“Auro-Ratna Award” 2013: A Report

Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

The fourth “Auro-Ratna Award” ceremony was held on Friday, 22 November 2013, at Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research, Pondicherry. As already announced, the recipient of the “Auro-Ratna Award” for the year 2013 was Dr. Ananda Reddy.

Dr. Murali Sivaramakrishnan, noted scholar, poet, artist and Professor and Head of the Department of English at Pondicherry University, Prof. Srinivasa K., Professor of Philosophy at Pondicherry University, Dr. Larry Seidlitz (Vice-President for Student Affairs at SACAR), Dr. Alok Pandey (eminent psychiatrist and member of Sri Aurobindo Ashram), Mr. Raman Reddy, Mr. Narayan Bhatt (both researchers and archivists of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives and Research Department), Mr. Lalit Modi (eminent auditor), Mr. Suresh Chandra Tyagi (Editor of Aditi, the popular Hindi magazine published from Saharanpur), Mr. Chamanlal Gupta, senior member of Sri Aurobindo Ashram were among the esteemed guests who attended the function.

The function began at 5.30 p.m. with an invocation in Sanskrit rendered in her melodious voice by Mrs. Deepshikha Reddy (Trustee, SACAR) after which a flower-bouquet and shawl were presented to Dr. Ananda Reddy by the staff of Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research namely Mr. Satya, Mr. Miresh, Mr. Kader and Mrs. Gayatri Sarkar. Another bouquet sent by Dr. Shruti Bidwaikar was also presented to him.

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The ceremony began with a brief introduction of the objectives and history of ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ by Mr. Anurag Banerjee, the Founder and Chairman of Overman Foundation who also remarked that it was a privilege to confer the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ to Dr. Ananda Reddy whose achievements were undoubtedly great but he, as a person, was greater than his achievements.

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He then requested Dr. Murali Sivaramakrishnan, who graced the occasion as the Chief Guest, to say a few words about Dr. Ananda Reddy. The following is the text of Dr. Murali’s speech:

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“Good evening dear friends. This is more of a home-coming; there is nothing formal about being here, sitting beside Ananda Reddy, in the centre of SACAR. This is one of those occasions when you feel more honoured than the person who is honoured because I am called to chair the session felicitating my friend, my very close associate for the last close to ten years. More than that we have known each other or much I am not sure.

“Ananda does not require a kind of introduction in this gathering. Last time when this ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ was given to Shraddhavan and Prema Nandakumar—I used a phrase when I was talking. I said this is like carrying coal to the new castle. You know, one does not carry coal when one goes to new castle. It’s like talking about Ananda Reddy at his Centre where Deepshikha—she is sitting behind—she is Deepshikha, the one who should be going in front holding the torch—torch-bearer; she is sitting behind. She has ignited the torch and when Deepshikha is there and Anand-bhai, as everyone calls him, who is a few years older than me so I call him Anand. So Anand is somebody who I could vibe with. I come from a totally different tradition because I am an academic, I work in the University, I teach for a living, I’ve to profess, write, publish or perish. So this sort of rigorous intellectual academic world and we are all worried that academicism, intellectualism or inquisitive kind of exploration into religion, philosophy, truth is almost practically disappearing. Srinivasa next to me will also be talking almost like that. And why are we worried about this kind of thing? Some years ago an academic from the U.S.—Allan Bloom—published a book called The Closing of the American Mind where he actually bemoans that Americans are almost losing their intellectual grip on reality; they are just falling into mere crass materialists. Of course, we assume that the synonym Americanism and Globalization is almost the same. So we tend to identify America with the kind of ultimate illusion which boast of capitalists, industrialists, like a globalizing it symbolizes. So Bloom’s worry is almost becoming the reality for us in India. Less of intellectual involvement, people are not bothered—why should we explore truth, why should we worry whether Ishwara is the same as the Divine Godhead, whether Savitri would symbolize the search for life beyond death or whether Life Divine is a possibility or whether the Supermind has descended, this kind of queries—practically nobody seems to take these things seriously at all. This creates a big backlog in our minds. There are only a few places where this kind of search and enquiry still seems to survive. And one of them of course is something that revolves around the pursuit of truth, the pursuit for finding something higher, pursuit in terms of a kind of rigorous discipline that we call Integral Yoga and the study of Sri Aurobindo and what the Mother has given. Even among the Aurobindonians—there are, of course, many aspects to the study of Sri Aurobindo. I am not going into the intellectual debate over this but even among those of us who are really taking the study of Sri Aurobindo quite seriously, there are those who are happy with whatever is given. And there are those others who like to go beyond with a torch. People like Anand belong to the second category. They are quite dissatisfied with whatever that has already been said. They feel there is something more to it. There is something more that is possible because we have had many, many debates across podiums, even here we have had many discussions and I have always noticed that Anand is always on the side of new kind of… to break new boot almost like what we would say, to find a new path. He always likes to go beyond and find something new. He gets so excited! And when he says something, whenever he writes something, whenever he tries to explicate or interpret a text of Sri Aurobindo in a classroom or in seminar-situation, he likes to say something new. There is always a sense of discovery in whatever he says. I am not just making that a kind of platitude. I mean it. Whatever you give him, whatever topic he is talking about, be it philosophy of Sri Aurobindo or philosophy in general for that matter. Of course, he was a professor of philosophy, he has taught overseas in fact. He had gone to Bangkok and taught there. And he was with us in the Department of Philosophy in our university. But wherever he has gone, whatever he has done, there is a sense of breaking into new grounds or finding new frontiers have been his impetus. And that has been his strength.

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“For me Anand symbolizes the possibility for finding new en routes into the study of Sri Aurobindo. It is not merely the study of Sri Aurobindo. In fact, a few months ago I had written a kind of controversial article which has been published in Sraddha from Calcutta. But before I published it, I sent it to Anand. I said: “Please look through this.” It’s a pretty long article. And Anand sent me papers like this. After a few weeks, he sent me the whole thing. “I’ve read through every line that you have written” and each line he has taken up and he has dissected with the kind of discipline of an academic, the strength of a yogi and the kind of openness of a true seeker.

“Anand, in fact, I feel like shortening his name, not Anand but Ananda, a thousand times so what was like to me he has a thousand turns and when I start talking about him I will have a thousand turns because there is no stopping. We can talk hours together about Anand and the ways in which Anand has explicated things. But this is not the place for that right now. But I feel that the Overman Foundation has enriched itself by honouring a person like Anand. Thank you, so pleased, delighted as well to be here. And Anand, like ‘Bharat Ratna’ we have ‘Auro-Ratna’. This ‘Auro-Ratna’ is like ‘Bharat-Ratna’ for the Aurobindonians. Anand is the right person for this award. For, you see, two people had got the award last time, they had to split it. This time it is one person so he is standing for two: Shraddhavan and Prema-ji [Nandakumar]. This time Anand. (applause)

“I’m so happy that I am here and able to share a few words with you, to talk about Anand and also to dream about new possibilities. I don’t think he will just stop with this; SACAR is not the end of the world for he will go miles. He always has the kind of urge to seek and go beyond. He is an open connection; he can always be engaged with. You can talk anything to him. Even when I invited him to come over to see my painting, he just came and said, “Hey, I will talk.” So he started talking even about painting or whether it is driving or flying or going places or anything. So it is wonderful that we have a person like Anand. He has done wonders with SACAR. He has miles to go and with the new impetus he has gathered.

