Thursday, August 26, 2010

Battle between the illumined future and the obstructive past

from Sandeep Joshi to date 25 August 2010 19:21 
subject A case where the Mother engaged in censorship

Dear Tusar-ji,
Please remove my email address from this post for your Open Forum.
As I said before, it is possible to pick a quote to justify any kind of action.
What action must be undertaken depends on the soul in question.
FWIW, I have enclosed a situation where the Mother engaged in censorship.

(From K.D. Sethna. Our Light and Delight, pp 205-207, Chap 21 The Mother's Attitudes and Actions)

 A man in Bombay who had been once a devotee had become sceptical and sarcastic. He was contributing a series of commentaries on an Upanishad to Mother India. The articles were appreciated very much. I had kept the man's personal attitude apart from my judgment of his writing. As long as the writing bore no trace of the attitude, I could afford to be impersonal. The Mother came to be told of his attitude and the several unpleasant things he had said. She knew also that his series was appearing in Mother India.

She raised the topic with me one afternoon. I told her how much the articles had been admired and that they had no tinge of his critical approach to the Mother's workings. She very calmly heard me out. Then she expressed her wish that we should not seem to support the man by publishing his work. I inquired whether I could be allowed to run the series to its end and then forswear publishing anything else by the same hand. She paused for a minute and said:  "It is best if we stop just now."

I could see that there was no personal feelings involved on her part. Actually, I had noticed in the past that complaints had been made to her about somebody or other's hostile remarks against her and the proposal had been made that she should take steps against that person. She had said:

"As the remarks are about me, I can't take any stand. If they were about Sri Aurobindo, I would certainly act." On the present occasion her decision must have had behind it some insight into occult forces which might harm either me or the readers or else the Ashram's general work. Obviously, through my backing of the article the hostile elements were drawing sustenance. Purely literary principles have little validity where the battle between the illumined future and the obstructive past is concerned. I put aside the impersonal editor in me and acted as the obedient disciple. 

 It was a test for me over and above its being a lesson to the writer of the commentaries. There cannot be a compromise in such matters. But, of course, as the Mother's talk with me indicated, everything has to be done without personal animosity. A wide and wise serenity has to be at play in all decisive moves.

I dare say the Mother's move was even for the benefit of the writer himself — a quiet criticism which was an act of Grace to stir his soul to come forward again. And I am told that before his premature death he did turn to the Mother once more. 

 While I am about the subject of Mother India in relation to the Mother's wishes, I may touch upon the hints she gave me of what Mother India should never stoop to. Once a coworker offered the suggestion that we should ask our readers their reactions and their expectations, so that we might increase our periodical's popularity and be more successful. No doubt, the co-worker had no insistence in his suggestion and was as willing as myself to accept the Mother's ruling in every respect. But somehow the Mother came down with a pretty heavy hand. She must have intuited a non- Aurobindonian force putting out its tentacles from behind the coworker's innocent inquiry. She wrote to me: "Let us become as vulgar as we can and success is sure to come." (16-1-1965) 

We were a little taken aback and I pursued the topic by seeking her views on what changes the journal might undergo without falling below standard. She was again un- compromising: "No — I have no superficial views on the subject — and what I could say would not fit the 'new spirit' of the journal. Let me out of all this, it is better." (17-1-1965) One point, however, she clarified by adding the next day: "All that is done with the purpose of pleasing the public and obtaining success is vulgar and leads to falsehood. I enclose a deeper view of the subject. Blessings." The deeper view was expressed in a Message of hers that we should want to please neither ourselves nor others but only the Lord.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Division and disharmony lies within each one of us

from Auro Lumiere to date 6 August 2010 21:03 subject The Book

Dear Mr. Tusar Mohapatra, Here's a little message for your readers: 

All this fuss that is being made about a book – Mr. Peter Heehs’ book on the life or rather supposed lives of Aurobindo - is hilarious if not utterly ridiculous. An interesting remark about this book that was recently posted on your website is:

« This book is designed to give offense and create divisions and disharmony among Aurobindonians. »

If the author of this statement really believes that Harmony and Unity between people depended on a book, I seriously wonder what he has understood about the «Aurobindonian» philosophy, vision and objective.

