Thursday, October 30, 2008

None is his custodian, only Mother was - Let the 1972 published works be saved

from aju mukhopadhyay <aju.mukhopadhyay@gmail.com> to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" <tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com> date 29 October 2008 22:25 subject Re: [Tusar N Mohapatra] New comment on Symbiosis

Excuse me - they don't lead to anywhere- this prolixing- whatever is one's base, however objective be one's ideas, love and animosity are clearly understood- a hostile stand point is easily felt- when full-fleged review is published we will understand the thing- let all understand that even hagiographers have the strength to write the right things but, there is a big BUT! the publishers and Auroville Today have already given good publicity, if Penguin comes- it will be a bigger one- if not hagiography, it will be aggressive promotion drive, and the reviews there will be in favour- alas! people move by big publicity boom by big media-let there be a challenge- let Penguin and other publishers publish in big media the opposite views and let the world see the strength of them too!

This is a gamble- some one from outside writes about our freedom movement, someone from outside writes about our Sepoy Mutiny with the help of records from those he intends to focus and this book sells like hot cake! Are they readers who don't understand the inner motives?

Let me not linger more- for I wish not to go into it unnecessarily- even the men who are there to protect Sri Aurobindo's writings are regularly changing his materials, what of those from outside? None is his custodian, only Mother was- Let the 1972 published works be saved and propagated for people to know him- the evil may extend to Mother's works also- often we hear people say, Mother said this Mother said that - as if a personal gossip! Aju Mukhopadhyay

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Unfortunately, not one in a hundred has read the book. Nor do they think it is necessary

Taking Stock by Debashish on Fri 24 Oct 2008 09:41 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

It is now time to step back a little and see what is happening. Peter Heehs wrote a biography of Sri Aurobindo published by Columbia University Press. Undoubtedly, it will get wide publicity targeted at the western academic circle. The book deals with the different phases of Sri Aurobindo's life as "jumps", not entirely discrete, but showing distinct characteristics. This is why he calls it "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo." The book brings together a lot of research on the factual details of Sri Aurobindo's outer life and also the first hand personal accounts of Sri Aurobindo's inner life. The response to the book, in the west, has so far been very positive.

This book has not yet been published or distributed in India. But a few copies have gotten to some hands. In response, there has arisen a huge furor. This furor has been spearheaded by a few who are all so-called intellectuals and teachers of Sri Aurobindo's sadhana at the ashram. At the outset, one of them, a person who runs an accredited Indian University teaching Sri Aurobindo studies, has circulated a document containing distorted and out-of-context quotes from the book to prove that the book is derogatory towards Sri Aurobindo. Another well known "authority" and "descendant" of an "authoritative lineage" has been circulating a conspiracy theory whose substance is to prove that the author of the book has interests to show Sri Aurobindo to be a madman and a sexual deviant. Both these widely circulated pieces of propaganda are spurious and mischievous. The out-of-context quotes have been disclosed in this post on sciy.

But what could not be corrected is the violence done to a 500 page positive biography in pulling out quotes which give an entirely wrong impression. The insinuations of madness and sexual deviance are absurd to the point of laughter. But the huge majoritarian population of Pondicherry which has not found these laughable and has responded with signatures calling for the author's eviction from the archives and the ashram has been overwhelming.

  • Is this "tyranny of the masses" based on well-founded judgments?
  • Unfortunately, not one in a hundred has read the book. Nor do they think it is necessary. With their "psychic faith"in their leaders, what need is there for reading books?
  • The arm of the managing trustee has been twisted to force the author out of the archives and worse has been done and threatened.
  • What does this bode for the future of the ashram and its law and order?

Now let us consider the arguments used. The arguments have distilled themselves to two.

(1) Both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were against writing their biographies, specially by their disciples, so we are justified in destroying this biography and expelling its author from the ranks of "the disciples."

(2) The Mother has a quote where she wants it understood that anything which brings Sri Aurobindo to a low level of "gossiping familiarity" should not be indulged in by disciples, so the author, who has disobeyed this, is fair game. These quotes are repeated in large letters in post after post. Unfortunately, the word of god in the sonorous mouth of a fool does not remain any more the word of god but becomes the word of a fool, however much the fool may think he has become god as a result of voicing it.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have indeed pointed out that no one could write their true lives. But neither does this mean that all representation of their lives is a crime nor has this prevented a number of biographies from being written. There are biographies by Srinivasa Iyengar, Purani, Satprem, Nirodbaran, Georges van Vrekhem. Where were our commentators with their lynching mobs then? Two of these biographers were personal attendants to Sri Aurobindo and one of them read out the whole of his biography to the Mother and had her strong approval. In fact, the Mother felt that biography would introduce many to Sri Aurobindo, which indeed it did.

Why then could it not be allowed that this biography could also conceivably do the same? Oh no, such a thing is impossible and if someone claimed to have been moved by it or to have wanted to know more about Sri Aurobindo and his teaching, we must find out who this is and hold our quotes under their eyes and force them to understand "the truth" - that this biography is the voice of the asura, the awakening of adharma.

And what about the trump card, Mother's stern admonition for bringing Sri Aurobindo to a level of "gossiping familiarity"? Is this not enough to warrant expulsion and ex-communication and worse, elimination, whatever form that may take, for the faithful cannot tolerate disobedience to such an injunction, surely? No question need be asked about context, time, place, circumstance, person spoken to, intention of the work, narrative logic, interpretations, intended audience or the consciousness of the Mother. It feels divine to assume the authority of that quote, doesn't it? We are sure of what Mother would have done to the author, aren't we? It gives us the pleasure chills!

So, what is it all about? Why the need for misrepresentation or for incitement of the "blind" masses using propaganda? Or getting strategic signatures so as to twist the managing trustee's arm and force ashram policy? Is it not clear? Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are not dead. They are here - in their wise teachers and their use of quotes and the faithful multitudes. God lives, Dharma lives, Religion lives, so what if there's a suspicious smell of human manure about? That's just your imagination. This is certitude. Reply

Friday, October 24, 2008

Auroville is not meant for tourists, nor is the Matrimandir for pilgrims

Letters To Tehelka Write to letters@tehelka.com From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 43, Dated Nov 01, 2008 A HOME, NOT A ZOO

This refers to the letter from Col CV Venugopalan (Retd) (Human Zoo, 1 October) on the Auroville community. I’m afraid it’s full of inaccuracies, bias and venom. As an Indian, having spent six years in Auroville, I am disturbed to find that you have rushed to such a conclusion after a single visit, probably only a couple of hours long.

