Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My perception of senior ex-administrator of a spiritual-cum-secular university being sarcastic about bhajans (devotional songs/singing)

Perhaps this post may disturb some readers. As you read it, if you do get disturbed I request you to skip reading the rest of the post. I have thought about it a little and felt that it is appropriate for me to mention this matter now. I do not have anything personally against the university ex-administrator referred to below - I wish him well. The reason I have written this post is that the mistakes committed, i.e. mistakes from my humble view point, should be highlighted to prevent recurrence of them.

I was told, but I am not sure about it, that the now ex-senior-administrator of a university (referred to as X), was on stage in a rival spiritual group's (rival to the group associated with the university) function, a few days ago! He probably gave up his charge in the university only a day earlier! Anyway, I think it was clear to everybody concerned that after the passing away of the founder of the spiritual group, X seems to have been under some strong influence(s) based in the rival group. In my humble opinion, that was a glaring flaw in his role as senior administrator of the university as the founder had created a suitable trust for overseeing the university work, which is what X should have consulted with and worked as a team with, after the bodily passing away of the founder. If he believed in subtle form of the founder being in another place which communicated with selected medium(s) and/or some instructions of the founder delivered via dreams of a senior fraternity leader, both of which were associated with the rival group, then the right thing for him to do would have been to publicly state his stand, part ways from the university and associate with the new trust formed by the senior fraternity leader & others of the rival group. There would have been no, or very limited, confusion and bitterness.

I would also like to share one, from my point of view, shocking aspect of my last interaction with X, in or around August 2011, after which I developed serious concerns about the direction in which X was taking the university. I had strong disagreements with a dept. head (referred to as Y) over students & my involvement with an online education for schools project. That boiled over to X twice with X taking a very firm stand on it in the second interaction as I was only a visiting faculty. So I was essentially told to follow Y's instructions with an 'or else get out' clearly implied but not explicitly said. While I think that was poor management/administration, the issue that disturbed me most was what he added later on in the course of our nearly one hour meeting.

He said that I should do Bhajan (devotional song/singing)! And I felt that he said it sarcastically - perhaps it was my imagination as I was quite shell-shocked by how X was blasting me left-right-and-centre, and so maybe I imagined the sarcasm. Now, perhaps (I am not sure about it but it certainly is a possibility) Y had threatened to resign if I was not severely disciplined (resignation blackmail, especially by free service (unpaid honorary) staff, is quite a powerful and dangerous weapon in ashram systems, when the system has become somewhat dependent on the person), and there were umpteen other pressures on X then. I am given to understand that it was truly chaotic in the ashram setup, including its top echelons, around August 2011, just a few months after the passing away of the ashram founder, when my meeting with X occurred. So maybe X was just completely fed up with all these problems, and he poured out all his anger and frustration on me :).

I must also mention that X deserves credit for not taking the easy way out of resigning from the post (he was offering honorary service, I believe) and letting the university flounder till a replacement senior administrator was found, at a time when the ashram town as a whole was severely traumatized by the founder's very unexpected passing away. [But when he did not resign he should have co-operated with the trust which was given the task of overseeing affairs of the university at a top level, instead of associating with a rival group.] X took on all the pressures (including from small guys like me), fought his way through and ensured that the university continued to have a good name, and provided a thrust for scientific research to it. So, as a devotee, I am grateful to X for this great service he has done for the ashram university, at a time when it faced severe challenges.

Back to X's bhajan advice :). Even if it was not sarcastic, and was meant as spiritual advice to me :), it certainly was not conveyed in the soft & loving tone in which such spiritual advice has to be conveyed, as demonstrated by the founder of the spiritual ashram on countless occasions to his devotees & audience in general. Anyway, I thought (and still think) that he was sarcastic and so I could not believe my ears. The founder has laid so much emphasis on Namasmarna (devotional utterance/remembrance of the name(s) of the Lord), especially congregational devotional singing, as one of the most suitable paths for spiritual progress & self-realization in this Kali age. And the senior administrator, X, of the divine university that the founder has founded was sarcastically telling me to do bhajan (instead of pursuing the online school project which Y, the dept. head, was dead against)! As I had spent over eight years then, offering free service, in the university when the founder was in physical form, I was treating senior administrator, X, with utmost respect, as that is what the founder expected from students & faculty. I was so stunned on hearing such words from X who I was treating with great respect and deference then, that, on hindsight, I don't think I even get outraged then. I quietly listened to him thinking that perhaps the fault lies in me and that I should examine my behaviour.

Later, during the rest of the academic year 2011-12, I came to know of some very unfortunate happenings in the campus of the university that I was associated with, where very senior faculty who had been publicly treated very nicely, even respectfully, by the founder over so many years, were badly humiliated by X and another administrator Z. [Some readers may guess who this other administrator Z is :) - once again, I do not have anything personally against him; the intent is to point out the mistakes so that its recurrence can be prevented]. So I started questioning X's words and actions towards me. Today, my view is that X then was, and probably still is, quite arrogant and quite ignorant spiritually. Only a spiritually ignorant person will be sarcastic about Bhajans.

OK, what has happened has happened. I pray earnestly to the founder of the ashram & university that with the new senior administrator of the university recently having taken charge, the university refocuses on the vision of the founder so that it gets re-established as a Divine university with a focus on spirituality, and does not become a mere UGC deemed university focusing on science research, giving only lip service to spirituality. Sure, science research must be done in this university but not at the cost of watering down its spiritual thrust which is the vital aspect of the founder's vision for the university.


Readers may also want to view my post, Mainstream Indian newspaper article on Delhi University's Academic Council - "Everyone is terrified ...", dated July 31st 2014,


  1. Its a churn as i recollect from my stay in the department involving ambition, spirituality, envy, frustration, failure, sacrifice, search for truth....part of the divine plan to evolve. The department has been brought up with much sacrifice and toil and your contribution is surely counted. Finding peace with pros and cons of the decision takes time, the analysis is necessary but must culminate in peace and happiness ultimately.

    1. Thanks for your view, Dhanu. Agree with the peace and happiness ultimately part :-). In the interim though one needs to put in some effort to set things right, IMHO.

      My intent is to bring more transparency and accountability in such matters. When Bhagavan was in physical form a lot of such matters got resolved very simply by it being referred to Him, with Bhagavan's decision being treated as final, whether one understood the logic behind the decision or not. That was very fine as Bhagavan had divine insight into such matters. In this post-Mahasamadhi phase of the mission, IMHO, the spiritual organizations concerned including the university must embrace enlightened management practices followed by institutions of excellence, the world over. Dictatorial decisions by those in power who may receive some input from some spiritual medium or some dream instructions, which have to be followed without any questions, is not a good way to manage the concerned spiritual institutions including the university, now, IMHO.