Isn’t it a little too easy and convenient to project one’s weakness and faults onto something external and blame a book for the division and disharmony that lies within each one of us and the larger collectivity?

For even if the book was designed with such « evil » intentions, haven’t all of those persons who have vehemently, obsessively and even violently reacted or responded to such designs, fallen prey to the very objective of such a design? Who would be to blame in such an instance, the strength of the provoker or the weakness of the provoked?

It is surprising that some of these staunch «Aurobindonians» have chosen to ignore an obvious, simple and basic fact that good books get read, irrespective of the fact that some may like them or not, whereas bad books get forgotten on a bookshelf and are left to collect dust in the oblivion of the past. 
Always at the Service of Light and Truth, Fran├žoise de Nielly

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Adieu Auroman, the Hanuman

Donna Osborn says: Posted August 02, 2010
I am also Westerner, but I feel an underlying disrespect from the author, who, by the way, lived off the Ashram for almost 40 years. But the book is not the worst legacy of Peter Heehs, it's the wholesale editing of Sri Aurobindo's Work even making changes to the original documents. Heehs was embraced by some at the Ashram in the true Namaste spirit and this book of sublte innuendos is his thanks.

I comment as Auroman on the Mirror of Tomorrow. I have an Integral Yoga website at
Some of the errors I have found earlier in this biography have been noted at

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Images in search of the real Sri Aurobindo

from to date 1 August 2010 10:36 subject Re: Pl. post
Pl. post and thanks again, Mr. Mohapatra, for maintaining an open forum. John Stuart Mill, for one, would be very pleased with it. Dr. Raghu

A Falsehood On Heehs?

Govind writes: "1. Whatever his idea of the central features, his (Heehs') opinion as to the falsehood of the self-revealed image is already stated in the preface. However much we keep hearing him that is the central fact is not going to change. 2. An image does not have to be complete to be distorted, and I have not claimed completeness or perfection." 

1. A course in reading comprehension appears to be necessary for those who think that in the preface to his TLOSA Heehs claims that Aurobindo was misrepresenting the facts concerning himself or that the image Aurobindo presented of himself is a "falsehood". I have been reading Heehs book again very carefully this weekend and noting statements which could possibly give "offense" to any deifying self-styled disciple of Aurobindo. I will share the results of my reading in due course on this forum, but for now I will point out that Govind may have in mind the following sentence in a paragraph toward the end of Heehs' preface:
"Biographers....have to examine all sorts of materials...not giving special treatment even to the subject's own version of events." (TLOSA, p. xiv).
It is hasty and illogical to draw from this the conclusion that Heehs thinks that subject's (viz., Aurobindo's) own version of events must be rejected or marginalized. It is the dharma of a biographer to consider accounts other than the subject's own account of events in his or her life.This does not mean that the subject's own account or "self-revealed image" must be rejected as false. It only means that this image must be considered and compared with other images. As Heehs puts it in the very next sentence:
"Accounts by the subject have exceptional value, but they need to be compared against other narrative accounts and, more important, against documents that do not reflect a particular point of view." (TLOSA, p.xiv)
I am sure that Aurobindo would heartily agree with this truism of biographical research! Govind's antipathy seems to spring from drawing hasty conclusions and conclusions at variance with Heehs' own claims IN THIS CONTEXT of the preface.

2. I agree with Govind that an image need not be perfect or complete in order for there to distortions of it. However, if he admits, as he does, that the image of Aurobindo received from Aurobindo himself and the Mother is not perfect or complete, then he must, by virtue of logic, accept that comparisons of this image with other images of Aurobindo is indispensable for a growth in our understanding, not only of the received image of Aurobindo, but of the real man Aurobindo behind these images. And this is exactly what Peter Heehs has set out to do. Whether or not he has been successful in accomplishing this goal and to what degree is a different issue. 

A de Nielly come to judgment

from Auro Lumiere to date 31 July 2010 21:49 subject Do Not Project Intolerance, Pettiness, and Dogmatism on Sri Aurobindo!
Dear Mr. Tusar Mohapatra, Greetings once again!
In relation to the on-going discussion, your readers might be interested in reading the following.

