Monday, April 30, 2012

Falling in love with our greatness

About the same time that the Heehs controversy was brewing in 2008, the CNN-IBN news channel had carried out a bold sting operation on the Trustees of the ...

The author of this article Shri Surendra Singh Chouhan is an ex-student of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE); after finishing his Higher Course he taught for a year in SAICE. He is an international educator and presently ...

Messages in this topic Knowledge of one's religion and culture puts one in love with that and the resultant output is a fanatic or a chauvinist - a stone-headed, single-track homo-sapien. Thus the culture-knowing Indian is often required to be balanced and corrected by a culture-neutral one. Thank God, Indian society contains both. As Hindus, we need to be very careful about falling in love with our greatness.
Secularism requires that we keep Eyes Wide Shut. Gentlemanliness often demands that we hold on to the blinkers, lest we see... . Vishwa's assertion that Tagore's song was composed to our own Mother and not to King George V is a piece of such gentlemanliness… One respects Rajat Gupta, one respects S Kumar for their contributions to our discussion even though their observations diverge. This is exactly the kind of discussion for which this forum exists. We don't need agreements, we need only cogent, well-informed arguments. Dilip Kumar Roy [sbicitizen]

I believe it lies in the devout person's need to idealize someone, somewhere, who is believed to be free of the psychic dangers that sex brings with it, and then to identify with this "divine" being. As normal human beings we are all acutely aware of these dangers. The insatiability of sex, with its waves of violent, consuming hunger, threatens the loss of those we hold dear. Naked in our desire, we are vulnerable to disapprobation, mortification, rejection. Challenging the keepers of the social order and guardians of its taboos, we tremble at the punishment fitting the crime, emasculation, or more generally an unsexing. Worse still for many is the specter of relentless self punishment; searing, burdensome guilt. For the devout, the mystic holds a promise of freedom from these psychic threats.

Indian literature: Volume 15 - Sahitya Akademi - 1972 – Prema Nandakumar
Himself a scholar, he enthuses us to take to a life of scholarship. Having renounced his princely position in the Baroda College for the sake of Mother India, he makes our hearts glow with love for the Motherland.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Schelling spoke of evolution; Spencer no heartless social Darwinist

Darwin is supposed to have discovered something nowadays called “evolution” and to have laid to rest something nowadays called “creationism.” But if this is so, what are we to make of the theories of Schelling and Goethe in Germany, and of Coleridge in England, articulated several decades earlier than he? Their Romantic conception of the transformation and morphogenesis of molecules, plants, and animals, is already fully evolutionary. Schelling spoke of evolution of plants and animals out of the earth by way of a chemical process (see, e.g., p. 168, The Romantic Conception of Life by Robert Richards). Goethe and Coleridge agreed.
The reason Darwin is supposed to have discovered the “real” evolution is that his version is a-teleological, based on a conception of nature driven exclusively by efficient causes, while the Romantic theory of evolution is not only teleological, but theological. It breaks the rules of scientific explanation by attributing animation/agency to that which it theorizes. Modern science takes it as a matter of course that nature is within intelligence or intrinsic value. Romantics experience nature as full of complex feeling and archetypal intention. Even if, for Goethe, Nature is God and God is Nature, divinity is ingredient in any Romantic philosophy of nature. Goethe, were he interested in the abstract distinctions of philosophical logic, may also have articulated a panentheistic (like Coleridge and Schelling), rather than a pantheistic ontology. But cosmologically, these three Romantic Naturphilosophen conceive of nature alike as a creative, archetypal process of generation. They understood the universe to be an ensouled being living in the midst of itself, like a snake eating its own tail (following Plato in Timaeus). Schelling and Coleridge, whose soul’s were more Christian than Goethe’s, also perceived something fallen in nature (following Paul in Romans 8), and so also something–or rather, someone–in the process of being resurrected.

The Spencer Myth from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:
Jonah Goldberg rightly defends Herbert Spencer against the charge of being a heartless “social Darwinist” (“Top five cliches that liberals use to avoid real arguments,” April 28).  Spencer was, in fact, a profound and humane thinker who cherished individual liberty, celebrated the rich potential of voluntary action, championed women’s rights, vigorously opposed imperialism, and would never in a billion years have endorsed eugenics.  The myth that Spencer was a social Darwinist was created without basis by the historian Richard Hofstadter in the latter’s regrettably influential 1944 book, Social Darwinism in American Thought.
The persistence of Hofstadter’s myth was revealed in a telling way five years ago in the New York Times when reporter Patricia Cohen wrote “Victorian-era social Darwinists like Herbert Spencer adopted evolutionary theory to justify colonialism and imperialism, opposition to labor unions and the withdrawal of aid to the sick and needy” (“A Split Emerges as Conservatives Discuss Darwin,” May 5, 2007).  One week later the Times was obliged to offer this correction: “A front-page article last Saturday about a dispute among some conservatives over whether Darwinian theory undermines or supports conservative principles erroneously included one social Darwinist among Victorian-era social Darwinists who adopted evolutionary theory to justify colonialism and imperialism.  Herbert Spencer opposed both” (“Correction,” May 12, 2007).
The Times should have added also that Spencer, while opposed to guild-like monopoly privileges for producers (including for labor) as well as to the welfare state, objected neither to voluntary organizations of workers nor to charitable aid to the sick and needy. Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA  22030

Tweets 31 Mar Rod Hemsell @rodhemsell
From AV I have learned a profound distrust of ideologues who form power blocks to pervert the truth in the name of the truth. Only here?

