Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sri Aurobindo announced that he was bringing something entirely new

Excerpts from 'The Void where Thought was born' by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (1989):

'[Any] Tantric will tell you that his aim is to secure release from birth ultimately, and a dissolution of his consciousness in the Absolute Brahman, unfettered by the coils of earthly flesh. This is no different from any other path. [In fact, the multiplicity of paths is mainly to cater to the different temperaments of seekers, rather than to provide different goals.] And hence the common slogan in spirituality is ‘there is only ONE TRUTH,’ and all paths and all religions ultimately agree and converge on this ONE Truth.

'Now, this is clearly where Sri Aurobindo’s work parts ways with ALL other spiritual paths. And this is why in the final analysis it is even difficult to refer to it as a ‘spiritual’ path. Again, this in itself introduces difficulties because one tends to rely on the old patterns and formulas which simply do not prove reliable in this work. But the new pattern or blueprint has been given; and it is this fact that I am constantly stressing. ...
'... When Sri Aurobindo announced that he was bringing something entirely new into the Earth’s atmosphere and revolutionising the world of the Spirit, he meant what he was stating very seriously. Far more seriously than what most people believe. That is, they do not have any idea of what such a statement implies.
'... There is a ‘knot’ that is very, very deep-rooted in the human embodied consciousness. It is common to all who inhabit a body. This Knot is so difficult to undo – for after all, it is the nexus of the mental creation – that no one prior to Sri Aurobindo has made any effective attempt to get rid of this tremendous obstacle. To attain the heights, as has been done by countless seers and yogis in the past, this Knot presented no obstacle. One could overlook it entirely – precisely because the ‘direction’ was otherworldly; in which case, one had no obligation at all to deal with this problem. Ultimately, it became resolved, or rather dissolved by withholding any reality from it. One could UNDERMINE its existence to the point where it became an ‘illusion’, and the creation that it upheld, the mental human creation, was, by consequence, equally illusory. This was a very effective way of dealing with that Knot. It was so very effective that it is precisely this effectiveness that stands in the way today when we try to deal with this problem. In other words, these great sages had attained such wondrous heights that when we try to convince seekers of the necessity to disregard those past achievements and strive for this ‘new way’, they are not easily convinced.' -- Patrizia Norelli Bachelet, 'The Void where Thought was born' [posted in full at] from           Lori Tompkins  date                25 February 2010 01:24 subject                SEOF submission

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reconceptualizing the link between religion and politics

“Today we don’t know how it will all turn out. Maybe in the future we will say that we’ve learned a lot from all this and have emerged purified from dogma. Of course, for Peter at the moment it is very painful and completely unwarranted. The bid to evict him from the ashram and the country is a sign of the depths to which the dogmatism of religious distortion has sunk at this time.”
Jibanananda Das (1899-1954) was a Bengali poet who marks the transition to Bengali Modernist poetry. Necessitated into the career most common to modern poets, he was a teacher of English in Barisal (Bangladesh) and Calcutta and was well-read in Mallarme, Rimbaud, Valery, Pound, Eliot and the like, whom he often references in his prose writings. Jibanananda relies largely on imagistic and symbolical means to express in his poems a complexity which grapples with the subjective realities of modern urban life. The range of Jibanananda’s poems far exceeds the scope I have outlined in this essay, but my purpose here was only to touch on some important repeating themes and concerns in his work. I believe that in work of this kind, new directions towards the Future Poetry announced by Sri Aurobindo were taken, directions that have added to the store of approaches that might be utilized in the climb to a higher utterance, which yet recognize the range and complexity of consciousness in its engagement with modern existence.
This article elucidates the meaning of Indian nationalism and its connection to religious universalism as a problem of ethics. It engages in that exercise of elucidation by interpreting a few of the key texts by Aurobindo Ghose on the relationship between ethics and politics in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Both secularist and subalternist histories have contributed to misunderstandings of Aurobindo’s political thought and shown an inability to comprehend its ethical moorings. The specific failures in fathoming the depths of Aurobindo’s thought are related to more general infirmities afflicting the history of political and economic ideas in colonial India. In exploring how best to achieve Indian unity, Aurobindo had shown that Indian nationalism was not condemned to pirating from the gallery of models of states crafted by the West. By reconceptualizing the link between religion and politics, this essay suggests a new way forward in Indian intellectual history.
Continuing with the history of The Future Poetry. In this passage Sri Aurobindo ’s stresses sound and foregrounds the metric/mantric element in poetry as a sign of an approaching future poetry. A future he envisages here as a progressive evolutionary movement of Spirit in the word. It was however, to be another movement, one away from the ear to the eye -imagist- that was to primarily orient the future of English poetry after this book was completed in 1920.
“The inmost seeing must bring out of itself to be poetically effective the inmost word and sound, must find out a luminous purity of its steps or a profound depth of its movement, must be said in the inmost way. Rhythm is the most potent, founding element of poetic expression, and though most modern poets depend or at least lean more heavily on force of thought and substance than on the greater musical suggestions of rhythm, — Shelley, Swinburne, Yeats are exceptions, — there must always be a change in this basis of the poet’s art when there is a substantial change of the constituting spirit and motive.”
What are going to be the consequences for the rest of the world? Traumatically for the United States, China will fairly soon replace it as hegemon, not only in traditional areas of Chinese influence in East and South-East Asia, but across former Third and First Worlds alike. The soft power of its sporting prowess, its martial arts, its costly painters, its multitudinous language, its ancient medicine, and not least the delights of its cuisine, will spread China’s radiance far and wide, as Hollywood, English and McDonald’s do America’s today. Above all, its spectacular economic success will not only inspire imitation wherever poor nations strive for betterment. It will reorder the entire international system, by holding out the prospect, not of democracy within nation-states, which the West vainly seeks to promote, but of ‘democracy between nation-states’. For we are entering a time in which the political and ideological conflicts that marked the Cold War are giving way to an ‘overarching cultural contest’, in which ‘alternative modernities’ will end the dominance of the West. In that emancipation a distinctively Chinese modernity, rooted in the Confucian values of devotion to the family and respect for the state, will lead the way.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Intellectual Property theft committed by Peter Heehs