You did not even make any effort to verify your initial perceptions. You appear Internet savvy; just a quick visit to the Auroville website would have cleared things up. Instead, you chose to respond with malicious delight at PC Vinoj Kumar’s prurient and inaccurate piece. While 50 percent of Auroville is Indian, there are over 40 nationalities represented here.

Also, Auroville is not meant for tourists, nor is the Matrimandir for pilgrims. The only way to experience Auroville is to stay here as a guest, or better still, to work for Auroville or what it stands for, as many do. Only then will Auroville reveal its true self to you. Priya Sundaravalli, on email

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Peter Heehs also has to take his share of the blame

Re: Thought Reform and Pondicherry
by Keka on Mon 20 Oct 2008 10:50 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Let me first quote from Peter Heehs - from what he wrote regarding Sri Aurobindo's life:

"He tried, half-heartedly, to bring Muslims into the movement, but he never gave the problem the attention that hindsight shows that it deserved. But could anything said or done in 1907 have changed the outcome forty years later? Probably not. Still, partition and the bloodletting that accompanied it were the movement’s principal failings, and Aurobindo and his colleagues have to take their share of the blame."

In that context - it may not be too offensive to say - Peter also has to take his share of the blame regarding what is happening in Pondicherry or on sciy.org - his writing probably has had a dividing force acting behind which is difficult to ignore even if we try to read very openly his critical writing about Sri Aurobindo's life. Reply Science, Culture and Integral Yoga

Monday, October 20, 2008

The primacy and paramountcy of the argument should never be sacrificed

Monday, December 18, 2006 Chase the ambrosia of Harmony

Politeness and political correctness are disparate dispositions that can be pursued independently. But if practiced in polemics, they are liable to undermine the cause of the issue advanced. The primacy and paramountcy of the argument, therefore, should never be sacrificed at the altar of such lesser virtues.

The Mother was around when two of us landed on the moon and Sri Aurobindo was with us when two atom bombs were first exploded. But they were never too excited or perturbed over the two most significant technological breakthroughs of that century, one dramatic and the other traumatic.

This insistence on the physical – the form and the formula – is a penchant of the western orientation. On the contrary, Sri Aurobindo even admonishes the Overmind for nothing short of the plenary Supramental would please him. The books of Satprem had forcefully advanced an impression that The Mother was engaged in somewhat alchemic activities with the cells of her body. The sensationalism floundered over time but not without corroding the credibility of her mission immensely. If our hi-fi R&D fails to zero in on any insightful answers against the hopes raised, it would be again disgraceful.

The Savitri Erans are the privileged few to have been granted the full liberty of wallowing hedonistically in the aesthetic yoga. To chase the ambrosia of Harmony through it is the task and not seeking the secret of glandular secretion of hormones. Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 9:25 AM 0 comments Links [4:51 PM 5:54 PM ]

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 Bechara Anderson

Years ago, Sri Aurobindo famously made pulp of one Archer and, of course, made him immortal in the process. Subsequently, many have succumbed to the Archery from seasoned hands of Kapali Sastry, Amal Kiran et al.

And poor Daniel Gustav Anderson, now. A scholar should be worth his salt, for the days are gone when people with Western names could get away with by writing any trash. Else, stay prepared to suffer Archery. Call it reverse colonialism or reverse racialism. Sumptuous entertainment for the Savitri Erans, in any case. Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 3:48 AM 0 comments Links

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 On to the last mile

Now that the exclusive-reign of the Ashram-generated media is a thing of the past, it is heartening to see the brave new world of imagination and interpretation as against the erstwhile disciplesque puritanism. For, the import of the words of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo must permeate every feasible crevice and cranny of the civilization and it is absurd to expect to see any noticeable impact of their vision without carrying them to the last mile.

While we celebrate this new found freedom on this sacred day, a prayer wells up out of a sense of trepidation not to get derailed from the perennial aspiration for purity, perfection and harmony. Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 3:29 PM 0 comments Links

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 Find answers to every question in the Savitri Era religion

In the teachings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo one can find the answers to every question human beings ask. But for that one must be willing to come out of the geriatric mythologies and feel the warm embrace of the 20th century Savitri Era religion. Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 6:30 PM 0 comments Links

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 Savitri Era is the religion of the future world

The Mother came from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic roots and Sri Aurobindo harmonized the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian legacy. Between them, they integrate the entire gamut of religious and philosophical diversity. The Savitri Era religion, therefore, is the religion of the future world. By surrendering before the divine manifestation of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo we can help the evolution of the earth consciousness for establishment of human unity and fraternity. Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 5:14 PM 0 comments Links

Thursday, March 27, 2008 It is safer to read the original works of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo

To know about The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, many Westerners prefer to pick up books authored by Satprem, Peter Heehs, Georges Van Vrekhem, Joseph Vrinte, or Ken Wilber et al. But it is a flawed choice, as their works - in earnest tones - tend to prejudice the reader in a particular way. It is much safer, therefore, that one initially reads the originals, and then study other writers with a critical eye. [TNM] Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 1:47 PM [1:39 PM]

Violence against Peter?

Re: Thought Reform and Pondicherry
by ned on Sun 19 Oct 2008 08:31 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

"Demonstrated by the excommunication/censorship and physical attacks on the author of the Lives of Sri Aurobindo!"

"you are a physician who consults with patients on death and dying yet incite others to violence, you all should remember the coming forth of the truth does have consequences... rc"

Rich, is it true that there have been calls for violence against Peter? Has there been any actual physical violence against him, or just threats of it?

***

The Lives of Sri Aurobindo: Some devotees of Sri Aurobindo might be put off by Peter’s academic tone in this biography. After all, he never calls Sri Aurobindo an “avatar” or anything like that in it. Indeed, Peter paints Sri Aurobindo as humanly as he possibly can in this biography (which was partly because he wanted a university publisher in order to reach a wider audience, and partly because that’s his style — to be measured and detached) ... Peter Heehs’ The Lives of Sri Aurobindo from The Stumbling Mystic by ned [8:40 AM]

The so-called objective biography is tainted with the author's judgmental comments and additional colors and tones

Anonymous said...
Many years ago a biography of Sri Aurobindo arrived only to educate, illuminate, inspire and even make people think (healthily). It was "Adventure of Consciousness". I read it, was bowled over and life changed; it transformed my world because I discovered a world out there created by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

Here we have a new biography which has created nothing but bad vibrations, sadness, awkwardness for the Trustees of the Ashram.

