Friday, April 30, 2010

Disagreements must be resolved without court cases


We in Auroville International would like to express our sympathy with those on all sides who have suffered pain and anxiety due to the controversy over the biography ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’.
We are saddened and concerned by the polarization of opinion, much of it ill-informed or ill-judged which continues to divide the Aurobindonian community.
Auroville International believes that disagreements must be resolved without court cases and threats of expulsion from India. These tactics have been the source of irreversible personal loss and lasting damage to the reputation of our community.
We strongly urge those who have expressed themselves forcefully (in favour or in opposition to the book) to remember that the practice of Integral Yoga enjoins upon us all an attitude of detached benevolence towards others without exception.
Sri Aurobindo was a spiritual and intellectual giant who belongs to the world and it is certain that the biography in question will be followed in the course of time by many other studies reflecting differing views and different cultures. Natural justice demands that we would not attempt to suppress these.
Modern scholarship and criticism is notoriously intolerant of heroes and saints, but in the end only the verdict of history decides the reputation of the truly great. Auroville International will do everything in its power to reconcile opposing factions and restore the harmony to which we all aspire.

Peter’s approach is scholarly. Wherever possible he goes to primary sources. He also, on occasions, quotes different perspectives on events as well as on Sri Aurobindo himself. Some of these are unflattering, even antagonistic: this is far from being one-dimensional hagiography. Peter himself is not uncritical. He feels that Sri Aurobindo was “complacent” regarding the threat posed to Indian unity by the All-India Muslim League; he wonders whether Sri Aurobindo’s political “intransigence” aided or hindered the formation of an effective political force to oppose the British; and, in the domestic sphere, he notes “Sri Aurobindo could hardly be called a good husband”. (By the by, Peter is the first biographer to speculate, albeit briefly, about the nature of Sri Aurobindo’s sexual experience.) […]

Peter also seems less assured with the plays. At one point, abandoning his fine poise as an objective biographer, Peter surmises “if [Sri Aurobindo’s] earlier plays suggest that he was searching for his ideal life partner, Vasavadutta seems to hint that he had found the woman he was seeking and was waiting for the moment when she would join him.” Peter provides no evidence to substantiate this judgement, which seems to belong more to the Mills and Boon school of criticism than to a serious academic study.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Karate, coconut oil, & court cases

Meet the champs
A mother-son duo has won laurels at an international karate competition

all in the family Gitanjali and Aryan at the awards ceremony
Gitanjali J.B. and her son Aryan Bhattacharjee love to pair up for leisure activities. The Bhattacharjees’ house on Harrington Road bears many signs of this partnership — a piano, tennis racquets, pastels and karate weapons. Right now, th e two have a special reason to gaze lovingly at these weapons. Using them deftly, they stood out at the international competition (June 18-20) conducted by the Isshinryu World Karate Association at Pittsburgh.
While 36-year-old Gitanjali came first in ‘kata’ and ‘kobudu’ categories for those aged between 30 and 45, seven-year-old Aryan was first in ‘advanced kata’ in his age group (six to eight) and third in ‘kobudu’ competing with seniors (age group nine to 11).
“Children in the six to eight age group don’t have a kobudu category, but Aryan chose to compete with his seniors because he was adept at using the ‘bo’ or staff (one of the four main weapons used in kobudu),” says Gitanjali.
Both Gitanjali and Aryan have surprised their master ‘sensei’ Ayyapan Ravi by the speed with which they have galloped through ‘belts’. Aryan began to learn Isshinryu in December 2007 and Gitanjali in April 2008 — today, he is brown belt Grade I and she, brown belt Grade III. Gitanjali is confident she’ll get her black belt next month, and Aryan, in a year. He will only be eight then — two years less than when children usually get the black belt.
“An Isshinryu practitioner has to get white, yellow, green, blue, purple I, purple II, brown I, brown II and brown III, before he can take a crack at the black belt,” says Gitanjali.
Amazing, when you consider that she first looked at Isshinryu as something that could develop her son’s physique. Says Gitanjali: “I have found out that it’s good for the mind too. You are more focussed.”
21 Feb 2010 ... “We are,” wrote Gitanjali JB recently to Manoj Das Gupta, “engaged with Columbia University Press (CUP) regarding the withdrawal of The ...
12 Feb 2010 ... From: Gitanjali J B. To: Manoj Das Gupta Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:32 PM .... Gitanjali J B ...
20 Mar 2010 ... 4 November 2008 : Writ Petition filed by Mrs. Geetanjali JB accepted by the additional government advocate, High Court of Orissa. ...
6 Feb 2010 ... But the facts seem to point to Geetanjali Jain aka Geetanjali Bhattacharjee aka Geetanjali JB (and her friend, Sraddhalu Ranade) as the main ...
Writ Petition filed before the High Court of Orissa in the name of Mrs. Gitanjali JB. The Writ includes long portions of Ranade's letter. ...
8 Apr 2010 ... Comment posted by: auroman this is Gitanjali, the same person who filed those ... (wink)
Uptil now, I thought Gitanjali was a naive devotee living in some rustic town in Orissa who braids her hair with coconut oil, adorns herself with earrings and nose-rings, faithfully prays to the Mother every day and obeys the decrees promulgated by the Ashram priests :-)  
The SCIY propaganda machine had shaped that image.   It just shows how poor you people are at getting your message across.
Plain & Simple A National Seminar Organised by Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research (SACAR), Puducherry
2:00-3:00 Session III: Studying Sri Aurobindo’s Thought: Personal Reflections SACAR Students: Gitanjali JB, Chandra Pitchal, Siddharthan, Angshuman Basu …
MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2010Gitanjali JB, Recovery of the Indian Scriptures by Sri Aurobindo. 10:40-11:00 TEA BREAK. 11:00-11:30 Discussion Panel I: Practicing Integral Philosophy ...

