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A followup letter to the “Court Diary” was sent by R.Y. Deshpande to multiple people on January 30, and was posted on the web on February 6. Like his previous note, it shows no author. The contents, however, suggest that it was written by the same person(s) who were responsible for the recent “Diary.” It repeats many of the same lies and distortions of the previous document, and adds a few more, so it is important once more to tell the truth and make corrections. The practice of sending inflammatory and inaccurate notes anonymously is regrettable, and only serves to obscure the truth.

As with the “Diary,” corrections and comments are highlighted in yellow. After each section, the facts are corrected, followed by comments about what was written. The factual corrections on events in court and other legal matters are based on information provided by Peter Heehs. Additional comments are by David Hutchinson.

THE IQ OF PLANKTON AND OTHER STORIES
29.1.2010

The IQ of Plankton is not easy to arrive at in the best of circumstances. But those interested in the subject got very lucky last week when the collective IQ of the species was on spectacular display.

The pulsating light strobes shone bright into the ocean trenches in stark contrast to the darkness that punctuates the tunnel vision of the SCIY / IYF tribes. They marched out of the deep caverns to the roll of drums to take on the “Court Diary” that had invaded the depths of their pelagic zone.

Note the disparaging and dehumanizing comparison to plankton. The author of “Plankton” seems to feel that Alok Pandey’s caustic comparisons to lower mammals isn’t demeaning enough, so he/she compares people to plankton. This practice of demeaning people and figuratively stripping them of their humanity, which Alok Pandey began and has repeatedly engaged in, with his tendency to label those who disagrees with him asrats, bandicoots, lizards and serpents,” has been a rhetorical trick used by politicians for millennia, and is often used to justify persecution.

Funny

It is funny how the truth has to be certified by Peter Heehs to be of any value these days. If Peter Heehs declares that there were no foreigners on the court premises, those poor blokes better not be there! It is funny how Peter Heehs has put Matriprasad in a spot by declaring that he was not present in Court. In order to control the damage caused by Peter’s lie, Matriprasad has hastened to clarify the he was not present “during the court proceedings” only! And Matriprasad is right because he gave his instructions to the lawyers and left the Courtroom before the proceedings began.

As stated in the corrections to the “Diary,” Matriprasad was not present in court during the hearings. Matriprasad has posted his own response to the fictitious claims in the “Diary,” and asked for the source of the Diary from Paulette of Auroville. Paulette informed him that she received the document from R.Y. Deshpande. Deshpande has not yet made public the name of the author(s) of the document.

The fact that the author(s) of Plankton continue to insist on this point concerning Matriprasad is an indication that their ongoing campaign includes action against the Ashram administration.

It is interesting that the State Solicitor representing the visa authorities was present in court – after obtaining Peter’s permission, we suppose –, but did not speak about the case or breach of visa conditions at all! What did he speak about, then? The weather? Or the greatness of the SCIY / IYF tribes?

The author(s) of Plankton are distorting the previous clarification to the “Diary.” What was written in the clarification to the “Diary” was “The FRRO (Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office) was represented, as prescribed by law, by a state solicitor. He spoke, but made no such declarations.”

The speech as reported in the “Diary” was made up. Those words were never spoken.

What’s more, the Counsel for Manoj Das Gupta was also present but did not speak a word. What was he doing in court? Practising “dignified silence”?

As stated in the response to the “Diary,” the Ashram’s counsel did not speak.

Similar to the comments about the State Solicitor above and in the “Diary,” the author(s) of Plankton, are attributing words and/or intentions to those who were present in an official court hearing.

It is amusing to learn that Manoj Das Gupta and the Ashram Trust can be pushed into a corner over a seemingly trivial issue, which is essentially the creation of “Sraddhalu’ s friend”, his friend’s wife and her mother and their dog! What a terrible, terrible family! They’ve actually gone to court over a dispute! Tut! tut! This is not how it is supposed to be done in Fundamentalistan! Gee, uncle Dave and uncle Rick, whatever happened to the Kangaroo Courts and Summary Executions?

The tone of the writing here is both puerile and troublesome, and indicates the confrontive stance of the group that is persecuting Heehs. They are itching for a fight through name-calling.