Sri Aurobindo - the very name lifts, soothes and calms.

Here we have a new biography lauded by the supporters of "Objective" writing which does nothing useful, gains nothing, rabble rouses at its best. The so-called objective biography is tainted with the author's judgmental comments and additional colors and tones. All from a person who was nurtured, nourished and sheltered by the Ashram. The Ashram is the very "body" of the Mother and if Peter Heehs has any sense of dignity or decorum, he would himself resign/ quit.

And he should apologize to the Ashram community and Trustees for what he has done knowingly as an intelligent person. I pray to the Master to bring Peace, Love, Unity not only in our own family and communities but in the entire world. Love is IMPORTANT at this hour not intellectual dialectics. The devotees and followers of the Master and Mother have to NOW demonstrate LOVE, ACCEPTANCE and PEACE. It is essential for the whole world. 10:57 AM, October 20, 2008 Savitri Era 10:48 AM 9:06 AM 8:42 AM 8:33 AM 8:05 AM 3:01 AM 8:53 AM

The author's declared bias to discount anything that exceeds material and sensory data leaves us with a bitter aftertaste

The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs Disappointing book, October 18, 2008 By Bhaskar11 - See all my reviews

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.

All in all, a boring read. The only purpose the book might usefully serve is as a limited database of historical references to Sri Aurobindo's life. Permalink Amazon.com Home

***

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

Ethnic superiority and militancy of an aggrieved subject aligned with Hindu Nationalism against imperialistic claims

Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism by Robert Jay Lifton
by
Debashish on Sat 18 Oct 2008 11:13 PM PDT Permanent Link Re: Thought Reform and Pondicherry
by Rich on Sun 19 Oct 2008 07:49 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Very important and timely post. Lifton has done classic studies of cults and mind control societies.Additionally he did a study called the Protean Self, human resilience in an age of fragmentation, which is the study of personality in an age of Information & Post Modernism.

Statements from this article can be certainly seen in the frenzy in Pondicherry directed against a scholar's biography of the founder of Integral Yoga, Some context local to that area in Pondicherry discussed here can be discerned in some of Lifton's finding as charging the current atmosphere of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram...

The leaders of the movement for excommunication of the author demand conformity to ideological commitments they judge culturally pure...

The cliche's used are familiar and in this case are masked in the guise of words such as “Falsehood” or “Truth“, “Vital or Mentalizing” and are often used by decontextualizing quotes from the Mother and declaring that: Mother said this or Mother said that...

Any attempt to approach founders or themes in Integral Yoga in a critical manner that is congruent with the thought patterns consciousness has evolved in the current episteme- are constrained by claims that the person is simply mentalizing it or is making imperialistic claims upon the ideologically pure, which in this case is aligned with Hindu Nationalism...

Invectives are hurled by those uncomfortable with critical inquiry accusing the author of using rationalism and secularism to attack their foundationalist interpretations. They denounce the author as Mr Objective! and in so doing denounce contemporary historiography in favor of the history of Blut and Boden...

One is not free to express ones feeling, for example, although Sri Aurobindo writes in the Future Poetry that appreciation of poetic forms most often conform to the aesthetic of an age or episteme, if one no longer swoons for poems and sonnets written in a language of a century ago which Sri Aurobindo's adapts to his visions - they are condemned...

Although Sri Aurobindo did not proclaim his own Divinity, it is demanded that the faithful invest him with such divinity. Although none can demonstrate miracles, it is demanded those faithful to the yoga believe in a narrative of Origins which is exclusively supernatural. The supernatural is the domain of a few to interpret. Interpretations are decoded in culturally privileged ways...

Demonstrated by the excommunication/censorship and physical attacks on the author of the Lives of Sri Aurobindo! ...

The few leaders of the intolerance movement claim sole access to the Truth and the right to interpret it. Their rhetoric couches an ethnic superiority and the militancy of an aggrieved subject evoking a right to respond, even with violence, to readdress the insults against their essentialist communal identity...

How else can one explain the actual exercise of mob violence against an individual accused of not sharing a totalizing vision of conformity? ...

This one is a bit or a mystery namely, the fact that the leaders of the excommunication movement, who claim the right to teach the practices of the yoga, and who apparently have very active meditation practices that help establish equanimity in the being, are the very folks inciting mob action against an author of a book with whom they do not agree.

P.S. The fact that the folks orchestrating the actions against a scholar claim to be scholars and teachers themselves, and are attempting to network with National and International foundations and academies that encourage open critical inquiry and tolerance reeks also of charlatanism.

The excommunication/censorship movement has been spurred on by those who should know better! If you are seeking international or national University accreditation, or you are in search of support and funding from any major foundations for “Free Progress Education”, or if you have taken your degree from any reputable academic institution and work on the tenure track, or write history and wish to remain credible with other historians, or you are a physician who consults with patients on death and dying yet incite others to violence, you all should remember the coming forth of the truth does have consequences... rc Reply Science, Culture and Integral Yoga [8:42 AM]

Which organization, even liberal American universities, would allow writings that strike at their institition

Anonymous said...
There seems to be strong opposition to the incongruity between Peter Heehs position (Ashram archivist) and his expressions and narrative in his latest book. Based on his own admission, he is 'just' an archivist and may not even be a devotee of Sri Aurobindo (an admirer maybe of his ability "..to write a shelfful of books") or the Mother or a practitioner of the integral yoga.

So it raises the question of what he is doing in the ashram if it is not to exploit the rich materials of the archives for his historical interests. He is of course free to write a book anywhere anytime but there is no reason why the Sri Aurobindo Ashram should support his endeavors that attempt to tear at the Ashram and the ashramites.

Which organization, even liberal American universities, would allow writings that strike at their institition and what it might stands for. So why should the Ashram allow it? Certainly not just to please some temperamental mutual admiration blogger clubs and individuals including those that try to advertise themselves as working to explain science, yoga and/or culture?