The true story of an event is often revealed only long afterwards

Re: Explanation of my Stand wrt The Lives of Sri Aurobindo
by David Hutchinson on Sat 29 Nov 2008 08:55 AM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
A few thoughts that may be applicable to this discussion and current situation:
  • Every individual believes he/she knows the absolute truth, and that others are misguided. 
  • Group consciousness has a deep and unrecognized influence upon the individual. 
  • Emotion is a stronger force than reason, even when the truth is known. 
  • A lie repeated often enough, and loudly enough, will appear to be the truth. 
  • Hysteria, once begun, needs to play itself out. 
  • Divisive movements usually have a stronger force than inclusive ones. 
  • If you can dictate the terms of the discussion, you have already won. 
  • The most subtle and problematic aspect of an organization is its culture. 
  • Fear incites immediate destructive actions, which have to be remedied when the fear has passed. 
  • A useful tactic when mobilizing people is to define and then vilify an imagined common enemy. 
  • The true story of an event is often revealed only long afterwards. 
  • Those who sit on a fence get to see everything, but they never go anywhere. 
  • Just because a person has knowledge in one area does not mean he/she is wise in another.

Reply Re: reconciliation, expectation, outcome
by David Hutchinson on Sun 30 Nov 2008 07:54 PM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
I agree with Rich, that those who started this are unlikely to participate in any kind of dialogue. And I think the suggestion by Rich for publicizing it is probably the most practical one that can be reasonably attempted, and the most likely to be effective.

Specifically, I think one (or several) of us should write an account of what has happened, giving names, dates, events, outcomes. Include the lawsuit, the banning, even the violence against Peter. Do it not in inflammatory language, but essentially as a journalistic piece.

Then send this to every center, institution, etc. that we know that interacts with the Pondicherry Ashram. This would have the virtue of at least making facts known. This can include all centers and study groups in the United States (there is a list that can be used for this purpose); teaching institutions that have sponsored speakers (such as CIF and CIIS); and centers around the world, including places like the
Delhi ashram.

At the same time, let the Ashram trustees know, and send the same material to them.

This would effectively put public pressure on those who started the affair, the Ashram as a whole, and the Trustees to be transparent with what is happening. Doing something in secret is very different from doing it in the public eye.

Given the highly emotional nature of the events, it is likely that most people are getting a biased or partial account, and cannot evaluate things for themselves. Putting out a well-documented notice would at least give people information with which to understand the situation. I would be happy to assist with this, in terms of drafting, editing, and distribution.
Reply Re: reconciliation, expectation, outcome
by David Hutchinson on Wed 03 Dec 2008 07:09 AM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
Thomas asks "How’d we all end up in this mess, and what part do we play in resolving it?"

I think the answer to the first is complex. It is in our human nature, and the difficulties of achieving true spirituality versus a form of religion. Everyone is prone to falling back into religious forms, mistaking belief for faith, ideas for experience, dogma for knowledge. The whole difficulty is trying to move from one to the other.

The history of religion -- and this yoga -- is one of some people moving deeply into religion, while fervently believing that they have the "one true yoga." We should remember the Satprem era, which has not ended, as well as Patrizia,'s influence and other, less-well-known "teachers."

There are many specific factors that come into play. The rise of Indian nationalism, as India modernizes; the rise of Hindu fundamentalism, which appeals to deep feelings of group and self; the place of Pondicherry historically in this yoga, as well as it being the resting place of the bodies of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother; the quasi-official status of the Pondicherry Ashram as "owner" of the texts in this yoga; the role and influence of the west in terms of scholarship and academic cachet, which creates a love/hate relationship in many in the yoga, and how that plays out in the role of the Archives within the Ashram.

There are also the familiar dynamics of groups, which has been studied and documented over the last century, and how impressionable people are, how prone to being swayed as a group, the power of group thought and action, and the difficulties of breaking free to be an individual. Add to this the particular group culture in
India as a whole, where individuality is much less a force than it is in the west.

Then we have to add the spiritual/religious dimension of devotion to a teacher, which has a strongly Indian character, but is not limited to
India. In this instance, in this yoga, the commonly accepted view within this yoga is that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are avatars, beings of an exalted, and in this yoga, unique character, world-changing individuals who partake of divinity, or whose entire being and action are/were divine.

In this yoga there is also a strong tendency among many to limit their reading to source texts by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Even if they have a secondary book available, they prefer to spend their time with the original texts.

Then there is the inability of most people (educated or not, east or west) to recognize rhetorical devices, false argument, circular chains of thought, appeals to emotion couched in the voice of reason. It takes real intelligence and work to see a manipulative argument.

Then there is the aura effect of people who are seen as teachers, who have given lectures, who can speak at length on a subject. It is natural to be less critical of them, to believe what they say.