Decentralize, spread out, enlarge

Sri Aurobindo Devotees: Pushpanjali, Sasi Balika Vidya Mandir, R.S. Puram, 9.30 am.; Sri Annai Meditation Centre, Kovaipudur, 4 p.m.

Our worth lies only in the measure of our effort to exceed ourselves, and to exceed ourselves is to attain the Divine. -The Mother

PURANI, AB (1967), Lectures on Savitri (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram). RAY, SIBNARAYAN (2000), Bengal Renaissance: The First Phase (Calcutta: Minerva). RAYCHAUDHURI, TAPAN (1988), Europe Reconsidered: Perceptions ...
Sumangali Morhall chased everything Western society taught her to pursue: material wealth, academic success, and even the perfect relationship, only to discover something deeply significant was still missing.
Sil, Swami Vivekananda, 116–117. 67. Sil, Swami Vivekananda, 115. 68. Chatterjee, Pather Dabi, 208. 69. Mukherjee and Mukherjee, Sri Aurobindo's Political Thought, 149. 70. Mukherjee and Mukherjee, Sri Aurobindo's Political Thought, 29.
West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California - Page 128 - Iain Boal, Janferie Stone, Michael Watts - 2012 - 304 pages - Preview
Fall '66 we went to an Intentional Communities conference in Ben Lomond and introduced ourselves as a Sri Aurobindo ashram. I had become a mad aficionado of sun-gazing, doing it in semishaded redwood groves. My thoughts would stop; ...
Thus it is that, at least in a conversational sense, one could point to St. Teresa of Avila, the Zen master Dogen, the Sufi al-Hallaj, or the Hindu sage Sri Aurobindo as “mystics”; the Enneads, the Upanisads, or the Zohar as classic ...
This is essentially the point Sri Aurobindo makes: “You must find, in the depths of your being, that which carries in it the sense of universality, limitless expansion, timeless continuity. Then you decentralize, spread out, ...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ambedkar, Sikand, & Auroville

Bodhi Sattva’s Hindutva: Part 5 from Centre Right India by Aravindan Neelakandan
In his seminal but incomplete work, “Buddha or Karl Marx” Dr. Ambedkar had made a comparison between Marxism and Buddhist Indic philosophy with Parliamentary democracy as an important factor of distinction:
“Man must grow materially as well as spiritually. Society has been aiming to lay a new foundation was summarised by the French Revolution in three words, Fraternity, Liberty and Equality. The French Revolution was welcomed because of this slogan. It failed to produce equality.
We welcome the Russian Revolution because it aims to produce equality. But it cannot be too much emphasised that in producing equality society cannot afford to sacrifice fraternity or liberty. Equality will be of no value without fraternity or liberty. It seems that the three can coexist only if one follows the way of the Buddha.”[xv] Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches, Vol-3, Education Dept., Govt. of Maharashtra, pp.452- 462

Living in an illiberal Indian Society from AV's politics by A. V. Satish Chandra
The contradiction here is that the sacred is invoked in order to perpetuate most unsacred and politically divisive agendas.  However, what concerns me here is the fact that this tendency of illiberalism is growing and restricting the freedoms and autonomy that various people are entitled to constitutionally and civilisationally.  An illiberal society that is tending to become fascist is also uncivil and unconstitutional apart from being an affront on the sensibilities of rational and sensible people. While it is not really possible to predict the exact consequences of this illiberalism, what can definitely be prognosticated is a society and nation that will be increasingly burdened with violence and lack of peace.
I will now conclude this piece by grinding one of my favourite axes. People who designate themselves as intellectuals and teaching professionals talk of the ills of Indian society as being a result of liberalism.  In doing so they are unwittingly strengthening the hands of the conservative fascists who use the idea of liberalism as being an enemy of the people. 

Yoginder Sikand's apology and clarification regarding his article 21 April, 2012 Dear Friends, This is with regard to an article that I recently wrote titled 'Why I Gave up on "Social Activisim"'. A number of friends and others were upset about the article, and hence I decided that I needed to write this note.
To begin with, I have to say that I am open to my mistakes being pointed out, for which I am grateful, for otherwise how will I know where I'm wrong? I do need to know this so that I am able to correct and improve myself.
I have to clarify that I did not seek to generalise about all activists, and a careful reading of the article will indicate this. I was talking essentially of folks who, wittingly or unwittingly, were making a living out of 'activism' and actually doing little for the people in whose names they spoke--and I have said I was doing quite the same in my own way (Surely, not everyone was doing that, of course, and I didn't claim this either). In making this point, I was trying to suggest that this was doing nothing much good for the poor people in whose names these folks were making money and careers for themselves. Obviously, all of this made the task of genuine activists even more difficult and had made it easy for their critics (Hindutvawalas etc.) to brand all forms of activism as tainted and to question the credentials of all activists as such. However, if what I wrote can possibly be construed as de-legitimising activism altogether, I have to apologise because this is not what I really intended.
Secondly, I didn't mean to downplay or ignore or minimize the reality of social oppression, in the form of imperialism, Hindutva fascism and caste/class/religious oppression and so on, and especially the sort of discrimination that caste/religious minorities face. I didn't intend to blame the victims for their own oppression, though I now realise and agree with some friends that the article could possibly be misinterpreted by others to suggest this. Let me clarify that I do recognise such forms of oppression as very real. And I certainly didnt mean to suggest that there was no need to meaningfully work against such forms of oppression. If what I have written seems to suggest anything to the contrary, I am honestly and truly sorry. I would be very sad if this article were seen as a means to legitimise oppression in any form.
I also have to say that I didn't intend to equate minority and majority communalism, or caste assertion by Dalits with caste oppression by 'upper' caste Hindus, but if that is what some people can interpret the article as suggesting, I really and sincerely apologise for the mistake. I have to thank folks who faulted my article for indicating to me where I had gone wrong, and once again say I am sorry for any mistakes I might have made, such as I've outlined above. With love, yoginder sikand