“When we are all sitting here honouring him with this ‘Auro-Ratna Award’, Overman Foundation—I am sure—has done something wonderful and Anand certainly deserves it. And it is a pleasure and privilege for me as a long time associate of Anand to come here and chair the session.”

The next speaker was Dr. Srinivasa K. of the Department of Philosophy (Pondicherry University); the text of his speech is as follows:

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“Good evening to you all, respected elders, distinguished scholars, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the Department of Philosophy and on behalf of my own family members and my own behalf, first of all, let me congratulate Dr. Ananda Reddy who is fondly called by his friends Anand—I call him Anand—for receiving this most prestigious award—the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ for the year 2013.

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“Let me share my acquaintance with Dr. Ananda Reddy. Ever since I met him in 1989 when we joined Sri Aurobindo School of Eastern and Western Thought—I joined as an additional lecturer and Dr. Anand joined as a Post-Doctorate Fellow. Since then we became very close friends. And basically I was trained in Symbolic Logic, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Language and modern Philosophy and perhaps along with Prasad Balasubramanian who was the first Head of the Department of that particular school and Dr. Anand, they taught me so much regarding Indian Philosophy. Later on, I had to go to Sanskrit pandit to learn Sanskrit for about three years. And first of all, when Anand used to speak to us on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, it never went into my mind because Sri Aurobindo is not an easy philosopher to understand. It requires a kind of integrity on the part of the scholar to understand Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy. Of course, as students of philosophy, we always feel that the art of philosophizing differs from one philosopher to another philosopher, from one school of thought to another school of thought. Normally we start from complexities and come down to simples; sometimes we start from simples and go back to the complexities. But I was introduced to Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy primarily through the lectures given by the late Shri M. P. Pandit and also by Anand. I used to attend his lectures and he used to take classes for Master Degree students. Many a time I had a lot of problems to understand Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy because I did not possess the kind of eligibility to understand it. So he was so good to me in the sense that he used to explain me: “Look Srinivasa, this has to be understood like this, you have to interpret this concept like this, you have to alienate yourself completely from the Western world of thinking.” Perhaps that helped me a lot—my association with him.

“Today I can proudly say that I know a little bit of Sri Aurobindo. I can tell you this because on 8th of November [2013] I was asked to deliver an Endowment Talk on Indian culture at Acharya Nagarjuna University. Some six months ago, the Vice-Chancellor of the University asked me to do that. Then I asked him over the phone: “What should I speak?” So then he said that since you come from Pondicherry the members of the Senate would like to listen from you about Sri Aurobindo. I said: “Sir, it is a huge task for me because I am not very good in Sri Aurobindo.” But since they gave me six months’ time I started reading Sri Aurobindo. From my own perspective I understood him a little bit. Then I okayed it. Then I sent my draft back to them—some 24-25 pages—and it was sent to some expert which I did not know and finally they approved the draft and on 8th I delivered the lecture. So as my gurudakshina I can give the copy of my lecture to Anand. (applause)

“So this was the thing. Then of course not only the kind of physical discipline that Anand maintains, but the kind of mental discipline to find in Anand is remarkable. In 1992 we had a very big seminar on Sri Aurobindo; lots of people from the Ashram came and people from all over India participated in that seminar. Normally the students of philosophy have a habit of criticizing the philosophers. At times I think people from Ashram did not take it very lightly and they used to over-react to these criticisms. Perhaps it was only Anand who never got irritated to any of these kinds of things and he used to reply so well that Prof. Balasubramaniam said: “This is the difference between Anand and the rest of the people.” Because we know that Prof. Balasubramaniam was a hardcore Advait but he had lot of praise for Anand and he used to tell me: “Srinivas, you should speak like Anand.” Then I said: “Sir, it will take one more janma [birth] for that.” “Does not matter,” he said, “Listen to his lectures, go to his classes, the way he formulates the softer problems. Maybe from the point of view of Sri Aurobindo it does not matter. Just listen to him.” And it taught me a lot.

“And of course the ancient Greek philosophers preach what is wisdom. Just by possessing knowledge of different kinds of things is not really wisdom. Temperance, prudence and courage constantly were wisdom for great philosophers and here Anand-bhai possesses all the three qualities. He has temperance, balance of mind, courage to face any kind of a question you ask him and he will reply and without getting irritated. He may criticize saying just because I criticize Sri Aurobindo, my criticism will not bring down the stature of Sri Aurobindo in the philosophers’ circuits. Similarly, just because I criticize Shankara or Mahatma Gandhi their stature will not come down. But here is a person who never got irritated for any kind of criticism. And he used to reply. That shows his courage. And also prudence. He knows what to talk and what not to talk. That is very, very important for a student of philosophy. He used to engage classes, I think, on Ethics for the students of Masters’ Degree and he used to ask me: “Srinivasa, this is the book I am following, is it right?” You know that he did his Masters from the University of Hyderabad not only in literature but also in philosophy. And he has done best. But see his simplicity, he used to come to me and say: “This is the book I am following, do you think it is good?” I said: “It is very good.” And students loved him. And we loved him. It’s unfortunate that we could not really plant him into our department because of age-restrictions, I think, by a few days or months he had exceeded the age limit. Therefore Prof. Balasubramaniam could not recruit him in our department but he very much wanted to be in the department. In spite of that he kept on coming to the department and he kept his association with the department. Many a time we called him. Kapali Sastri Endowment Lecture he has given in the department and he was so clear in his talk.

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“He is not only a good thinker but a prolific writer so you see his writings. Then of course he went to Bangkok and spent almost five long years there. He recommended me to go there thrice. Then of course I went to Bangkok. The moment I said Anand is my friend, the Dean of the school said: “We all learnt English language from him.” The way English is spoken you should know from Anand. So that means such kind of an impact he made on the minds of the people there in Bangkok that they love him so much. Some three times I went there as a Distant Faculty to deliver lectures on various topics and every time I went there, immediately they ask: “How is Ananda Reddy?” I said: “He is doing very well. He is very busy with his SACAR.”

