Puducherry: About 150 inmates of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram here on Sunday embarked upon a three-day dharna demanding that trustees managing the ashram be dismissed immediately for their "failure" to protect its reputation.
A release issued by a spokesman of the inmates and devotees of the Ashram alleged that the Trustees had failed to take action against Peter Heehs, a US national and inmate of the Ashram, for his controversial book titled `the Lives of Sri
Aurobindo` published in 2008 in which the writer had allegedly made "inflammatory and denigrating remarks" against Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, The Mother.
The present team of trustees should either resign or be sacked as they are "protecting the writer without expelling him from the Ashram although his controversial book had insulted and denigrated the spiritual savants," it said.
The inmates, staging the protest outside the ashram premises, said in the release that the Trust should publicly condemn the "insulting" book and withdraw the copyright permission to the Columbia University Press which has published the book.
The release said the Union Home Ministry had "issued instuctions" to various State governments and Union Territories to stop its publication, sales and distribution.
The Orissa government had through Gazette notification in 2009 proscribed the book and declared its contents `inflammatory in nature and ordered all copies of the book be forfeited`.
Meanwhile, a source in the Ashram Trust said "according to many, who have written to the Ashram in appreciation of the book, those who found the book to be offensive have either not read it in its entirety or have clearly misunderstood its
The source also said the question whether the author of the book can stay in India or not was entirely a matter "exclusively within the purview of the Union Home Ministry."
The Ashram was founded in 1926. Aurobindo passed away in 1950 while the Mother died in 1973. The Mother (Mira Alfassa) founded Aurobindo International Centre of Education in 1952 and the international township of Auroville, 10 km from here, in 1968.