Beware of religion from auroleaks by auroleaks - We find it useful to republish here this article by Carel from the October 2003 issue of Auroville Today.
“Have we, the editors, become Indianised? For none of our Indian readers raised a concern and perhaps not even an eyebrow as living with images of gods and goddesses or of swamis and yogis is such a daily occurrence. In the West, however, it is different. It is a common experience for all those who endeavour to raise funds for Auroville’s projects that one has to be careful in describing the city’s spiritual aims. Funding agencies, particularly Western funding agencies, take a somewhat jaundiced view of anything that might appear a cult. So do income tax authorities in some countries. A few years ago, Auroville International Germany successfully defended in court that Auroville is not a sect, in order not to lose the income tax exemption German donors enjoy for donations to Auroville projects.”

It is the objective historian who will define the yoga for us. Nay he will redefine it, even improving upon what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother revealed. We are fools who have been poring our hearts and soul over Their writings, reading them without context with our poor knowledge of English and our emotional brains. That is not how we need to read and understand. It is Peter who will provide the context…
Oh yes and coming to originality of ideas, Sri Aurobindo borrowed the ideas of Western thinkers and expanded them into the Life Divine and the Human Cycle. In poetry He ‘could do nothing better than imitate’ some already outdated Western models though ironically and mistakenly He called it Future poetry. But that is excusable since He did not know what is coming in the Future just as He ‘did not anticipate the advances in molecular biology and used metaphors such as the Idea of the tree is in the seed’ that we foolish Indians interpret as some great fundamental truth. There is no idea out there, only genes. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Peter Heehs, without any academic qualification, has written the jinxed book

American writer Peter Heehs, without any academic qualification, has written the jinxed book “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo”. He dons the garb of a researcher, a devotee and an impartial biographer. He writes a few pages in the book insinuating that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had a romantic relationship and Sri Aurobindo’s personality had some elements of ‘schizophrenia’, inherited from his mad mother, which were the root causes of his mystical yogic powers and supernatural experiences.
He blames Sri Aurobindo for India’s partition. After sowing such seeds of wild suspicions in the minds of readers, Heehs makes a sudden u- turn that the relationship between Sri Aurobindo and the Mother might have been spiritual. Even though all Indians respect Sri Aurobindo as a freedom fighter, Heehs calls him a terrorist. This kind of incendiary, inflammatory, defamatory, objectionable, denigrating and abusive observations run through the entire  fabric of the book. This book is full of intentional distortions, innuendos, false fabrications, misleading out-of context references and baseless conclusions in the name of richly-documented research. A discerning reader feels unmistakable hostility of Heehs towards Sri Aurobindo. To gain credibility of readers, he falsely claims to be one of the founders of Sri Aurobindo Ashram’s Archives. He intentionally omits all positive historical evidences in favour of Sri Aurobindo and provides a ready collection of adverse tidbits to belittle his greatness.
Indian Government does not permit freedoms of speech and expression beyond a certain point. Delhi High Court had recently asked Google, Yahoo and Facebook etc. to censor all objectionable material. They had shown some bad comments and pictures that had maligned Sonia Gandhi. Similarly, when M.F. Husain had painted Indian Goddesses in nude, the Indian Government had not supported him.
I have read this blasphemous hagiography (or rather Heehography?!) twice. It brought tears to my eyes. Does this book denigrate Sri Aurobindo or not? We all await a final judgment of a Court of Law with a bated breath. Here are Mother’s relevant words:
“Anything written by a sadhak about Sri Aurobindo which brings him down to an ordinary level and admits the reader to a sort of gossiping familiarity with him is unfaithfulness to Him and His work. Good intentions are not sufficient.” - The Mother (Collected Works of the Mother, Vol. 13, Page 27) 
- Dr. Jitendra Sharma
Head, Department of French, St. Joseph’s College, Devagiri, Calicut-673008 (Kertala)

There would be nothing wrong with that if the book was truly an honest and scholarly biography. Unfortunately it is full of misrepresentations and deliberate distortions regarding a) facts surrounding important events, b) their historical context, c) the teaching of Sri Aurobindo, d) the nature of his own yogic practices, e) life in the Ashram, and f) the Mother. Naturally these also lead to false interpretations and wrong conclusions. On reading the entire book, the pattern that emerges is that PH has distorted facts to force them to fit the Freudian view of spirituality. Such a book cannot be accepted as 'scholarly' since standards of scholarship demand honesty, accuracy and completeness in presenting facts. All three elements have been seriously compromised in this book. Peter has always avoided discussions. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust never tried to seriously find the solution. The Trust has weaken itself. Still if they wish proper solution can be found. from: Steeve Posted on: Apr 1, 2012 at 13:48 IST