“So, friends, I really feel that the Overman Foundation has chosen the right person for the award for 2013 because he is one of the greatest second generation Aurobindoites. I don’t say first generation because there are people who propagated Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy far and wide. One of the leading second generation Aurobindoites in the country today and he is accepted every way the word and I really feel very happy that the Overman Foundation—unlike the Government of India—has recognized a person who really deserves that award. So I congratulate Anand for this. (applause)

“Behind the success of a great person there is a woman. The woman may be sometimes the mother, the wife, sometimes sister, sometimes a friend. Here I know it is Deepshikha-didi who always constantly followed Anand as a shadow, a faithful companion to make his intellectual capabilities spread wider and wider. So therefore part of the credit should also go to Deepshikha-didi (applause). Having said that, I am extremely happy that SACAR called me to say a few words about Anand but there are so many things to share about Anand that I don’t think this is the time to do that. And friends, you know that and your association with Anand I need not explain and introduce you more about him and through his writings, through his speeches, you know what kind of a person he is. Thank you.”

The next speaker was Dr. Alok Pandey whose speech is quoted beneath:

“I have to rush back to the Sports Ground but certainly all that I can say is that I am very happy that Anand-bhai has been chosen for this beautiful award. But much more than that, as I was sitting and thinking about his name, it reminded me of something very interesting. Anand-bhai has been in the service of the Divine. I think that is the most important thing. Writing, speaking—all these are very, very secondary things; most important is that he has done it as an act of seva, as an act of service. Because people can write and speak just for the joy of deliberating intellectually about things or they may do it as a means to get fame, name, etc. But the beauty of Anand-bhai’s talks, his writings, is that it springs from a heart of love. I think, that is where the strength lies. And when you serve the Divine or do something to serve the Divine, there is a wage—you know—when we do service there is a wage which one gets. Of course, that reminds me of an aphorism of Sri Aurobindo that to be God’s servant is something, God’s slave is greater. Someone once asked me that what is the difference between the two? A servant means to serve. But as a servant we get a wage but slave means all the time with the Divine. There is nothing else because the slave seeks nothing else. Slave is bought for ever, he has no other options. That is the beauty of being a slave. Now when we serve the Divine just as we serve, we get a wage. People often ask: “Kya milta hain? Ashram ja ke kya milta hain?” “What do you get in all these?” Well, the Divine has a very nice plan. Instead of monthly pay etc. etc. the Divine gives you instantly. So what is the instant wage of the Divine? It is Ananda. (laughter) The Divine gives you instant delight. So the service of the Divine gets reflected by the joy in the being. And there is the beauty. Whenever you seek Him, you don’t have to even speak to Him. There is a spontaneous smile, the joy of the heart gets reflected because he is doing all this not as something personal. Even this beautiful institution— it has been done as an act of love and that one can see, the way he has gone about the whole thing and the way his steps have been guided and made as someone who has been chosen.

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“There are many who are called—that’s a well-known saying, Sri Aurobindo speaks about it, but some are chosen for something very specific and they are given all that is required for that service. And without a shadow of doubt Anand-bhai is certainly chosen—he is chosen for this work. And so everything that is needed the Divine provides. So when we speak about Anand-bhai, it simultaneously is the beauty, the glory of the Divine which is leading him. And it leads so many individuals each in its own way. Of course I completely appreciate that Deepshikha-di often goes unnoticed. To think of him [Ananda Reddy] is also to think of her. So it is something very beautiful. And yes, it is not very common; it is a very rare and harmonious, beautiful thing to happen. And it is a prayer to the Lord that may both of you continue to serve the Divine in this way for many, many lives to come because not necessarily a question of one life but many lives to come.

“At the same, I must say that there are so many ways the Divine’s work is going on all over the world. And sometimes one wonders: is there anything else left? And then comes somebody like Anurag with Overman Foundation. One wonders: yes, yes, there was something which was yet to be done. That is the impression I had when Overman Foundation came into being. Otherwise, you know, we feel people have talked, people have … you know, so much have been done. Everyone is there not to speak, it is just one has to keep living this truth. And then someone comes up with such an interesting idea that one feels that it has dropped from the heaven and someone has caught it. So you [to Anurag Banerjee] really have filled a space in Sri Aurobindo’s work. Everyone can fill a space in so many ways but you have filled a space which was necessary and when it worked one wondered why didn’t somebody think of it earlier. So I am happy that something like this has been done not only about the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’—of course that is one of the things—but the kind of research works and work you are doing on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. So it is really wonderful.

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“What more can I say about an elder brother who has been such a beautiful inspiration and a co-traveller and a wonderful colleague to work with. Having said that, it is truly an honour to share the dais with him several times and it has given me a sense of complimentality of a beautiful, harmonious, as they say—jugal-bandi. I have always felt that with him. And that’s the beautiful part of it. All that I would say is that may you really serve Her for many, many, many lives till the last breath, fully conscious from the moment you are born of Her presence and till the last breath, may you and Deepshikha-di be conscious of Her presence. And there is nothing greater than that. The person is always greater than his works. And that is what I keep talking in Sri Aurobindo’s context that the Word is greater than an institution that has been brought out by someone but greater than the Word is the person—the being. The Gita speaks to us of shabd brahmati vartate—go beyond the Word because others get stuck to the Word, its integrities, they pick up pedagogues not yogins. Darshana in the Indian sense was first see, then express, not express all the ignorance and then try to see. So, with Anand-bhai, he is a philosopher of that category. He is seeing and then he expresses what he is seeing. So his philosophy is something authentic. I think that is the difference. The mark of a philosopher in the Indian sense and the mark of truly a great philosopher is that he is not just playing with words. It is so easy to play with words and especially nowadays we are endowed with a brilliant faculty which is the cause of all our stupidities and that is the intellectual mind but when this mind is not just sharpened but develops something called sight, then that mind becomes worthy of simply reflecting what it receives from above. And that is the beauty of what Anand-bhai expresses. It is not just a playing with words of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. That is very dangerous at times because we will miss the being who is much greater than the words. He brings Sri Aurobindo into his words and through His words and through his own words so beautifully what we get is Sri Aurobindo—His darshan, something of His touch, something of His glimpse. And I think that is something worth a million, million, million breath that one can ever require outwardly.

“So, thank you Anand-bhai for really being not just an asset to Sri Aurobindo’s circle but an asset to the earth. I feel may such types of your kind increase. There is a beautiful line in Savitri: ‘Only one joy, to raise thy kind, desire.’ So my prayer is: may your kind increase upon this earth. The earth desperately needs it. Thank you very much.”

After Dr. Alok Pandey, Dr. Larry Seidlitz talked about his association with Dr. Ananda Reddy. His speech is quoted beneath:

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“It is a very happy occasion to honour my friend and colleague Ananda Reddy. I will just say a few personal words of my relation with Ananda and work with him.

“I think we met in 1998. He came to U.S. to visit our mutual friend Julian who introduced us, suggested that my wife and I take him and Deepshikha to Niagara Falls. We were living close by there so they were interested in visiting and they came and stayed with us for a couple of days, I think. We visited the Falls. We became first acquaintances at that time. And then a couple of years later my wife and I came to Pondicherry. I was coming for the first time. And again we met Ananda and Deepshikha at their home and they welcomed us so warmly. I think it was at that time that Ananda first broached the topic of participating in this online programme that he wanted to launch and it was maybe still ways off yet but he was beginning to think about it. So we had a nice visit at the Ashram and at their home and we were greeted very nicely. So we went back to the U.S. And a few years later I came alone on a visit to Pondicherry and again met with Ananda, I think, just days before I was leaving. And he again talked about the online programme that he wanted to launch at SACAR. And I said that yes, I will be happy to participate in this thinking I can do this online course from the U.S.— never thinking to come here.

