of replacement, but they took a decision. The person in the dining room who was the engineer he was in touch with Manoj Das Gupta directly. They went through various quotations, various specifications, narrowed down, negotiated, used their friends influences to bring down the cost until the full cost was 50 lakhs for 2 boilers. Each step he checked with Manoj Das Gupta and got it approved by Manoj Das Gupta, got his signature, it was signed, approved. Last step now, they are going to place the order and the invoice is given for the order placement, Manoj Das Gupta hands it over to Matri Prasad, his right hand man who does all this mischief. Matri Prasad sets aside this company, went to another company which gave the same equipment, same specifications for 1 crore. 50 lakhs diversion in kickback, that’s what it is …. “Page 30-31

Could you please tell me as to from where you have gathered this wonderful piece of information?

Just a little bit of friendly advice: if you want to make your mark as a writer of fiction, why do you feel shy about it? Just say so; say that you are a wonderful raconteur and that you owe it to your listeners and readers the amusement that they are legitimately entitled to whenever they approach you as a story-teller and a weaver of magical phrases to keep them completely enthralled.

However, as you would surely know, there is a cardinal difference between facts and fictions, for facts get only reported – unfortunately after due verification with the ground-realities – while fiction is supposed to tickle the touchy spots of one’s imagination.

You are surely an accomplished artist and the flamboyance of your imagination is noteworthy. Let me just do the ordinary plebian task of reporting to you the unadorned mundane facts: Yes, it is true that an engineer working in the Dining Room had suggested that we replace the boilers (there are two of them). Or at least add another one as an element of ample precaution in case of any unforeseen breakdown of one of the boilers. Indeed he had got a quotation from a supplier. I do not remember the exact value for the proposed purchase price but it should have been in the vicinity of, as you have correctly reported, about Rs. 50 lakhs or so. So far whatever you have said is a piece of wonderfully accurate reporting. But what I fail to understand is that after such a glorious start in the profession of reporting why did you stumble astray into the golden land of fiction? What could have tempted you dear brother to go astray from “the steep and thorny way to heaven” represented by facts and undertake the “primrose path of dalliance” as manifest in your fiction?

My dear friend, for your inconvenient information the 2 old boilers are still there in the Dining Room, arrogantly displaying their inefficiency and continuing uninterruptedly to cook 3 meals for 2000 and odd persons everyday! Where did you see the new boilers? Or are you suggesting by chance that in your modesty you have downgraded the scale of corruption in the Ashram and had quantified the kickbacks to be only 50 lakhs whereas Ashram had actually paid 1 crore to the manufacturers for not supplying the boilers at all? Please go to the Dining Room and you will see that there are 2 boilers there with the nameplate showing the year 2000 as the year of manufacture. They had been installed in the year 2000-2001 or so. Each of these boilers has a capacity of 600 kg of steam per hour. As on date they are giving very satisfactory performance.

The events – as different from audacities of your flamboyant imagination – were as follows: In the year 2008-2009 one of the persons working on the boilers (call him an engineer, if you like) reported that one part of the boiler had failed near about the Darshan time. So he wanted to replace the two boilers with new ones and each having a capacity of 900 to 1000 kg per hour. His argument was that none of the existing boilers could singly take the total load of the steam required. Hence we needed to change both the boilers so that one of them could be subjected to repair and maintenance whenever required without disturbing the on-going work. The quotations for the two boilers were indeed obtained by him.

It is at this point that it was decided to critically review the merits of the opinion of the person who had suggested that the boilers be replaced.

It was found that actually the problem was not with the boilers, but with the burner nozzles which were undersized. With the replacement of the nozzles of the appropriate size each of the existing boilers is now capable of individually supplying the total steam requirement for the entire cooking in the Dining Room. Previously one boiler could take care of only 3 ‘handas’ while after the burner-nozzle correction, each boiler can now supply adequate quantity of steam to feed 9 ‘handas’. Cost of the new nozzles?…..Hold your breath ……about Rs. 1000 each! Of course, only four humble zeros separate this fact from your one crore fiction, but perhaps that does not bother you too much, being zeros only.

Because the pipes taking the steam from the boilers to the ‘handas’ were clogged, some pipes were either replaced or descaled. I have not bothered to check at what cost this was done as that is besides the point at this juncture.

Dear Sraddhalu I know you love to lecture about the glorious achievements of ancient India. I also know that the zero was invented by Indians. But do you seriously believe that simply adding fictitious zeros to the imagined wasteful expenditure by the Ashram, you would be demonstrating once more to the world the worthwhileness of the invaluable contributions of India and her Rishis to the spiritual and intellectual legacy of mankind? This is no way to honour our ancient sages! I see you have a fascination for zeros of all sorts…

Ponder over this. For the time being I suggest that you concentrate on other subjects than the pot-boiler that you have presented to us.

Ever affectionately yours,


One Comment
  1. A distant observer permalink

    After two and half hour of non-stop fictional entertainment from Mr. Ranade at Ahmedabad
    comes this fact based entertainment from Matriprasad.

    “By whatever means, the divisions (between India and Pakistan) must and will go.” wrote the master because he saw in it India’s future greatness and destiny.

    “By whatever means, the divisions in the Ashram and in the Aurobindonian community must and will be created” says Mr. Ranade because he sees in it the victory of his God, his Lord.

    Which God? Which Lord? Anyone familiar with the vision and work of Sri Aurobindo knows the answer.

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