Friday, September 17, 2010

This book has the impudence of luridly speaking about Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

Re: An Open Letter...The Jhumur Episode and The Registrar’s Non-Performance
by RY Deshpande on Fri 17 Sep 2010 11:05 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
8 September 2010 
Now that the topic of the disgraceful-outrageous biography has come up, let me ask you a question or two. This book crudely if not vulgarly relishes tasteless descriptions, and it has the impudence of luridly speaking about Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. It sees their relationship as a romantic relationship, a most perverse and perfidious outlook towards things spiritual. 
Will you approve such descriptions in the book? say that these are perfectly in order? will you commend it? a book written by a member of the Ashram? and our Ashram authorities supporting it, and an absconder? If you have any genuine sense of spiritual propriety you will unhesitatingly condemn it, I suppose, and condemn it without a moment’s delay—notwithstanding what stand the authorities take. 
Let me tell you that if an occasion should arise in a class I will never flinch from criticizing the biography, in the least. I believe there is nothing objectionable in a birthday period if I explain to the students the luminous occult that is there behind their relationship which is never vulgar in any sense, including the physical sense. About their relationship the Mother herself has said: “Without him I exist not; without me he is unmanifest.” But if you think this is a crime, then you are absolutely free to take whatever action you might wish to take against me, action even with or without any basis. 
But what do you think, personally, about such a depiction of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother? Do you approve it? Is it not falsification of the entire vision-and-work of theirs? Let me quote what Huta had written to Manoj DG sometime ago: “I request you to stop Peter’s publications and ask him to leave the Ashram before he does more harm to the Ashram and its reputation. … All he does is not in tune with the Mother’s Consciousness.” I see real truth in what she is saying and suggesting, truth to follow.

Another point which I will briefly mention here is apropos of the Savitri editions. In the course of the discussions in the classes we often notice the differences between the Centenary and the Revised Editions. And I must tell you that, without any prompting, most of the students start questioning the wisdom behind the changes present in the Revised Edition. But the most damaging statement about Savitri is present in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo which says that Savitri is a “fictional creation”. But without going into details I leave the matter at this stage. However, again, if you consider it a crime to criticize the biography on these grounds you are absolutely free to take whatever action you might wish to take against me, action even with or without any basis. RY Deshpande 


  1. The relationship between the Gopis and Krishna was romantic, erotic, and spiritual at the same time.

    The relationship of Mirabai to her beloved Krishna was both romantic and spiritual.

    The Indian bhakti tradition celebrates the romantic and erotic manifestations of spiritual love. It is silly and immature to set up a false opposition between the human and the divine facets of spiritual love.

    Even IF there were romantic and erotic elements in the spiritual love of Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa for one another, what would this undermine or disprove other than the presence of the faculty of Buddhi in those who would see this acknowledgment, or conjecture, as "sacrilege" or "blasphemy"?

  2. If a Christian were to deny the human dimension of Jesus this would be considered "Docetism" by Christians. If one takes Sri Aurobindo seriously as an avatar then one cannot dismiss his own words: He was emphatic about experiencing the suffering, the pathos, of humans. He rebuked those who espoused Hindu version of what I will call docetism--he was an avatar in the sense of sharing our experiences, just as Jesus was. I follow Sri Aurobindo in regarding Jesus as an avatar. Second, Satyavan and Savitri were in love. Does Dr Deshpande thinks Aurobindo regarded their love as profane? If so the whole message of Savitri is vitiated. Furthermore Savitri is an avatar--Sri Aurobindo is unequivocal about that. Yet she is in love. Sri Aurobindo defended this romantic love as "man's lien on the Absolute." Despite Dr Deshpande's illuminating writings on Savitri his denigration of "romantic love" (of which Heehs may also be guilty in the pasages quotes) is completely baffling: It is compLetely antithetical to everything SA says in Savitri. Savitri and Satyavan are forerunners of humanity.Furthermore Savitri, Dr Deshpande himself asserts, is based upon the Mother. Dr Deshpande's denigration of romantic love, and his proposition that it is inevitably profane is completely muddled and contradicted by the poem Savitri--by the narrative and by the ideas it embodies as well as by Savitri's ringing affirmation--wit Aurobindo's words of course--of the innocence and divinity of romantic love. I am completely befuddled how Dr Deshpande who often writes so astutely about Savitri could make such mendacious and incoherent comments. I cannot help but think he is possessed by a strong unconscOUs puritanical streak that interfered with his ability to think clearly on this topic.
    I also want to point out that as a human beings Aurobindo Ghose wrote many plays and poems on romantic love It s a theme with which he was preoccupied--I don't mean that pejoratively.Unfortunately there is no word w/o a negative connotation.
    Finally there is a philosophical question raised: How does Dr Deshpande think the union of Aurobindo and the Mother took place if there was no romantic love involved--if love was not indeed the spiritual glue?
    If he says that such a union is beyond OUR abilITY to understand as humans, he is being evasive and contrary to SA who said he experienced the human emotions. Was the union of Mirra and Aurobindo less passionate than that of Radha and Krishna, less passionate than Savitri and Satyavan?
    Was it more like that of brother and sister? But the relationship of brother and sister is not as strong as husband and wife. SA gives us the answer it is the union of the "eternal bridegroom and the eternal bride." Clearly the love of the two avatars had to involve adoration, worship, awe--all the feelings characteristic of a romantic relationship, and not characteristic of brother and sister--let alone brother and brother. I mention the latter because it is obvious that the male-female dIfference has to engender different feelings than either would have for a friend of the same gender.
    One might agre with Deshpande that Heehs has projected a lurid element into Aurobindo and Mira's relationship, that he fails to convey the mysterious and awesome nature of their bond--which Aurobindo conveys so well in Savitri. But Deshpande's interpretation is even worse. He projects onto Aurobindo a contempt for romantic love. But such a contempt would vitiate the meaning of Savitri--would vitiate the meaning of Aurobindo's sadhana--of the words "I have loved too the body of my God."Romantic love is the link between heaven and earth, it is man's lien on the absolute. "Love is the far Transcendent's angel here." This is the substance of the message of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, that everything can be conscrated, that the world is worthy, tht God intended to establish her Kingdom on earth.