Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Truth, not belief, is the means and end

Tweets Vinod Sharma  @vinod_sharma I don't know who Heehs is, but from his many abominable essays packed with half-truths, I know what Ram Guha is about http://bit.ly/Hj3Ibs
58mnaresh fernandes  @tajmahalfoxtrot Ram Guha explains why historian Peter Heehs must be allowed to stay in India
Skeptic South Africa  @SkepticSA India: historian denied visa renewal - Peter Heehs is a scholar of Sri Aurobindo, but some devotees consider his boo... http://ow.ly/1iwDVK
Indian Editorials  @IndianEditorial HT: In Hume's footsteps: Historian Peter Heehs is part of a long list of foreigners who've made a signal... http://dlvr.it/1NwHbq
Kamayani  @Kracktivist Sri Aurobindo, Heehs and the fragility of faith http://wp.me/p27avX-M7 -  View media
Gautam Chikermane  @gchikermane Nice programme on the Peter Heehs issue on NDTV. Exposes the fundamentalist completely!
rajennair  @rajennair 'The lives of Sri Aurobindo' is not only banned but its Author Peter Hees, well known historian, shockingly is being expelled
Ritesh M Nayak  @itsmeritesh This Heehs guy is now being forced out of the country because he wrote something bad about Aurobindo. Book banned as well. #theocracy #India
doubtinggaurav  @doubtinggaurav Quoting from memory, Guru Aurobindo remarked that Bengal was rescued by Bhakti, same holds true for India#Bhakti

Mr Peter Heehs has absolutely no qualms in stating on a public television: “Its also a fact that Sri Aurobindo’s mother was mad; there is no question about that; and it’s also a fact that Sri Aurobindo was a genius”.
How does such a statement become interesting to make his biography acceptable to a certain class of high or erudite readership? I wonder, when it lacks even the cultural sense. The connection between the madness of the mother of Sri Aurobindo and he being a genius has been left hanging by a professional who claims himself to be an authority on such a subject. This statement might appear jarring to some ears, and one needn’t care about those ears, but the deliberate gaps left between the two are, on part of the author, an act of deliberate mischief.
Is this scholarship? Is this history? Is this an unbiased detached presentation of facts? And does the learned class find in it an excellent piece of research work, an “original” piece of work which makes the author’s biography impartial and neutral and objective, even non-judgmental?
Besides this, one has to also debate whether it is all right for anyone to state on public television that, one of the parents of the founder of the Ashram was mad? and for what purpose? If that anyone belongs to the Ashram, then the question arises: What is the spiritual merit, what is the spiritual content, what is the spiritual gain in publicly speaking something which is totally non-spiritual, in fact is unspiritual, even anti-spiritual?
And what’s next? Do we seriously argue and try to prove that it’s not proper for someone to publicly abuse Sri Aurobindo, and the Mother, while yet remaining in the Ashram, of which one is a part? This might be an institutional question but is not irrelevant.
A friend says: “I have to be dreaming here. This cannot be reality.”

Manoj Das and the history of kidney trouble by RY Deshpande on Wed 01 Sep 2010 12:11 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
He had a golden opportunity to reach a world-wide audience, smart and intelligent, the eager if not ‘hungry’ academics and the brilliant but bone-dry neo-enlightened ones, he should have told it that, “please read the book with caution, that its argument of primary sources is a façade, that they should not go by it as there is so much of misrepresentation in it, misrepresentation if not falsification.” Its one most persuasive and disarming example is, as pointed out by Sandeep in yesterday’s comment above, “the history of kidney trouble and Sri Aurobindo’s ‘death’ Re: Sraddhalu Ranade ... I reject the biography, says Manoj Das by RY Deshpande on Sun 29 Aug 2010 04:40 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
I honestly wish it had come out so categorically two years ago. I wish also its wisdom had been accepted by the Ashram authorities, which they should do at least now. But Manoj Das’s presenting it at this stage of developments gives one also the impression of him adjusting his sails to the strong winds that are blowing today. He is a politician at the core, and this is perfectly understandable. Much agony and much energy, and much consciousness, would have been saved had he asserted it earlier, had he prevailed on the Ashram authorities who look upon him as their wise-influential-respectable advisor-mentor. 10:06 AM 

PC seeks review of decision on historian's visa Indian Express - Express news service: Chennai, Tue Apr 03 2012, 03:53 hrs Updated: Tue, 3 Apr 2012 8:09 IST
After spending four decades in Puducherry and emerging as a frontline scholar on freedom fighter-turned spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo, American historian Peter Heehs’ stay in the country is hanging in balance following the decision by the Foreigner Regional Registration Office that his visa will not be extended beyond April 15.
The issue was taken up by some scholars who brought it to the attention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. Chidambaram has ordered a suo motu review of the decision taken by the FRRO, Puducherry.
Heehs has been in India since 1971 immersing himself in studies surrounding the life and teachings of Aurobindo. He is regarded as an expert in the field, working at the Aurobindo Ashram Archives for the past several years.
His troubles started with the publication of the book, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, in 2008 by the Columbia University Press in New York. While noted historian Ramachandra Guha — who said that the book was “the product of a lifetime of scholarship, its empirical depth and analytical sharpness is unlikely to be surpassed” — was among those who appreciated the work, a section of devotees termed it as “blasphemous” and obtained an injunction from the Orissa High Court in 2009 against its sale and distribution in India. Another case filed at the Madras High Court sought cancellation of his visa and his expulsion from the country. Interestingly, it was a private individual who preferred the petition and not the Aurobindo Ashram authorities.
Following the furore, the authorities had placed under suspension his visa for nearly two years. He was recently informed that the validity of his visa ends on April 15 after which no new application would be accepted from him.
According to those familiar with his works, Heehs’ book is a scholarly work for which truth, not belief, is the means and end. Heehs, who has written nine books on Aurobindo, India’s freedom struggle, and spirituality, has pointed out that for this book he did extensive research in the archives across the country, especially in Delhi and Kolkata.

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