“After returning to the U.S. I was seized by this strong desire to move to Pondicherry. And I wrote to Ananda and asked: “Could I join you there at SACAR?” And he was so welcoming, so warm. “Yes, you please come, you will work at SACAR. You will also have a place to stay, to live here and we will look after you.” And so after a few months I shifted from the U.S to Pondicherry and stayed here at SACAR. And we launched this online programme. He was then ready to start. And at that time Girija—the actress and Sri Aurobindo scholar—was already here at Pondicherry working with SACAR and together we started the work of preparing an online educational programme from scratch. We didn’t quite know how the course would move forward. I had one technician who was very good and setting things up. He was also a difficult character in his own way but we managed to get something going within a few months. And I guess, of the same year, a few months later, we started the programme—the first semester of the online programme and Jamshed—sitting at the back—was our first student and couple of others. It continued and from each semester it developed and grew. More students came. We became more organized, more sophisticated each semester as it went. Eventually we joined up with IGNOU and it began to… the ball was rolling more. We were getting more students and we were developing it into a more sophisticated programme. We were having Masters and Ph.D students and M.Phil students and Post-Graduate Diploma students—so we had quite a diversified programme. And this was, I think, one of the big dreams of Ananda to be able to present in an in-depth way Sri Aurobindo’s teaching to college students across India and across the world. In so many institutions and universities across the country and across the world Sri Aurobindo is hardly mentioned. So this was one place where students could actually study Sri Aurobindo in an in-depth way. I mean, we have our classes for sixteen weeks long and in these programmes students were taking 8-10-12 different classes on Sri Aurobindo in all the different areas of His thought. So they really got a deep introduction to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s teaching which was really not possible anywhere else. And quite a few students have gone through the programmes—even shorter or longer programmes—that we have.

“I think it was about three or four years ago we had one of our Personal Contact Programmes where we invited the students to come. This was actually a part of the programme where they spent several days or weeks with us. We would have seminars each day and they have the possibility to visit the Ashram and Auroville and they were staying here at the Guest House. Deepshikha-didi was cooking instead of catering the meals for everybody. We had 12-15 students here with us for this programme. And in the last evening of the programme we had a cultural event; everybody was doing some performance or making some presentation for the group out in the courtyard. It was a beautiful evening. And I think that it was at that moment that Ananda leaned over and said: “This is really the high-point of SACAR so far.” And it really was a beautiful moment with all the students here; their being together for 4-5 days of intensive talks and lectures and just sharing and having meals together. It was a big family. That was always something part of SACAR. It was not just an educational institute, there was always this family-like atmosphere that was here. So I wanted to share about that experience which I have been closely associated with, working with Ananda over these ten years, doing their work, offering these online classes.

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“At the same time, this is only one aspect of Ananda’s work. He is also doing so many other things—giving talks regularly in the Ashram, each of the Darshans he was giving a series of lectures here, every year he is giving ‘n’ number of talks at Nainital and he is going out across India giving talks at different places where he is invited, he was going abroad, going on tours to different places in Europe quite often. He was taking care of work at Hyderabad Centre—he handles the Board—an institution is there—there are several trusts doing various work around Hyderabad area. So many things. He is continually writing articles for journals. Sometimes I just pick up a journal and here is an article by Ananda that I did not even know that he might be writing. Books have come out not only of his various talks that he is giving continuously but also publishing books of other authors at SACAR, working on those, often designing the covers for the books, doing various things in order to make all these various projects come to fruition. Sometimes Ananda works too hard, sometimes he was literally fainting on the floor from exhaustion, sometimes we did not know whether he was going to recover. I mean, he does too much. He was travelling all the time, working, writing, talking, giving lectures, so many things.

“I just want to close by saying that I am very grateful for all that he has done for me, looking after me for these ten years and also for all the work that he has done for Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Thank you.”

After Dr. Larry Seidlitz, Ms. Clare Fanning, an old friend of Dr. Ananda Reddy was requested to say a few words about him. The text of her brief speech is as follows:

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“I was so enjoying to hear how everyone has experienced and all and I, kind of, was reflecting in a little bit and it’s wonderful when you are in an evening of exchange as friends, when you are at dinner, when you are catching up in a beautiful moment. But it is another one when you attend his talks. I so enjoy the remark about the presence of Sri Aurobindo when it comes through him because, you know, we take our friends not for granted but in a way—of course we are good friends—but the real presence that you do when you communicate Sri Aurobindo’s words is astounding and so profound and I have great pride to tell people to attend your talks if they can… I really appreciate knowing Ananda.”

The next speaker was Mr. Lalit Modi, noted auditor and a close friend of Dr. Ananda Reddy. His speech is quoted beneath:

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“Jai Ma to all of you. Anand and Anurag both have sort of schemed to place me in the midst of intellectual giants, philosophical giants, academic giants and spiritual giants. I really feel like a dwarf among them and particularly when all these gentle giants have spoken so much about the nobility of Giant of all giants Ananda Reddy. What more can I say, a little dwarf, on the philosophical front, on the intellectual front or even the spiritual front? As far as Anand is concerned, I am like Sudama. He is the Sudama of the little spiritual world that I am involved with so obviously that makes him my Krishna. But Anand, on the professional front the role is reversed. I will not allow you to be the Krishna of the professional world. I think it is a great sense of joy, a great sense of happiness to be among this august gathering. In fact, this is the first time I am addressing an august gathering like the one I am sitting in front of.

“Anurag, I should thank you very much for choosing our dear Anand Reddy—our dear Dr. Anand Reddy—for the award—the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’. Having conferred or being conferred now on Dr. Ananda Reddy, I think, I will take the opportunity of addressing him now itself as ‘Auro-Ratna’ Dr. Ananda Reddy, or let’s say, ‘Auro-Ratna’ Ananda Reddy. I have taken this initiative of addressing you as ‘Auro-Ratna’ Ananda Reddy without taking the permission from Anurag. Sorry Anurag.”

Anurag Banerjee: “Permission granted.” (laughter)

Lalit Modi continues: “Thank you for that. Anand’s nobility, Anand’s culture, Anand’s generosity, Anand’s truth, honesty, in my opinion—I am using the word in my opinion because this is how we prepare our audit reports and somehow we get into that language and this is definitely not a forum of projecting audit reports. But in my opinion this culture, this honesty, this generosity, this nobility comes from his parents—his father and mother. Anand, I know as a friend, adores his parents. The word ‘adoration’ is normally used by a person when he shows his love for the Almighty. But in this particular sense, in this particular context, I would say that Anand regarded his parents like Gods and adored them and that’s where all his inspiration came to him in gushes and bounds like the Ganges. As Srinivasa said, his inspiration is definitely his better-half Deepshikha. Such a wonderful person always with a smile on her lips; it’s like somebody telling us: “If you don’t have a smile on you, I will give you one of mine.” She always keeps showing or addressing us in that manner. And this attitude is not because Anand listens to Deepshikha, it is because Deepshikha listens to Anand that Anand is where he is. I thank you, Deepshikha, for sharing Anand with us.

