Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Heehs' account of the early interaction of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra is accurate

from dr raghu to tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com date 13 October 2010 12:08 subject Fwd: Pl. post Corrected version!
Pl. post without displaying my e-mail address. Thank you.

Much More Ado About "Furtiveness"!
Apparently those who think that Peter Heehs ought not to have mentioned certain banal facts about the interaction of Aurobindo and Mirra in the early days of their acquaintance and association, because they could give rise to misinterpretations in terms of "romantic, sexual, and emotional" content or motives, have overlooked the fact that Nirod's Twelve Years With Sri Aurobindo also mentions incidents which could lend themselves to those sorts of interpretations. 

So, why single out Heehs's account for irrational attacks and exempt Nirodbaran's account from the same sort of attacks?

As far as I am concerned, neither Heehs' account nor Nirodbaran's account raises any significant issues concerning the relationship of Aurobindo and Mirra. If we hold the irrational, false, and dehumanizing belief that Aurobindo and Mirra were devoid of ordinary human emotions and foibles, then, of course, both accounts raise a lot of questions and issues concerning them.

But I do think that there is a double standard in pursuing Heehs' characterizations of some early interactions between Aurobindo and Mirra with obsessive hostility and wilful lack of charity and ignoring the questions or issues Nirodbaran's account may raise in the minds of some readers. Facts are facts. Truth is truth. If Heehs' account of the early interaction of Aurobindo and Mirra is accurate, then it is irrelevant to the task of a biographer whether his account conflicts with certain preconceptions or assumptions some of his readers may have concerning that interaction or those two individuals. This also applies to Nirodbaran's account. Here are some examples from Nirodbaran's Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo (Third Revised and Enlarged Edition, 1988):

1. On p. 32, Nirod mentions that on Darshan days the Mother used to bow down to Aurobindo in the Indian way. He goes on to write that "On other days she used to take his hand and lightly kiss it." (my italics) Some readers may wonder about the propreity of the Mother's behavior here, but how does it matter? And if this doesn't matter, why would Heehs' account matter?

2. On pp. 56-57, Nirod mentions that Aurobindo used to take his bath around midnight and that the Mother used to come to his room an hour after his bath for their "usual work". He writes "Then we left the room wondering what they were talking about." (p. 57) Surely, many readers would wonder both about the propriety of these nocturnal visits and the content of their "usual work", but how does that matter? And if this doesn't matter, why would Heehs' account matter?

3. On p. 56, he mentions that the Mother used to routinely comb Aurobindo's hair. Surely, this sort of intimate physical contact between them would strike some readers as "furtive", but how does that matter? And if this doesn't matter, why would Heehs' account of Aurobindo and Mirra's early interaction matter?

4. On p. 59, Nirod mentions that the Mother used to come to Aurobindo's room sometimes even at 1 am to attend to his walking and again after half an hour or hour later "to give him an eye-wash with a blue liquid called "blue water" and to rub lightly his upper body with a perfumed white cream." (my italics). Surely, the fact that the Mother used to visit Aurobindo at 1:30 or 2 am to give his "upper body" a light massage with "a perfumed white cream" would strike many readers as very "furtive"! But, again, how does that matter? And if this doesn't matter, why would Heehs' account of Aurobindo and Mirra's early interaction  matter?

5. On p. 114, Nirod mentions that the Mother used to wear "colorful tennis dress" while she went out to play tennis and that a foreign visitor observed that she looked like the French actress Sarah Bernhardt. Some readers would find this odd and inappropriate for a spiritual teacher to wear "colorful tennis dress" and play tennis, but how does that matter? And if this doesn't matter, why would Heehs' account of Aurobindo and Mirra's early interaction matter?

6. On p. 10, Nirod mentions an outburst of wrath by the Mother against Dr. Manilal in Aurobindo's presence (after which she prostrated before Aurobindo). Surely, this is proof that it is absurd to believe that she had no ordinary human emotions or foibles. If some readers think that this shows that the Mother was not a true yogi, how does that matter? And if this doesn't matter, why would Heehs' account of Aurobindo and Mirra's early interaction matter?

7. On p. 153, Nolini mentions an incident in which the Mother came straight out of her bath dressed in a "beautiful Japanese kimono" and participated in a discussion on Cripps' proposal with the exclusively male attendants of Aurobindo. Some readers would find this inappropriate, but how does that matter? And if this doesn't matter, why would Heehs' account of Aurobindo and Mirra's early interaction matter?

