Thursday, May 7, 2009

This book is not a disciple's homage to his master published by an Ashram (Norcross Noc) Georgia, Lawrenceville, United States, J has left a new comment on your post "Carlson betrays an abysmal ignorance and arrogance...":

That was quite a jeremiad. No doubt, insults and sarcasm are an effective way to avoid a charge of being "ingratiating", but otherwise only have value as personal catharsis, not as "service to the Divine".

You're right there should be sympathy for devotee's feelings that have been hurt, and expressions of that sympathy have been lacking. But devotee's hurt feelings cannot be the only issue of importance. If much of that hurt was caused by erroneous claims about what the book actually says, then there are also issues of devotion to the truth. This book is not a disciple's homage to his master published by an Ashram but an academic biography published by Columbia University Press. Kepler Posted by J to Savitri Era Open Forum at 8:51 PM, May 07, 2009


  1. Peter Heehs puts on his best clothes to sell his own book to academics but we are expected to believe that Sri Aurobindo has to be denigrated and criticized by a long-standing member of his own Ashram, otherwise he won't be accepted by academics. Anybody see the irony here ? Lets have some authoritative person examine and question Peter's sanity and then count the number of people who are willing to buy the historian's books.

  2. Mr Kepler,
    I thought it was fairly clear. You write "But devotee's hurt feelings cannot be the only issue of importance.".
    Ofcourse this is quite obvious. Note though how you have dismissed this summarily. But clearly the author's hurt is of immense importance because that is being continuously harped upon. I think this is a double standard. Read Mr Carlson's note. He wrote "....Having no other knowledge of Heehs history at the Ashram how do you think that sounded? An author having property, and body attacked before throwing a court case on him for writing a book?"
    Are the devotees any lesser human beings that their tears, shock, disgust, grief, pychological pain and violence is to be disparaged or of no importance while the authors' is of the utmost importance? I agree with you the emotions and sentiments are not the issue. I am only drawing your attention to the double standards of SCIY. I am assuming that we are mature and intelligent enough to sift through the dust arising from this imbroglio and settle our focus on the root of the problem which is the book and its content.
    And if we focus on the book and its contents the issue becomes fairly straightforward and clear. You continue "If much of that hurt was caused by erroneous claims about what the book actually says, then there are also issues of devotion to the truth.". Your "if" is disingenuous because I believe that from the data before us, one ought to be able to easily see that the book is questionable at best. People are entitled to their opinions about the book. Clearly no one ought to have issues with that. However when there is evidence that supports and points to probable errors in the biographical details and events related to Aurobindo, even probable distortions, data-manipulation, then it warrants a closer perusal and a cautious approach. And yes there is a plethora of such evidence. You and I are not residents of the Ashram nor do we work in the Archives to dismiss these allegations as imaginative fancy arising out of a personal vendetta against the author. There is also evidence that suggests that the author used hearsay data over Aurobindo’s written autobiographical statements. Further there is solid evidence that the author has been up to this sort of “mischief” for many years and senior members have objected in writing against his “mischief”. There is also Jeffrey Kripal whose analysis of Ramakrishna is outrageous and preposterous.
    All this is enough to warrant atleast a suspension of the publication of the book until we know for sure that there is no distortion, falsification and erroneous presentation etc. I believe anything less that will be unfair to Aurobindo and also not serve the interests of Truth.
    Finally, even though devotees’ hurt feelings ought not to matter, its not always appealing to the higher and deeper in us to be the cause of emotional, psychological violence to others in our community, even though unintended. But here again if you read the first few pages of the book it seems the author was cognizant of the repercussions of his work.
    I am really not impressed by the author nor by the book. I am glad that the courts in India decided to stop the publication of the book even though arguably not for the best reasons. The book ought not to have been published in the US.