Peter Heehs has crossed all the limits a man can, when writing this controversial book. The book in question has already been banned in India since April 2009. The Life History of great men can not be assessed from a very trivial and ordinary level of understanding, from a very low level of consciousness as Peter has done in his book. By doing so, he has hurt the sentiments of not only the millions of disciples and devotees of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, but also he has slammed all Indians in their face by maligning a freedom fighter of India, the only one to demand 'Complete Swaraj" from the British rulers. Only Sri Aurobindo's name appears in the records of the British Parliament as the "Most dangerous man in India", the greatest revolutionary. Peter must be deported from India. His visa, in no case, be renewed. Such an anti-national and criminal has no place in India, who tries to blame the freedom fighters, lovers of humanity, spiritual leaders, guru and incarnation of Supreme. from:  Biranchi Karan Posted on: Apr 2, 2012 at 15:44 IST

Peter himself has declared in his controversial book that he is a school drop out, was a taxi driver in USA. When did he become a historian without having any academic qualification or training? Is India so poor with Historians that a foreign national, without having any knowledge on Indian history & culture, will attempt to write filthy garbage, in the name of biography? When Sri Aurobindo himself has said that his life is not on the surface for men to see, how dare such an unwanted person write about him? Was it necessary? No, there is an international conspiracy to malign the spiritual leaders of our country. They (Jeffry Kripal who has financed this book, also financed another book called 'Kalis child' in which they have tried to show that Sri Ramakrishna was a homo-sexual) Jeffry Kripal, Richard Murphy etc. are the real conspirators in the process. A thorough investigation would reveal a lot of hidden agendas behind the ill motives of these people. from:  Biranchi Karan Posted on: Apr 2, 2012 at 15:59 IST 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sri Aurobindo Study Circle, Bangalore devotees incensed over Heehs

Letter to the Trustees from Sri Aurobindo Study Circle, Bangalore From: Sri Aurobindo Study Circle 17th April 2012
We must regretfully admit that our faith and confidence has been shattered in the incumbent establishment as the preserver and protector of the living memory of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Although we may not claim to be the anointed custodians of the well being of the Ashram, it cannot be denied that as devotees we too have a certain responsibility in respect of preserving and fostering this sacred institution and protecting its sanctity and dignity. It is in this larger indirect role that we wish to make the following suggestions for due consideration of the Trustees in earnest hope that they will not be misunderstood as an encroachment on their authority but will be welcomed instead in the right spirit as issuing from fellow Sadhaks on important matters of common concern. Measures requested:
1. Not to permit Peter Heehs to stay in the premises of any part of Sri Aurobindo Ashram or of its connected institutions.
2. He must be disowned forthwith by the Ashram Authorities and its other institutions in writing followed by public endorsement through the media.
3. To get in touch immediately with the foreign Publishers of Peter’s Book and contain the damage even if it means initiating necessary legal action in this regard. 
4. To convey effectively to the Publisher the rage and resentment that the book has evoked among the Devotees and admirers worldwide so that they desist from
5. reprinting the same or publishing modified or abridged versions of it in any form in the future. 
6. To take careful stock of pilferage, misuse etc. of documents in any form in the Archives and elsewhere by Peter Heehs and make efforts at retrieval 
7. The Managing Trustee to issue an unequivocal statement through the media and in writing that the contents of the book are distorted and are entirely the personal views of Peter Heehs and certainly do not reflect the views of the Ashram.
8. As a matter of official policy from now on, the Trustees may invariably consider the following people as Invitees to broaden participation in the collective decision making process:
Representatives of Sri Aurobindo Society
Heads of Departments within the Ashram
By rotation, (once in two/three years), a few senior Sadhaks within the Ashram and also a few representatives from the various Branches of Sri Aurobindo Society all over India. Thanking You, Sincerely yours, for SRI AUROBINDO STUDY CIRCLE Dr. G. N. Narayana Reddy
cc : For the kind information of His Excellency The Lt. Governor of Pondicherry,
Raj Nivas, Pondicherry – 605001. Signatures of Members of Sri Aurobindo Study Circle [367]

M R Venkatesh, Deccan Herald Blasphemy tag strains Aurobindo Ashram Pondicherry, April 21 2012
Any ban on the book would not only be against the basic freedom of expression, but will militate against Aurobindo’s free spirit, many felt.

If allegations in a publication or proposed publication are true, or the author believes them to be true, they are entitled to be published. A publication may be defamatory, but it is entitled to be published as long as it is true or a defence of truth or of a privilege is made out. 