There is also the natural tendency of people to believe themselves (and those they identify with) as good, honest, true, and not susceptible to bad thoughts, forces, or actions. Even in the face of evidence to the contrary, people tend not to accept that they have done a bad thing.

There is also the drive for power and control. The Ashram is a very wealthy institution, which has extensive businesses and land; has considerable reputation and authority in the area, and elsewhere. Some people are simply drawn to power, see themselves as worthy of it, and will engage in less than perfect behavior to achieve it.

There is the tendency of a group to believe in its own description, or narrative, even when evidence points in another direction. The Integral Yoga community prides itself on NOT being a religion; so that when religious behavior appears, people actively want to deny it. "It must be something other than that -- must be anything but that." As a community, we are vested in a self-view, I would almost say a self-serving view, that we are not religious.

Similar to this, there is the "narrative" within the Ashram that there is "no politics." So that people may tend to look at a situation, an event, and say "Well, something is going on, but it can't be political -- that doesn't happen here, isn't allowed here."

This yoga is also prone to individuals proclaiming themselves the repository of truth, because there is no specific structure to the yoga, no ecclesiastical hierarchy, no definite creed or dogma. In the absence of these forms, one can simply say "I see the truth." Essentially, many of the real arguments in this discussion boil down to "I feel something bad here," and it is a question whether one believes that speaker.

There may be deeper forces at work that none of us are privy to. It may be that this is in fact the force of the yoga, of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, working through all individuals, to break up some defect or blockage in this yoga, in the Ashram, or elsewhere.
As to the second question, how to resolve it -- will leave that for another day. Dave Hutchinson
Re: reconciliation, expectation, outcome
by Debashish on Mon 01 Dec 2008 04:08 PM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
"The Ashram is a Force - field for a certain kind of work."

The question we are debating is who gets to authorize what constitutes this force-field, once the founders of the organization have left the body? The trustees of the organization, the majority of the "inmates," a minority of vociferous teachers, a hermeneutic examination of the original intention of the founders, a charismatic interpretation based on contemporary circumstances or something else?

Given that there is no written charter by the founders for what constututes this "force field," except for the fact of being accepted by Them (or now the ashram Trust) as their disciples in the Integral Yoga, and bound only by the rules of the ashram, it is clearly illegitimate for any majority (or minority) of inmates, who have developed their own sense of "inmate-bonding" as their definition of the "force-field" to dictate or authorize such a thing.

Except for an opt-repeated quote from the Mother about bringing Sri Aurobindo "down to a gossiping familiarity" - another matter of interpretation and questioning who gets to authorize such an interpretation - there is no evidence of any definition of the boundaries of such a force-field by the founders.

If the home of the Integral Yoga is going to be authorized by those who hold such a narrow definition of a force-field which eschews all expression of critique, in spite of the author's clear dedication to the path, the teachers and their institutional work, then we cannot but conclude that this force-field and consequently, the version of Integral Yoga being authorized by it, must be just another narrowly defined cult with its own blood-enforced taboos - an obscure religion of the human past which its founders were at pains to distance themselves from.

Re: reconciliation, expectation, outcome
by koantum on Mon 01 Dec 2008 06:55 PM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
The Ashram is a Force - field for a certain kind of work.
I just want to add something to Debashish's comment: Who the heck knows anything about this "Force-field"? Those who pretend that they do are imposters. They have by this very act disqualified themselves from being taken seriously.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The congress might contribute to the legal actions taken against Peter Heehs being dismissed

An interview with organizer Rudolf Schmitz-Perrin regarding International Congress 2009 Auroville
Author: Rudy Last Updated: March 31, 2010
From January 5th to 8th, an international congress took place at SAWCHU on the theme of “Spirituality beyond Religions”, a four days programme with about 30 speakers. Here is an interview with organizer Rudolf Schmitz-Perrin. 

Then the theme of ‘spirituality beyond religions’ came to my mind. The Mother had said that in Auroville all religions would be studied, but that there would be no religion in Auroville. She had said, ‘A life divine but no religion’, emphasizing the spiritual teaching : "Spiritual teaching is the teaching of the future - it illumines the consciousness and prepares it for the future realization. Spiritual teaching is above religions and strives towards global Truth. It teaches to enter into direct relations with the Divine." (On Education, CWM, 12:319).
Nowadays there is a growing consciousness, particularly in the West, to go beyond organized religions. There is now a world-wide movement to go to the spiritual roots of any religion. As a result of a sort of “spiritual bankruptcy” in the West (as Woody Allan says in one of his films in his funny but crudely realistic way) people are eager to rediscover the spiritual elements, let go of the rest and go beyond. […]
Let me add in this context my feeling that as pervasive criticisms are the daily bread of living in Auroville, I also feel how many reasons Aurovilians have to counterbalance by rejoicing in what is just there, already, and somehow perfect, and they can be proud of living in a space that is unique on this planet because it already managed to realise one of the Mother’s luminous intentions. In this sense, the congress was highlighting the Light that is shining from Auroville onto the world. 
One day I was driving in France with a very good friend of mine, Thibaud Roy, who knew about my plans to work on this theme. It was on the way from Nîmes to Arles, when he spontaneously offered a sum of money to realize this project. This was a first time experience in my life! Thibaud had never been to Auroville, didn’t know the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, but there was his intution of something going “beyond” the known. I received this free offer as an unexpected blessing and an encouragement. And so I started preparing the event. […]

