Hijacking Sri Aurobindo – by Rajesh Patel - *The religious culture which now goes by the name of Hinduism … gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adh...
We have recently come across an article that was written by the late Jayantilal Parekh, a senior and greatly respected member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, that was published in the June 2001 issue of the Mother India magazine. This article describes the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its administration and was explicitly written by him in the backdrop of adversely critical articles that were being planted by anti-Ashram elements in the various newspapers and journals in order to malign the Ashram. Given that history tends to repeat itself, and that anti-Ashram elements like Raman Reddy, Sraddhalu Ranade, R.Y. Deshpande and their ilk have been resorting to similar anti-Ashram smear campaigns in the media, we have found it beneficial to also reproduce this clear, logical and most honest piece about the Ashram and its functioning.
As the article is comprehensive and detailed, it runs for a considerable length. The article however is divided in several distinct parts that cover the following topics which can also be read individually, depending on one’s interest or preference:
1) Aim of the Ashram
2) Growth of the Ashram
3) Membership of the Ashram
4) The Ashram Trustees
5) Functioning of the Ashram
6) Ashram Finances
7) Ashram Property
8) Educational and Cultural Life
9) Sex and Spiritual Life
Pushed to the brink of his never-ending, round-about and personally motivated arguments to attempt to establish that the 1950-’51 edition of Savitri is the edition which is most sacred, holy, the most authentic, etc., RY Deshpande (RYD) has finally resorted to using what he appears to believe is his most potent ammunition and defense: Jugal Kishore Mukherjee’s (JKM) personal correspondence with the editors of the 1993 edition of Savitri.
What is most surprising is that RYD appears to believe that he and JKM are defending the same positions. There is actually nothing that is farther from the truth and a look at JKM’s correspondence as well as his behavior will reveal that there was much that was uncommon between RYD and JKM, at least as far as the editing of Savitri was concerned.
To be fair to RYD, the only common point between him and JKM was that they were both critical of certain aspects of the editing of the 1993 edition of Savitri. And the common trait that they shared in regard to this criticism and which resulted in much of their activism, is that they believed that their personal opinions were the ultimate and that other’s opinions (even those arrived at by the consensus of a larger group of peers) mattered less. This is certainly not something that any self-respecting scholar would be proud of.
Apart from that, the truth is that RYD and JKM had very little in common.
In fact the most glaring difference between RYD and JKM is that the latter was never averse to the editing of the 1950-’51 edition. This is very clearly spelt out in the very beginning of JKM’s letter dated April 24, 1988 (reproduced by RYD), where in the very first paragraph of Section 1 he establishes his position ...