Some of the Ashramites are being accused of being intolerant and irrational by the latter groups and individuals who themselves constantly restrict and modify the terms of dialog in the name of 'civility' which they themselves constantly flout by calling some of the Ashramites "ringleaders", as "sectarian" and by refering to others (so-called "hagiographers") such as the eminent K. Srinivasa Iyengar as "childish". s/d introspector
3:10 AM, October 20, 2008 Post a Comment Savitri Era

Numerous passages are obviously defamatory under section 499 of the IPC

Posted on SAICE Forum
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008 9:40 AM
Subject: [SAICE] What is wrong with the PH book

To SAICE forum,
Most of the debate here on the new book by PH has so far been based on hurt sentiments caused by PH doubting and criticizing Sri Aurobindo. But the authority and scholarship of the book have not been brought into question.

If historical facts are critical of Sri Aurobindo or his behavior, we should have no problem facing them, however much we may dislike them. This should be our commitment to intellectual honesty and our courage.

On the contrary, if PH has falsified his facts or deliberately misrepresented them, then we should be equally objective and firm in our response even if we are uncomfortable in taking the required action. This should be the strength of our courage and our loyalty to truth.

Peter’s intentions are easily proved by analyzing some of the most innocuous and non-controversial passages. He can be shown to be deceiving the reader with selective quotation with negative bias, quoting out of context, and even distorting actual quotes. The background and statements of his financiers also exposes perverse objectives. Attached is a note describing this background and offering samples of analysis. I request you to keep the note strictly within the SAICE forum, as its contents can be misused by interested people.

The practical difficulty faced by the common reader is that he trusts the author’s intentions, and does not bother to verify whether the references offered are actually supportive of the text. Second, the common reader is not aware of all the other documentation that exists contradicting the few negative quotations selected by the author and placed out of context. Such a reader is left with an impression of a scholarly work that presents a darker vision of Sri Aurobindo’s life, and he is easily led to reductionist and false conclusions of Sri Aurobindo’s personality and work.

The scope of fraud is so widespread that on every page at least one can demonstrate such deliberate distortions and defamatory intent. Numerous passages are obviously defamatory under section 499 of the IPC. But none of this is visible to the common reader who takes it all at face value from ignorance of the real facts. That is why you can find reviews of appreciation and praise from readers – but they only come from the uninformed readers, and not from any scholar of Sri Aurobindo’s life and writings.

Had such a book been published by some other author anywhere in the world, we would certainly have ignored it as the ravings of a madaman or the handiwork of evangelical extremists. But in this case the book emerges from the heart of the Ashram’s Archives, and is presented as a product of the Ashram’s own research, and is touted to represent the views of the Ashram’s own chosen editorial board. Practically it amounts to the Ashram’s authorized bodyguard of Sri Aurobindo turning around and attempting to murder him! This is serious enough matter that we cannot ignore the book, or its author, or the forces that inspire, finance and support him.

The central question before us is: what is the right action that we should take. At the very least, this should involve limiting the harm that PH has already done to Sri Aurobindo, his work and his Ashram. Further, it should include suitable action to prevent further damage, considering that PH has a history of increasingly damaging attacks on Sri Aurobindo over a span of 20 years. If we cannot do this much, as objectively as we would have supported PH had his book been of genuine scholarship, then we will be living by double standards. We certainly would not be worthy of the trust that the Mother has placed in us if we cannot do the minimum required to protect the truth and to defend Sri Aurobindo and Her.

I would request you not reply on impulse. Please reread the above, go through the attached note with its background and analysis, and then think deeply before you choose to reply or not. SR

SR slips on scholarship

Re: Rationalism and the yogic life
by Debashish on Sun 19 Oct 2008 10:10 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

The passage quoted above from The Lives of Sri Aurobindo has come in for some analysis by one of the leaders of what RC calls "the ex-communication movement" - an analysis which has been widely distributed and much appreciated by those who are inclined to routinely nod their heads. It is instructive to read this analysis in the context of the actual passage as carried above:

[SR: "Example 3: Freudian Analysis of Spirituality: Peter deliberately ignores the numerous examples of Sri Aurobindo’s experiments from the Record proving many of these powers....]

The analysis hardly merits consideration, but given the surprising group conformity, it would be good to pay some attention to it. In the passage quoted above, the author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo presents Sri Aurobindo's claims as "the result of psychological instabilities"!? He "force us to accept his rational and Freudian explanation of imbalance"!?

What kind of reading skill does this imply? The author "quote(s) lengthily from reductionist and Freudian psychoanalysts"!? Where does he even quote lengthily from anyone in this passage? And is William James a Freudian psychoanalyst?

William James is an early 20th c. American psychologist, whom Sri Aurobindo had praise for and who wrote the famous book Varieties of Religious Experience. His work is still very active today in attempts to study spiritual experiences as having truth value and ontological reality in the field of comparative mysticism.

Similarly Anton Boisen is no psychoanalyst but rather a theological thinker who felt a calling to "break down the dividing wall between religion and medicine." Does the author "quote extensively from Sudhir Kakar's book The Analyst and the Mystic"?

He makes a short reference to this book, to make the point, in fact, about Sri Aurobindo's balance and sanity. In this group Sudhir Kakar is the only (Indian) psychologist with a Freudian background, but his work is much more open-ended than that of usual Freudians and, as the author shows, in fact serves Sri Aurobindo very positively. DB Reply

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sri Aurobindo had a distrust of collectives and groups

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity
by Rich on Sat 18 Oct 2008 11:25 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link ... one comes to believe in an Avatar, there is no Avataric epistemology rather it is an article of faith.

Additionally what one calls sincere spiritual sadhana is a subjective judgment. For one to make a judgment about another's spiritual practice is wrought with danger. Who can fairly make an objective judgment as to whether another person's subjective sadhana is "sincere or spiritual? The only judgments that can be made would be to use the norms of some moral, ethical, interpretative laws of a community claiming to be the faithful.