Some people criticized that I invited so many external speakers. I all know them personally. I tried to involve as many Aurovilians as possible, I have to say that not all of them responded to my invitation. It was my heart’s concern to organise this event of the nascent University of Human Unity in a common aspiration with CIRHU and the Laboratory of Evolution and I am very happy to say that I experienced that we actually do all work together as a research community in Auroville, as unity in diversity and diversity in unity. […]
Can you comment a little bit on the choice of your speakers, as two of them have taken a very explicit stance in the debate around Peter Heeh’s controversial book: ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’?  And why was Peter Heehs not among the speakers?
I got some emails objecting to me inviting Sri Aurobindo scholars who have been involved in the controversy, namely Ananda and Sraddhalu. As I had not taken a stand in this conflict, I thought that the conference might be an opportunity to initiate an open dialogue, to keep talking, yes, since the situation seems totally stuck. As a moderator I was happy about the open and decent discussions that came up as a consequence of their presence. I didn’t invite the author of the book (with whom I had a fair and friendly talk afterwards) as I did not want the four days conference, that had been planned since 2006, to be polarised or monopolised by this issue. This was my personal option which is of course debatable. During the conference I said that I would be willing to organise a panel on the book itself, where people who have read it (who are few) could discuss each issue raised in the book. It was my intuition that the congress might contribute to defreeze the situation so that eventually also the legal actions taken against Peter Heehs will be dismissed, hopefully, as they affect not only the destiny of a controversial  book but his life here in India (visa).
As we were closing the conference, I said that the University of Human Unity is a space for learning and for healing and invited the audience to send their unconditional love in a bouquet of roses that were placed beneath the pictures of Si Aurobindo and The Mother, unreligiously but devotionally, in an aspiration to heal the wound that affects the Sri Aurobindo community worldwide. The lectures delivered at the Spirituality beyond Religions congress can be downloaded at Spirituality beyond Religions link

Comment posted by RY Deshpande Re: RYD’s sly and insidious Method... An Open Dialogue on The Lives of Sri Aurobindo

Today it is exactly one year when the idea of a possible dialogue was mooted. It is unfortunate that it didn’t materialise. The positions have now got so much hardened—witness for instance AV Today August 2009, some interviews on the subject—that perhaps only a miracle might work out a miracle.
As there is really nothing confidential in these frank exchanges made in a liberal spirit, on this anniversary of the proposal I'm putting them on the Mirror of Tomorrow. If Rich wishes, he can put his version on the sciy or related sites. ~ RYD

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Collective yoga and minding our own business

From aurosatya vrata to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date           24 April 2010 17:07  subject Silence is Golden
Just to describe and summarize the current state of affairs:  
First - Mr. Auroman de le Miroir says…. nothing. Interestingly his name is longer than his answers. Does this say something about him?
Accountability is also another long word, but it appears that it doesn’t accompany or rhyme too well with "Auroman de le Miroir".
Second - Dr. (Prof.) Jitendra Sharma also and once again dodges all questions. Instead, he serves us his biodata as well as his breakfast reading plan and tells and also shows us how, when the going gets tough, it is easier to escape into meditation.
But, well, without wanting to be harsh on any one, if one is to look at the brighter side of life and try to extract all that’s meaningful from it, Auroman’s silence may also be finally inspired by the Golden wisdom contained in the prefix “Auro” that he has borrowed and apparently put to some use, finally.

And a fountain of bright wisdom seems to have sprung in Dr. Prof. Jitendra Sharma, when he says:
“A message of the Mother is permanently displayed on the Notice Board of the Ashram. She advises not to speak unpleasant things about another Ashramite. This game of accusing each other will never end. Whenever I find that others are too busy in arguments, I listen to the ‘Savitri’ in the Mother’s voice and meditate.”
And thankfully he finally appears to resonate with Ms. Francois de Nelly, with whom I fully concur when she says:
“So why don’t we all start by minding our own business, and quietly read, study and start practicing all that Mother and Sri Aurobindo have written and said if we are so keen to listen to them?”

And she adds:  “I am willing to start, NOW. Will you (and others?) join?”  
Well, I too am willing to start now and join that initiative, with the hope that the nonsense that was started by some may come to a much required end, for the good of all. Sincerely, S.

Friday, April 23, 2010

No more replies from Auroman; Sharma listens ‘Savitri’

from Jitendra Sharma to  "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date  23 April 2010 18:49 subject  Reply to Mr. Subhas Roy Reply to Mr. Subhas Roy
Dear Mr. Subhas,
                      After finishing my studies in the Ashram School, I had studied in the Stendhal University of Grenoble (France). Then, I had settled down in Calicut (Kerala) as a Professor of French.
                      During the student period, I had the privilege of studying most of the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother with very devoted Professors. I always remember Jugal-da reciting ‘Savitri’ passages with closed eyes, in a meditative state of mind. I had been a ‘best student of the year’ of ‘Knowledge’. I had done Ph.D. on Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry.
                      Now, I am an “outsider”. I rarely visit the Ashram. At times, I just read other people’s opinions and comments on SEOF. I have no right to judge any person of the Ashram. I am not answerable for the views and Karmas of others.
                   I am a voracious reader and journalist. My day begins by reading the French newspaper “Le Monde” on Internet. I have it in my Inbox every morning. I read all varieties of French magazines also. Long back, I had read "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo”.
                 A message of the Mother is permanently displayed on the Notice Board of the Ashram. She advises not to speak unpleasant things about another Ashramite.
                  This game of accusing each other will never end. Whenever I find that others are too busy in arguments, I listen to the ‘Savitri’ in the Mother’s voice and meditate. - Jitendra Sharma

