Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Atimanas Divas

Devotees throng Aurobindo Ashram on `supramental consciousness day` Deccan Herald Puducherry,Feb 29, 2012, (PTI)
Devotees today thronged the Aurobindo Ashram here and paid homage at the memorials of Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, The Mother, on the occasion of the `Supramental Consciousness day`. It was on this day in 1956 that `the Mother` is believed to have realized the `supramental or divine consciousness` as a result of her spiritual experiments. The Ashram was established by Aurobindo on April 24, 1926. He passed away in 1950. The Mother (Mira Alfassa), who died in November 1973, founded Aurobindo International Centre of Education in 1952 and the international township of Auroville, 10 km from here, in 1968.

A critique of the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs ... Posted by General Editor at 2/29/2012 09:33:00 AM The total number of Ashram inmates and devotees who protested silently from February 26th to 28th was around 270.

Govind Feb 17, 2012 06:06 AM "It is unfortunate that an inmate who has enjoyed the facilities and amenities provided by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust..."
At least this confirms from the proverbial horse’s mouth that this line that we have been hearing for more than a year from agents of the trust both on Savitri Era Open Forum and SAICE comes directly from "the very top"
They are speaking like owners or at least anna-daataa type father figures and openly patronizing Ashramites. Not only that they are laying claim to property and, much worse, loyalty that rightfully belongs exclusively to Mother Sri Aurobindo. 
Do they have no concern whatever that sadhaks will not tolerate this kind of a domineering attitude and this daylight robbery from Mother Sri Aurobindo?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Street Protest outside Trustee’s Office

from: date:  27 February 2012 05:20 subject: New post
A certain group of world influencing power was very upset with the growing demand and popularity of Sri Aurobindo in the West. The Psychology world was even introducing Sri Aurobindo in its education and they feared that this new age movement might deface their beliefs and their Christian power hold. To counter attack this new movement of the future and preserve their dominance many attempts were made.  They knew as long as the Divine Mother was there in the physical in Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry all their attempts could be wiped out in a single stroke. And so was it, but this time after many failures they attempted a masterful plan and succeeded. The plan was executed in full swing after the Mother left Her physical body.
Their first leverage for the mischief was to create a Research and Development Section along with the Archives availability, or the possession and the control of all manuscripts. In fact all of Sri Aurobindo’s works were already published then why the need for Research the Development to his writings. But this was necessary to control and manifest their evil plan of re-writing Sri Aurobindo works. In their new versions they wanted to gradually destroy his works. Once the tampering of his works was done they have altered his life with their new biography ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’. In the biography the alteration to his life are easily caught by open souls and by the genuine disciples of Sri Aurobindo.  The perverted intention of the author is caught. But in the tampering of the books, this is not easily detected, you can’t catch where you are being mislead. The untruth has made its house in the truth now in the new versions of the works of Sri Aurobindo. They have succeeded in their mission of the war against the truth, their war against Sri Aurobindo.
In the story or the history of this was well executed was through the well known human weaknesses. Their first target was Jayantilal Bhai, through whom this section the Archives Department of Research and Development was set up. The lady whose influence was working well on the male subject had done the ground work and this time a young man was chosen for the task. So Peter arrived in India and as suggested by this lady to Jayantllal he was made to enter and work in this Archives and Research Department, and then what happened we all know. This younger man with his athletic background became popular in sports and races and well adapted in the mingling of the community. What was his purpose only his organisers and sponsors knew. And he has delivered well to them.
During this process there had been many an awakened souls who stood against this injustice to Sri Aurobindo. But they were all conquered by their well planning and methodical workings. In the early eighties the acts happening in the Archives were being reported to Pranob Da of the Ashram, after being convinced he had ordered Kittu Reddy to take action with a bunch of 50 young boys and ransack the department as he himself was handicapped. But nothing happened. Jugul Kishore Mukherjee the pillar of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education fought pleadingly with the managing Trustees thinking they will do their job but only to be rebuked, slapped and threatened in return. All the warriors failed as they relied on the Ashram management to intervene and complete the job, little did they know that in the evil doers with their well planning and huge funds had sealed all doors through which their attack on Sri Aurobindo could go unfruitful.
At present there are a group of people demanding justice by sitting outside on the street of the Ashram’s Trustee’s Office protesting in a gathering of silence in a prayer for some miracle.

Posted to on Mon, 27 Feb 2012
This time, SR and co have got permission for 3 days, and have arranged a large number of persons to come from Orissa/Bengal (around a 100) to participate in the dharna. A Marriage Hall has been arranged for their meals and briefing sessions. This time, even fewer known persons and Ashramites are involved in the dharna. The faces of the people sitting are largely unknown, and are clearly not resident of the Ashram/Pondy town. (photo attached) … This morning’s incidents have shattered the myth of silent dharna and leave no more doubts regarding the true intentions of its putative leaders and organizers. It looks like a ploy to deliberately create a law-and-order problem. Ajit, Arindam, Bulu, Gautam

These leaked emails expose the nexus between Arimdam Das, Ajit Reddy, Bulu, Filio, Gautam Chatterjee and Matriprasad (the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust's ...