from     RY Deshpande
to         Tusar Mohapatra ,
Anurag Banerjee ,
Sarani Mondal
date      12 February 2010 14:27
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Gitanjali J B
Date: 11 February 2010 23:32
Subject: Engagement with Columbia University Press Regarding Withdrawal of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo"
To: Manoj Das Gupta

Shri Manoj Das Gupta,
Managing Trustee
Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust
Pondicherry 605002

Subject: Engagement with Columbia University Press Regarding Withdrawal of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo"

Dear Manoj Da,

1. This is to inform you that we are engaged with Columbia University Press (CUP) regarding the withdrawal of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" from all channels of sales and distribution.

2. CUP has been informed of the alleged Intellectual Property theft committed by Peter Heehs as also of his alleged Violations of the Copyright Agreement with Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust (SAAT).

3. Further, it has also been conveyed to CUP that Peter Heehs is not the Founder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives as has been asserted by him to CUP.

4. All necessary and relevant documentation/ correspondence/ SAAT letters/ circulars/ agreement copies have been furnished to CUP for their evaluation and assessment.

5. A copy of one of our letters to CUP in this context is attached herewith for your information and necessary action.

Kind regards,
Gitanjali JB          Letter to CUP 2.2.2010.pdf 166K   View   Download  

[Attached letter to Columbia University Press] 
Clare Wellnitz
Publishing Director
Director of Subsidiary Rights and Contracts
Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023

2 February 2010
Dear Clare,
Sub: Copyright Violations and Impersonation by Peter Heehs author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindopublished by Columbia University Press
  1. Our letter to Mr. James D. Jordan, Director dated 21.1.2010
  2. Your email dated 1.2.2010