Parameters of privacy - Indian Express Soli J. Sorabjee : Sun Apr 22 2012
Privacy is distinct from defamation. If the facts stated about a person are false, then the person responsible may be sued for libel. Privacy is invaded when without consent there is disclosure of information about a person’s private life, which is true, but causes the person embarrassment and distress. Truth is no defence to breach of privacy. Right to privacy is not absolute. 

another call for major media not to provide a platform for trolls from Object-Oriented Philosophy - Apr 21, 2012  by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman)
Freedom of speech means that you can’t face judicial punishment for what you say. It doesn’t mean you won’t become a social outcast for saying certain things.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Mother enshrined Sri Aurobindo's Relics

Sad to see so much confrontation around Aurobindo and the Mother. They were very clear about not wishing to create, or continue religions. There will always be power-play, but one of the things the in spirants of Aurobindo and the Mother could do is to create a polyphony of views, a shared and divergent ecology of communities who are each working together towards social transformation, despite their disagreements. We are all part of this spiritual and metaphysical transformation together. How silly it is to argue and bicker over authority. Let the writings speak for themselves. Let the scholars share their voice among many.
I think part of the response we can give to the religious communities around Sri Aurobindo is to consider them part of that ecology. I find Gebser's work helpful here, because he too felt that we can't necessarily eliminate old consciousness structures, but see them as co-constituents in the integral world. Within the Integral Yoga community, maybe, this can also happen?
Great point about focusing on the writings alone. Made me think about the legalistic view, which I hadn't considered before when saying "let their works speak for themselves." It still leaves tension, however, between the original work and the subsequent adaptations. Some things can get lost in this process. So how to acknowledge the "practice?" I guess the answer isn't academic. Maybe, simply, creating another "practice" which aligns more with our own take on Aurobindo and the Mother. Or any philosophy/school for that matter! :)
Very interesting that the Mother enshrined Aurobindo's relics. Well, that does complicate the reality, doesn't it? As far as Gebser and the Supramental Manifestation, I don't think we can say, either way, what he envisioned or inspired his work. In the second publication of EPO, Gebser made a point to say he and Aurobindo were doing work in parallel and that he was pleased with this.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Slap on the face of religious fundamentalism

Tweets Gautam Chikermane  @gchikermane Peter Heehs: Have a safe journey. Come back and continue with your vast, deep and inspiring work. We wait for your next book. 11:55 AM - 14 Apr 12. Uma Shashikant  @Uma_Shashikant - @gchikermane You led a very spirited and inspiring twitter campaign for Heehs, Gautam. Kudos! 10:48 AM - 14 Apr 12. Gautam Chikermane  @gchikermane - @Uma_Shashikant Thanks. It's going to be a long war - book by book, idea by idea, cartoon by cartoon. 11:27 AM - 14 Apr 12. This is a decision in favour of free speech and a slap on the face of religious fundamentalism. 10:15 PM - 13 Apr 12. Madanmohan Rao  @MadanRao Gautam Chikermane: I wrote about deportation of Peters Heehs (biographer of Sri Aurobindo), got shallow reactions from twitterati #PulEjawan 5:17 PM - 14 Apr 12. Malini Parthasarathy  @MaliniP Heehs biography is well researched and ultimately a tribute to Aurobindo. We are a tolerant society but don’t want our heroes smirched! :) 6:47 PM - 14 Apr 12

A Heretic Believer Scholar or devotee? A schizoid split? Aurobhakts are torn over Peter Heehs. CONTROVERSY: AUROBINDO ASHRAM PUSHPA IYENGAR Outlook MAGAZINE APR 23, 2012 Hot seat Peter Heehs with the ‘offending’ book … Underneath the surface though, there are valid, fundamental questions about how he could be a part of the ashram and yet write such a book… His backers say the book has become a victim of the prevailing climate of “fundamentalism” and “increasing religiosity”.
But the naysayers claim he wrote the book to trigger controversy, and get mileage… An insider says Heehs’s book has bothered those who feel they are the rightful inheritors of Aurobindo’s intellectual tradition. Not Heehs, who has written nine books and several articles on him over 40 years.

These observations are incorrect. Sri Aurobindo certainly did not regard the Darshan as a “ancient form that Indians have difficulty going beyond.” What Sri Aurobindo thought about the Darshan can be read from the recently published “Letters on Himself and the Ashram”

Mr Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s work says much about our media culture of readership as regards to Sri Aurobindo. His article represents a new dimension, a new layer, a scholarly-professionally sordid element in the patronizing of Mr Heehs. As yet the controversy was of content. Mr Mehta goes a step further, dismissing the objections to content [...] Read more of this post - RY Deshpande from Mirror of Tomorrow April 14, 2012 at 6:20 am URL:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Banerji's blind spot

Tweets Mihir Sharma  @mihirssharma A free country again. Yay. RT @PTI_News: 1-year extension of visa for controversial US historian Peter Heehs: Home Ministry officials. 9:21 PM - 9:01 PM - 13 Apr 12 CNN-IBN News  @ibnlive RT @IBNLiveRealtime US historian Peter Heehs gets 1-year visa extension 9:28 PM - 13 Apr 12 

Peter Heehs may have to leave India; MHA unlikely to intervene - PTI 07:04 PM, Apr 13, 2012 New Delhi, Apr 13 (PTI)
Controversial US historian Peter Heehs may have to leave India on Sunday as the Home Ministry is unlikely to intervene in the immigration authorities' decision not to extend his visa.
Peter Heehs may have to leave India Times of India - PTI Apr 13, 2012, 07.16PM IST
When the matter was reported in the media, home minister P Chidambaram had announced that he had asked for a suo motu review of the case and he would take an appropriate decision. After reviewing the case and considering several representations against Heehs, the home ministry is understood to have decided not to intervene in the issue. 

