Touted as an academic biography, this book fails on both expectations: academic and biographical.
It does not stand as a faithful biography because it misses the very things that made Sri Aurobindo a giant of our age. It disregards some of the most important incidents and achievements of Sri Aurobindo's life, and instead overwhelms the reader with irrelevant and peripheral historical information.
The book fares even worse on its claim to scholarship. The author's declared bias to discount anything that exceeds material and sensory data leaves us with the hollow shell of Sri Aurobindo's outermost form. The inner and real Person is forcefully and sometimes crudely discarded leaving the reader with a bitter aftertaste.
Beyond the Human Species: The Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (Omega Books) by Georges Van Vrekhem Exciting, but does it need to be?, February 16, 2005 By Thinking (USA) - See all my reviews
A very exciting book indeed. But does it really need to be so? I do understand that the author must have put in a great deal of time into researching the material for this book. I do believe that that it was written with much sincerity. And for those who already know of the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, this book could serve as an inspiration. But frankly, as far as introducing someone else to their way of thought, I think it might actually be doing some harm.
The book is a "thriller". A very great portion of the book focuses on the role played by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in World War II. In fact, there is the suggestion that Hitler made his wrong decisions because he was misled by the Mother. I am not sure if the author realizes how disturbing such a claim might be to a critical outsider. There are thousands of "spiritual gurus" with such fantastic claims. And such a story seems to put Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in their ranks. But that is NOT what they were.
Sri Aurobindo never made public statements about his "miracles". In fact, most of such stories seem to have sprouted from rumours circulating among his disciples. I am NOT suggesting that they are lies. Maybe there is some truth to them. Maybe Sri Aurobindo and the Mother did influence the course of history a great deal during that period. But that is not what we need to know about. There is perhaps a reason why they did not make public statements about their role in such things. It was because they did not want to establish a new religion or a cult. They did not want to attract people by such things.
Whether the practice of Yoga has any value at all is for each individual to find out. But if I were to do so, such stories of miracles are the last thing I would choose to think about. They may entice you and fill you with hope and inspiration when you are depressed. But I am not sure if they lead you in the right direction.
So to summarize: It is a nice book. I think it might give a good notion of the kind of the ideals that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother established. It is a very inspiring book, but perhaps best taken with a pinch of salt. Report this Permalink Comments (3) 8:07 AM, April 08, 2008