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Friday, October 24, 2008

Auroville is not meant for tourists, nor is the Matrimandir for pilgrims

Letters To Tehelka Write to letters@tehelka.com From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 43, Dated Nov 01, 2008 A HOME, NOT A ZOO

This refers to the letter from Col CV Venugopalan (Retd) (Human Zoo, 1 October) on the Auroville community. I’m afraid it’s full of inaccuracies, bias and venom. As an Indian, having spent six years in Auroville, I am disturbed to find that you have rushed to such a conclusion after a single visit, probably only a couple of hours long.

You did not even make any effort to verify your initial perceptions. You appear Internet savvy; just a quick visit to the Auroville website would have cleared things up. Instead, you chose to respond with malicious delight at PC Vinoj Kumar’s prurient and inaccurate piece. While 50 percent of Auroville is Indian, there are over 40 nationalities represented here.

Also, Auroville is not meant for tourists, nor is the Matrimandir for pilgrims. The only way to experience Auroville is to stay here as a guest, or better still, to work for Auroville or what it stands for, as many do. Only then will Auroville reveal its true self to you. Priya Sundaravalli, on email

Monday, October 20, 2008

The so-called objective biography is tainted with the author's judgmental comments and additional colors and tones

Anonymous said...
Many years ago a biography of Sri Aurobindo arrived only to educate, illuminate, inspire and even make people think (healthily). It was "Adventure of Consciousness". I read it, was bowled over and life changed; it transformed my world because I discovered a world out there created by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

Here we have a new biography which has created nothing but bad vibrations, sadness, awkwardness for the Trustees of the Ashram.

Sri Aurobindo - the very name lifts, soothes and calms.

Here we have a new biography lauded by the supporters of "Objective" writing which does nothing useful, gains nothing, rabble rouses at its best. The so-called objective biography is tainted with the author's judgmental comments and additional colors and tones. All from a person who was nurtured, nourished and sheltered by the Ashram. The Ashram is the very "body" of the Mother and if Peter Heehs has any sense of dignity or decorum, he would himself resign/ quit.

And he should apologize to the Ashram community and Trustees for what he has done knowingly as an intelligent person. I pray to the Master to bring Peace, Love, Unity not only in our own family and communities but in the entire world. Love is IMPORTANT at this hour not intellectual dialectics. The devotees and followers of the Master and Mother have to NOW demonstrate LOVE, ACCEPTANCE and PEACE. It is essential for the whole world. 10:57 AM, October 20, 2008 Savitri Era 10:48 AM 9:06 AM 8:42 AM 8:33 AM 8:05 AM 3:01 AM 8:53 AM

Saturday, October 18, 2008

There is no attempt to judge or prove anything - just to present

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

Reply by Devabrata on Fri 17 Oct 2008 08:19 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

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

Reply by Debashish on Fri 17 Oct 2008 11:13 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

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

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What matters about somebody's religious practices unless that stands as a block on our path?

2 comments: Mrinalini said...

Dear Tushar ji, Barindranath ji abruptly removed his membership from the Sri Anirvan site without a word of excuse. Hence I felt obliged to remove my membership from his site Aspiration. Congratulations - or commiserations? - on your discovering that you are a separate religion! Isn't this what Debabrata ji has been talking about so long? 10:07 PM, October 15, 2008

Tusar N Mohapatra said... from aju mukhopadhyay date 16 October 2008 11:44 Dear friends,

I haven't seen what transpired earlier amongst yourselves- I can't please for want of time- but I can say this that spiritualism is beyond religion- if we are on the right path- what matters about somebody's religious practices unless that stands as a block on our path? someone leaving a website and somebody joining may continue though with love and understanding that leaving could be avoided. In any case, leaving aside small differences- go ahead, go ahead- Age chalo bhai - Good wishes, Aju Mukhopadhyay

from aju mukhopadhyay date 16 October 2008 11:51 Dear Tushar M,

That I also said her that we are followers, devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and there won't be any wavering- Let us not compare but can such things be compared? That vast Himalayan height! Let all try to reach - we do have our love for Anirvanji also but no clash. Let her do it- I have said something in the other mail also- let madam Mrinalini also see it. Please make it public if you can through your sites which you like preferably. No dispute in the spiritual journey-Good wishes, Aju Mukhopadhyay 12:03 PM, October 16, 2008

Culpablity in these activities of censorship and engaging in conspiracies against the author

Re: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
by Rich on Wed 15 Oct 2008 05:47 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

The problems with the leaders of the ex-communication movement is also one of contradiction in that these folks are the same ones coming to the West interacting with western institutions and scholars on issues of "free progress education" working in a university system or seeking accredidation for Universities and simultaneously engaging in a conspiracy against a scholar who published through a reknown University press.

I would hope that their culpablity in these activities of censorship and engaging in conspiracies against the author of this book would also be disclosed to the international institutions they are engaged with as representatives of Sri Aurobindo

by Rich on Wed 15 Oct 2008 05:55 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Vladamir, Well you are getting at the problem here in that you are lumping integral yoga which claims not to be a religion with Indian religions and to me that is the whole problem. While I would expect to see this reaction in the tradition of Indian religion, within Integral Yoga that claims to synthesize East and West and declares itself no religion, it is a contradiction.