In fact however, Sri Aurobindo had a distrust of collectives and groups. His yoga places responsibility solely on the individual. In speaking about the Gnostic Community , he makes it clear that he is speaking about a collective of Gnostic individuals. To condemn someone's individual sadhana because it does not conform to the standards judged to be proper by a collective or group that claims for itself the sole authority and arbiter of truth in the matter seems to me to be a gross distortion of Sri Aurobindo's work. rc Reply

Re: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs (history of discussion, editors, post etc) by Rich on Sat 18 Oct 2008 09:30 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

In response to comments I have seen from those leading the charge to ex-communicate PH, namely, that any former editor of this forum was removed from SCIY for posting against the Lives of Sri Aurobindo, let me clarify what actually happened.

That editor (RYD) had posted for weeks both his and those of others vitriolic attacks on the character of the author of the book. In short someone described these post as character assassination. Unlike the forum used by those engaged in the hysteria against this book, we take a more civil tone here.

In fact our guidelines start out as follows: Posts may not contain content that is: Vulgar or offensive; Inflammatory; Excessively outside of the scope of the current topic; Directed at specific individuals in an inappropriate manner; Commercial in nature; and/or Incomprehensible or extremely lengthly. SCIY Administrators are the sole arbiters and enforcers of these guidelines.

The former editor took his post down himself after it was brought to his attention that his post violated these principles. Moreover, it came to the fore that both he and the other ringleaders of the movement against the book had taken large copyrighted portions from the book and selectively omitted them quoting them entirely out of context to fuel the fires of hatred.

That is why we have posted the corrected excerpts with permission here. So if anyone wants to post passages from the book that come under "fair use" provisions of copyright law and make their comments in a manner that respects the guidelines of this forum you are welcome to do so. But I do request that if you want to post on this book to first read it entirely, before you post Reply Reply

Saturday, October 18, 2008

All of you all along knew all about this book but slept over it

18. 09. 08 To
The Board of Trustees
Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust
Pondicherry 605 002
Sub :: Banish Peter Heehs, this is imperative

The Mother categorically stated that it is not necessary at all to write about Sri Aurobindo's Life after 1910 i.e., after his voyage to Pondicherry, the passage to Inconscient.

Here is the extract from Mother's Agenda dtd 10.03.71, vol-XII, p. 66:
This was in relation to an attempt of a disciple who wanted to ‘finish’ the book, ‘ The Life of Sri Aurobindo’ by Rishabhchand, in fact which was a complete biography , titled “ Sri Aurobindo His Life Unique”.
Rishabhchand dealt in that book, upto 1901, the year in which Sri Aurobindo comes to Pondicherry
{04 April 1910}.
That's enough. There's no need to add anything, just a note – a sentence or two will do. There's nothing to say about his life here.... Basically no one really knows the life he led here. I am afraid they'll write a lot of nonsense. I would prefer that nothing be said – they can say he retired to Pondicherry to lead the life of Yoga and henceforth only that mattered, and it's better not to speak of it.
That's all.
It doesn't have to be lengthy: just a chapter to close the series, to say that his life in Pondicherry was exclusively taken up with Yoga and that he wrote what he wanted to say, and onsequently there's nothing more to add.
We have everything he wrote, and it's much better than anything we can say about it.

It was not a biography in the sense a biography is understood and authored, Rishabhchand just gave an account of external events, letters & replies, co-relation of circumstances, involvement and retirement of Sri Aurobindo from politics qua freedom struggle of India.

Rishabhchand did not make an attempt to draw any biography of Sri Aurobindo, since he knew and followed the words of Sri Aurobindo in this regard (On Himself, under the heading “Sri Aurobindo and His Biographarers” published by SAAT ):
It would be only myself who could speak of things in my past giving them their true form and significance.
* * * * * * * * * *
I see that you have persisted in giving a biography – Is it really necessary or useful ? The attempt is bound to be a failure, because neither you nor anyone else knows anything at all of my life ; it has not been on the surface for men to see.


The biography of Sri Aurobindo is written in his spiritual autobiography :
A miracle of the Absolute was born,
Infinity put on a finite soul,
All ocean lived within a wandering drop,
A time-made body housed the Illimitable
Savitri p.101

Now, the mother of mutilation of works of Sri Aurobindo in the name of critically-editing posthumously, has authored a biography of Sri Aurobindo, interesting the title is : “ The Lives of Sri Aurobindo” , where Peter Heehs has described Sri Aurobindo as “an extraordinary complex individual” , published in May 2008, from Columbia University Press, USA, 528 pages, $45.
It told about that author :
Peter Heehs was born and educated in the US but has lived in India since 1971. One of the founders of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, he is currently a member of the editorial board of the complete works of Sri Aurobindo, and has published many books and articles.

Thus authority of Peter is established, which you all have slowly and gradually allowed him to acquire and establish, and now acclaimed through out the world. He has opened an web site: http://peterheehs.com where all his books are available, save and except the California Talk, 1998, - where PH openly admitted the way he critically edited ( his own coinage and invention) writings of Sri Aurobindo, naturally which were not in terms of final manuscript . Would you tell us :
  • Did PH took any permission before writing this book, or at least before publishing the book ?
  • Did you gone through the manuscript of this book of PH before publishing the book ?
  • Does any ashramite totally free to publish any book on or about ashram / Sri Aurobindo / The Mother, from any where in the world and earn profit ?

Rome was not build in a single day, so PH has also not been able to reach such a point overnight, he started his journey long back, about twenty years – the first book he wrote in 1987, derogating and seriously undermining Sri Aurobindo , “The Freedom Struggle of India” – where he maintained that contribution of Sri Aurobindo in the freedom struggle of India was most minimal , name of Sri Aurobindo was mentioned as passing reference in two places only in that book – whereas Sri Aurobindo was the Prometheus and freedom was bestowed upon India for fulfillment of His yoga, as India is the cradle of Supramental manifestation on earth.

All of you all along knew all about this book but slept over for the reasons best known to the Board of Trustees. There was no sign of awaking from purposive slumber inspite of expression of strong annoyance of devotees through out and even a strong letter dtd. 07.07.87 by Pranab Bhattacharya did not bring any result , most relevant excerpt of which runs as follows :

Peter is an ashramite, eating ashram food, staying here on ashram expenses and enjoying all its facilities. He also poses to be a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, and an authority on Sri Aurobindo’s life and work. This thing was not expected from him at all … This can not be tolerated …
Judas betrayed Chirst for thirty pieces of silver and Peter has betrayed Sri Aurobindo for twenty thousand rupees.