This is Part IV of The Chronicles of the Inner Chamber; readers of this series may first want to read the blog's 'Introduction' and the Matrimandir Action ...

Internal power struggle out in the open

Book controversy takes an ugly turn The Hindu PUDUCHERRY, February 28, 2012 UNREST: Devotees staging dharna outside the Ashram Trust in Puducherry on Monday. Photo: T. Singaravelou A few Aurobindo devotees stage dharna alleging that it has distorted the facts
The issue over the controversial book on Sri Aurobindo took an ugly turn when a few of the devotees who were staging dharna outside the Ashram Trust allegedly tried to “prevent” one of the seniormost members of the Trust from entering the office and “snatch” files from his possession. Police personnel posted near the dharna site prevented the two groups from entering into a scuffle.
Police sources said they received a complaint from Dilip Dutta, a senior member of the Trust, accusing the protesters of physically trying to prevent him from entering the office and trying to snatch files from his hand. He had also accused the group of verbally abusing him, a police officer told The Hindu. However, a member of the protesting group denied the accusation and said they were trying to hand over a petition to Dr. Dutta.
A representative of the group that organised the dharna told The Hindu that they had lodged a complaint with Grand Bazaar police against Dr. Dutta and few others for indulging in “racial abuse” and provoking the members. The controversy over the book, ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo', written by American-born Ashram inmate Peter Heehs, has been raging for a while now, particularly after the group opposed to the book launched a series of protests in January demanding expulsion of Mr. Heehs and resignation of members of Trust for not condemning the book openly. The group launched a three-day protest on Sunday with a large number of them coming from Odisha.
A release issued by the group said: “The book contains objectionable matters depicting distorted facts about the life and character of Sri Aurobindo. The Odisha government has declared that every copy of the book, its copies, reprints, translations or other documents containing the extracts taken be forfeited to the government.”
The group also questioned the Trust's decision to stand as a guarantor to Mr. Heehs, who has sought a visa extension. The Trust had been maintaining that it would not do any thing that “contravenes freedom of speech,” and any action on its part against the book or author would be termed as “fundamentalist mindset”. A senior member of the Trust said, “The considered view of the Trust is that it does not project itself in the role of dictating to the readers and followers of Sri Aurobindo as to what they should read and what they should not read.”
He added that “each person is at complete liberty to decide for him whether he finds any book to be meaningful and useful or whether he does not find it to be so. The Trust respects and has full faith in the intellectual and spiritual discernment of the readers. No one should or need to force his personal opinions on any other reader in general and more particularly on the followers of Sri Aurobindo.”
There have been favourable reviews of the book by large number of people, including eminent authors, he said pointing out that any action against the author would invite the ire of those sections.
On the proscription of the book by the Orissa government, he said it had been challenged in the High Court questioning the validity of the order based on a few “extracts taken out of context from the book.”
A senior inmate of the Ashram who objects to certain portions of the book but at the same time who does not approve of the group behind the protest said, “Mr. Heehs and his book is not the real issue but it is the result of an internal power struggle going on for the last several years.”
On issue of Mr. Heehs visa and his alleged over-staying, a senior police officer said as of now he is an “unconfirmed foreigner” who is allowed to stay till a final order of his visa application by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

Spiritual Collectivities « Sri Aurobindo Studies Sri Aurobindo raises the question in a whole chapter on “The Gnostic Being” in the Life Divine, where he discusses how there has to be a gnostic society ...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ashramites on warpath