Comment posted by Govind Re: Poetry Time: 17 April 2010
I am not calling anyone a fool, but I do consider it an incredibly foolish thing for anyone to take the kind of liberties that Peter has taken in his book, trivializing, criticizing, ridiculing and even scandalizing One whom he apparently considers his master. [...] When someone sets himself up as the highest authority and seeks to fill the whole world with his own selective half-truths and distortions, while damning others who do not take his arrogant and presumptuous approach, as mere "hagiographers", then things have moved past a silent inaction or academic discussions.

Comment posted by: Govind Re: Poetry Time: 17 April 2010
here we are in the presence of a work which fails to see, even obscures, the Divine in the Supreme Divine Manifestation itself. It is therefore not surprising to find quite a bit of violence in this book as well. It would be a mistake to limit the definition of violence to mere physical attacks. Attempting to recast the image of Sri Aurobindo by introducing defects and controversies into it etc. is in itself an act of violence and defacement, an act of intellectual iconoclasm.
It may not be as overtly offensive to the sensibilities and as garish a sight as the physical destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha, but the spirit behind is similar, if not the same: intolerance of what one considers to be a false image, a false idol or a falsified depiction of Divinity that is manufactured by idolatrous hagiographers.

Comment posted by Govind Re: Poetry Time: 17 April 2010
I do agree that multiple narratives are possible, not only that but also inevitable. In fact there will be as many narratives as there are people who have some association with Mother Sri Aurobindo. However, in the case of the TLOSA book it has not been positioned as just another narrative among many others. There is, on the contrary, an attempt to foist ONE narrative as the solely valid, scientifically accurate or at least the most authoritative one. This is the way the book has been positioned and, more than anything else, this fact serves as clear warning about its intent and source of inspiration.

Comment posted by: RY Deshpande Re: Poetry Time: 17 April 2010
This work of his is a gross falsification, -- people in a hurry simply say it is a misrepresentation, -- falsification of the work and vision of the Yogi-Seer and along with it of the Mother. It is that we're trying to dismiss, a thing which is necessary. If we don't do it, we become its accomplice, and that is something ruinous for our souls. If we've an aspiration in our souls, if the psychic fire is well-kindled like the divine Agni of the Veda, then we cannot rest content. Remaining content amounts to subscribing to falsehood. My suggestion, my advice, my plea is to remain focused on the focus. The rest is inconsequential. RYD

Comment posted by: auroman Re: Poetry Time: 17 April 2010
I know this debate is going to be inconclusive.  We have to wait for a few more months.  The wheels of Karma churn more slowly than I assumed but so far I have every indication that they will have an effect. I have nothing more to add right now.  No more replies from me!

Re: Savitra: Reflections of an Evolutionary Activist: The Shadow of Fundamentalism in the Integral Yoga
by Debashish on Fri 06 Mar 2009 01:33 AM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
The complexity of Sri Aurobindo's comprehensive vision, which does not enjoin any reductionist principle, such for example as non-violence, makes things even more difficult. It is easy to justify any kind of action on the basis of this vast field of possibiltities, while personally encompassing hardly a sliver of that consciousness. And I have no doubt that this is possible while maintaining a relation of deep devotion with the gurus and the divine. The problem is that a relation with the transcendent, however intense, if not extended into universality, turns easily into rabid fanaticism. If we lose sight of the larger dimension of evolving consciousness in the world and in individuals and phenomena all around us, we will have given the lie to that profound teaching which came to put an end to human ignorance and suffering and which graced us with an invitation.

Re: Larger Issues of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" Controversy
by Debashish on Thu 19 Feb 2009 03:08 PM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
DB: Sri Auorbindo's yoga is not a traditional yoga and his ashram was not meant by him to be a traditional ashram. In his words, "I have come to break conventions not to uphold them." There is no "norm" held out in any of Sri Aurobindo's teachings regarding other ashram members "not appreciating someone adopting a critical tone towards [the guru]." An individual disciple's attitude towards the guru is entirely between the indvidual and the guru. Sri Aurobindo himself has noted that his guru, Lele, was vastly inferior to him in intellect. However, he felt the divine presence behind him and felt comfortable surrendering to him for guidance in yoga. Thus appraising the nature of one's guru is a personal matter and need have nothing to do with surrendering to the divine in him for yoga sadhana. What is held out as a "norm" rather, is the injunction to ashram residents to mind their own business and not interfere in others' behaviors unless personally attacked. […]
DB: Once again, whatever a traditional yoga ashram is obliged to do or not does not apply to the Sri Auorbindo Ashram. It is expressly for reasons such as given here, that Sri Aurobindo was so reluctant to name the collective of people practising sadhana under him as "an ashram." Even when so named, he was careful to reiterate that this was not to be compared with other traditional ashrams. (The Mother has said that it would be more proper to think of it as an educational institution for unending study and research in living a perfect life.) All individual views arising within the matrix of sadhana are legitimate here and should be given their value, whether one agrees with them or not. There is nothing in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo that is maliciously derogatory of the yoga or its founders. If some critical views or even doubts are expressed, they are part of a sadhak's journey and no one has any right to demand their or their speaker's expulsion from "an integral field of spiritual culture."