But I still dont know, did you read the book??? That is the issue, if you read the entire book and come to these same conclusions that the book is blasphemy then we can have a conversation. If not this whole conversation is based on hearsay.

And as a friend remarks regards "the other seekers on the same path," it is only their lack of confidence in their beliefs which is at stake when they interpret something to be a breach of "respect" in another of their group. This is no esoteric psychology, just tribe psychology.

Heidegger and Derrida call it onto-theology, the supplementarity of quotations, commentaries and numbers which cover up the hollowness at the center of the experience of being. It is why in Islam, one of another faith who "disrespects" the faith is considered less dangerous than another Muslim. For the former, there is derision, but for the latter there is the fatwa.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blanket condescension towards the devoted and the religious

Re: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs - The Regime of Quotation by Debashish on Tue 14 Oct 2008 11:16 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

One of the first tenets of religion is the self-justification of Ignorance on the basis of quotes. The Divine is reduced to a slot machine or ventriloquist's puppet which spits out the appropriate quote in a sonorous voice at the bidding of its master. And this becomes the "acceptable representation" with the threat of the electric chair behind it.

Reply Re: The Regime of Quotation by Srikanth on Tue 14 Oct 2008 12:12 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

It is pointless to want to convince everyone that the intellect is infallible. One doesn’t need to be a yogi to see how limited it can be. True, quotations can be taken out of context and misused…but the opposite is also true. Seeing them as mere quotations and as inapplicable when inconvenient or contending at all times that “the Divine” had wished to convey more (or other) than what the quotations suggest is equally an artifice and (a technically self-contradicting) conceit of the intellect. Thus, an intellectual standpoint can be as much steeped in ignorance and as intimidating when it threatens to label all those who oppose it as ignorant, unintellectual, or religious and to banish them, if not to the death-chamber, at least to the valley of the untouchables.

Reply Re: The Regime of Quotation by Debashish on Tue 14 Oct 2008 04:20 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

It stretches the imagination that someone may think this is a discussion about the infallibility of the intellect. The intellect, like all other faculties at our disposal in this discussion, is a power of the Ignorance. The entire discussion is about the arrogance of the Ignorance and in this case, the abuse of "quotations" to act as if it is a power of truth.

The utility of the shatra is entirely personal, to aid in and test our inner experience in the growth of consciousness, not to enforce on others as a weapon of the Ignorance in the name of Knowledge.

Reply Re: The Regime of Quotation by Srikanth on Tue 14 Oct 2008 10:28 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

The blanket condescension towards the devoted and the religious has not exactly been hidden in any of the posts in this thread and yours are no exception. The implications cannot be easily denied. Whether the quotations are being abused or not is a subjective assessment and cannot be dismissed as "arrogance of the Ignorance". That, in essence, those who quote are not only ignorant and enforcers of the Ignorance but are also anti-knowledge is an odd conclusion that only reinforces what I already said.

Regardless, the main points being made in all these posts are insubstantial. They are only centered around a few corrections here and some substantiation there and a few demands to let people have their freedom to write a book but not for others to criticize, and around reassurances that a historian is somehow going to convince a few hard-core psychoanalysts in academia and how it will all in the end be very good for Sri Aurobindo's yoga for the world.

Reply 7:04 AM 8:39 AM 9:39 AM 7:51 AM 7:03 AM 9:03 AM 7:46 AM7:26 AM 11:39 AM 10:15 AM 12:21 PM 11:45 AM 7:13 AM 12:02 PM Devotee's prerogative to condemn blaspheme

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I am puke-sick from this kind of pretending to be objective writings. It is a sheer Falsehood

Re: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
by Vladimir on Tue 14 Oct 2008 12:49 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Thank you Rick for your nice words and good will. I really appreciate it. I have finally read through all the passages with their explanations. I had to force myself to read through. And this is what I can say about them:

I never could imagine such a profound and aggressive ignorance masking itself in ‘truth’, presenting darkness as light and light as darkness. It is not about the facts, it is about the presentation of facts, the feeling and the suggestive emphasis on a particular interpretation.

All this is about the life of the one who brought us Knowledge and Hope. I am puke-sick from this kind of pretending to be objective writings. It is a sheer Falsehood.

What about these words then? - “Let us never forget, even for a moment, all that we owe to Thee!” Or they are just sentiments?...

Reply Re: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
by Debashish on Tue 14 Oct 2008 01:56 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Vladimir, I'm sorry you had such a strong reaction from reading this and came to the conclusion "It is a sheer falsehood."

(1) Evidently it has not been helpful to you and

(2) you feel it cannot be helpful to anyone - quite the contrary.

Since you seem to be certain about your judgment, there is nothing more to say at this point. I may have suggested reading the entire book, but the excerpt-makers have been so successful that, like many others, you are likely to say - "no more, I've had enough."