The reports of A.B. Purani used by Peter Heehs to misrepresent Sri Aurobindo's relation with the Mother fall in this category of unusable documents. A.B. Purani ... 

Re: Darshan Day Message: Justice (Heehs case stayed by Orissa High Court) by Debashish on Sat 05 Dec 2009 09:27 AM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
"The book titled “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo” published by Columbia University Press, US, has disparaging comments about the life of the spiritual leader."
It is interesting to see how fiction turns to fact in history. Correspondents and researchers quote information that they find repeated in "prestigious" sources. Slippery behind-the-scene negotiations (complex agency) mark the appearance of interpretations in "prestigious sources." This is the contest for truth, part of the will to power. Once established, such "truth" proliferates with a life of its own. Once it has been repeated a sufficient number of times, it is held as self-evident fact, not even worth citing. Gradually, following a Darwinian evolutionary course, alternate (recessive) interpretations disappear and only reproductions of the dominant version remain as the human memory of "what happened." 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bye-bye, Peter Heehs e-mails PTI

Historian to leave India before April 16 PTI 10:04 PM, Apr 12, 2012
Chennai, Apr12 (PTI) American historian Peter Heehs, whose book on Sri Aurobindo created a controversy and whose visa extension was not considered by the Home Ministry, today said he would not be in the country on April 16. "..if nothing happens before then (April 15), I will certainly not be in the country on the 16th," Peter Heehs told PTI through an email.
Heehs present visa is valid up to April 15. He was asked to leave the country after spending nearly four decades working on a project of digitisation and archival of works of freedom fighter and spiritual leader Aurobindo. "I have told the Regional Registration Office, Pondy (Puducherry), that I would abide by the terms of their response to my application, which specified that the Home Ministry was granting me an extension good until April 15 but would not consider a new application for renewal of my current entry visa. It follows that I should not be in the country after April 15," Heehs said.
The inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry was told by the Regional Registration Office at Puducherry that his visa will not be extended after April 15. Some historians had protested against the move of cancelling his visa and had also petitioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Chidambaram for reconsideration of decision. New Indian Express  @NewIndianXpress Historian Heehs to leave India before April 16: #PeterHeehs 10:29 PM - 12 Apr 12

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Heehs is prepared to strike out “questionable” passages

Friends, Since more than a week the impressive number of mushroom-like interviews have cropped up in the national media, mostly protesting against the Government of India's decision not to extend visa to a US citizen. In spite of the detailed explanation that the man has to leave India for Violation of Visa norms, the overwhelming subterfuge - around the issuing of the mischievous "biography" of Sri Aurobindo - has been playing the fish, while muddying the waters. Some people suspect the ample supply of the green currency in various forms intervening as a menacing anti-establishment force jeering at the Authorities.
Speaking about the recent condescending and rude attitude of the NDTV interviewer towards Professor Kittu Reddy, the brilliant representative of the Ashramites who had enough of the American's "history", a TV watcher from Kolkata has been under the impression that the situation was mysteriously reversed. Our liberal ethics taught us indeed to prefer defending a saheb (even if he is a lawbreaker) to the detriment of any native dissident. Once I have heard an Indian citizen lamenting: "Had we not been happy and secure under the British Raj ? What a madness to have driven them away!" His voice sounded like the yelping of the collar-less dog, nostalgic of its collar.
This reminds me of the sad state of affairs in Kolkata, in 1989. Boosted by the cream of Bengali intellectuals, an upstart French film maker had been insulting Maitrayee Devi, a respectable author and social worker, in the name of shooting the filmed version of La nuit bengali, a fiction by Mircea Eliade; the novel boasts of an adventurous European student abusing the universal norms of hospitality by trying to pick up young Maitrayee, daughter of his mentor, the philosopher Surendranath Dasgupta. On returning to Paris, invited by a friend, literary editor of the Anandabazar Patrika, I spent hours to disclose how insignificant Klotz was and what a flop his film had proved to be; but the logic of the infallibility of a saheb prevailed and the editor was asked not to publish the paper.
Historian or not, the cunning US hero of our story has not lost his time during his stay in India: perfectly aware of our weak points, he seems to be far from playing his last card. Prithwindra Mukherjee Paris, 7 April, 2012

Visa extension still hangs fire Debjani Dutta Last Updated : 08 Apr 2012 10:05:14 AM IST PUDUCHERRY: The Sunday Standard
Is American historian Peter Heehs being deported or not? The visa of the ashram resident here is set to expire on April 15. But Union Home Minister P Chidambaram is yet to decide whether or not to extend it.
Facing possible expulsion from the country he has been living in for 41 years after his controversial book Lives of Sri Aurobindo published in the US in 2008 sparked unease among followers of the spiritual leader, Heehs now says he is prepared for a revised Indian version of his book to be published by Penguin India.
Regretting the controversy, Heehs says that both he and the publishers are prepared to strike out any “questionable” passages. “Got permission for publishing the modified version for use of devotees,” Heehs told The Sunday Standard. “Please give benefit of doubt,” he said, referring to the controversial portions in the book, the root cause of his worry today. Heehs also refutes allegations on refusal of his visa extension due to visa violations. “No anomaly in the visa or in my stay. I have been here 41 years and have never hurt anyone,” says Heehs. “The local Foreigners Regional Registration Office has never been dissatisfied with me and I have complied with all their directions,” he said.
Elaborating on his proposals, Heehs said, “I had given two proposals—one to recompose certain passages which had become controversial and the other to allow yet another publication for the devotees—as a few changes may not satisfy those opposed to the book. Though there would be a financial loss for the publishers, they were willing to do it.” To publish the book, however, clearance is required from the Orissa High Court, which had banned its publication in 2008. The court had then issued a temporary injunction stating that until disposal of the appeal against the order, the book could be printed by obtaining a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the home ministry.
Taking up the case of Heehs, around 30 renowned historians and scholars, including Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram.
“It (the book) is among the finest-ever written of a major Indian nationalist and spiritualist. Factional disagreements in Heehs’ home town should not receive the implicit support of the Indian state, which would happen if the home ministry were to deny him a visa allowing him to continue in India. It would be greatly to the detriment of our country to be seen as having driven out an internationally recognised scholar who is committed to writing biography and history of the highest calibre. We urge you to grant Heehs his visa at the earliest, so that he is not forced to leave our shores by April 15,” the letter said. It is yet to be seen what decision is taken by the home minister.