8. On p. 278, writing about Aurobindo's last moments, Nirod mentions an incident in which Aurobindo and the Mother looked at each other with a steady gaze and that "Sri Aurobindo's look seemed to bear a touch of unusual softness" (my italics). Clearly, this shows that Aurobindo was expressing a tender emotion for the Mother even in his last moments. Some readers might find this suggestive of a strong emotional relationship between the two, but how does that matter? And if this doesn't matter, why would Heehs' account of Aurobindo and Mirra's early interaction matter?

16 comments:

  1. You continue to, perhaps deliberately, misread and misunderstand the source of the opposition to Heehs's description. Banal or other facts are not the issue but the way supposed "facts" are presented. Nirodbaran's account, unlike the passage from Heehs, is first and foremost, not intended to highlight some sort of cooked-up growing "emotional intimacy" between Mother Sri Aurobindo. It is a natural and unforced retelling of the daily interactions between Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the Avatar and His Shakti. Heehs's account however starts and ends with the scandalous, with "people" "noticing" and getting "surprised" in a not very pleasant way about the growing closeness between Mother and Sri Aurobindo... then moving on to physical contact, and bowing, apparently only when in private and then quickly "covered up" as soon as it is discovered. As Dr.Ryder pointed out the apologetic "nothing furtive" is proof that Peter himself knows the wrong impression this kind of third-person gossip-mongering can engender in the minds of the reader. Also, the whole passage is really just about some harmless facts pertaining to the interaction between Mother and Sri Aurobindo, but about some sort of falling-out that Heehs would like the reader to believe Paul Richard had with Mother and Sri Aurobindo SPECIFICALLY REGARDING THE "MARITAL" RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HIMSELF AND THE MOTHER ON ONE HAND AND SRI AUROBINDO AND THE MOTHER ON THE OTHER. As far as banal facts are concerned Heehs has also left out key facts such as Paul Richards admission of the real reason of his departure, as well as what seems like the selective misrepresentation of another supposed "fact", i.e. an allaged conversation between Sri Aurobindo and Richard about the possibility of a marital relationship between Himself and The Mother. What an astounding thing it is that you see no difference between this sort of convoluted third-person gossip-mongering and Nirodbaran's simple and straightforward presentation of his own first-hand experience of the Divine. But then we are not really dealing with facts as much as beliefs. You are convinced about the pure rational pedigree of St.Heehs, and so use every "fact" that you find out there, the latest being Nirodbaran's book, and force fit it into your blind, irrational belief-system.

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  2. Dr. Raghu,

    Great research and very well pointed out. You hit the nail right on the head of the irrationality (call it bias???) of PH's devoted critics.

    Will be interesting to see what Dr. Ryder, the "practicing psychologist" - who doesn't want to get involved in this controversy and yet takes the trouble to share his views publicly! Strange psychology must be said!!! - has to say.

    Dr. Ryder and his enthusiastic supporters, are you listening?

    Or is your and your supporters' behavior, reasoning, logic, etc. getting a little too hard for ordinary and rational human beings to comprehend?

    A.A.D.

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  3. None of these incidents are furtive. I believe the objection is not to these incidents or holding hands or whatever, which are sweet, rather it's to their characterization as furtive.

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  4. Those who can read English properly can see that Peter has explicitly denied that there was anything furtive about the early meetings between Aurobindo and Mirra. "There was nothing furtive about these encounters, but they did strike observers as unusual." are his actual words, in contrast to the figments of the feverish imagination of his critics, on p. 326 of his book!!!

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  5. Selectively focusing on only those words and sentences that support one's arguments and preferences is to not read properly... in any language. Anyway, there are better ways to waste time than to to try and talk reason to those who are determined to clutch at any straws (or words) to preserve their cherished beliefs.

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  6. Hello Dr.Raghu,

    Let me introduce you and your friends to yourselves and the world.

    The hostile forces are those which try to pervert everything and are in revolt against the Divine and opposed to the yoga. This Dear friends is Dr.Raghu.

    The Asura has no soul,no psychic being which has to evolve to a higher state;he has only an ego and usually a very powerful ego; he has a mind,sometimes even a highly intellectualised mind; but at the service of his desire and not of truth. Their main characteristic is egoistic strength and struggle,which refuse the higher law. This Dear Friends is Manoj Das Gupta and the other trustees.

    Some Asuras use spiritual ideas without believing in them to give them a perverted twist and delude the sadhak. It is what Shakespeare described as the Devil quoting scripture for his own purpose. This Dear Friends is Peter Heehs,the Devil and a great asura.

    These Asuras,as also the other hostile beings,Rakshasas, Pishachas and others resemble the devils of the Christian tradition and oppose the divine intention and the evolutionary purpose in the human being; they don't change the purpose in them for which they exist which is evil,but have to be destroyed like the evil.

