Mirambika Crisis: So called neutrals in an email dialogue – interesting. Rajesh Joshi & Madakini write thought provokingly on neutrality, etc

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Rajesh Joshi
Date: Sat, Jul 11, 2015 at 8:58 PM
Subject: Re: {Mirambika All Parents} Still neutral
To: Mandakini Dubey
Cc: Jasmeet Walia, mirambika

Hi Mandakini,

Your insightful e-mails, and indeed your other writings published elsewhere, have always enriched me as a reader – they provide food for thought, they open up entirely new horizons and, at times, they provoke.
But I am not writing this mail out of provocation; I really want you (and other people, if anyone is interested) to engage in a meaningful discussion on the question of pain and anger.
You have already presented your position quite powerfully. Let me now take the liberty to question or challenge some of the points you have made.
What is pain? And what is anger? When does pain transform into anger? And then, where does it lead to? Is anger always a negative trait that manifests itself in people who have a negative attitude in general?
I do not think so. I would even hazard a few thoughts in favour of anger, knowing full well that in the given atmosphere, my words could be misconstrued or misrepresented.
Simply put, the feeling of hurt turns the feeling of love into pain and then anger, because it is anger which leads you to the point when you decide to stand up against injustice. You get angry because you feel wronged by the mighty and the powerful, and you desperately want your love (and also: dignity, peace, harmony, equal rights, including your right to life etc.) back
The feeling of anger actually helps the weak to say no to the mechanism of injustice devised by the powerful to take away love (and other positives mentioned above) from the powerless. Injustice is, primarily, an act of inflicting hurt and causing pain. While love is tender and pious, anger is the shield to protect it from injustice. Mother Nature has given all humans and animals the feelings of love, pain and anger in equal measures. Then how can Love be superior to Anger – and Pain a weepy non-entity?
Was Nelson Mandela not angry when he declared a war on white supremacists of South Africa and said: “We will make this country ungovernable”?
Was Martin Luther King Jr not angry when he said: “A riot is the language of the unheard”?
Was Kabir Das not angry with the Brahminical order when he satirically called himself “ham to jaati kameena”?
Are Dalits, or the tribal people or the oppressed women of this country not angry when they suffer humiliation and injustice everyday?
Was Gandhi not angry when he gave a clarion call against the British: “Do or die”?
These people, like Siddharth Gautam of Lumbini, may have become witnesses to their love, pain and anger – and, in a more philosophical sense, to their struggles too. But they never remained indifferent or neutral to their surroundings. Being a witness to all the three shades of feelings is absolutely desirable – it does not make one feeling inferior to the other.
Getting angry does not always mean getting violent. One-size-fits-all solution cannot be applied to judge the crimes of the perpetrator and the resistance put up by the victim.
Rajesh Joshi
P.S.: Even if I do not intend to, I am aware that my argument will be read in the context of the current crisis Mirambika is facing. But in a larger context, neutrality cannot always be projected as morally superior – it is a position just like resistance or collaboration. Powers that be love collaboration, they hate resistance and quietly accept neutrality.
An interesting albeit somewhat rambling email exchange between two so called neutral Mirambika parent friends, Jasmeet & Mandakini (wonderful better halves of two gentlemen on Tuchch side), trails below.​ One judges the blog as horrible; neither deals with the illegality of 14/4 & 1/7 shifts, denial of free progress integral education ecosystem and its impact on our children. Nevertheless, not a horrible read………………….

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Sat, Jul 11, 2015 at 2:10 PM
Subject: Re: {Mirambika All Parents} Still neutral
Thank you Mandakini for explaining in far greater detail and in a better way all that I wanted to say too!!!

On Jul 11, 2015 1:52 PM, ……wrote:

