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Sunday, May 31, 2009

I first met Father Bede in 1978 and kept visiting his ashram until his death

from Paulette paulette@auroville.org.in to tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com date 31 May 2009 11:36 subject comments and clarifications Respected Sir,

After discovering that you have reproduced in your blog some paragraphs that I have posted in “Mirror of Tomorrow” regarding the prosecution of Peter Heehs’s (the information was forwarded to me by Debashish Banerjee), I started reading some postings in “Savitri Era Open Forum”. I don’t know how to post it myself, but I wish to reply to the following:

“CG, you are headed in the right direction. The idiots who edited the Centenary Publications of Aurobindo's writings (in all probability non-Indians) make the disclaimer that Aurobindo himself distanced himself from his earlier writings. Only Hindus outsource their heritage. Radha Rajan 21 May 2009 [ 7:46 AM ]”

I was so indignant when I read such lines as preliminary to the reading of “Bande Mataram” that I went to the Ashram Archives asking for an explanation. The reply I got was that such disclaim was the only way to go ahead with the publication of the political works of Sri Aurobindo, hampered by a group of Indian disciples, and particularly a renown Aurobindonian. I was shown two large files with the complete documentation…

I don’t know if you feel quoting this, but I have already written in my personal letter to RY Deshpande, which he asked me to post as “Archetypal Images and Symbols” in “Mirror of Tomorrow”:

“It is a fact that over the years there has been a consistent attempt by a certain category of people to bypass or altogether suppress all that does not fit into an artificially constructed image of the guru-avatar. A most disquieting example was the fight to prevent the publication of Vol.1 of the Centenary Edition, Bande Mataram. The person defeating all such attempts was Jayantilal Parekh: a sensitive artist whom the Mother had turned into the guiding force behind the publication of the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library. As you certainly know, Jayantilal was also the founder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives in 1973, assisted by a team of which young Peter Heehs too was a member. One day, at the Archives, I was shown two huge files containing the full documentation of the controversy whom Jayantilal withstood and won. It was one of the darkest days in my life. I was shown that there was a movement to suppress Sri Aurobindo’s own writings, the very same writings which had made of him a national hero about whom all Indian children learn in their schoolbooks, and because of which he was considered the enemy number one of the British Empire and charged with sedition. I had already been informed about the same in Auroville when, before quitting the Laboratory of Evolution of which I was a member, I came up with a last stenciled compilation about the ‘nationalist’ Sri Aurobindo—like the previous ones, to be distributed for free to the community.”

So, it is the other way around. When I came from Italy my first readings were about the nationalist Sri Aurobindo. As for Peter Heehs, he has turned into the most outstanding living scholar on the nationalist Sri Aurobindo. Not only having his books published by prestigious publishers, but even displaying an exhibition on the subject that filled up the whole Exhibition Hall, and which was so commending that it was displayed again last fall, in spite of the raging controversy on “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo”.
*
Also, regarding the following:

Sri Aurobindo is another one of those people whom traditionalists find completely unacceptable
Cosmo-Drama and the Reality of Time from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob
One anonymous commenter thought I was trashing non-dual mystics such as Sri Ramana Maharshi. However, one would really have to distort what I said to arrive at that conclusion. One would have to have an agenda -- a narrative even -- and be playing a role in a drama with me as bad guy.
Bear in mind that I said quite clearly that I was not using his example for the purposes of criticism but comparison. My only point is that his acosmic, impersonal, and ahistorical mystical view is not reconcilable with Christianity, as traditionalists apparently believe. In other words, in no way can we suggest that Christ was nothing more than a non-dual mystic, even the "highest" one; nor can we say that Ramana Maharshi was the only begotten son of God. The two points of view might both be worthwhile, but they cannot be said to convey the identical truth.
Yes, I disagree with Schuon on the equivalence of revelations. What can I say? I've said many times that Schuon wouldn't even like me, let alone agree with me, even though I absolutely hold him in the highest regard, our differences notwithstanding.
I am actually very interested in the reconciliation of Eastern and Western religions (cf.
Henry LeSaux/Swami Abhishiktananda). After all, I am again not arguing Christianity from the inside out, but from the outside in. I am coming toward it from a neo-vedantic tradition.”

Given his interests, I am surprised that the writer doesn’t refer to Father Bede Griffiths (Swami Dayananda), a Benedictine monk and missionary who became the head of Shantivanam Ashram, near Tirucirapalli, founded by Monchanin and Le Saux. While Le Saux kept struggling with himself until his death to reconcile Christianity and Advaita, Griffith is the most effulgent example of the two melting into one. The author of many books, participating in international symposiums gathering the brightest minds along with most outstanding spiritual personalities, endowed with an encyclopedic knowledge, Bede Griffith was both a saint and a scholar. He used to read Sri Aurobindo daily, for years; his correspondence with Udar Pinto and Amal Kiran (Sethna) has been published.

The following is taken from the Wikipedia:

““Although he remained a Catholic monk he adopted the trappings of Hindu monastic life and entered into dialogue with Hinduism. Griffiths wrote twelve books on Hindu-Christian dialogue. Griffiths' form of Vedanta-inspired Christianity is called Wisdom Christianity.
Griffiths was a proponent of
integral thought, which attempts to harmonize scientific and spiritual world views. In a 1983 interview he stated,
"We're now being challenged to create a theology which would use the findings of modern science and eastern mysticism which, as you know, coincide so much, and to evolve from that a new theology which would be much more adequate."
[1]
Griffiths died at Shantivanam in 1993. The archives of the Bede Griffiths Trust are located at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.””

I first met Father Bede in 1978 and kept visiting his ashram until his death.
Paulette

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