By MC Rajan Demystifying one of the country's most revered mystics, Sri Aurobindo, has landed American historian Peter Heehs in hot water.
American historian Peter Heehs has been asked to leave India over his autobiography on Sri Aurobindo which allegedly portrays the freedom fighter-yogi as ...
A recent statement by Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust April 9, 2012 The following statement was issued in February 2012. Emphases as in the original. — Ed.

The Mother's Blessing Faith And Rituals Article on The Divine Grace of The Mother can be felt all over Puducherry, says SHVETA BHAGAT.
Puducherry is such a place which fills you with divine grace, the moment you enter its sphere. You don’t need to meditate to feel the all-pervading sense of well-being. It is in the air which comes in one sudden gush. You feel purity in the air; certain luminosity and lightness lifts you. You don’t need to visit a tomb or spend all of your time at a temple to feel that power. I experienced it by just being in the city, earlier known as Pondicherry...
Puducherry is the closest I have come to heaven on earth, thanks to the consciousness that the place is abuzz with. It’s an experience that makes you once again realise that you don’t need to go to many places, you only need that environment to Just Be.

Heehs has problem in acknowledging the authority of the Mother

This man denies everything and doesn't find anything factually wrong with his book. How can one compromise with him? Gen Bakshi should have made it abundantly clear that many devotees have also pointed out serious defects in his ordinary scholarship. It's much, much, more than just about hurt feelings. 
Those who are coming out to debate PH and his supporters should unambiguously state at the very beginning that the book and the visa issues are distinct in many ways. The visa issue is an issue of violations of Indian law and the book issue is one of criticism of a 'scholarship' full of deliberate distortion, factual suppression, and malicious misrepresentation.
Observe also the double-standards at play. When it comes to the question of religion the fellow and his accomplices pretend to be faithful to Mother Sri Aurobindo. However when it comes to not judging the Divine or the Guru by the mind or not criticizing Mother Sri Aurobindo in public then this fellow conveniently finds a higher authority in the principle of absolute freedom of his own speech, and thumbs his nose at Mother Sri Aurobindo. Fundamentally manipulative and self-serving narcissistic personality.
In a nutshell, PH and his supporters stand for the following noble principles:
1) Criticize your benefactors (Mother Sri Aurobindo)
2) Violate the norms of the Ashram that supports you
3) Break the laws of the land where you have been given shelter
4) Flout the sentiments of devotees and sadhaks who have admitted you into their midst
5) Betray the trust of the readers who depend upon you to accurately represent yourself and your subject
And when your perfidy and criminality is sought to be exposed
6) Deny the plain fact of your criticism, basically lie
7) Justify your crimes and misdemeanors by invoking freedom of speech, academic license and various other covers
8) Attack, vilify and demonize your critics
On the whole this is a campaign to distort the plain truth and to usher in a reign of falsehood and division.