This isn’t any good for the Family Business of organising seminars on fundamentalism, and for collecting funds from the good old freedom-loving folks back home. But what about the business prospects at home in the USA?

These are both false, although interesting references. The conference held in fall 2009 at the California Institute for Integral Studies, titled “Fundamentalism and the Future,” did not charge any fee for those who attended, and no funds have been raised in relation to that or other matters connected with the persecution of Heehs.

On the other hand, Jayant Bhattacharjee, husband of Geetanjali, seems to have unlimited funds to finance multiple lawsuits.

References to the United States, and the implication that foreigners are somehow getting rich, again indicate the xenophobia underlying these court cases.

The American Library Association (ALA) has recently released data to do with cases where individuals or groups have attempted to have books stripped from bookshelves in the schools and libraries in the USA. The ALA has recorded 513 such cases in 2008 alone, where books were targeted for censorship, of which 74 were successfully banned orrestricted. What’s more, 4000 attempts to ban books have been recorded over the past eight years – that’s 500 ban attempts every year in a country with one fourth the population of India!

We cannot vouch for the accuracy of these statistics. It is true that school boards in the US sometimes attempt to remove books from school libraries or curricula. School boards in the US are locally elected organizations, which have the power to influence school policy. However, removal of a book from a library or from a course of study is a very different thing from banning its publication. Owing to the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution, books cannot be “banned” in the United States except under highly unusual circumstances. Court-ordered injunctions against publication are extremely rare.

Whoa! So now we have it! There is no way in hell that Peter Heehs will leave his cushy life in Fundamentalistan. Nor will SCIY / IYF fight their holy war against the muzzling of free speech in the USA! It is much easier, more profitable and far safer to fight the terrible family and their dog in India!

The tone and continual reference to the family indicate that this may have been written by one of the Jain/Bhattacharjee family, who have brought this latest suit and the one in October 2008.

Not Funny

It’s not funny that a bunch of self-serving, pompous and insensitive morons sitting in the USA are attempting to misguide and misinform people in India and elsewhere about the anguish of Sri Aurobindo Ashram’s inmates, and about the legal status of the book “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo” (TLOSA). It certainly isn’t funny that these guys are trying to profit from what is essentially a huge tragedy that is playing out for all-involved. A “minor legal manoeuvre”, we are told, has stopped PENGUIN BOOKS INDIA and COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS effective 4th Nov, 2008, from publishing and distributing TLOSA in India even after a major promotional build-up. Some “minor legal manoeuvre” this!

The legal manoeuvre mentioned in the corrections to the “Diary” was the obtaining of an interim order from by the High Court of Orissa on 4 November 2008. The relevant clause of this interim order reads as follows: “However, the opp. party nos. 2 [the Home Ministry] and 4 [the Ministry of Education and Broadcasting] may ensure that there should not be any publication of the book “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo” by Peter Heehs without obtaining no objection from them during the pendency of the representation.”

The court has passed no further order on the book. The book has never been “banned”.

What the author(s) of the “Diary,” this Plankton note, and many past notes are trying to do is create the interpretation that The Lives of Sri Aurobindo has been formally, legally, and permanently banned in India. No such thing has happened. The book has not yet been published because of what is, in fact, a legal manoeuvre.

Once again, the tone above is needlessly abusive and childish.

Why don’t M/s Rich Carlson, Debashish Banerjee and David Huchison pow wow with PENGUIN BOOKS INDIA and request them to simply undo this “minor legal manoeuvre”?

All it takes is a flight to New Delhi and some Coffee, huh! Why don’t these gentlemen waltz into any police station in India with the appropriate Government / Court order copies along with a copy of TLOSA and engage in a debate on the subject? How about starting with the Pondicherry Grand Bazaar police station? Would Peter Heehs do the honours by paying a much overdue visit to this police station and reward them for all the visits they have made since May 2009 to the Ashram Main Building and to Matriprasad’s office looking for him to serve the warrant of arrest?

No such visits took place. Heehs’s address is well known. All warrants issued against Heehs have been stayed (put on hold) and the criminal cases against him likewise stayed. Heehs has never been asked to appear at any police station.

The author(s) of Plankton here are trying to give the impression that Heehs is a desperate criminal, wanted by the Pondicherry police. This conveniently ignores the fact that the author(s) evidently are part of the group that tried unsuccessfully to get the police to arrest Heehs, through issuing a non-bailable arrest warrant. As noted above, that warrant has been stayed.