“Our interactions in my office have been wonderful. Anand would just walk into my office and say: “Are, Lalit, tum busy to nehi ho na?” “Are, yaar, tum aa to gaye ho andar, abhi kya baat hain?” (laughter) He would just politely, timidly, just come and sit down, discuss his issues and then once again say: “I have not taken a lot of your time, no?” “Are baba, you have already taken it. Now what’s the problem?” (laughter) But I have always enjoyed those interactions with Anand. He has established his SACAR on 24 April 1998. Please correct me in I am wrong. It was 24 April 1998—a wonderful day for founding many institutions particularly by a devotee of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. In this place, one can definitely feel and experience the presence of the Mother because Anand has kept it as sacred as any temple can be. For that, full marks to Anand for all the efforts that he has made. He is something like a dwarpal of SACAR, standing there and inviting those people who have a thirst for the ambrosia that he can offer. That ambrosia has come out of the churning that he has done on the scriptures of Sri Aurobindo. We all are really fortunate to have a taste of that ambrosia. Thank you, Anand, for delivering the goods—again I am using a commercial terminology, can’t help it but that is how it is.

“I thank Anurag once again for choosing our friend Anand for the coveted award. And I thank Anand for making our life so nice because whenever I was in some sort of a trouble or upset or something, I don’t know, just like that from nowhere he used to just drop in, come before me, stand before me, talk something this way, that way and then by the time he left, I used to feel light and fine as if he has taken away the problems from me and placed them at the feet of the Mother. And rest assured, in a matter of week’s time or 10 days’ time I always had the results—very positive results—on issues which were placed before him. Thank you Anand for being a great friend. I wish I can say lot more. I can go on and on but I guess that is the protocol that we have to follow. Maybe next time I will have an opportunity of saying much more about you and the institution. Thank you very much Anand.”

After Mr. Modi’s speech, Mr. Anurag Banerjee requested Mrs. Deepshikha Reddy, Dr. Reddy’s wife and collaborator in his work and sadhana, to say a few words about him. He introduced her in the following words: “As we all know, behind every successful man there is a woman. And behind Dr. Reddy’s success, there are two women. One is of course the beautiful lady whom we adore as the Divine Mother and the other person is the Prakriti behind the Purusha—the Shakti—Deepshikha-di.” The text of Mrs. Deepshikha Reddy’s speech is as follows:

“Really very honestly it has been a story of Grace, as you all know, building of SACAR and everything and Lalit helping us, everyone helping us. Of course this is also true that Anand was given this responsibility of making this centre as the academic centre where Sri Aurobindo Studies will be done. Certainly that initial dream, you might say, or adesh—whatever you can say, that of course, was given by the Mother and all the support was given by Her but the instruments were all of you. And it got done something very beautifully. I have not done anything. In fact, I have learnt a lot while SACAR was coming up because I was—as I always say—quite a non-believer in Grace and things like that. And he used to say that no, once She has said it will happen, “I have seen it.” He had seen the building of SACAR before it was materialized. And later Huta-ben had said that it had materialized in the subtle worlds. She had seen it a few years before and when she saw our building for the first time, then Huta-ben was absolutely… she just stooped and stuck in the sun over there around 1.30—2 o’clock in the afternoon and she said: “I have seen this building. How did you build it?” Then he said: “I was also given to see the building.” Then he told the architects that this is what I have seen and this is what has to be made. So, first Huta-ben said and we also know that certain things are already there and they will manifest later. All that part is of course there—the Mother’s Grace—but as I was telling you, I don’t know, instead of being a helper but I always used to say: “Don’t do anymore, don’t do anymore.” You know, I’m from a very middle class family. For me, this hall—because that was what he saw—that so many people are sitting and charcha kar rahe hain—you know—Sri Aurobindo is being radiated. So I used to say, “One hall is more than enough. Why upstairs?” and things like that. So through the time when the construction and everything was going on I developed a lot of faith. Let me tell you that I grew; I grew in faith, I grew in dependence on the Mother and I learnt slowly to leave things instead of all the time thinking mentally what next and how to do next and this and that. And the whole thing was really a story of Grace—the way SACAR had got built.

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“And then I must say that I used to feel very good to have a companion in Ananda who had so much of faith and dependence and absolute assured faith in the Mother. I used to think very big about myself, “I came when I was 13-14 and I have so much faith and dependence on the Mother” but it was very much tested during those years when this was being built and I had so many questions and doubts. So I grew also in my little way. It has been a very good journey with him. We have had lots of ups-and-downs as everybody has and specially somebody who was a work like this has a lot of criticism also, phases also, difficulties also. So to go through all of those have been actually a kind of growth. There is no doubt about it. And as Alok said that I would like all of you to pray that we can go on working for the Mother because this is what exactly… you know, in one of the conversations the Mother had also told him [Ananda Reddy] that his future work was to be involving himself in all these things. And She had told me to work in the field of education. So when I help Ananda whether it is in his Life Divine books or anything else, I just feel that I am helping him in a project that the Mother had given him so it is that work. So it makes me feel very happy.

“About Anurag I must say something. Anurag is born in 1984, he is not even 30. He is getting 30 next year. And this youngster—Oh my God!—I suppose Lalit was saying his research work is stupendous and as Alok was saying there was this space for him perhaps which he had to fill up. And he is a very good faculty member of SACAR, very, very good teacher in his subject of management, adored by his students, extremely hardworking this youngster. The other day I came upstairs—I have not been coming for sometime, my brother had passed away, I was very sad— and what I see the library door was open. So usually I am very careful about the library because we have got some very good books which are no longer in print. So I said: “Who’s there inside?” I see him seated squatting on the floor. The library is so congested. He said: “Deepshikha-di, this is the treasure-house. I wonder why didn’t I come here! From now on I am going to come here, I am going to stay here and I am going to be in the library all the time.” Very hardworking, very studious and he is so young so I must appreciate. And I just wonder what a wonderful work he is doing. This is one thing we all must know.

“I have been taking care of him [Ananda Reddy] physically. I have given him the space to study. He is a very boring husband, all the time studying, all the time upstairs in his study-room, I am downstairs but I have given him the space. I said, “Okay, let him do what he is doing.”