    The Asuras and the Rakshasas etc.do not belong to the earth,but to supraphysical worlds;but they act upon the earth-life and dispute the control of human life and character and action with the Gods.They are the Powers of Darkness combating the Powers of Light.

    Sometimes they possess men in order to act through them,sometimes they take birth in a human body.When their use in the play is over,they will either disappear or no longer seek to intervene in the earth-play.

    Dear Friends, the time of Dr.Raghu and his friends, who belong to an obstinately Asuric humanity,is coming to an end.

    However great their appearance of outward and material strength, inwardly they are sick and weakened:all their intellectual hold is gone and with that disappearance there is evident a notable failing of their practical effectuating wisdom and of their sustaining self-confidence.

    The instinct of self- continuation, the impetus of their past motion keeps them going,and they must last so long as they have some hold in the inert continuity of their past mental and vital habits and are not pushed over by the growing and arising strength of the new forces that belong to the future.

    All their movements only serve to increase that strength,and whether they seek to perpetuate themselves by a violent insistence on their own principle or haggle and compromise with the quiet opposite principles that are destined to replace them,each step they take brings them nearer to their ending.

    Dr.Raghu,this one is especially for You.

    A pressure of intolerable force
    Weighed on his unbowed head and stubborn breast;
    Light like a burning tongue licked up his thoughts,
    Light was a luminous torture in his heart,
    Light coursed,a splendid agony,through his nerves;
    His darkness muttered perishing in her blaze.
    Her mastering Word commanded every limb
    And left no room for his enormous will
    That seemed pushed out into some hapless space
    And could no more re-enter but left him void.
    He called to Night but she fell shuddering back,
    He called to Hell but sullenly it retired:
    He turned to the Inconscient for support,
    From which he was born,his vast sustaining self:
    It drew him back towards boundless vacancy
    As if by himself to swallow up himself:
    He called to his strength,but it refused his call.
    His body was eaten by light,his spirit devoured.
    At last he knew defeat inevitable


    Writings from Letters on Yoga,Savitri

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  7. The problem with drraghu is huge. Not only does he suffer from mental retardation but he actually believes he is smart and intelligent. Further, he is very argumentative and jarring. This makes communication with him more difficult than communicating with a 8 yr old petulant child.
    No wonder people keep joking about his medications. I believe it now. First he claims there is no insinuation about relationship or marriage or sexuality and its only a dirty mind that would read that into the passage. Dr Ryder,I must say brilliantly, shows that that is not the case by using the authors own logic and that therefore the author had this(sexuality, marriage etc) in mind when he wrote this. Dr Ryder was kind and refined enough to not state the obvious corollary: the author has a dirty mind!
    All this is so obvious that it merits no discussion. Our drraghu comes out arguing against that but changes the argument to the statement that the author has denied that there was anything furtive. Pause to hear the brilliance of this Dr Raghu. Even second graders can see that the author has stated that there was nothing furtive. To argue that is no less ridiculous than to argue that the author has named the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo". Drraghu cannot even understand that the real question is whether the author by using expressions like "marriage" "furtive" and hand-holding descriptions is debasing the beauty of these sublime gestures by the Mother. One might witness Dr Raghu being hugged and kissed by his mother and raise the question of incest. To someone familiar with the the Indian ethos it would be stupid to raise this question. But our Drraghu argues against this believing he is smart and eloquent and convincing. But the truth is that he only irrefutably establishes his child-IQ and mental retardation.
    Seriously either confine this idiot to a mental institution or send him to Africa to live with the animals!

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  8. Mr. Mohapatra,
    It looks like the inmates of the Aurobindo Asylum, particularly those from the Special Ward for Casualties of the Intermediate Zone And Victims of Paranoid-Schizophrenia, have "descended" on your website with a vengeance!!! You might want to reveal their identities so that the Asylum and Special Ward staff can track them deny them internet access! Thank you!

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  9. I can only envy the multiple "anonymous" personalities, or the multiple personalities of "anonymous", for displaying in their responses such exemplary characteristics of an "advanced Sadhak" on the path of integral yoga. They represent the best that the Ashram and the yoga of Aurobindo can show to the world!!!
    What is the secret of such refinement, yogic poise, courtesy, and culture in their responses?
    I WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED AT ALL IF THE SECRET LIES IN THEIR SURREPTITIOUS NOCTURNAL VISITS TO THE ARRACK & TODDY SHOPS NOT FAR FROM THEIR HOVELS! LOL

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  10. You guys did not believe me when I kept repeating that Dr Raghu has not been taking his medications. This was not meant in jest but in dead seriousness. He has serious psychological problems that prevents him from being coherent and rational. What is simple common sense for others is his privilege in only rare moments that occur twice every year for a few minutes. What is the nature of that common sense?. Well you all read it. He quotes the author’s statement “There was nothing furtive about these encounters” and then concludes and declares triumphantly by stating “Peter is clearly denying that…”. This is Drraghu at his very best, the refutable irational genius! No I would not send him to Africa. Its not fair to the animals! The animals would not want him there as he would confuse their instincts!
    I would send him to a research institute for psychological study. He could provide the link to the intermediate species. I mean between the animal and the man!.