Mr. Govind Rajesh with the assistance of Auroman de le Mirroir (I suppose to be read as Auroman du Miroir) challenges Dr. Raghu and says:

 “My challenge to you, however, still stands. Show me where a sadhak who has publicly cast doubts or critically judged, even disparaged, Sri Aurobindo's Life and Work was either admitted into or allowed to remain in the Ashram holding those views. You are sure to come up empty.”

After the treatment provided to him by Dr. Raghu, I hope that Mr. Govind Rajesh still frequents this website and if so, for his benefit also, I earnestly invite him to read this passage from Mother’s Agenda:
August 27, 1969
They’ve found a paper I wrote soon after Sri Aurobindo’s departure.
I already told you part of it, but this is the full paper. It’s dated …
(Mother hands the paper to Satprem)
January 26, 1951.
But it’s very private.
(Satprem reads out the text)
(This note is about a person physically close to Sri Aurobindo, who tried to destroy Mother and separate her from Sri Aurobindo. In fact, it is clear and understandable that the darkest shadow is right under the light, and that he or she who comes to do the divine work must take on himself or herself the whole burden of the Opposer. Thus is it near Sri Aurobindo and Mother that the greatest adversaries will be found. That also explains Mother’s departure and the ensuing murky situation in Auroville and in the Ashram. For obvious reasons we will not publish Mother’s note or the long conversation that followed in its integrality, but only a few brief extracts, insofar as they illustrate the problem,” or perhaps the mystery, of Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s departures, for they have one and the same reason.)
Naturally, this mustn’t be published, but it’s to be kept.
But what role did she play?
She went as far as to tell him that I was betraying his work – everything and anything conceivable.
But didn’t Sri Aurobindo try to intervene?
That’s surprising …. It’s surprising, this nonintervention of Sri Aurobindo’s.
Never – never.
He had this conviction so strongly, “It’s the Supreme Lord who does everything.” So … it must be like that.
But in my small consciousness, I find it astounding that such a ridiculous, insignificant being as this piddling woman could have had such power!
But there was a great Asura behind her![i] There were the adverse forces behind. The woman herself was nothing, but she was very receptive to those forces.
And he didn’t want to break her?
Oh, he didn’t want to. He was all compassion, goodness, patience ….
Twice I saw him get angry with her – twice. But he instantly got a grip on himself.
A sad story, but anyway … Afterwards, I saw, I understood. Now I know. From the point of view of the work, it was … it was what had to happen.
I never said anything, Sri Aurobindo never said anything – all that I wrote is this (Mother points to her note), I never said anything.
The small human individualities act as instruments, that’s nothing.
But by yielding (because in a way he yielded), did he win a greater victory over that Asura?
Oh, yes, infinitely greater.
That’s what eludes me.
Infinitely greater. And he didn’t leave the work, you understand; he has never left me, never left the work. The amount of supramental force he had accumulated in his body he passed on to me – and I received it. The rest went into the subtle physical, where he has done the whole work. And he said, I will take on a body again only when it is a supramental body.”
It was … monstrous, you understand …. I didn’t say anything, I never said anything …. Yes, once, she was so awful that I made her leave Sri Aurobindo’s room, and she was so dreadful that I gave her a slap. And when I came back, Sri Aurobindo told me, “You ought not to have done it … …
It was … It is the highest, the most-the most sublime way, one might almost say, of exhausting the hostile force.
(long silence)
[i]See Agenda 1, 26 March 1959.
This passage must certainly educate and satisfy Mr. Govind Rajesh, and make him and others like him appreciate that humility is a virtue that may still be pursued. 
But the larger question that I might wish to raise is what’s wrong with the behaviour and attitude of some of Aurobindo’s “followers” such as the members of the Mirror of Tomorrow? Who are a handful of ignorant people to try to judge, determine, order and impose who is welcome, admitted to and allowed to remain in the Ashrame? And even more so who are they to determine how people in the Ashrame ought to behave or do? 
Or maybe, are we just expecting too much from the pale, dusty reflections of an antiquated and deformed mirror that at best reflects a distorted image of the past... 
At the Service of Light and truth! Fran├žoise de Nielly