Your email is not neutral! And I don’t mean that in a bad way.
Reading the subject header, I found myself wondering: is it impossible to be neutral or impossible to be anything other than neutral? Because ‘neutral’ is usually the space that recognises everything else as ideological — but sees itself as outside ideology. It’s a word that suggests we’re standing on ground zero of truth; from that stable and assumed ground, we may judge the world around us. Here, instead, admirably, you’re beginning by narrating yourself — I feel this, I believe that, I assume the other. In inventorying your position, you are the opposite of neutral, wherever the point you stand.
I’m going to try and do the same thing.
The Move
The easiest question is what each of us thinks about the move. I know what I believe: that the move on the 14th was catastrophically wrong and terribly handled. I believe that the entire community could have been energised, early on, to help the Ashram work out what we could all agree on: an educational degree program with Mirambika as its learning laboratory, in the space created for the purpose–maybe even years, not months, ago. If a move was what the Ashram wanted, then it should have been a slower and more long-term plan. I don’t understand what led to that decision. It’s never made sense to me that a DDA threat–shadowy, formless–occasioned it, or that there were political sharks circling. I do not believe that. Nor, like you, do I have the stomach for or believe the malicious insinuations of hidden gain that have been levelled at our co-parents (specifically, Divya and Gautam) or the Ashram management. I spent a day and a night at the Ramgarh Ashram with my kids this summer. It embodies an attention to beauty, space for self-expression and exploration, areas of repose, greenery. The entire project is asking how to live a good life–this is not the evil empire. It is a force that has nurtured such spaces as Mirambika.
And yet, something terribly wrong happened. My sense for why things happened the way it did is to do with how decisions get made in centralised and opaque structures like the Ashram. For whatever reason (perhaps simply the thought that this would be a chance to correct Mirambika’s course and bring it closer to the way it was intended, or perhaps — more shatteringly — a loss of belief in Mirambika), the Ashram seems to have decided on a certain way of acting for its particular reasons; assumed that it was their decision alone to make and share via controlled release; calculated that certain inconvenient truths could be sacrificed for the greater cause; and never really considered the possibility of making other people involved participate in the decision.
There is no need to go over all the things that went wrong — we’re reminded of those often enough, and most of us know them. What is the way forward? I finally read the DDA CLA’s opinion on this matter as well as the show cause notice (SCN). From what I could understand, the DDA’s official legal opinion entirely validates the idea of the DDA knowing and approving of the school running on that land for decades, but the SCN uses more ambiguous language about the school ‘instead of’ college (targeting its fire, of course, at the plan of the engineering college). It seems like there’s room to move forward. What do I wish would happen? That the SAES could hold informal parlays with the DDA to take it up on the informal offer of a supplemental lease that meets the Society’s needs. But the absence of trust makes everything perilous, and I don’t know how we’ll get to that point.
The Case
I always thought going to court would be a mistake. I disagreed with it partly because of what you said (it takes the matters out of the space of mediation and reconciliation): it was not taking into account possible shared objectives and ways forward. It seemed to me a closure of some informal channels of communication. Sulochana Didi looked shattered. I thought it was better to bow to whatever intention the Ashram had for the school than to attempt to fight the intention — for many reasons.
And I disagreed with it because even if one believes that the Ashram wants to close Mirambika because they’ve lost faith in it — then the court case really doesn’t solve that problem, does it?
But then it happened. And now it’s happening. Large numbers of the parents are in it. Now I hope that it will end, and that it contributes to a situation in which everyone is reconciled and living happily ever after in the Mirambika World University, with its special program in  integral education, built around a learning laboratory for our children to grow in: glorious young guinea pigs gambolling on two legs.
But that seems unlikely. I feel like there will be a judgment at some point, and everyone will lose, and whoever doesn’t win will appeal, and then it will go on further. Eventually there will be a final judgment, and while there will be a ruling on property or justice, there will not be a ruling on the bitterness and animosity that so many other people have already written about here.
I know many people believe otherwise, but that is what I think.
The Parents
I’m thinking about us now. Since coming back, I’ve spent a little time trying to listen to people. I’ve missed the space for having those conversations, without the sunlit path; there are no conversations among all our different points of view. (Why is it so much harder to say ‘different points of view’ than ‘opposing points of view’?) One of the interesting things about the pavement opposite Gate 6 right now is that people are talking to each other, from across different positions.
A few days ago, when I would go talk to someone, I would wait for them to reach the point. That is, not talk about how awful people had been on the other side, but really what the way forward is. It felt like there were thickets of suspicion and accusation that one had to hack through in order to get to the crux of the matter, the actual disagreement. I wanted to understand what people thought about that disagreement. But whether it was one side or the other, a diya or a parent or an ex-parent, I heard people talking about how so many others had told lies, made accusations, spread rumours, bullied and threatened, used their influence, behaved cruelly, been snide, been obstructive, been wrong.
I know many of those reading this — assuming that they haven’t fallen asleep by now — won’t agree with me. But there is a mirror here. Or rather, if you listen to the words being used, it sounds like an echo chamber. Each of the two sides defines itself by ‘othering’ the other. And so much comes out in the form of personal stories about being vilified (either in the horrible blog or in person), or ignored, or misunderstood. These feelings are all true, and valid. We talk about them for a while. Then we reach the actual disagreement and often people are not that far apart from each other.
So that’s made me think — maybe these hurt feelings are not things that get in the way of the point. Maybe they are the point. Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of what has happened, the facts and events and dates, the story of Mirambika right now is that many people are in pain, and we can’t speak or listen to each other: we retreat, defensively, into our huddles and our silences. Then the only way left to speak about differences is to use our words as different weapons — the bludgeon, the stiletto — and try to eviscerate the other person’s position. We shape our pain into the weapon that fits most habitually in our hand.
There is pain. To live is to know pain. As parents, we all struggle to help our children to deal with their pain — when they don’t get what they want, or when someone says a hurtful word to them, or seems to reject their friendship. I tell Nishq all the time, ‘apne dukh ko gussa mat banaao’. Don’t make your pain into your anger. But to me it feels like a longer chain of conversions. If anger is just pain wearing a grouchy mask, pain is just love wearing a weepy mask. We feel pain because someone says something mean to us, or a relationship sours, or a friendship ends, and then we either run from it, or we repackage it as armour and weapon. What’s hard is to let it come, accept it, witness rather than nurse it.
Maybe it’s time to let down our defences and meet each other, to let go of our hurt feelings, our grudges, and forgive each other — I don’t mean just to act that way, but really to see people in their eyes rather than through their actions (or worse, their labels). This does not have to happen once the court case is decided, or once the hypothetical shift has happened. Let those things happen in their time and space. We are free to have differences and to see everything differently. The differences don’t have to muzzle us, or stop up our ears, or suffocate us.
Thanks for reading this, if you’ve made it so far.

On Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 12:47 PM, ….wrote:

Writing to share my thoughts after being silent for a long time. I have been closely reading and trying to understand all the documents that have been shared.

At this point, there seem to be multiple issues going on. One is of the court case and the second (and to me the more important one) is of the intent, trust, relationship and future. My saddest loss, irrespective of whichever way the case goes is of the second issue.
I sincerely believe there is no financial motive behind the college, real estate or the move by ashram management (Pranjal bhaiya, Tara didi, Kamala didi, Jayanthy didi or anyone else) or by any of the parent families that are also connected to the ashram (Narendra or the Vatika group). I’ve been told I’m naive and gullible if I believe that, so be it.  I don’t believe the intent is at fault personally.
Whether the DDA threat was the root cause of the issue or the thought of building a college, I don’t know. The way the change was conducted was badly communicated and managed by the ashram and I think that’s something acknowledged by all (again, that’s a very personal view). But that’s led to the sudden move, petition, camps of people with different ideas, being accusatory and intolerant of others points of view and a break in trust.
The technical issue of the land and the college vs the school or the college and the school does need to be resolved. What are the options to support the ashram to resolve this without confrontation, conditions, egos and all our baggage? Is it even possible?
I find it difficult to accept the petition… because to me it means that there are no ways left to explore as a dialogue. Hence I continue to not support it. The problem is that no matter in whose favor the judgement goes, the other party typically appeals and this goes on for a long time. To what end? Do we want to be in a legal wrangle for the next few years? And crazily enough, with the same people to whom we still send our kids everyday, with the trust that they will take care of them, nurture them, help them grow with all the love, kindness and goodness in them!
A question and request to all….. as hard as it may be, can we open a dialogue among us, however divergent our views may be? Conspiracy theories abound on all sides about everyone (including my husband and me with each of us holding divergent views). Can we talk, maybe agree on a point of view and probably disagree on some points of view, but rise above our negativity to each other while we figure ways to resolve the technical issues?


“The first principle of education is that nothing can be taught” – Sri Aurobindo


One thought on “Mirambika Crisis: So called neutrals in an email dialogue – interesting. Rajesh Joshi & Madakini write thought provokingly on neutrality, etc

  1. Bystander July 12, 2015 / 11:37 pm

    Anger is not negative!!! Being neutral is not superior!


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