Better to let it go for now. Yoga is a journey of growth. Unless you feel that your truth-perception is infallible, it is better to take one's own judgment with a pinch of salt (as the best practical light available to one at any time) and forget it. (Unless of course, you feel called upon from within to take arms and join the ranks of the truth-warriors). DB Reply

Monday, October 13, 2008

Peter in the garb of a western devotee has a problem with Hindu devotees bowing before the Guru

Re: Re: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
by rakesh on Sun 12 Oct 2008 11:30 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

I am posting some inconsistencies in Peter’s biography that I request all to take a look. I do not have anything against him or his book but when I see some partial representation of a person as a reader I am bound to show the inconsistencies without bias. He might be a great guy just like many of us on this blog but we also have to analyze if he has made right judgments on the subject. [...]

Clearly Peter in the garb of a western devotee has a problem with Hindu devotees bowing before the Guru. Sometimes he blames the Mother for encouraging this ceremony and sometimes Sri Aurobindo. Let us not forget what the Gita says that howsoever the devotee offers the Divine accepts it. If the devote bows down and touches the feet with love the Divine accepts the offer. There is no religiosity here. Sri Aurobindo has written extensively on the importance of personal god in letters on yoga and the love and surrender that accompany it.

The more rational would be happy to point out that this is an act of religiosity but it is sheer misunderstanding of the concept of personal god and Guru. It is the same misunderstanding between the adwaita vadin who is more inclined towards the impersonal divine and the devotee towards personal divine. One has to harmonize both sides of the Divine to get an integral understanding and not pit one against the other. I quote from the letters on yoga

“There is where the parallel with the Ishta Devata which you suggest would not hold; for the Ishta Devata on whom the seeker concentrates is a conscious Personality of the Divine answering to the needs of his own personality and showing to him as in a representative image what the Divine is or at least pointing him through itself to the Absolute.” Pg 774, letters on yoga, part II

"I have no objection at all to the worship of Krishna or the Vaishnava form of devotion, nor is there any incompatibility between Vaishnava Bhakti and my supramental yoga. There is infact no special and exclusive form of supramental yoga: all ways can lead to the supermind, just as all ways can lead to the Divine." Pg 794, letters on yoga, pat II

Monday, October 6, 2008

AurovilleTV wants to use the non-linear dynamic structure of the internet

Launch of AurovilleTV with the first live broadcast
Town Hall - Conference room ::: 7:00 PM

AurovilleTV wants to function as a platform to use the non-linear dynamic structure of the internet for putting together a picture of Auroville. The idea is to produce news, interviews, visual impressions and to broadcast certain events live. And there is still room to develop further formats. To celebrate the launch, AurovilleTV will do a live broadcast of the celebration of 40 years of collaboration between Auroville and UNESCO, taking place October 10th in Paris.

We will screen this live broadcast in the Town Hall conference room, after a short presentation of the AurovilleTV project. Starting at 7 p.m. Friday 10 October Town Hall - Conference room http://aurovilletv.org

Programme (in French): 16h00-18h30 - Table ronde Auroville - un monde émergent : ses perspectives d’avenir 19h00-20h30 - Événement musical A Sense of the Infinite - Musique contemporaine indienne et du monde par le groupe NADAKA d’Auroville. posted by chloe

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Reading Hegel: the not-for-profit publisher, re-press is offering the entire book as Open Access

fa.philos-l Discussions + new post About this group Subscribe to this group announcement of new introductory hegel book for students - aakash singh View profile Oct 3, 1:57 pm From: aakash singh singh_aak...@YAHOO.COM
Date: Fri, 03 Oct 2008 08:57:11 UTC Reply Reply to author Subject: announcement of new introductory hegel book for students

Dear Colleagues, I would like to announce the publication of a new introductory volume on G.W.F. Hegel, Reading Hegel: The Introductions (melbourne: re-press, 2008). Bringing together for the first time all major Introductions in one place, the book ambitiously attempts to present readers with Hegel's systematic thought through his Introductions alone. While each of Hegel's Introductions can stand alone, capturing a facet of his overarching idea of truth, compiled together, they lay out the intricate tapestry of Hegel's thought, woven with a dialectic that progresses from one book to another, one philosophical moment to another.

I do not think of the Philos list as an advertising platform. But what I did think it fit to inform the community about was a certain unique aspect of this publication, about which I am rather proud: the not-for-profit publisher, re-press (a pioneer of continental philosophy in the anglophone world) is providing the entire book as OPEN ACCESS, which is to say that it can be downloaded by anyone free of charge in pdf version. Obviously, it can also be purchased as a traditional printed book (in soft cover).

For more details on the publisher and the book, click: http://www.re-press.org/ Best, Aakash Dr Aakash Singh, LL.M. Research Professor Centre for Ethics and Global Politics LUISS University, Rome http://www.luiss.it/ricerca/centri/ethics/index.html Of: +39.06.85225568 Mob: +39.3663946735 Fax: +39.06.85225304 Mob (Islamabad): +92 (0) 3435255078 Mob (New Delhi): +91 (0) 9891470808

Reading Hegel: The Introductions by G.W.F. Hegel (edited and introduced by Aakash Singh and Rimina Mohapatra) ►re.press 2008