A petition in the form of a signature campaign was hand-delivered to me on 02-10-08. I have no quarrel with the contents of the said petition. But what shocked me and pained me most was to find that your name should figure as one of the signatories.
Pranabda, right from my childhood, when I first met you in 1942, till the present day, I have had the privilege and good fortune to be the recipient of your love and affection. It is on the strength of this relationship that I would have expected that if ever you found me failing in my duty or going astray, you would have called me in person and as an elder brother to a younger brother asked me for an explanation of my conduct. But I am sorry to say, that in the present circumstance you have not done so, instead you have fallen prey to the signature campaigns for reasons best known to you.
It is my firm conviction that a signature campaign is not the right modus operandi for finding solution to the problems of our collective life in the Ashram. If this becomes the general trend in the Ashram, I shudder to think what will be our future – another Auroville (!) with Government, finally taking over the administration?!
Sri Aurobindo, has clearly stated “…you must also understand that there is only one power at work and neither you nor he not anybody else matters. Let each open himself to the working of that power in him and let there be no attempt at forming a body of sadhaks with somebody leading or intervening between the one power and the sadhaks.”
I shall now address myself to the controversy that is raging with respect to PH’s book.
Let me first tell you that several days back when on hearsay I came to know that when x had broached this subject, you had advised him to remain silent and call the Mother and that you had even added: ‘At one time I used to be angry with the boy (PH) but now I feel sorry for him.’ – This bit of news gave me a sense of great relief, because it corresponded more or less to my line of thinking.
Pranabda, I have tried to put down my thoughts concerning more on the controversy than on the book itself, I am sending you a copy for what it is worth.
I shall now enumerate a few corrective measures that we have initiated (and some more on the anvil) so that any further controversy of this sort may be avoided:
1) Instructions have been given, saying that no material whatever should go out of the Archives Dept. without the written consent of the Managing Trustee.
2) Notice has been put up stating that a committee of six persons (Bob, Kiran Kakkad, Medhna, Pattegarji, Richard and Shanta) will henceforth oversee the day today functioning of the Dept. All major decisions should be submitted to the Trust Board for approval.
3) Legal aspects are being looked into as to whether the Indian publication may be at least modified if not stalled, PH, on his own has assured me that he shall try, within the limits and constraints as they exist, to modify where possible some of the passages. According to him, he didn’t imagine that the response to his work among a certain group of people would be so violent and expressed his regrets for being the “cause” .
4) Experts advice sought for in order to ascertain whether the Ashram, can in any way be held responsible for the said publication. If yes, what preventive measure should we need to take (PH has clearly indicated in the acknowledgements of his book that “Sri Aurobindo Ashram is in no way responsible for the selection, arrangement, interpretation of the material in this biography. The another author alone is responsible for the contents of the book”)
Pranabda, My personal assessment of PH, in the context of this book (I may be totally wrong) is as follows: He may not have had a malafide intention as such to denigrate Sri Aurobindo.
Unfortunately; he was so obsessed with the anti-hagiography idea that in order to prove his credentials to be an “objective” (does such a thing really exist!) biographer, he has at several places crossed all limits of simple decency!
My present dilemma is this: If our intention is that this book becomes of what we consider to be its potential danger, should reach as few readers as possible, then, whether any public denunciation will help to achieve our goal? Or, on the contrary, it will only make PH instead a martyr like Rusdie, Taslima, etc. and the publisher would be only too eager to exploit the situation in order to promote its sales! I have no answer to the above dilemma.
One more point which makes me hesitate to take any drastic action is the fact that the Mother had given her tacit approval to Jayantilalda when he informed her, through Champaklalji, that PH would be working with him in the new Archives Department. Mother had seen PH. This was in 1971. PH has spent 37 years of the best part of his youth in the department and his contributions, as far the work in the Archives (as distinct from the writing of his own books which is not the work assigned, to him by the Archives Dept.) are indeed praiseworthy.
My personal inclination is therefore more towards maintaining a dignified silence, at least for the time being, and praying to the Mother. I always try to remember and follow Mother’s advice to me:
“Et, en fin de compte, il est toujours préférable de ne pas prendre de décision arbitraire pour on contre les choses et de regarder les évènements se dérouler, avec l’impartialité du témoin, s’en remettant à la Sagesse Divine, qui, Elle, décidera pour le mieux et fera le nécessaire.”
(English translation: And, in the last analysis, it is always preferable not to take arbitrary decisions against things but to watch the unfolding events impartially like a witness, relying on the Divine Wisdom, that, She, will decide for the best and do the necessary.)
Pranabda, I hope and pray that you will not take amiss this missive of mine. I have tried to be as frank and straight forward as possible. You yourself have been asking example of these virtues.
With deep love and respect,
In Her Love,
Sd/- (Manoj Das Gupta)