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  11. drraghu said...
    Those who can read English properly can see that Peter has explicitly denied that there was anything furtive about the early meetings between Aurobindo and Mirra. "There was nothing furtive about these encounters, but they did strike observers as unusual."

    There is nothing idiotic about Dr. Raghu, but he does strike observers as unusual. Btw, Raghu, did you stop beating your wife?

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  12. Btw, anonymous, have you stopped overdosing on Haloperidol?

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  13. The incidents of Raghu beating his wife are so few that they can be taken individually. After considering them one can conclude that he was not a wife beater.
    As for his relationship with his mother, Raghu, his mother and friends used to meet regularly.
    At some of those meetings, people noticed a surprising development. After dinner those present tended to cluster in two groups: Raghu and his mother on one side, his father and the others on another. Sometimes when they were alone, his mother took Raghu's hand in hers. One evening when Anonymous found them thus together, his mother quickly drew her hand away.
    On another occasion, Anonymous entered Raghu's room and found his mother kneeling before him in an attitude of surrender. Sensing the visitor, she at once stood up. There was nothing furtive about these encounters, but they did strike observers as unusual. Neither Raghu or his mother were in the habit of expressing their emotions openly.
    There was nothing incestual about their relationship.
    As for his visits to the mental institution they are so far and few between that they can be ignored.
    Overall Raghu comes out positive. Long Live Dr Raghu!

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  14. Anonymous' wife, assuming he is a heterosexual, works late hours in her office with her boss. Asked by one of his close friends from childhood, Ramakrishna, a homosexual man, as to the whereabouts of his wife in the evenings, anonymous replied "She is working overtime with her boss, but I know it's just work. There's nothing furtive about it although it is unusual for her to be working so late often."
    Reporting this to his friends, Ramakrishna commented caustically: "In denying that there was anything furtive in her working so late with her boss at the office, anonymous was anticipating that it could be interpreted as furtive. So, anonymous himself suspects that there is indeed something furtive about his wife's overtime hours at work with her boss. He was actually insinuating that his wife is having a torrid affair with her boss. Why would he mention "furtive" if he truly trusted his wife?"

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  15. Anonymous has a sister-in-law who is also a fervent and fanatical devotee of Aurobindo. They spend many hours together reading Savitri and discussing the subtle strategies of hostile forces to subvert the "work of the Divine". They also agreed that Peter Heehs was a powerful Asura and that "drraghu" was a Trojan horse come to unleash the hostile forces on innocent Sadhaks.
    When Ramakrishna confronted anonymous on the amount of time the latter was spending with his sister-in-law, anonymous replied "This is just a deep spiritual relationship and Satsang. There's nothing furtive in this relationship with my sister-in-law. An affair or anything emotional or sexual is inconceivable in our relationship given our shared devotion to Aurobindo."
    Ramakrishna later commented sarcastically on anonymous' response:
    "By denying that there was anything "furtive" in his relationship with his sister-in-law, anonymous was acknowledging that it could be interpreted as "furtive". And in denying that there was anything emotional or sexual in the relationship, he was acknowledging the possibility of an emotional or sexual involvement. So, in the very act of his denial, anonymous is guilty of acknowledging that there was indeed something emotional or sexual in the relationship with his sister-in-law and that the shared spiritual interests were merely a pretext. Why would he even mention "furtive" if there was nothing shady in that relationship?"
    Ramakrishna's friends, who were all veterans of the prestigious "Haloperidol Club" were exceedingly impressed with his logical analysis and gave him a thunderous ovation!

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  16. "She is working overtime with her boss, but I know it's just work. There's nothing furtive about it although it is unusual for her to be working so late often."

    As a matter of fact your message provides a nice contrast to Peter's own treatment of the interactions between Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Here you have left out all the juicy tid-bits and curiosity-titillating details. See the effect of inserting things like hand-holding, bowing etc in private which is hastily disguised when interrupted by others, expressing emotional intimacy, a hypothetical argument between Anonymous and the secretary's husband about a possible marital relationship, and Anonymous agreeing, the husband's reaction as one betrayed and then, finally, separation between the husband and the secretary.

    How long will you fanatical Heehsians and pseudo-rational blind-believers continue to deny the obvious and twist yourself into intellectual pretzels in defending your infallible guru?

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