When called upon to participate in an open discussion about his book PH and his supporters hide behind the excuse that anything he says may incriminate him. However, here is the man openly giving an interview about the subject matter and controversial aspects of the book to a national television station. And yet this fellow cannot engage with fellow Ashramites in an open discussion about his book. The double-speak and duplicity of these people needs to be seen to be believed.
There is no connection about Sri Aurobindo's mother being afflicted with illness and the Yoga of Sri Aurobindo. The work of Peter Heehs appears to be to malign the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo by painting a poor picture of the Seer. That Sri Aurobindo is a genius- is a condescending certificate from the world's self proclaimed....!
The nomadic traveller, who is not a sadhak but who wishes to stay in India for the bounty he enjoys for free at Pondicherry - is trying to derate the very person in whose name the Ashram stands. Such an effort could possibly be only of those with preverse attitudes with a massive streak of lunacy precluding objectivity.
Peter Heehs has come from a different cultural tradition where there is no scope to know about these traditional culture, ideology, belief and practice. so he could not understand the meaning and practice of SANSKAR. due to this he could not stand in favour of the mother and sri Aurobindo, the ashramites and the followers. he could not understand the morality of GURU and SHISHYA and the sense of guru gita, in spite of his staying at ashram and doing research work for about forty years. he made himself merely a foreigner and a thriller writer only. so he brought out madness, romance and every kind of useless unrelated factors to pose himself an expert in psychology and history and argued that his creation is meant for the western only. a copycat always blames his teacher when he fails in the examination. so did peter. his 'lives of sri Aurobindo' follows the trend of the books like 'freedom at midnigt' and 'the last days of British raj' not the historians like mr. manmathnath das, v.d. mahajan or r.k. mukharjee not even pashupati bhattacharya.
RYD Apr 6, 2012 10:24 PM This comment may not be exactly contextual here, but is certainly not irrelvnt.
We hear on the TV channels Peter Heehs volunteering his view about Sri Aurobindo’s Avatarhood. But he either seems to be oblivious of the Mother’s declaration of the Avatarhood of Sri Aurobindo or he simply dismisses it, or else deliberately ignores her. He doesn’t have much of an opinion about her. Naturally, therefore, it looks as though it is he who is going to decide if Sri Aurobindo is an Avatar or not? Sri Aurobindo was a genius, says he, and not an avatar. That’s the verdict. Does he have any spiritual-occult perception to arrive at such a decision? There doesn’t seem to be any.
Yet what credentials does Heehs have to offer such a judgement that we should accept it? Does the publication of the Lives of Sri Aurobindo by the Columbia University Press entitle him to assert it? However, if it is that entitlement we can simply discount it —if not trash it. The Lives is thoroughly critiqued and proven to be full of distortions, misrepresentations, is full of falsehood. 
But here is one of the Mother’s declarations: “Sri Aurobindo is an emanation of the Supreme who came on earth to announce the manifestation of a new race and a new world: the Supramental.” [20 June 1972] And: “Sri Aurobindo came on earth from the Supreme to announce the manifestation of a new race and the new world, the Supramental.” [15 August 1972]
Heehs seems to be having some problem in acknowledging the authority of the Mother. He does not accept her occult spiritual authority, and all that Sri Aurobindo himself has said about her. If that the case then all this becomes irrelevant to him. That also appears to be his tragedy. A vision without form—the Mother from Mirror of Tomorrow
Comment on Savitri (Савитри) by ipi from Comments for Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother Thanks a lot for the Alok Pandey’s Savitri Link “At the feet of the Mother”
History of Kidney trouble-page 406 by anahata April 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm
On page 406, Peter incorrectly claims that Sri Aurobindo had a history of kidney trouble. As the gland became enlarged, it would exert pressure on the urethra. Frequent, incomplete emptying of the bladder was a first result. If the condition … Continue reading 

SiriusCommunity | Matagiri Sri Aurobindo Center - All USA Meeting - 21 Jun 2012 - 00:00 Bookmark the permalink. ALL USA MEETING June 21 2012 – June 24 2012 "Roots and Branches"
This year's gathering of friends around the vision of Sri Aurobindo and Mother focuses on Auroville and student exchange. For years Living Routes has facilitated young people experiencing Auroville and supervising volunteer work throughout the community for college credit. The root is Auroville and its vision, the branches are the Auroville Internationals and the living nourishment are the flows of visitors and Aurovilians back and forth who have or grow into a deeper connection. The gathering will be experiential and include Awareness Through the Body, Hatha Yoga and Pranayama along with panel discussions including SKYPED-IN speakers.
Our host in Amherst is the Sirius Community where Auroville exchange students helped work on their main hall, members have a long connection with Findhorn (celebrating its 50th this year) and Auroville.

DebasmitaDasgupta Communications Consultant for Non-profit +65 85115208 
Since 1997, the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) has been instrumental in deepening such political and intellectual ties between Asia and Europe. After the historical first Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in 1996, ASEF was established to play the strategic role in connecting civil society with governments encouraging mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit between the ASEM member states. This year marks the 15th anniversary of ASEF. A time to look back and cherish the successful outcomes of that cooperation between countries and regions. At the same time to celebrate the spirit of sharing and setting common goals for a connected future.  Read more... Posted by Debasmita at 1:38 AM 
Participate in the following ASEF15 projects: Learn more about other ASEF15 projects: Asia-Europe Short Films Contest 6 Feb – 9 Apr 2012; Singapore Asia and Europe: Coming Together or Drifting Apart? 16 May 2012; Singapore “Connected Histories. Shared Future” Travelling Exhibition 17 May – Nov 2012; Singapore and Laos Managing Heritage Cities in Asia and Europe: the Role of Public-Private Partnerships 12-14 Jul 2012; Indonesia

I believe, anyone with some semblance of sanity will no longer want to re-enact the soviet or the Chinese experiments. In that sense, we all accept the simple principle that “each according to her / his ability” without any discrimination based on gender, race, religion, etc. Nor are we concerned about someone voluntarily choosing to stay away from affluence despite having had the opportunity for appropriate grooming. The issue really is on having FULL opportunity to develop one’s abilities…
Egalitarianism – not of the soviet kind or of the pseudo-socialism of Nehru-Indira Gandhi kind – but a genuine one that makes sure of equal opportunities (health, education and livelihood that we see in Japan, for instance) as a goal worth pursuing. It feels so rejuvenating to think of a society where every individual is healthy, educated and aware, positive-thinking, full of energy and “gung-ho” spirit…
That is what I mean by egalitarianism. It is the equality of opportunity that I am keen on… For me, a good society is one that Robert Owen – the 19th century Welsh industrialist of New Lanark – wanted to establish. Viswa Messages in this topic (1)