No, it’s not funny that irresponsible statements are being made with potentially serious consequences. Or, is it merely SCIY / IYF propaganda to shore up falling morale among their primary financiers and clientele? What Government or Court, having passed notifications and orders proscribing TLOSA, would sit idle and watch the same book and content being freely circulated and sold in the country? You’ve got to be kidding! Is the Plankton afflicted with craniocerebral trauma?

The Lives of Sri Aurobindo has never been “proscribed” (forbidden) except perhaps by the Government of Orissa. The court order mentioned above makes no mention of importation or photocopying. Copies of the book circulate freely in all parts of India. Anyone in Pondicherry, Auroville, or elsewhere in India can attest to this.

It’s not funny that Manoj Das Gupta and the other four are a poor apology for what the Ashram Trust was and should be!

This is another example of the contempt in which the author(s) of Plankton, Sraddhalu Ranade, Alok Pandey and others hold the legally constituted authorities of the Ashram. The trustees are all men who were associated closely with the Mother.

There is a frightening disconnect between the Ashram Trust and the Ashram inmates, and the sorrow, frustration and anger regarding TLOSA is no laughing matter.

The Ashram Trust has had hundreds of cases filed against it since Manoj Das Gupta has taken over control as Managing Trustee, a significant number of which were filed by inmates of the Ashram in various courts all the way to the Supreme Court!

These statements are yet more evidence that persons like Ranade are engaged in an attempt to destabilize and if possible take over the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

So Mr Carlson, please spare us the Holy Cow crap! And while on the subject of “intemperate language against Trustees”, Sraddhalu Ranade has much to learn from the crude and insulting letters Peter Heehs wrote to Manoj Das Gupta when the Ashram Trust asked him to leave the Ashram community and quit staying in Pondicherry.

For the actual text of the only letter of Heehs that has been made public, see here. It is hard to imagine how any reader could construe this to be “crude and insulting.” On the other hand, to read actual insulting language, compare the above letter to Ranade’s notorious letter of 17 January 2009 to the Trustees. These letters, like the Plankton note and the “Diary,” speak for themselves.

Dead Serious

Here are the facts that SCIY / IYF want to hide. TLOSA is in fact proscribed in the territory of India and the relevant Court / Government orders are available in the public domain. Peter Heehs was in fact expelled from the Ashram Archives by the Ashram Trust

No such expulsion ever took place. Heehs was asked by the Managing Trustee to stop going to the Archives office until things quieted down. In light of the ongoing campaign, and the kind of language apparent in this Plankton letter, that was a prudent decision.

And from the Department of Physical Education as part of disciplinary action against him. Hundreds of Ashram inmates have submitted petitions to Manoj Das Gupta asking foraction against the book and Peter Heehs.

The reference here is apparently to a petition of September 2008 signed by a large number of Ashramites. It should be noted that at the time, there were at most only a handful of copies of the book in Pondicherry, and only a tiny minority of the signatories could possibly have read it. Many who signed had no idea what the issues were. (This can be attested to by some who witnessed the deceptive or coercive language used by those who collected signatures. Xenophopia played a major role here. The signing was part of a well-orchestrated campaign led by Sraddhalu Ranade, Alok Pandey, Raman Reddy, Anand Reddy and Kittu Reddy.)

Those who signed did so based on highly biased comments and extracts compiled by Ranade, Pandey, Raman Reddy, and others. All that the petition shows is that it is possible to practice the politics of hysteria and inflame a group of people by disseminating misinformation – which is continuing with the Plankton note.

Most major and responsible online content providers have in fact already withdrawn TLOSA from their websites. Given below are snapshots of confirmations received from Google, Flipkart and A1Books, amongst others:

In the original Plankton document there follows photocopies of correspondence between Geetanjali Jain (aka Geetanjali J Bhattacharjee aka Geetanjali JB), and workers for Google and two minor Indian web merchants. Google’s “limited preview” is available in all countries outside India. There is no reason for it to be available in India, because the book has not yet been published in India.

Other major online sellers have been informed and are in the process of complying with the Court and Government Orders. Exceptions, if any, can be attributed to nonawareness,but ignorance of the law is no excuse!

One can of course try to scare merchants by presenting them with supposed legal documents, which are always difficult to interpret. All one sees here is that Jain is trying to pressure online merchants. In any case, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo continues to be available online, even if some gullible Indian merchants did take Jain seriously.

The fact is that, contrary to SCIY / IYF claims, the book is proscribed within the whole of India and is not available for purchase or viewing except illegally.

This is not true. Repeating it over and over doesn’t make it any more true.

As was pointed out in the corrections to the “Diary,” the author(s) here are trying to scare people away from owning or even opening the book. Since they have seemingly lost the argument against the contents of the book itself, as can be seen by the many and growing positive reviews of it, they are trying to induce anxiety to prevent people from reading it.

Contrary to Mr Carlson’s assertions, Peter Heehs has two serious criminal cases pending against him.

These cases have been stayed (put on hold) and indefinitely adjourned.

and these have to do with impersonation as Founder of the Archives of Sri Aurobindo Ashram – a lie and a falsehood that Peter Heehs has been deliberately perpetrating with business gains in mind. This lie was prominently displayed on the blurb of TLOSA by the unwitting CUP based on Peter’s assertions to them in this regard.

The blurb was in fact formulated by a writer in the publicity department of the publisher, Columbia University Press (CUP). Jacket blurbs are routinely created by publishers, not by authors. Heehs’s considered statement about copyright matters and about his relation, as author of the book, to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, is the following statement printed at the end of the book’s acknowledgements:

“Works of Sri Aurobindo are quoted with the kind permission of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. My thanks to Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trust­ee and head of the Ashram’s Publication Department, for granting this per­mission. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is in no way responsible for the selection, arrangement, interpretation, or presentation of material in this biography. The author alone is responsible for the contents of the book.”

The Ashram Trust has confirmed in various letters, as has Peter Heehs himself in his emails and communications to the Trust, that he is not the founder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives. One such letter of the Ashram Trust dated 11.11.2008 is attached herewith. It should be noted that these cases have not been foisted on Peter by the terrible family and their dog but by other affected devotees of Sri Aurobindo in Orissa.

The “affected devotees” were recruited. Their complaints against Heehs state that they “received” copies of Heehs’s book through the post. It is clear that these copies were purchased and sent to these self-identified “devotees” by those wishing to ban the book.

As pointed out in the corrections to the “Diary,” the petitioner in the current case (Surekha Jain), is the mother of Geetanjali J Bhattacharjee. They live together in Madras. Geetanjali Bhattacharjee filed a Writ Petition in October 2008, claiming to reside in Orissa. Here as elsewhere, the group is trying to create an impression that there are distressed devotees everywhere. But the facts seem to point to Geetanjali Jain aka Geetanjali Bhattacharjee aka Geetanjali JB (and her friend, Sraddhalu Ranade) as the main source of the Writs.

Again, there have been many bailable summons and non-bailable warrants served on Peter Heehs in connection with cases in Orissa and at least one of them is currently valid the stay against which expired on the 26th of July, 2009. The arrest warrant in question and the magistrate’s order regarding this are attached herewith.

There are no outstanding warrants against Heehs.

A simple matter requiring Peter’s personal presence in Court has blown into a shameful basket of summons and warrants simply because Peter refuses to comply with the law of the land and make himself present when summoned. He creates his own problems and then plays the innocent victim to his audience back home.

Heehs was ably represented by his Orissa counsel.

Ironically, as noted in the corrections to the “Diary,” Surekha Jain tried to exclude Heehs from participating in the Writ for his deportation by not naming him in it. Heehs was obliged to “implead” himself to be able to answer Jain’s false charges against him.

The comment about the “audience back home” is telling. Heehs’s home for the past 39 years has been and continues to be the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

Additionally, in publishing TLOSA, Peter Heehs is alleged to have stolen intellectual property and violated copyright conditions with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

These allegations, which were made by Geetanjali J Bhattacharjee’s mother (or at least signed by her), display an ignorance of copyright law. The book does not violate copyright law in any way, and the Ashram authorities, who are the only ones who could make such a complaint, have never made any indication of doing so. Stating an untruth over and over does not make it true.

Peter Heeh’s erstwhile colleagues at the Archives were upset that hard work and research built up over years for the Ashram was stolen and misused by Peter Heehs and sold to Columbia University Press for personal profit. Their letter is attached.

This letter was not signed by or even shown to any senior member of the editorial staff of the Archives, that is, by those who have knowledge of Heehs’s work in the Archives. It contains signatures of only a quarter of the members of the Archives, some of them recent recruits with no knowledge of the facts. It does contain the signature of Sraddhalu Ranade, who, at the time of his expulsion from the Archives in January 2009, had not worked in the Archives for many years.

Also attached is Pranab-da’s letter to the Ashram Trust on various aspects of copyright and intellectual property violations.

This letter was written by others and presented to the very ill Pranab-da for signature in August 2009, just five months before Pranab-da’s passing. The allegations made by the writers of this letter, who appear to be hired lawyers, of copyright and intellectual property violation are all completely unfounded. Note that the letter and accompanying “legal opinion” amount to an attack on the authority of the Trustees in which the attackers hide themselves behind the signature of the then seriously ill Pranab-da.

Gitanjali JB, Sraddhalu Ranade, Alok Pandey, Ananda Reddy, et al – the hyped “fanatics” supposedly crusading against Peter Heehs – have the healthiest respect for Auroville and Aurovillians and continue to engage with them in constructive and meaningful ways as always. Rich Carlson’s xenophobia, warning “Foreigners” to stay away from them, is only an attempt to create a divide within the Integral Yoga community and among devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

This is a remarkable example of the sort of distortion and double-speak practiced by Ranade, Pandey, Jain et al. For almost two years they have carried out a campaign whose xenophobic basis is only too clear. When this was pointed out to them by Rich Carlson and others, they turned around and accused Carlson of xenophobia. Similar to the dehumanizing technique of comparing people to rats or plankton, the technique of misdirection (accusing others of the very thing you are doing) is a well-known political trick to confuse people.

This seems to have been the agenda of SCIY / IYF from the very outset of their misinformation campaign. The central issue at hand is the falsehood perpetrated in TLOSA and the need to set right the record. Even Peter Heehs is an ancillary element in the matter and as such is being engaged with only in so far as exposing TLOSA is concerned.

Sad

It is sad and disgusting that a book, parading as the biography of our Master, has dragged us to courts...

It is remarkable to read that the book “has dragged us to courts.” The truth is that Geetanjali J Bhattacharjee, supported by Ranade, Pandey and others, planned from the very beginning to persecute Heehs through the courts. See Ranade’s widely circulated email to the SAICE Forum. Their strategy was to disseminate inflammatory extracts, engage in signature campaigns, and immediately afterwards go to the courts.

...and led us to squabbling in a very public manner over extremely private issues, which are central to our existence and form the bedrock of our lives. It is sad that Manoj Das Gupta and the Ashram Trust, having been on record from the outset that TLOSA has “crossed all limits of decency” and having initiated disciplinary action against Peter Heehs, failed to take the simple steps of publicly disowning the book and requesting CUP to withdraw the publication on the grounds of malicious and deliberate distortion as also of IP theft and Copyright Violations by the author.

The Trust is to be commended for not giving in to the mass movement created and fostered by Ranade, Pandey, Reddy, Deshpande, and others.

Private circulars issued to this effect by Manoj Das Gupta did little to negate the upheaval and anguish that TLOSA has caused. It is sad that SCIY and sympathisers, for all their bluster and activism about “freedom of expression”, will fight shy of posting this letter and attachments on their websites, for they know that after reading this and studying the attached documents, many more will see through the campaign of falsehood unleashed by SCIY / IYF.

It is very sad that while we aspire for the right outcome of this tragic mess, it is certain that there will be no winners. Too much has been lost for any side to ever claim victory. It is sad that the battle must go on, till the end. And it will.

It is sad that the author(s) of Plankton speak of battle and sides. The legal injunction against publishing in India, at any rate, will be over when the interim order against the book is lifted.

As happens with all attempts at censorship and persecution, the group has brought more attention to The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. By opening up the book to a wider readership, they should perhaps be thanked by the many appreciative readers around the world for giving it free publicity.

The above annotated version contains the complete text of the original Plankton letter.