Had you had expelled Peter in 1987, Savitri would not have been mutilated in 1993, collected works of Sri Aurobindo would not have been tampered, material marked by Sri Aurobindo as “Not to be published ” would not have been published, crores of rupees would not have been wasted in litigation, ashram would not haven divided into pieces and collected life of ashram would not have been converted into a life of conflict. The soul of ashram, naturally, has not accepted the mutilated edition, posthumously edited critically, and thus ashram is today maintaining two web sites, parallely , under the same and title , viz , http://www.sriaurobindoashram.com/ and http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/ All the original books of Sri Aurobindo are available in the first web site and posthumous-critical-editions of mutilated writings of Sri Aurobindo are available in the second web site.

JKM (Jugalda) wrote two letters to authorities dtd. 15.06.86 and 22.07.87, typed out running about 30 pages – with all meticulous particulars and all authentic references categorically exposing PH and clearly indicating his intentions, dealing with the serial articles which were published in Archives & Research Journal, authored by PH on behalf of Ashram and in the name of Ashram, those are matters of public record, with regret. Sri Aurobindo was depicted there as a hypocrite, liar and coward who banished himself in self-exile at Pondicherry for his own safety leaving his people & motherland , and naturally can not be having any iota of contribution for freedom of India, though Sri Aurobindo loudly shouted for a couple of years.

Had you had then banished PH and shut down the department , viz, “Archive and Researches” - the incubation of mutilation would not have been created. The Department, Archives, was created in 1974, some time thereafter, without any approval by resolution in Trust Board Meeting, that hade been converted into “Archive and Researches” by the white American Christians and today’s biography of PH is a perverted product of the researches, the discovery into Sri Aurobindo of a “complex personality” .

Just as a representative example, please mark the language, tenor and expression used in that book by PH – “ The Aurobindo interests me is one who was able to write a shelf-full of books.” As if there is no value of the writings of Sri Aurobindo, those are only self of books – like journals and magazines. Sri Aurobindo had nothing to do , so he wrote and wrote. We get it from Correspondence, as recorded by Nirodbaran that Sri Aurobindo wrote him that about ten percent of what he knew, had been written – just that which are essential for His yoga. Take a few lines of a letter of Tagore dtd. 30.11.1919 about Sri Aurobindo:

I positively know that he is a great man, one of the greatest we have…
What I myself feel for him is not mere admiration but reverence for his depth of spirituality, his largness of vision and his literary gifts, extraordinary in imaginative insight and expression. … I still repeat my Namaskar …

The question of the Hour:

  • For what reason; for what consideration; for what purpose you trustees are maintaining PH in ashram , till retaining him as an ashramite? !
  • Why PH has not yet been banished for blasphemy - persistence and deliberate blasphemy (blasphemy is an understatement in this context) ?

Are you waiting, till the world read this book of sacrilege and holds the opinion that this is most authentic account of lives of Aravinda Ackroyd Ghose or for another novel by PH to come, with the title : ‘Our bodies need each other in the same lust’ – the line PH strove to bring in critically edited Savitri but failed while now treated as an alternative reading – indicating with and punctuated by suggesting physical relations between Sri Aurobindo and The Mother !

There can not be any doubt /argument that had PH had done all these acts of profane, maintained all such anti-aurobindo character , wrote all these blasphemous articles and books during the time when Sri Aurobindo was in physical body, he would not retained PH in ashram but kicked PH out for ever – then why not trustees of SAAT would not do the same thing. Spiritually, legally and morally, the trustees of Sri Aurobindo ashram Trust are integrally bound to do all the things in toto , in terms of desire and dignity of Sri Aurobindo. If this is not trust accountability , then what else !

Many renowned, concerned and responsible inmates , like, Dr. Alok Pandey, Ranghanathan, Anand Reddy, Kittu Reddy and others have raised the representative voice of protest of the disciples and devotees of Sri Aurobindo, demanding banishment of but till date no action has been taken against PH, by trustees of SAAT.
Your maintaining silence is acquiescence and approval – And thus, in tern, making you equable liable, please do note.

Peter Heehs has to be banished – this is imperative – so do pass an Order of expulsion of PH, stating the reasons of blasphemy, anti-aurobindo activity and profane, publish such Order in official web site of ashram, in addition to publishing in all Ashram Bulletin /Journals /Magazines – put in Notice Board obviously for months and this decision is to remain in effect for ever.

This is not all , you have to withdraw the permission granted to PH which is submitted in the Home Ministry for stay in India – that has to be withdrawn perpetually with a request to the Ministry to black list PH in India for ever.
with kind regards
bijan ghosh
Enclosed : Letters of JKM dtd. 15.06.86 and 22.06.87 respectively
Letter of Pranab Bhattacharya dtd. 07.07.87

contd….. next page

The Board of Trustees
Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust
Pondicherry 605 002
Sub :: Reminder to “Banish Peter Heehs, this is imperative” dtd. 18.09.08
Respected Trustees,
We came to know from ashram sources that there was a meeting of trustees held in the Grace office on 21.09.08 – while four trustees unanimously decided to expel Peter Heehs, and a draft resolution was drawn to that effect while Trustee Manoj Das Gupta, appeared and disapproved the whole thing, and thus the unanimous majority decision of trustees, four to five – failed.

We also came to know that PH obtained written permission from MDG, before publishing his book and for using archival material in his book. Earlier MDG gave such a damaging permission – that too, dispensing with any resolution of the BoT meeting – to one Arun Sil for publishing a Bengali Translation of Savitri – the cover page of which, may be called a ‘spiritual pornography’ – a stark nude woman with unkempt hair sitting on an altar in stooped down head, had been described as “Savitri in meditation”. It was a grossly sickening repulsive translation – apart from obnoxious presentation.

We failed to understand what is the interest of MDG, that self styled Managing Trustee – to retain PH in ashram, inspite of PH has been causing so many damages to Sri Aurobindo and his ashram. Pertinent to mention that the Trust Deed does not recognise any such Managing Trustee, and for this purpose MGD used to sign in court-papers and Income Tax related papers as a Trustee only, like any other trustees. Sometimes he signs also , as “authorised signatory”. Naturally a Managing Trustee cannot be an “authorised signatory” – since he authorises others to sign on his behalf. It is as simple as that, which MDG, as usual, utterly fails to understand.

