Sunday, December 21, 2008

Heehs' hostility

Peter Heehs’s The Lives of Sri Aurobindo—by Raman Reddy
Mirror of Tomorrow Sun 21 Dec 2008 09:36 AM IST Permanent Link Cosmos

Peter Heehs has a crisp and racy style; he comes straight to the essential points and there is a masterful weaving of historical data which hitherto has never been done in a biography of Sri Aurobindo. But that is about all that can be appreciated in this book, for he sets the ball rolling in the wrong direction right from the Preface. The reader is soon stunned at the innate hostility behind his clever presentation, or rather, misrepresentation of facts. [...]

But then, you find out later that this is part of the methodology he follows, finding first the most damaging, negative evidence on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and then weighing it half-heartedly against flimsy positive evidence in the name of objectivity. [...]

It is clear enough that plain devotion and sincere admiration for Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is anathema to Heehs, who is at heart a rebel. In order to steer clear of hagiography, he has replaced it with hostility. Objectivity is a mere pretence to discuss only the “pockmarks” visible in Sri Aurobindo’s outer life, and he uses even a magnifying glass to discover the hidden warts and moles. [...]

The one thing that comes out as clear as daylight is his morbid distaste for “devotion” and “faith”, which are the master keys of this Yoga; hence the insistence on not being hagiographic at all cost, with the result that he has replaced it with sheer hostility. [...] 7 October 2008


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Dear Sir,
    Right not, we need to make all sincere efforts to save original writings of
    Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In future also, many Peters may try to distort
    the teachings, writings and biographies of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. All
    followers of Sri Aurobindo should unitedly protest against this onslaught on
    the original writings of Sri Aurobindo. Our groups can sign iPetitions on websites
    and battle against the forces of falsehood. Let us remember that the Mother has said :

    "It is not a question of disobedience. I know nothing about your additions to the Life Sketch of the sources from which they were taken. My point of view is this, that anything written by a sadhak about Sri Aurobindo which brings him down to an ordinary level and admits the reader to a sort of gossiping familiarity with him is an unfaithfulness to Him and His work. Good intentions are not sufficient; it is necessary that this should be understood by everybody."

    "I can answer without even reading your note. I won't allow you to change even a comma in Savitri.”

    "Do you think there is anybody in the world who can judge Sri Aurobindo? And how do you know what Sri Aurobindo intended or did not intend? He may have wanted just what he has left behind. How can you say that he did not give the final revision? How can you judge?"

    "It is presumptuous for anyone to have such an opinion. Who can enter into Sri Aurobindo's consciousness? It is a consciousness beyond everything and what it has decided how can any one know?"

    "Yes, I know. People used to pester him with letters, pointing out grammatical mistakes and other things. He used to make changes just for the sake of peace. He was very polite and did not let people see what a nuisance they were. But when he and I were together and alone and like this" — here she put her two palms together two or three times to show the intimacy — "he used to say: 'What a bother, what a nuisance!' And once he said: 'But I had a purpose in putting the thing in this way. I wanted it like this.' Sri Aurobindo made many concessions out of politeness and a wish to be left in peace. When a great being comes down here to work he wants peace and not botheration. Yes, he was very polite, and people took advantage of his compassion and misunderstood it and got all sorts of ideas. Sri Aurobindo was polite — but I have made it a point not to be polite. I am not polite at all. The other day Pavitra brought me somebody's idea about Sri Aurobindo's passing. Somebody said Sri Aurobindo had died because of this or that. I told Pavitra: 'Let him think anything — I simply don't care. The truth will remain what it is.'"

    "That may be his way of saying that nothing more needed to be done. We can't form any conclusions. At most you may write a Publisher's Note to say: 'We poor blind ignorant human beings think Sri Aurobindo did not intend certain things to be the final version. And we are giving our opinion for what it may be worth.'"

    Sri Aurobindo has said :

    No one can write about my life because it has not been on the surface for man to see.

    "I do not want to be murdered by my own disciples in cold print."

    Thanking you,
    Jitendra Sharma