Those who have acted against the author of The Lives have done so clearly against the spirit of the Integral Yoga and the ashram founded on the principles of this yoga. Whether consciously or unconsciously, they represent a great danger to the collective manifestation of the yoga - its transformation into a controlled and narrowly authorized religion.

I happen to be in this group of those mildly dissatisfied with the book

An analysis of readers
by Kepler on Mon 11 May 2009 03:00 PM PDT |  Profile |  Permanent Link
Debashish: “Peter raises questions which others haven't, because he is aiming his biography at a certain readership. … Many of the problems of devotees' perception is arising from this - that they are shocked not by the answers Peter gives but the questions he raises (internalizing the persona of his intended audience). They are hardly looking with clarity at the answers, the questions are already suggesting answers to their minds and damming the book and its author.” 

I thought this was a very revealing analysis. Perhaps readers could be broadly categorized by their reaction to these “questions he [Peter] raises” as follows:

Group-1: these readers were not disturbed by the mere posing of critical questions about Sri Aurobindo, and found the answers given were on balance quite favorable to Sri Aurobindo. These readers tend to have a favorable opinion of the book. To them the author’s agenda seems to be presenting Sri Aurobindo positively to an audience that expects a certain critical approach (e.g. academic readers).

Group-2: these readers found the posing of critical questions about Sri Aurobindo to be off-putting and of questionable value, but found the answers given were on balance quite favorable to Sri Aurobindo. These readers tend to be mildly dissatisfied with the book. (I happen to be in this group – perhaps it’s the smallest :)

Group-3: these readers were highly offended by the posing of critical questions about Sri Aurobindo, regardless of how they were “answered”. The fact that the author gives answers on balance quite favorable to Sri Aurobindo does little to assuage these readers’ offense. In fact to them it seems to make the author appear devious – he says positive things in some places (perhaps to appear balanced), but also poses critical questions which encourage doubts or worse among his readers. These readers tend to take the critical questions themselves (not the answers) as indicative of the author’s opinions and agenda: spreading doubts, casting aspersions, or something similarly inappropriate.

Another large group exists of those who have not themselves read the book but have strong opinions based on the commentary of others; arguably they have been most influenced by group-3.

Group-1 might charge group-3 with poor reading skills; group-3 might characterize group-1 as cold intellectuals. But if this categorization of readers is approximately accurate, it offers some insight into how this single biography has led to such strongly divergent reactions, not between admirers and detractors of Sri Aurobindo (which might have been expected), but among people all of whom are admirers, followers, and devotees of Sri Aurobindo. Kepler 

Re: Larger Issues of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" Controversy
by Debashish on Fri 20 Feb 2009 10:51 AM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
We evidently have a difference of perception about the "400-page written in a critical style." As Angiras has brought out elsewhere (The Strange Case of Dr. M and Mr. S) this biogrpahy is written following a method which is both "against the grain" and "with the grain" and of the two, much more "with the grain" than "against the grain." The allergic responses to the parts written "against the grain" (keeping in mind the interpellation of an audience brought up to the norms and coneventions of the western academy) have been hugely exaggerated and given pathological manifestation by people whose sense of balance and ulterior motives need serious consideration.

This is the sector of "devotees" who have a narrow understanding of the integral yoga. It is not that this sector was any less numerous during the time Sri Aurobindo and/or the Mother were in the body, but they were given their place and did not have the "voice" they now do in the absence of the gurus. This is what has created a dangerous situation with regard to the wider possibilties of the yoga.

Re: Savitra: Reflections of an Evolutionary Activist: The Shadow of Fundamentalism in the Integral Yoga
by Debashish on Fri 06 Mar 2009 02:32 PM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
S: For if we still fear to openly admit what we have allowed ourselves to do to ourselves, we continue to unconsciously collude with our own Shadow.
DB: A matter truly worthy of reflection. In the last 3 months, I have had occasion to meet quite a large cross-section of Sri Aurobndo followers in various parts of the world - the ashram and Auroville, members of various "centers," individual practitioners and scholars. In these encounters, i have tried to ascertain the atttitudes of people to the present controversy. If I were to enumerate these attitudes, this is how it would look:

1. those who see the book as a major contribution and are aghast at the actions of its author's antagonists (a very few, but increasing sector as more copies of the bok become available - in spite of childish efforts to "ban" it in India.)

2. those who find some faults with the book but read it positively overall, and are very unhappy with its author's antagonists (some more than 1 and also an increasing sector. These usually take issue against the antagonists based on the right of the author and the fundamentalism of the antagonists).

3. those who read the book positively and disagree with the antagonists, but continue to hold the latter in high regard as teachers of IY, supporting their other activities and attending their talks (a larger bunch than 1 or 2. This unfortunately, seemed to me to be that "silent majority" we oten count on. It is this sector that needs to take special heed of your last sentence - more on this later).

