Sunday, March 11, 2012

Once you put out a book, its content get quoted in other books

RY Deshpande Collapse
These journalistic blogs conveniently keep aside all that goes against their idée fixe. Indeed, these give the impression of having been planted or sponsored or commisioned by the authors concerned. It is a sad tale that journalists lend themselves to these methodologies.
The important point is, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo is a motivated work and therefore lacks objective scruples. The author with all the archival resources at his disposal—denied to other researchers—has used half facts and in the other half twisted them to suit his intentions. There is constant falsification, there is misrepresentation. It is these which cannot go unchallenged, and in them it is absurd to speak of “frailty of faith”. Where does faith come here in the picture? Just to give one example, the author of the Lives dismisses Sri Aurobindo’s “main work” as a “fictional creation”. Even for the sake of argument if it is so, he has not built up a rigorous thesis to arrive at this conclusion. It is such things which make me wonder at the wisdom of our wise journalists. Who would care for their writings except the gullible and those who have axes to grind? Yet may I expect the author of this post to go through the entire book carefully and arrive at his own conclusions without using the material supplied to him? In fact the question I would ask him: Has he read The Lives of Sri Aurobindo? I doubt.

Sandeep Collapse
I understand that as a journalist you are concerned about freedom of speech in this country. The Aurobindonians who opposed this book do not oppose freedom of speech. They don't go around filing legal cases against any individuals outside the Ashram who criticize or denigrate Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. People are free to accept or reject them as they wish. Our faith is not fragile as you seem to insinuate.
The court action in this case was necessary because a longtime member of the Ashram, who was trusted, inserted indecent remarks into the biography. The fact that he is a member of the Ashram gives him credibility with the larger audience. People would have accepted his version of the story. Once you put out a book, its content get quoted in other books and the misunderstandings perpetuate into infinite time.
The usual argument against banning a book is that you can oppose the book by writing a better book. We are quite willing to write another biography but the situation as it stands is that Heehs continues to retain precious documents in his possession which we would need access to. Furthermore, the Trustees of the Aurobindo Ashram have been quite unwilling to take any action against an American, perhaps due to a residual colonial mentality, while being quite vindictive against Indians who oppose their inaction. The complexity of the situation has forced people into resorting to court action.
One clarification on your article is required. Heehs is not the "founding editor" of the Archives as you claim. Heehs was a relatively minor figure who had just gained entry into the Ashram when the Archives was started. The founder of the Archives was a longtime disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Jayantilal Parekh, who had joined the Ashram in the 1940s and passed away in 1997.
You ask us to follow the Mother's advice: "When you have nothing pleasant to say about something or somebody in the Ashram, keep silent. You must know that this silence is faithfulness to the Divine’s work.” How do you know this quote is relevant to the situation at hand? The human mind has an built-in tendency to find quotes that would justify its own arguments. Why don't you ask Heehs, who has made unpleasant remarks in the book, to follow the same advice?

Donna Osborn Collapse
Sir, whether The Mother of Pondicherry or Sri Aurobindo set up a religious institution or not, there are many devotees around the world that enshrine them in their heart as Guru. I have read the Heeh's book. Many parts in it made me cringe. Peter Heehs sought refuge in the Ashram and lived there for all those years as a leech to the ones that provided his succor. Heehs is nothing but a drop out taxi cab driver with no claim to fame except his attempt to de-fame one light years beyond his puny understanding.

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