1. Thank you so very much for your email dated 1.2.2010.
2. As already conveyed in our previous letter, the matter relates to The Lives of Sri Aurobindo (TLOSA) authored by Peter Heehs (PH) and published by Columbia University Press (CUP) in 2008, and specifically deals with: a) proscription of TLOSA in India by the Government of India, b) deliberate and malicious distortion of facts in TLOSA, c) Copyright Violation by Peter Heehs, d) Intellectual Property (IP) theft by Peter Heehs, e) impersonation by Peter Heehs as Founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives.
3. Sri Aurobindo, whose biography TLOSA masquerades as, is a national hero here in India and a global spiritual icon. A prominent leader of the Indian freedom movement, Sri Aurobindo has remained a source of great inspiration to millions of people in India and the world. There are thousands of schools, streets, libraries and other major institutions named after him across the country, and his life-sized statue occupies pride of place at the Indian National Parliament.
4. The issues of immediate relevance to CUP are categorised as under:
A. Proscription of TLOSA by the Government of India
The accompanying documentation shows you that TLOSA is proscribed by the Government of India and by the Courts after due verification of its content, primarily on the grounds of distortions of facts intended to hurt the religious sentiments of the people of India. This is the reason why Penguin Books India was barred from bringing out the Indian edition of TLOSA, and they must have informed you of the same. (Refer documents #1, 2, 3, 4.) You may also have been informed that Google, Flipkart, A1Books, etc, among others have already withdrawn access to TLOSA and all sales of TLOSA within the territory of India based on the Government and Court orders. (Refer document #12.)
B. Deliberate and malicious distortion of facts in TLOSA
This point is placed here only for your reference, so that you may know the harmful intentions of Peter Heehs in distorting the facts regarding Sri Aurobindo's life and consequently the explosive character of the present situation. This was fully taken into cognisance by relevant academicians and advisors to the Government of India, in taking decision to proscribe the book. (Refer documents #2, 4.)
C. Copyright Violation
The publication of the book involves multiple violations of copyright on the part of Peter Heehs. As the accompanying documentation will show you, Peter Heehs has given CUP more rights than he has himself acquired from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. He has also failed to comply with CUP's requirements for its authors to get appropriate permissions from copyright holders and owners of unpublished text. (Refer documents #5, 6, 7, 8, 9.)
D. Intellectual Property Theft
The content of the book also involves multiple Intellectual Property violations, as documented in the attachments. PH has claimed ownership of the entire research database of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives developed over 40 years involving several million dollars worth of investment. The names that Peter Heehs thanks are his colleagues, and as their letter to the Ashram Trust shows, they have taken the matter seriously and have placed this theft by Peter Heehs on record. (Refer documents #5, 6, 7, 8, 9.)
E. Impersonation by Peter Heehs as Founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives
The letter of the Ashram Trust declares unequivocally that Peter Heehs is not the founder of the Archives as he has claimed to CUP to be and which false assertion CUP has widely publicised in promoting the book. (Refer document #8.) Attached also are the order copy and the arrest warrant issued by Barbil Court in connection with the criminal case against Peter Heehs regarding his impersonation. (Refer documents #10, 11.) Also a letter from PH to the Ashram Trust in which he declares that he never wrote to CUP to claim himself Founder of the Archives, and that a sub-editor of CUP wrote this on his own! (Refer document #13.)In this connection, you may also note that there is a pending non-bailable warrant of arrest out against PH within India. (Refer document #11.)
5. In view of the above, we would be greatly indebted if CUP takes immediate and necessary steps to halt publication, sales and distribution of the book TLOSA, given the fraud and misrepresentation being perpetrated by Peter Heehs and the anguish that this book is causing to millions of devotees of Sri Aurobindo all over the world.
6. We are confident that CUP will be sensitive and responsive to the feelings and sentiments of millions of Indians for whom CUP has always been a standard bearer of the highest levels of integrity in the publishing business.
7. We would be obliged to receive an acknowledgement of this letter, and hope to hear from you at the earliest.
Gitanjali J B

List of Attachments (all files in PDF format, and numbered as below):

  1. High Court of Orissa order dated 4.11.2008 proscribing the book in the territory of India.
  2. Gazette Notification of the State Government of Orissa dated 9.4.2009 proscribing the book in the territory of India.
  3. Two letters from the Ministry of Home, Government of India.
  4. Three letters from Government Intelligence departments.
  5. Letter of Pranab Bhattacharya, Director of Physical Education, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, dated 5.8.2009 with legal opinion of Copyright Violation and Intellectual Property theft.
  6. Letter of researchers of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives (Peter Heehs' erstwhile colleagues) dated 20.9.2008 regarding theft of intellectual property / research database by Peter Heehs.
  7. Letter of Peter Heehs to Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust dated September 2008 confirming copyright violation.
  8. Letter of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust dated 11.11.2008 regarding disciplinary action taken against Peter Heehs and his impersonation as founder of Archives.
  9. Notice of expulsion of Peter Heehs by Pranab Bhattacharya dated 30.10.2008.
  10. Barbil Court order relating to issue of non-bailable warrant of arrest of Peter Heehs in the case of impersonation as Founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, dated 8.5.2009.
  11. Non-bailable warrant of arrest against Peter Heehs in the case of impersonation dated x.5.2009.
  12. Letters from Google, Flipkart, A1Books, major online content provides for India, confirming action taken to withdraw TLOSA.
  13. Letter of Peter Heehs to Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust of 2008 claiming that he never told CUP that he is the Founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives.