Tuesday, April 3, 2012

If Heehs has defamed anyone; or violated any law, let the law takes its course

Tweets Prasanto K Roy  @prasanto Ram Guha on the stellar contributions of foreigners in India. Would the US throw out an accomplished US-resident Indian who wrote something someone disagreed with? It wouldn't be so stupid #PeterHeehs Retweeted by Gautam Chikermane
Dilip R.V. Kumar  @rvdilip - @MaliniP #Aurobindo's life (& lives of many of Great Masters) are inspiring indeed. Problem is we don't understand until outsiders tell us. Malini Parthasarathy  @MaliniP - @rvdilip Its not the outsider's fault! :)
Dilip R.V. Kumar  @rvdilip - @MaliniP We lack self confidence in us and in our abilities and in the abilities of our brothers and sisters of this great nation. Sad.

Intolerance: A National Pastime? NDTV Sanjay Pinto wrote a post:
After the Salman Rushdie saga in Jaipur, Peter Heehs is the latest author to come under fire for a biography of Sri Surobindo. Furious devotees at the Aurobindo Ashram in the otherwise quiet, sleepy union territory of Puducherry want the book banned and the American historian, who has been reportedly working in the former French Colony for over four decades to digitize the archives of the Indian nationalist and spiritual leader, deported. 
What they find offensive are portions attributing  a communal slant to Sri Aurobindo's leadership during the freedom struggle, the suggestion that Sri Aurobindo's spiritualism stemmed from  inherited psychological problems and the hint of  romantic overtones in Sri Aurobindo's relationship with his spiritual collaborator Mira Alfassa, revered by followers as 'The Mother. An unfazed Heehs concedes that Sri Aurobindo was a genius and a spiritualist of great standing. What I find odd is that instead of challenging the author on facts and even interpretation, his opponents are merely harping on some rule that inmates of the ashram have no right to write about the guru. Why are we so averse to a healthy debate? Why are we impervious to criticism or mere academic posturing? Why are we intolerant of 'the other view'?
Orissa, which also has a sizeable chunk of followers of Sri Aurobindo has banned the book. It is no one's contention that freedom of expression is an absolute right. If Heehs has defamed anyone; or violated any law, let the law takes its course. There is enough scope in the Indian Penal Code from Section 500 to Section 292 and a slew of other provisions to haul up a person. Let the courts decide if what is said or written, falls under a 'reasonable restriction' or not. The rules of discourse cannot be framed on the street.
Sreenivas Subramaniam: I cannot comprehend as to why can't Indians ever get out of this religious mindset. If we create more fundamentalist in our country, then there are chances of our society giving birth to radical groups.
Chandrashekhar: Sanjay, I disagree with you. If I provide wrong account of your life in public with hidden agenda, will your family not protest ?

Many voices of history The Hindu Romila Thapar PUSHPA CHARI March 31, 2012
To argue that there was always a single language is historically problematic. Religion too had multiple forms and contradictory beliefs in many manifestations, sects, cults and the absence of a single dominant monolithic religion… The point of course is that civilisations could only rise out of interaction and exchange. They were essentially porous with indefinable contours. Boundaries were not inviolate and absolute… When corruption becomes so rampant, we must recognise that we are living in a society which is founded on immorality and an absence of ethics. This is not what makes for a civilisation…
I think that we — in our contemporary society and culture — do not respect the academic profession, nor do government agencies… I argued that I wanted my peer group to respect me (if they choose to) for what I am, and the work that I am doing and not because I've been given a Padma Bhushan. 

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