The next speaker was Ms. Harsha Bhatt and the text of her speech is as follows:

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“Without thinking of a preface, I would like to share my personal experience. I think definitely you people will enjoy it and like it. In middle of 1995, I think in May or June—I had come to Pondicherry permanently in 1994—I had gone to attend a class at [Sri Aurobindo] Society’s Beach Office, myself and Indu. We were both sitting at the last and I felt something nice in his [Dr. Ananda Reddy] lecture. And it was on one chapter of The Life Divine. On the second day of the class, I went to attend it. I was little bit doubtful. Though his voice was very commanding and convincing but I had little doubt that whether I should attend the lectures regularly or not. And I don’t go personally to attend any lectures. There was a life-size photo in the Society Office in the centre stage and I was sitting opposite there. And Dr. Reddy was sitting and above his head Sri Aurobindo’s face was coming. As soon as I thought I should attend his classes regularly, you people won’t believe, immediately I thought so, I saw a spark, two rays came from Sri Aurobindo’s eyes and my full body shivered. I heard that—I cannot tell exactly—I just heard like: “I’m telling this.” You people won’t believe, I was like… I could not think what to do. Really Sri Aurobindo talked like that. But from that day I began to regularly attend his classes because it was not he who was giving lectures but because it was given by Sri Aurobindo. I am talking about a real experience.

“Then I would share another experience. Nowadays in the Hall of Harmony there is the Mother’s bust-size picture but when we were attending the classes at that time the photo was that of Her sitting pose—like Mahalakshmi or Kali. I was listening to the Mother’s voice and I had too much sorrow that I had never attended the Mother’s classes—those evening classes which She was taking in the Playground. Every time I was feeling sorry that I have come very late. I was always coming early to attend the classes and one day while I was standing opposite that photo of the Mother, all of a sudden I felt the Mother was just asking me: “Are these not evening classes? Now the time has changed and the form has changed. Now you are attending my classes also.” From that day, even if I tried to feel sorry, I could never feel so for these were the evening classes and those were like the Mother’s. I have always believed in experiences only. Whatever philosophy I have learnt from him, now my words are “Implementation, implementation, implementation.” Otherwise after thousand births there is no question of transformation or anything and what they have taught is wasted. I must tell that the Grace took the form of Ananda Reddy for me. I was totally governed by the brain. My whole existence has changed so much in the twenty years that I have completed in Pondicherry and I am not the same person who had come in 1994. There has been a total transformation in my inward and outward existence. So, if I am asked to talk about Anand-bhai, I would say that he is everything for me. I love my Guru a lot but I need not require his physical presence with me. He is with me. He will remain with me. And I am telling you that he has given me a philosophy which is very difficult to understand. But he has given it in my mouth and helped in digestion also. So you people can understand. I have no words. What praise can I do? I can just tell that this is Mother’s Grace. And what can I say about him? Even one full day I can talk about him. But it is wastage of words only. For me, I have told it and again I am telling you that I love him a lot but for me to be in his physical presence is not necessary. He is with me with his teachings.

“Here I would like to say as you are not attending the regular classes so you will miss. He is explaining Sri Aurobindo’s words with the Mother’s explanations. It is very difficult to understand The Life Divine. But he was talking with the Mother’s explanations. Anand Sir is so humble that he has never told: “I am telling” or “I am explaining”. Mostly he used the Mother’s explanations to explain Sri Aurobindo. So I would not like to take more time. I could get this chance to talk about Anand Sir. I am very happy to share it with you people. Thank you.”

The next speaker was Mr. Satya, a devoted member of SACAR. Here is the text of his brief speech:

“SACAR—you all know what it means—Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research. But it is not that. Dr. Reddy once day jokingly said to somebody that it is ‘Sri Aurobindo’s Child Ananda Reddy’. (applause)

“I am happy to point out that. But how serious was his statement to become a true child of the Master and the Mother. We are happy on behalf of SACAR team that Overman Foundation has acknowledged Dr. Reddy’s work. We thank Anurag Banerjee, the Director, for honouring Dr. Reddy. Like everybody has pointed out, I would like to thank someone special. Somebody who is deep inside the heart of Dr. Reddy, an unflinching collaborator in Dr. Reddy’s work for Mother and Sri Aurobindo—Deepshikha Reddy. I thank Didi for being a great supporter of Dr. Reddy in his endeavour to reach the Divine Mother. Lastly I would like to say like Dr. Murali pointed out about ‘Bharat Ratna’. We all know that Sachin [Tendulkar] on his retirement received the ‘Bharat Ratna’ recently. But surely ‘Auro-Ratna’ has not thought of Dr. Reddy’s retirement—there is so much work to do. It is just a foundation stone for a new dawn. Yes, another dimension of SACAR, a new chapter of SACAR is already taking shape in Auroville. On behalf of my colleagues at SACAR, I pray for Dr. Reddy’s and Didi’s good health. May they continue marching towards the greater Cause. Thank you my dear Sir.”

After Mr. Satya’s speech, Mr. Anurag Banerjee read out three messages sent by Dr. Prema Nandakumar, Dr. Sachidananda Mohanty and Dr. Chhalamayi Reddy (Dr. Ananda Reddy’s sister) for the said occasion.

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Dr. Prema Nandakumar’s message is quoted beneath:

“It is delightful news our Ananda is getting the Auro-Ratna this year, a most welcome choice. His father, Dr. Madhusudhan Reddy has performed great kainkarya for taking the Aurobindonian ambience to Hyderabad and building up a school which is being looked after capably by Ananda’s sister, Chhalamayi who was also brought up in Pondicherry. Indeed the whole family is devoted to the Aurobindonian message. Ananda’s uncle has been writing tirelessly on the need for building up the Deva Sangha spoken of by Sri Aurobindo. I believe the eldest uncle of Ananda was the first one to donate land to Vinobha Bhave to start the Bhudaan movement in Andhra Pradesh. Thus self-sacrifice is in-built in Ananda’s family and I know how supportive Radha-amma has been to her children to realise their aims and reach their ideals. Between Ananda’s well-planned lectures delivered in his wonderful voice and Deepshikha’s music, Pondicherry is able to continue to experience the Presence of the Mother, now evoked so well in SACAR. Kindly convey my thanks and regards to the members of the Overman Foundation Committee for their most welcome choice for this year’s Auro Ratna award.

“My loving good wishes for a beautiful function invoking the Divine ambience. With affection, Prema.”

Dr. Sachidananda Mohanty’s message is quoted beneath:

“Son of the very distinguished Sadhak-academic and institution builder, Professor late V. Madhusudan Reddy and his life companion, Smt. Radha Devi who is fortunately present amidst us (The Mother named Professor Reddy’s main creation as the ‘Institute of Human Study’ in Hyderabad). Dr. Ananda Reddy was fortunate to have been brought up under the direct guidance of The Mother and very idealistic parents. He and his sister Chhlamayi have devoted their lives to the divine cause.

“Aside from his many academic and scholarly achievements, Dr Reddy’s main contribution in the field of Sri Aurobindo Studies clearly lie in the manner he created SACAR, over the years, as a uniquely advanced center of research based on the vision of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in intellectual, academic terms. Today, the SACAR stands as one of the few of its kind to serve the interests of students, teachers and scholars world over.