The whole ashram, we mean of course, the concern and conscious inmates – not the innumerate inmates, who are the majority today, - are demanding banishment of PH from the soul of ashram and the soil of India , vis-à-vis the non-residential inmates of ashrams, who are named as devotees, have also made the same demand - which is quite natural and the only solution left. But for MDG – it has not yet been possible – while admittedly, MDG is not the BoT, he is not the Ashram, he is not the deputy of Sri Aurobindo, he is not the Leader spiritually or the Role Model of the inmates community.

So, if personal interest of MGD, one of the Trustees, is so big a stumbling block - then let MDG too quit ashram for the sake of Sri Aurobindo, in the total interest of the ashram and for restoration of the Supramental yoga .

with regards to four trustees and true sadhaks,
{ bijan ghosh } 01.10.08 Sri Aurobindo Ashram ought to expel Peter Heehs

There is no attempt to judge or prove anything - just to present

Re: Auroville Today Interview with Peter Heehs
by Debashish on Thu 16 Oct 2008 02:41 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Read here about the controversy surrounding this book with the corrections to textual excerpts being circulated about the book and the ensuing discussion: http://www.sciy.org/blog/_archives/2008/9/27/3903585.html

Reply by Devabrata on Fri 17 Oct 2008 08:19 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

The problem lies elswhere. It can not be solved in the case of Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo -can not be judged by the norms that are applicable to non-spiritual persons. Sri Aurobindo believed in Ramchandra's avatarhood. He was shown the process of creation (Records of Yoga). Sri Aurobindo -in Alipur jail experienced the all pervading existence of Vasudeva. Vivekananda came to him in Alipur jail and helped him learning about supramental sadhana. Sri Aurobindo broke his leg by adverse forces and he should have been more cautious about this. All this was told by Sri Aurobindo -and they can be supported by verifiable records as the statements by him.

Why it is required to write a biography on him? If he were an ordinary person -Heehs would not have felt to make so much efforts. It is felt necessary as Sri Aurobindo proved himself in our mind as Sri Aurobindo as we like to believe him. Sri Aurobindo-in many occasions-in the fact of avatarhood, scientific attitude etc that a material standard can not be applied to understand spirutual matters. What is the proof that there is such consciousness as Supramental Consciousness as told and experienced by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother leave alone the fact of other persons realising it.

So Heehs is self contradictory and selective in what transpires him to write. If you do not believe that Sri Aurobindo was not an avatar-then you must write it in your own right. And you should not write it at all -as there are no dearth of Godfathers and Babas in India. Consider Sri Aurobindo as one among them and discard his life as not worthy of writing. P.C. Mahalnabis -the renowned late economist and statistician discarded Life Divine as a book written after taking a dose of ganja (hasish) and he never cared to write about Sri Aurobindo at all.

I respect Mohalnobis' attitude. But not Heehs'. He is an upstart and takes it a means as if to do a great thing in writing a biography -in an unbiased way. Many Indians villified Sri Aurobindo in many ways. Heehs now finds a subtle and so called rational way to villify him. Keep on -Heehs-you will find many in your side and you will get more. You have already made a name. Congratulations! for your material success! Devabrata

Reply by Debashish on Fri 17 Oct 2008 11:13 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

SCIY requires a minimum standard of reading and writing skills from its posters. Posts which are unintelligible or incoherent will be automatically deleted. There is also a requirement of civil speech. Using the forum as a pulpit to hurl insults ("He is an upstart..") is not premitted here. If there are any more posts which violate these criteria, they will be deleted.

That said, I would like to address what seem to be some of the problems raised here (though this is by no means clear). One question asked is: "Why is it required to write a biography on him?" I presume the argument here is that Sri Aurobindo is far beyond our human comprehension and to write a biography is necessarily to diminish and distort him.

This is an age-old argument in human religious history. It is the basis of what has been called aniconism. Strictly aniconic religions, such as Islam, when they take an intolerant and orthodox view of this matter, go about burning books and breaking statues. If this attitude was made an absolutist dictum, we would have no statues or paintings of Hindu gods or the Buddha left in India and any books that described them would have been burned by now. As it is, the entire Indian legacy of religious art and literature is badly damaged and reduced due to this attitude.

Let it be clear that I am not singling out Islam as an aniconic religion which, due to its belief that God cannot be adequately represented by humans, has littered human history with violence and ruin. Aniconism may be intrinsic to some degree to all religious thought. Buddhism did not represent the Buddha in image form until close to the 1st c. C.E. One may imagine that when these first Buddha images appeared in Gandhara and Mathura around the time of Christ, they must have shocked the sensibilities of many Buddhists. Yet were not that step taken, today we would not have this profound and concrete window to the world of impersonal Calm that Sri Aurobindo praises so highly and that is a blessing to world culture.

The issue that follows from this, and which it would seem, also disturbs the poster, is that of the adequacy of the representation. If one does represent that which is beyond one's comprehension, can it be through anything other than a garland of worship, a string of boundless words? I agree this could be an approach, and one followed traditionally in much Indian writing about the gods or the great spiritual teachers.

But it need not be the only way. If one has the advantage of the teacher's own words regarding his or her own spiritual experiences, these could be presented along with a drawing out of the outer and inner circumstances within which they occurred. This has been the principle used in this book. The experiences of Alipur Jail, or of the Overmental Descent, etc. are indeed the high points of the book, told in the language of the experiencer himself. There is no attempt to judge or prove anything - just to present.

Of course, critics are always free to express their personal tastes in these matters. Someone may like the method of presentation and someone may not, and someone may agree with the interpretation and someone may not. There is no end to human diversity of opinion. But therefore, to hurl expletives at a person for what he feels is his considered and careful representation of a being far beyond the pale of the human (and one whose spiritual path, by his own admission, he follows) is rather dangerous and unwarranted. Time is a better judge of these things than individual opinion. Better first read the book and if there are areas which can be discussed, engage in civil dialogue about them, not vindicate one's subjective tastes by hurling insults. DB

Reply by Rich on Fri 17 Oct 2008 03:10 PM PDT Profile Permanenti [k Better first read the book and if there are areas which can be discussed, engage in civil dialogue about them, not vindicate one's subjective tastes by hurling insults. DB]

I agree and would like to suggest the following that if one wishes to comment on this article or any other article fine, but if comments are addressed to the substance of the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, at the least the person making the comments should have actually read the book. Additionally, whatever someone's opinion on the subject matter of the article or book is fair game for conversation, but demeaning attacks on any person will not be tolerated and will be promptly deleted rich Reply

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What matters about somebody's religious practices unless that stands as a block on our path?