4. those who have not read the book and don't wish to read it or participate in any action either against it or against its author's antagonists. (also a large segment of those I met. To these, issues in the collectivity were best ignored in the interests of personal sadhana).

5. those who have not read the book but are willing to lend their active support to adversarial activities of its author's antagonists. (also a large section, larger than 1 or 2 and maybe 3, these are the majority of the ones who signed the signature petition, started ipetitions of their own, expressed violent sentiments in words or actions or heroically offered their identities for the perpetration of harassing lawsuits).

6. those who have read the book, find it "horrible," and are avid supporters of its author's antagonists. (a smaller bunch than 5).

Many words have been written on this forum about a number of these segments, but it is 3 and 4 who need specially to refect on the last words you say here. These are the ones who pride themselves on their "equality," while equating it with the refusal to take sides or with the payment of lip service to all sides. It is the spinelessness of these sectors which represents the greatest danger to the public conversion of the Integral Yoga into a fundamentalism. These sectors includes not just individuals, but publishers, centers and sponsoring organizations. It is of this same sector of which you write:
"I can imagine that there are still some people associated with IY or Auroville who wish that I hadn't dredged up all these old wounds and dead bodies. Why, they might ask, was it necessary to revisit all this ugliness which is so offensive? For such public exposure will only give us a "black eye"."
Unfortunately, it is this apathy and complicity with the Shadow which gradually and by default seems to have established itself in what we today call "the IY community." 

No mud-slinging by Perter Heehs against members of the Ashram

from Satheesh S to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date 23 April 2010 10:29 subject Regarding the continued misrepresentation of facts on the “Mirror of Tomorrow”:
Dear Mr. Auroman de le Miroir,
First of all, thank you very much for your large and generous LOAD of ASSUMPTIONS! The "evidence" that you have produced says it all!
Thank God that you are not involved in the investigation of the Indian Premier (Cricket) League fraud. Because if what you have produced here is what you call evidence, even all those NOT involved in the IPL would be put behind bars! Now, let's be a little serious:

a - Get out of the time-warp web that Mr. RYD appears to have cast around you. You are not anymore in 1950-51, during the time the 1950-51 edition of Savitri was published. Since then, more than a few Indians have travelled overseas, both in the
U.K., the U.S., Australia and other english speaking countries, and vice-versa. Since then the internet came to being and so did blogsites, such as this one, where ideas, information and language are shared globally. And since then english has become one large international language that billions across the world use. Do some simple statistics to calculate the odds and see if its even remotely possible that my english or mode of expression compares to that of those who you think I am posturing for. C'mon dude, wake up! Be serious. Does this sound a little different now? Or is it still dependant on the level of discourse that you wish to entertain with those others who make accusations but cannot produce evidence as they lack a sense of basic ethics!? This must sound very familiar...

b - When you obviously cannot provide affirmative and unequivocal evidence about my alleged statements, you say: "As to the evidence of Satheesh calling Heehs a "published scholar", search on SCIY and you will find it somewhere.  I don't have to waste my time on these silly nitpicks."
Sorry, sir, but once again that is not the way one produces evidence.

Moreover, you say that you do not want to waste time on "these silly nitpicks", but you seem to have spent considerable amount of time analyzing my english with that of some others to try and ascertain my identity. Now, tell me, isn't that being sillily nitpicky? My e-mail address is not concealed behind someone's oath of secrecy and is available on the SEOF. Don't you think it would have been simpler to just write to me and ask me who I am!?

c - You say "I don't know the exact details of the 1993 edition of Savitri and I may not agree with or understand the points RYD makes but I believe RYD can use the exact same arguments which were used to defend Heehs."

There is no problem whatsoever if Mr. RYD wishes to follow Mr. Peter Heehs' footsteps and use arguments (preferably sensible ones) to defend himself.  I have not come across any mud-slinging, public at least, being undertaken by Mr. Perter Heehs against members of the SA Ashram including the Ashram management, on any of the related public blogs. I understand that he is being accused by a group of people of having insulted Sri Aurobindo and hurting the feelings of devotees, but as there is another group who feels that he has done just the opposite, I cannot comment on this subject till I am well-versed about it.

But notwithstanding the differences of opinions surrounding Mr. Peter Heehs, does this entitle Mr. RYD to misuse The Mother's words and use them against two respectable people of the SA Ashram, twist and distort Mr. Amal Kiran's statements, insult Mr. Nirodhbaran publicly by alleging that he was called a moron by The Mother and stating that the editorial work of the 1993 edition of Savitri was gawkish, just because it doesn't suit Mr. RYD's self-opinionated perception???

d - For the sake of the record, and please get it straight, that contrary to what you allege, I never said the following:
"Heehs is an independent-minded man who does critical thinking; He doesn't have to accept the Divinity of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He is just questioning (undermining) Sri Aurobindo's version of history. This is part of his Yoga. We should not judge him. It is between him and the Mother. Sri Aurobindo is not affected by any of this."

On the contrary you add and say:
"Fine, then RYD is also an independent-minded poet who can question the changes in various editions of Savitri.  RYD doesn't have to accept Amal or Nirod as infallible either.  This is part of RYD's Yoga.  We should not judge him. It is between him and the Mother. Sri Aurobindo is not affected by any of this."

