Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Angiras should come out with full facts and figures relating to Heehs’s book

Hail to Angiras—by Raman Reddy
posted by RY Deshpande on Wed 04 Feb 2009 05:11 AM IST Permanent Link Cosmos

I would then answer, “We attacked Heehs because he was the author of a book which went into the public domain on highly sensitive issues. And may I know why do you hide behind a pseudonym, as if you do not have the courage to reveal your identity to your readers on the Net?”

I begin to wonder who this Angiras could be, hiding such irrepressible virulence under the beautiful name of a Vedic Rishi. It has to be first of all someone interested in the Veda to have chosen this name. Secondly, he has to be a close colleague and a diehard supporter of Heehs at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives. Thirdly, he has to have access to entries in Cold Storage registers (which he mentions later in his rebuttal) to be able to allege that Ranganath and me are liars. Now I cannot think of anybody else but Richard Hartz! [...]

First of all, this whole issue regarding the use of the Cold Storage documents is totally irrelevant to the main objections regarding Heehs’s biography. It is simply diversionary tactics to obfuscate the main issue. [...]

So many of us have collected data for him in the past under the impression that we were contributing to the Ashram Archives collection! Moreover, even the fruits of his own labour belong to the Ashram and not to him personally, as all work done by the sadhaks of the Ashram in its departments is supposed to be dedicated to the larger interests of the institution... What finally happened was that he treated the public collection of the Ashram Archives as his private one. [...]

Finally, if Ranganath’s allegation of “commercial use” is false, then it is obligatory that Angiras should come out with the full facts and figures relating to the publication of Heehs’s book—the copyright permission, the arrangements with the publishers, the royalties in one form or other offered to the author, the payments or donations made by him to the Ashram, etc. Instead of answering these important questions, why does he divert the reader’s attention to non-issues, such as my access to the Cold Storage?

Moreover, the constitution of a new committee to manage the affairs of the Ashram Archives is totally an internal matter of the Ashram and bringing it to the public forum by saying that “new rules restricting access to such materials… have been adopted” is a betrayal of the code of conduct its members are expected to follow. In any case, it seems to be the classic case of locking the stable after the horse has bolted!

But the real question is not about who had access to the original documents in the Cold Storage, but as to how they have been used. A biography which has created such an emotional and intellectual storm among the followers of Sri Aurobindo is proof enough of the utterly irresponsible way Heehs has used the above-mentioned material. 3 February 2009 Mirror of Tomorrow In Defence of the “Extracts from The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs”—Raman Reddy by RY Deshpande on Wed 31 Dec 2008 Comments (36) Permanent Link Cosmos

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