2 comments: Mrinalini said...

Dear Tushar ji, Barindranath ji abruptly removed his membership from the Sri Anirvan site without a word of excuse. Hence I felt obliged to remove my membership from his site Aspiration. Congratulations - or commiserations? - on your discovering that you are a separate religion! Isn't this what Debabrata ji has been talking about so long? 10:07 PM, October 15, 2008

Tusar N Mohapatra said... from aju mukhopadhyay date 16 October 2008 11:44 Dear friends,

I haven't seen what transpired earlier amongst yourselves- I can't please for want of time- but I can say this that spiritualism is beyond religion- if we are on the right path- what matters about somebody's religious practices unless that stands as a block on our path? someone leaving a website and somebody joining may continue though with love and understanding that leaving could be avoided. In any case, leaving aside small differences- go ahead, go ahead- Age chalo bhai - Good wishes, Aju Mukhopadhyay

from aju mukhopadhyay date 16 October 2008 11:51 Dear Tushar M,

That I also said her that we are followers, devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and there won't be any wavering- Let us not compare but can such things be compared? That vast Himalayan height! Let all try to reach - we do have our love for Anirvanji also but no clash. Let her do it- I have said something in the other mail also- let madam Mrinalini also see it. Please make it public if you can through your sites which you like preferably. No dispute in the spiritual journey-Good wishes, Aju Mukhopadhyay 12:03 PM, October 16, 2008

Culpablity in these activities of censorship and engaging in conspiracies against the author

Re: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
by Rich on Wed 15 Oct 2008 05:47 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

The problems with the leaders of the ex-communication movement is also one of contradiction in that these folks are the same ones coming to the West interacting with western institutions and scholars on issues of "free progress education" working in a university system or seeking accredidation for Universities and simultaneously engaging in a conspiracy against a scholar who published through a reknown University press.

I would hope that their culpablity in these activities of censorship and engaging in conspiracies against the author of this book would also be disclosed to the international institutions they are engaged with as representatives of Sri Aurobindo

by Rich on Wed 15 Oct 2008 05:55 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Vladamir, Well you are getting at the problem here in that you are lumping integral yoga which claims not to be a religion with Indian religions and to me that is the whole problem. While I would expect to see this reaction in the tradition of Indian religion, within Integral Yoga that claims to synthesize East and West and declares itself no religion, it is a contradiction.

But I still dont know, did you read the book??? That is the issue, if you read the entire book and come to these same conclusions that the book is blasphemy then we can have a conversation. If not this whole conversation is based on hearsay.

And as a friend remarks regards "the other seekers on the same path," it is only their lack of confidence in their beliefs which is at stake when they interpret something to be a breach of "respect" in another of their group. This is no esoteric psychology, just tribe psychology.

Heidegger and Derrida call it onto-theology, the supplementarity of quotations, commentaries and numbers which cover up the hollowness at the center of the experience of being. It is why in Islam, one of another faith who "disrespects" the faith is considered less dangerous than another Muslim. For the former, there is derision, but for the latter there is the fatwa.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blanket condescension towards the devoted and the religious

Re: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs - The Regime of Quotation by Debashish on Tue 14 Oct 2008 11:16 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

One of the first tenets of religion is the self-justification of Ignorance on the basis of quotes. The Divine is reduced to a slot machine or ventriloquist's puppet which spits out the appropriate quote in a sonorous voice at the bidding of its master. And this becomes the "acceptable representation" with the threat of the electric chair behind it.

Reply Re: The Regime of Quotation by Srikanth on Tue 14 Oct 2008 12:12 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

It is pointless to want to convince everyone that the intellect is infallible. One doesn’t need to be a yogi to see how limited it can be. True, quotations can be taken out of context and misused…but the opposite is also true. Seeing them as mere quotations and as inapplicable when inconvenient or contending at all times that “the Divine” had wished to convey more (or other) than what the quotations suggest is equally an artifice and (a technically self-contradicting) conceit of the intellect. Thus, an intellectual standpoint can be as much steeped in ignorance and as intimidating when it threatens to label all those who oppose it as ignorant, unintellectual, or religious and to banish them, if not to the death-chamber, at least to the valley of the untouchables.

Reply Re: The Regime of Quotation by Debashish on Tue 14 Oct 2008 04:20 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

It stretches the imagination that someone may think this is a discussion about the infallibility of the intellect. The intellect, like all other faculties at our disposal in this discussion, is a power of the Ignorance. The entire discussion is about the arrogance of the Ignorance and in this case, the abuse of "quotations" to act as if it is a power of truth.

The utility of the shatra is entirely personal, to aid in and test our inner experience in the growth of consciousness, not to enforce on others as a weapon of the Ignorance in the name of Knowledge.

Reply Re: The Regime of Quotation by Srikanth on Tue 14 Oct 2008 10:28 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

The blanket condescension towards the devoted and the religious has not exactly been hidden in any of the posts in this thread and yours are no exception. The implications cannot be easily denied. Whether the quotations are being abused or not is a subjective assessment and cannot be dismissed as "arrogance of the Ignorance". That, in essence, those who quote are not only ignorant and enforcers of the Ignorance but are also anti-knowledge is an odd conclusion that only reinforces what I already said.

Regardless, the main points being made in all these posts are insubstantial. They are only centered around a few corrections here and some substantiation there and a few demands to let people have their freedom to write a book but not for others to criticize, and around reassurances that a historian is somehow going to convince a few hard-core psychoanalysts in academia and how it will all in the end be very good for Sri Aurobindo's yoga for the world.

Reply 7:04 AM 8:39 AM 9:39 AM 7:51 AM 7:03 AM 9:03 AM 7:46 AM7:26 AM 11:39 AM 10:15 AM 12:21 PM 11:45 AM 7:13 AM 12:02 PM Devotee's prerogative to condemn blaspheme