Well, if this is so, then this should settle the matter. Because if you say that Mr. RYD's main contention is to be treated at par with Mr. Peter Heehs, and try to establish that he shares the same platform, then let Mr. RYD henceforth be considered and treated just like Mr. Peter Heehs is. So why choose to praise one and condemn the other??? Let's either praise both or condemn both! Maybe The Mirror of Tomorrow needs to be dusted a little bit for some to realize that the reflection of Mr. RYD in the mirror is none else than that of his alter ego, Mr. Peter Heehs'!? Would that solve this conundrum?

And so, I wonder, which brew Mr. RYD has been serving to the few of you all along on the Mirror of Tomorrow to make your analytical skills so blunt. Because if you keep confusing issues, jump to conclusions the way you have and behave contradictorily, be it on my identity or the Savitri editing, among a host of other things, based of course on the evidence that is concocted by some of you, then it is no wonder that you believe that everyone except a few of you are "morons", that the 1993 edition of the Savitri has been edited in a gawkish manner, that the Sri Aurobindo Ashram management is always at fault, and that you are the only enlightened ones.
Best luck to you and your kind! Sincerely, Satheesh.

from Subhas Roy to date 23 April 2010
12:17 subject Savitri
Dear Dr. Prof. Jitendra Sharma, 
You say: 
1: “It is extremely foolish to mock and criticize a genuine scholar like RYD.”

2: “At present, we are lucky to have RYD, an excellent pundit of ‘Savitri’.”

3: “It is very sad that in the Ashram people lack mutual benevolence and respect. Each fellow has a holier-than-thou attitude. Where will this chaos lead?” 

May I please ask you to answer the following questions: 

1: If it is foolish to mock and criticize Mr. RYD, then is it not equally foolish to mock and criticize Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran? Why is Mr. RYD mocking them, saying their work is “gawkish”, in the public? Is he also foolish then? 

2: If according to you Mr. RYD is a pundit of Savitri, were Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran, less pundits? Why do some of you behave as if  Mr. RYD is “holier-than-thou” and think that he is a bigger pundit than Mr. Nirodbaran or Mr. Amal Kiran? Let us take a survey and see who is a bigger pundit of Savitri, Mr. Nirodbaran or Mr. RYD. 

Also, who is actually creating the chaos? Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran? Or is it really Mr. RYD? You tell me. They did their best, quietly without showing off, finished their work and offered to the Divine. Now Mr. RYD is saying their offering is not  of a good quality. Why does Mr. RYD need to create confusion? If Mr. RYD has serious and real objections, he should find the best solution that is respectable of everyone, Mr. Nirodbaran, Mr. Amal Kiran, the Ashram and also the Savitri poem. Is making so much noise the way of a pundit? 

3: When Mr. RYD criticizes other people in The Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram, such as Mr. Nirodbaran, Mr. Amal Kiran, Mr. Manoj Das Gupta and other senior members of the Ashram, is that OK? Mr. RYD is also doing that publicly. Is that also OK? In this case who has a “holier-than-thou” attitude? Have Mr. Nirodbaran, Mr. Amal Kiran or Mr. Manoj Das Gupta ever told, publicly, that Mr. RYD or anybody else is a moron, that he or others are less of a pundit? You tell me. 

And by the way did ever Mr. Nirodbaran or Mr. Amal Kiran or Ashram or anybody else ever told you or anybody not to read the 1972 Edition? If you like that edition, good for you! But why should some people start telling to the world that 1993 edition and that edtion alone is a bad edition. You say that you respect Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran and Ashram people from the bottom of your heart, but you ignore the fact that Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran have worked for decades on that edition (by the way, you often forget that both of them had worked on all the previous editions also) and tried to bring out the most error-free an edition as is possible by man?

So please first answer all the above questions and then we shall listen to you. Best Regards, Subhas Roy

from Auro Lumiere to date          23 April 2010 12:28 subject Regarding the misuse of Mother’s words (for your website please): Regarding the misuse of Mother’s words (for your website please):
Dear Mr. Jitendra Sharma, 
You say that you have read other parts of «The Mother’s Agenda» and I suppose that you may have read some other of her works that are not related to the editing of the Savitri.  
If so, you will agree that Mother has said many, many things on many, many subjects. And when talking to people on a personal level, Mother has even said things that may have been in contradiction or the opposite of what she would have told to somebody else. 

So I think that it is very, very unwise and inappropriate to try to use Mother’s words to prove one’s personal beliefs or to defend one’s arguments; more so regarding personal matters.  
Because I have found that Mother also very often said that people should mind their own business and not meddle with the affairs of others. 

So, would it not be logical and fair to remind those who are so keen to use Mother’s words to prove their point about the Savitri, that they should also pay heed to Mother’s advice and mind their own business instead of meddling with the business of people like Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran? 
So why don’t we all start by minding our own business, and quietly read, study and start practicing all that Mother and Sri Aurobindo have written and said if we are so keen to listen to them?  
I am willing to start, NOW. Will you (and others?) join? At the Service of Light and Truth, Françoise de Nielly

August Timmermans has left a new comment on your post "Ashram people lack mutual benevolence and respect": August Timmermans Posted by August Timmermans to Savitri Era Open Forum at 7:50 AM, April 23, 2010 [True Internet Co. ( Bangkok, Krung Thep, Thailand