"Court stays publication of book on Sri Aurobindo" The Times of India, 6 Nov 2008.
Balasore: Orissa High Court on Tuesday stayed the publication and circulation of a book in India that is said to contain objectionable remarks against The Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
The book – The lives of Sri Aurobindo – is written by Peter Heehs, an American who is one of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives in Puducherry. It was published in the US in May this year by Columbia Press and was to be re-printed and sold by Penguin India inNovember.
On Wednesday, in response to a writ petition by Balasore resident Geetanjali Bhattacharya, an HC bench comprising Justice I M Quddasi and B P Ray ordered Penguin India not to publish the book till it got a no-objection certificate from the Union home ministry and ministry of information and broadcasting. In her petition, Bhattacharya has quoted alleged excerpts from Heehs' book and urged the court to ban the publication of the book and take action against the writer.
Some of the writings, as mentioned in the petition, are:
- "Aurobindo's character, life, writings and thoughts did not hold integrity";
- "He (Aurobindo) possesses a morally loose character";
- "His claims to spiritual expression and realisation is questionable and irrelevant";
- and that his spirituality "emerges from a streak of inherited madness".
The most shocking claim by the writer is that Aurobindo's relationship with The Mother was "romantic in nature", the petitioner has said. She quotes the preface of the book:
"A statement on the politician or poet that rubs the people wrong way will turn into a political or legal issue or possibility cause a riot".
Claiming that the book is aimed at tarnishing the images of Sreemaa and Aurobindo, Bhattacharya has called it an "invasion on the religious sentiments of Indians". "Even Heehs knows that there might be riots in the country after his book is published in India". Bhattacharya told TOI over phone, adding that the book has "objectionable descriptions" of the relationship between Shreemaa and Aurobindo and "derogatory remarks" on Mrunalini, Nalini and Meera as well."
Peter Heehs, who was a taxi driver, a school dropout and a drug-addict in the US, was rehabilitated in Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry years ago. He has since left the Ashram." She said. During the hearing, additional Solicitor-general J K Mishra, counsel for the Union Government, approached the court with a request that the Center be asked to find out from the Author the source of his information. "the court also has asked both ministries to file affidavits on what action they have taken on the petitioner's representation. The next hearing is on December 15," said Siddhartha Das, Bhattacharya's counsel."