As you may be aware, Gail Tredwell has taken notice of this blog. In an attempt to discredit the letters posted here, she has posted an old email written by Radhika Nair in 1999. We received the following email from Radhika Nair in response:
I remember very clearly the day that I wrote that letter, and I also remember the context in which it was written, shortly after you left the ashram. An ashram is like a family, and we cared for you as a member of that family. When a family member estranges from the family, don’t the family members forget the past, forget any conflicts, forget any faults and do whatever they can to heal the bond and bring the person back? Also, we saw you walking away from the path of sannyasa – we felt it was our dharma to do whatever we could to bring you back to that path. I thought that writing this letter was the best way to try to do that. Beyond that, after your departure, when Amma returned to the ashram, she was neither eating nor drinking. Seeing this was so painful. The other ashram residents and I thought that the only thing we could do was to try to get you to come back.
“It wasn’t only me – all of us who had known you for so many years – wrote in the same way. Should we have written differently? Should we have focused on your personal failings? Should we have talked about the mistakes you had made? In such a situation, what kind of a person would write a letter like that?”
That is why I wrote you this letter – forgetting every slight and injury you had ever dealt me, and focusing only on every sweet thing I could think of. I wanted to let you know that we cared for you and wanted you to come back home.
It wasn’t only me – all of us who had known you for so many years – wrote in the same way. Should we have written differently? Should we have focused on your personal failings? Should we have talked about the mistakes you had made? In such a situation, what kind of a person would write a letter like that?
“Amma had asked me to forgive you, saying that while you might have your faults, it was my dharma as a spiritual aspirant to forgive.”
When a person fails an exam, does one call them a loser and tell them how dumb they are? Of course not. One doesn’t say, “Better try something else, you clearly don’t have what it takes to pass!” Just the opposite, one does everything within one’s power to encourage the person to believe in herself and give her the confidence to try again. That was the intent of my letter and of all the letters from the other ashram residents.
That doesn’t negate the facts of the incidents I wrote about earlier – those incidents happened and there are eyewitnesses other than myself to them. And it does not negate the fact that those incidents hurt me deeply. I had told Amma about them at the time, and Amma had asked me to forgive you, saying that while you might have your faults, it was my dharma as a spiritual aspirant to forgive. Because of Amma’s advice, I did my best to forget these incidents, and when you left, it was of course not the time to bring them up. In all these years, even after it was clear that you had no intention of returning, and even after you began to malign Amma’s name, out of respect for your privacy, I never spoke of these incidents. Amma has shown us that we should try to see the good in others and overlook their mistakes and flaws. That is what we have been doing towards you for all these years. But now that you have published a book so full of outright lies, I felt that you had left me no choice but to share my experiences.
All those good qualities I wrote about in the letter you posted on the Internet – when I met you, you really were all those things. When I wrote that letter, it was to that person I was writing – the person you were when I first met you, and the person I knew you could be again.
When I wrote to you, I had thought that you were frustrated but that, given enough support and encouragement, you could be persuaded to return to your life as a sannyasi and try again. I didn’t realize then that you had made a permanent decision and that you would not be coming back. Thinking in this way, wasn’t writing this letter the right thing to do? I find it sad that you think that publishing this letter and those of other ashram residents will somehow make us out as liars or discredit us. In our position, anyone would have written in the same way, and any thoughtful person will be able to see that.