Re: Auroville Today Interview with Peter Heehs
by Debashish on Thu 16 Oct 2008 02:41 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Read here about the controversy surrounding this book with the corrections to textual excerpts being circulated about the book and the ensuing discussion: http://www.sciy.org/blog/_archives/2008/9/27/3903585.html
The problem lies elswhere. It can not be solved in the case of Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo -can not be judged by the norms that are applicable to non-spiritual persons. Sri Aurobindo believed in Ramchandra's avatarhood. He was shown the process of creation (Records of Yoga). Sri Aurobindo -in Alipur jail experienced the all pervading existence of Vasudeva. Vivekananda came to him in Alipur jail and helped him learning about supramental sadhana. Sri Aurobindo broke his leg by adverse forces and he should have been more cautious about this. All this was told by Sri Aurobindo -and they can be supported by verifiable records as the statements by him.
Why it is required to write a biography on him? If he were an ordinary person -Heehs would not have felt to make so much efforts. It is felt necessary as Sri Aurobindo proved himself in our mind as Sri Aurobindo as we like to believe him. Sri Aurobindo-in many occasions-in the fact of avatarhood, scientific attitude etc that a material standard can not be applied to understand spirutual matters. What is the proof that there is such consciousness as Supramental Consciousness as told and experienced by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother leave alone the fact of other persons realising it.
So Heehs is self contradictory and selective in what transpires him to write. If you do not believe that Sri Aurobindo was not an avatar-then you must write it in your own right. And you should not write it at all -as there are no dearth of Godfathers and Babas in India. Consider Sri Aurobindo as one among them and discard his life as not worthy of writing. P.C. Mahalnabis -the renowned late economist and statistician discarded Life Divine as a book written after taking a dose of ganja (hasish) and he never cared to write about Sri Aurobindo at all.
I respect Mohalnobis' attitude. But not Heehs'. He is an upstart and takes it a means as if to do a great thing in writing a biography -in an unbiased way. Many Indians villified Sri Aurobindo in many ways. Heehs now finds a subtle and so called rational way to villify him. Keep on -Heehs-you will find many in your side and you will get more. You have already made a name. Congratulations! for your material success! Devabrata
SCIY requires a minimum standard of reading and writing skills from its posters. Posts which are unintelligible or incoherent will be automatically deleted. There is also a requirement of civil speech. Using the forum as a pulpit to hurl insults ("He is an upstart..") is not premitted here. If there are any more posts which violate these criteria, they will be deleted.
That said, I would like to address what seem to be some of the problems raised here (though this is by no means clear). One question asked is: "Why is it required to write a biography on him?" I presume the argument here is that Sri Aurobindo is far beyond our human comprehension and to write a biography is necessarily to diminish and distort him.
This is an age-old argument in human religious history. It is the basis of what has been called aniconism. Strictly aniconic religions, such as Islam, when they take an intolerant and orthodox view of this matter, go about burning books and breaking statues. If this attitude was made an absolutist dictum, we would have no statues or paintings of Hindu gods or the Buddha left in India and any books that described them would have been burned by now. As it is, the entire Indian legacy of religious art and literature is badly damaged and reduced due to this attitude.
Let it be clear that I am not singling out Islam as an aniconic religion which, due to its belief that God cannot be adequately represented by humans, has littered human history with violence and ruin. Aniconism may be intrinsic to some degree to all religious thought. Buddhism did not represent the Buddha in image form until close to the 1st c. C.E. One may imagine that when these first Buddha images appeared in Gandhara and Mathura around the time of Christ, they must have shocked the sensibilities of many Buddhists. Yet were not that step taken, today we would not have this profound and concrete window to the world of impersonal Calm that Sri Aurobindo praises so highly and that is a blessing to world culture.
The issue that follows from this, and which it would seem, also disturbs the poster, is that of the adequacy of the representation. If one does represent that which is beyond one's comprehension, can it be through anything other than a garland of worship, a string of boundless words? I agree this could be an approach, and one followed traditionally in much Indian writing about the gods or the great spiritual teachers.
But it need not be the only way. If one has the advantage of the teacher's own words regarding his or her own spiritual experiences, these could be presented along with a drawing out of the outer and inner circumstances within which they occurred. This has been the principle used in this book. The experiences of Alipur Jail, or of the Overmental Descent, etc. are indeed the high points of the book, told in the language of the experiencer himself. There is no attempt to judge or prove anything - just to present.
Of course, critics are always free to express their personal tastes in these matters. Someone may like the method of presentation and someone may not, and someone may agree with the interpretation and someone may not. There is no end to human diversity of opinion. But therefore, to hurl expletives at a person for what he feels is his considered and careful representation of a being far beyond the pale of the human (and one whose spiritual path, by his own admission, he follows) is rather dangerous and unwarranted. Time is a better judge of these things than individual opinion. Better first read the book and if there are areas which can be discussed, engage in civil dialogue about them, not vindicate one's subjective tastes by hurling insults. DB
Reply by Rich on Fri 17 Oct 2008 03:10 PM PDT Profile Permanenti [k Better first read the book and if there are areas which can be discussed, engage in civil dialogue about them, not vindicate one's subjective tastes by hurling insults. DB]
I agree and would like to suggest the following that if one wishes to comment on this article or any other article fine, but if comments are addressed to the substance of the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, at the least the person making the comments should have actually read the book. Additionally, whatever someone's opinion on the subject matter of the article or book is fair game for conversation, but demeaning attacks on any person will not be tolerated and will be promptly deleted rich Reply