“I know Dr Reddy as Ananda Bhai from the mid Seventies of the last century, and have closely followed his track record with affection and admiration. Aside from his creditable professional attributes, he is endowed with a generosity of mind and soul and has the ability to work with people of different philosophical and ideological persuasions. At the same time, as expected of him, he shows a firm commitment to the values that Sri Aurobindo and The Mother stood for.

“The tribute would be incomplete without due credit to Deepshikha-di, Ananda Bhai’s life companion, who has given him great support in his institutional activities over the years. The SACAR owes much to the indefatigable efforts of Deepshikha-di.

“This award given by the Overman Foundation is a fitting recognition to Dr Reddy. I am sure his late father would have been very proud of the award going to his son. He certainly has the blessings of his mother Smt Radha Devi.

“I congratulate Dr Reddy and the Overman Foundation for the award, and sincerely hope that the recognition gives the SACAR the necessary push to fulfill its designated task at the national and international level.”

Dr. Chhalamayi Reddy’s message is quoted beneath:

“A heartfelt tribute to my dear Anna

“I am not a scholar nor an authority on Sri Aurobindo’s writings to comment on Anandbhai’s erudition. Nevertheless, I am an avid reader of his writings on Sri Aurobindo’s works and a devout listener of his talks to say with confidence that to me he is an exponent par excellence of Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s vision and works.

“He effortlessly navigates me through the stupendous and sublime ocean of Sri Aurobindo’s writings. He makes simple the high, lofty and metaphysical thought of the Master through specific and clear use of analogies and examples enabling me to better understand and enjoy the profundities and subtleties of His thought.

“The volume of his study is in itself inspirational apart from the quality of detailed and in depth exposition, It’s going to keep me happily occupied for some time to come to catch up listening to his recordings.

“To me being his sister, philosophical thought is natural thanks to our father. But, what I used to be in awe of what my father expounded of Sri Aurobindo’s works, is an experience of spiritual celebration when my brother explains and interprets. No wonder and rightly so my father referred to my brother as his ‘Light’!

“Best wishes to you for the years to come and the Mother’s blessings to keep you going strong on this journey wherein you throw light on the Master’s and the Mother’s works and help me to grow closer to Them.

“Your sister always, Chhalamayi”

Next, a recorded message sent by Ms. Shraddhavan of “Savitri Bhavan” (Auroville) was played:

“I apologize to Anurag Banerjee of Overman Foundation and to Dr. Ananda Reddy himself that it is not possible for me to be with you today for the conferral of the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’. I have decided to take the opportunity to make a recording of my feelings of appreciation, admiration and respect for my friend Dr. Ananda Reddy on the occasion of him receiving the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ for his services to Sri Aurobindo Studies which he well deserves.

“Our first meeting happened in December 1970 when the first school in Auroville was launched. We were both in our 20s, I suppose and we had both volunteered along with other young people of Auroville and the Ashram to act as mentors to the young pupils of the school. We didn’t consider ourselves as teachers; sense was that they were all learners and follow the path of a shared adventure in education. The task was a challenging one particularly at the beginning because of the lack of a common language to connect the older ones and the younger ones. The school was declared “open” by the Mother’s son Monsieur André and She had given him a message to share with us on that day. In that message She indicated which languages should be taught at school: English as the international language, Tamil as the local language, French—for which She did not give any explanation but we understood that it was not only Her own language but the medium used in the Ashram School—and simplified Sanskrit which She wished to be the future-shared language of the whole of India. Ananda was better qualified for this task than most of the rest of us for several reasons. He had not only grown up in the Ashram and graduated from the Ashram School, in the late 1960s he was one of the few privileged to maintain a personal correspondence with the Mother who guided him in his studies and his development. I think it must have been in 1971 that he asked Her what kind of education She envisioned for Auroville. If I remember correctly, She replied that the system of education in Auroville and Ashram ought to be different and that Auroville had to find its own system and way emphasizing on the kind of a modern Gurukula system in which a trusted mentor would guide a few young souls gathered around him or her in all aspects of life. In fact Aspiration School was dedicated to realizing the Mother’s ideals of education particularly in attempting to enable each of the children to discover their psychic being and allowing to govern their life.

“With the pupils and educators coming from widely varied linguistic and cultural backgrounds, the first challenge was communication and since there was no established authority structure and no means of compulsion we found that the learning and sharing process had to be founded on sincerity, trust and mutual respect. Ananda had a unique contribution to make these. On account of his Ashram background, he became the main face of the daily physical education programme based on that of the Ashram Physical Education Department. This daily discipline became one of the three strongly unifying factors in school which, mind you, had a diverse programme unique in the history of education. It is appropriate to mention here that one of the other unifying factors was the early morning assembly, a short period when all the children and all the adults involved in the school shared a moment of concentration followed by the chanting of Sanskrit songs and shlokas by Deepshikha. The third became the Dining Room created by a French couple where children who had come from the local villages joined others from different states of India and others whose parents had come from Europe, America, Australia, Indonesia, Tibet for admitting in the atmosphere of a refined French family.

“Our six years of sharing and experiencing Aspiration School in those early days of conflict established a strong bond of fellowship and understanding between Ananda and myself. For several years we were not in regular touch as Ananda continued his higher studies in English literature and philosophy following the academic tradition of his family. His father was the Head of the Department of Philosophy of Osmania University and I am told that Ananda had asked him to establish a university in Auroville. Ananda and Deepshikha were in Hyderabad for several years running one of the Sri Aurobindo schools set up there by his family. After they returned to Pondicherry, we took up the thread again. In 1990s, the ‘Savitri Bhavan’ project was launched. And in 1998 when we had a hut on the site and the first solid building was under construction, Ananda became our first regular visiting teacher. At the request of Aurovilians, he initiated a weekly class on The Life Divine which continued for almost five years. Then the growing responsibilities involved in his establishment of SACAR demanded his full attention for several years. In 2010 he again resumed regular weekly classes at Savitri Bhavan focusing on The Mother and Savitri. Its Aurovilian students appreciate Ananda’s unique combination of intellectual exposition with devotion to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Many have talked to me how he has opened not only their minds but their hearts in sharing his understanding and experience. Because of his qualifications almost alone in the European domain-field Ananda and his work at SACAR has been able to create links between the kinds of study of the visions and teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that is pursued in the Ashram, in Auroville and in the Aurobindonian Centres throughout India and Indian academia. So the courses offered at SACAR are recognized by the University of Baroda and IGNOU. For all these reasons, Ananda fully merits the award that is being offered to his today.

“I offer him my congratulations and my best wishes for the continuance of his work.”

Mr. Anurag Banerjee then invited Mr. Chamanlal Gupta, Dr. Murali Sivaramakrishnan and Dr. Srinivasa to felicitate Dr. Ananda Reddy. Chamanlal-ji presented Dr. Reddy with the angavasram while Dr. Murali Sivaramakrishnan and Dr. Srinivasa presented him with the trophy and the certificate respectively.

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The following is the text of Dr. Ananda Reddy’s acceptance speech:

“Well, this is the first time I am feeling nervous to speak. I have spoken at many a place. But I think what all you have said I don’t know how much I deserve but I know it has been all sincere. Each one of you has spoken with your heart and my heart is full not for what you have said but to see how the Mother has taken me through my life through different places, through different activities, different inspirations. And then, as somebody rightly remarked, at every phase of my work She has brought the right person to work with. That has been a tremendous Grace because, you can imagine, being quite away from the academic world I was given the contacts of these two friends of Pondicherry University who have stood by me through thick and thin in all these years. And of course apart from that, as Shraddhavan herself has said, I have had great friends right from the beginning of Auroville days and one of my first contact was Clare—who is herself here—who used to be in Aspiration. So when I see all of you, my memory goes back. I have my present student here and I can see my first student there… This young guy, our Satya… I don’t know whom to thank. Each one of you has been a spot in my life when I was growing. And there is Sajid Shankara—who used to be a silent worker of SACAR—comes here and helps me. I mean, each one of you I am very much indebted to you for all you have spoken. Well, as I said, I don’t know how much I deserve but I am grateful to the Mother specially as She has brought all of you to me, not to me personally but in my work and offering to Her. And, of course, as Lalit is telling you, he has said that She is among the genius of academia and philosophers and all that. But he forgot to mention that She is Herself a genius in accounts and has guided me so closely, because, you know, to run an institution we get donations for expenses and all that. When I was building this place, Pranab-da [the late Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya] had given me one single rule of how to use the Mother’s work of money. When you receive a donation you should keep a perfect account of every rupee or Rs. 5 or Rs. 50 or Rs. 50,000 or Rs. 5,00,000. And I followed that very closely. And the Mother had told Dada that when you go to purchase a thing for your centre do not spend even an extra rupee. If you can spare, if you can really do it. So in those days when I was working for SACAR building, when a cement bag cost Rs. 146 and another shop charged Rs. 148, I would go back to the shop which offered Rs. 146. I would really go into the market and see. So I used to have these rules. And then here was Lalit who really followed that, implemented that and helped me. And at a point of time when SACAR was supposed to get a 80G—it was very difficult in those days, we had commissioners who used to take a lot of under-hands—but Lalit one day had an inspiration sitting in front of an I.T. Officer who said: “Mr. Lalit, choose one institution where I can give a free 80G.” He had a lot of choices but I don’t think he had any choice: somebody spoke to him. He said: “Sir, I want SACAR to get 80G.” So really he has been a silent guide for me and I am really thankful to his support because an institution must have a very sound, strong financial basis. Well, when I look at each one of you something comes out in my mind.

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“And of course this young man Anurag came very late in my life in 2010 first as one of my faculties because I wanted a management person and he was very, very good at taking classes. Then, of course, Overman Foundation came. He had first offered me to be one of the first Trust members but as I had to see SACAR, I said I cannot be a Trust-member of too many bodies. I cannot do my work properly. So since then I am associated with him. And, of course, I am really honoured to receive this angavasram [from Chamanlal Gupta] because I have been very indebted to him. He has been an elder brother in my sadhana; one of the seekers who have inspired me towards Truth. I mean, if I have seen a person who never compromised with falsehood is Chamanlal-ji. So whenever I need an inner guidance—an unbiased, no partiality, no prejudiced—sometimes I ask him; of course, I don’t say I got this answer but the conversation—because I know he will speak the truth and he will speak honestly and he will speak what is correct irrespective of what you may think or may not think. So friends I am honoured here.

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“My little group here—Kader, Miresh, Satya and then there is Gayatri sitting there. We have a small family but we have a bigger second circle of family and that’s all of you. And the most beautiful thing is that here I have a student of my own father, Agastha-ji. So I am really so happy that the tradition has followed—my father was a teacher, his student is here and I am happy that he could make it today. Well, I cannot take each one’s name but just to tell all of you that I am so honoured and grateful that you have come for this function. And yes, today everyone has given me your good words, praises and I myself did not know that I had all these facets because I do not know what to do, I simply follow the track laid down before me, that is, love the Mother, work for Her. And what should be, what not to be done, I am not aware but it seems I have done good to many people. But as somebody said, yes, this is not a halt, this is not a full stop. This recognition is only to lead me further. There are many miles to go before I sleep. There is lot more work to do. And I wish and I pray and I hope that all of you come with me in the next journey too, in whatever capacity you can help me, let’s go together because this work of SACAR is not mine or just a small team of people. It requires your help in every way you can. So as Satya said, yes, I am trying to plan something at Auroville, not a branch or whatever it is. Somebody said: “Why don’t we call it ‘Auro-Vidya’ or ‘SACAR’ but I have plans to expand and take a next step. So there I would like my Aurovilian friends to come forward and see that we have established something there. What the Mother has in Her mind I have no idea but yes to buy that plot at Auroville—as Deepshikha was telling you—and to make this place I had some kind of a vision or dream-contact and later Huta-ben confirmed that. Even the plot that I bought at Auroville has been a direct intervention by the Mother. So I know it has a truth but how it will manifest, when will it manifest, I have no clue at all. But friends, I seek your help, your blessings, your goodwill so that my journey towards the Mother can go on relentlessly. And as Alok said very rightly, yes, that is my single prayer, that let me work for Her till the last breath. I know Alok himself has to be my physician perhaps because my body does not really come with my aspiration and inspiration. But it does not matter. Body may just drop off whenever it is not needed or when it does not do the Mother’s work. But I know I will move on, I will walk on with your support and perhaps run also, not just walk.

“Thank you everyone for coming here.”

The ceremony ended with a high-tea organized by the members of SACAR.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder
Overman Foundation.

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5 Comments

  1. KIRIT THAKKAR said,

    September 3, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks for the detailed report. Congratulations to Anand and appreciation for Anurag who has really “filled a space” in Mother’s work.

  2. Prema Nandakumar said,

    September 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Dear Anurag: I was waiting for this report and the photographs. What a wonderful bouquet of speeches: each one reflecting the speaker’s personality in the act of illumining Ananda’s personality! All the best for SACAR and the Overman Foundation.
    With affection
    Prema

  3. Trupti said,

    September 4, 2014 at 8:59 am

    thanks for long-awaited report. now words to appreciate such a beautiful work. thanks to Anurag and congratulations again to Anandabhaiya and didi.
    trupti

  4. September 4, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks for the efforts to put up this detailed, insightful report

  5. mahua bhattacharjee said,

    September 18, 2014 at 6:26 am

    I know I am responding late but I was waiting for it. Anand Bhai and Dipshikha di combo pack with simplicity and harmony. (Anand bhai = Anand bhai+ Deepshikha di ).
    Thanks


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