150 inmates of Aurobindo Ashram on three-day dharna 11:02 PM, Feb 26, 2012 Puducherry (PTI)
About 150 inmates of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram here today embarked upon a three-day dharna demanding that trustees managing the ashram be dismissed immediately for their "failure" to protect its reputation. A release issued by a spokesman of the inmates and devotees of the Ashram alleged that the Trustees had failed to take action against Peter Heehs, a US national and inmate of the Ashram, for his controversial book titled ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’ published in 2008 in which the writer had allegedly made "inflammatory and denigrating remarks" against Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, The Mother.
The present team of trustees should either resign or be sacked as they are "protecting the writer without expelling him from the Ashram although his controversial book had insulted and denigrated the spiritual savants," it said. The inmates, staging the protest outside the ashram premises, said in the release that the Trust should publicly condemn the "insulting" book and withdraw the copyright permission to the Columbia University Press which has published the book. The release said the Union Home Ministry had "issued instructions" to various State governments and Union Territories to stop its publication, sales and distribution. The Orissa government had through Gazette notification in 2009 proscribed the book and declared its contents `inflammatory in nature and ordered all copies of the book be forfeited`.
Meanwhile, a source in the Ashram Trust said "according to many, who have written to the Ashram in appreciation of the book, those who found the book to be offensive have either not read it in its entirety or have clearly misunderstood its import." The source also said the question whether the author of the book can stay in India or not was entirely a matter "exclusively within the purview of the Union Home Ministry." The Ashram was founded in 1926. Aurobindo passed away in 1950 while the Mother died in 1973. The Mother (Mira Alfassa) founded Aurobindo International Centre of Education in 1952 and the international township of Auroville, 10 km from here, in 1968. › Indian Strategic Affairs › Indian Politics
Netaji Subash Chandra Bose was the product of Bengal Renaissance (1775 - 1941). The attempt to rationalize Hinduism by Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda also espoused Atheism. The Germans also genuinely attempted to rationalize Hinduism was used by British colony (through German indologist Max Müller) and Christian missionaries to westernize Hinduism- which continues till Today.
Netaji reflect this part of the Rationalism. Gandhi-Nehru "shadowy non Violence" was part of "Tantra" like Kashmiri Saivism, not of Hinduism- of course part of Hinduism - could not be understood by ordinary people. This was evolved into Nehru's "Tryst with Destny"- it is not in anyway Hindu "Sanatana Dharma" or fate or Hegelian Dilectics- it was a rational? westernized interpretation of Hinduism.
India got Independence because of end of WWII and British was no more in a position to maintain Colonies- in which Netaji and INA's sacrifices was a strong catalyst than Gandhi - Nehru. GovindaJan 27, 2012 #51

Sunday, February 26, 2012

We have never been open

I had no urge toward spirituality in me, I developed spirituality. I was incapable of understanding metaphysics, I developed into a philosopher. I had no eye for painting — I developed it by Yoga. I transformed my nature from what it was to what it was not. I did it by a special manner, not by a miracle and I did it to show what could be done and how it could be done. I did not do it out of any personal necessity of my own or by a miracle without any process. I say that if it is not so, then my Yoga is useless and my life was a mistake — a mere absurd freak of Nature without meaning or consequence. You all seem to think it a great compliment to me to say that what I have done has no meaning for anybody except myself — it is the most damaging criticism on my work that could be made. I also did not do it by myself, if you mean by myself the Aurobindo that was. He did it by the help of Krishna and the Divine Shakti. I had help from human sources also. — Sri Aurobindo

Peter Heehs, a historian and student of Sri Aurobindo, who works in the Archives section at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, has published an excellent biography of Sri Aurobindo entitled The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. Published by the Columbia University Press, this biography is written in a totally detached, academic manner. In other words, it is not a hagiography, and people who are not devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother will also enjoy it.
The great strength of Peter’s book — which I’m currently in the middle of — is that he mostly describes Sri Aurobindo’s human personality for us. And what his book shows is that prior to Sri Aurobindo’s major spiritual realizations, he was as human as any of us are. In other words, all this hagiographic mythology that we often see surrounding Sri Aurobindo — that he was born enlightened, or that he had no problems whatsoever during his life or his yoga — is gratefully put to rest by Peter’s biography. Sri Aurobindo’s life was full of harsh troubles, and it was by confronting them that he managed to attain what he did. The fact that so many people seemed to think that only Sri Aurobindo could have accomplished what he did must have been the greatest source of frustration for him.
Some devotees of Sri Aurobindo might be put off by Peter’s academic tone in this biography. After all, he never calls Sri Aurobindo an “avatar” or anything like that in it. Indeed, Peter paints Sri Aurobindo as humanly as he possibly can in this biography (which was partly because he wanted a university publisher in order to reach a wider audience, and partly because that’s his style — to be measured and detached). But personally, I find that Peter’s writing style has increased my faith in the integral yoga. And it is also helping me ground the yoga. Lest we forget, this is an embodied yoga. What we are called to do, in effect, is to perfect that embodiment, be more integrally embodied, in short, to incarnate fully.
So, to sum up, what does all of this mean? It means that even an idiot like myself, who started off as a lowly computer programmer, can gradually teach herself to appreciate philosophy, poetry, painting and metaphor by becoming more open to what Sri Aurobindo calls the “logic of the Infinite”. By enduring and transcending pain, in my experience, we learn the fine art of honing our perception and seeing things that we never saw before. Through self-sacrifice we learn to receive gifts from the Divine Grace that we can then put to the service of humanity.
It means there is hope for all of us. What a gift Peter Heehs has given us.

It’s been said that medieval mystics were more intuitive and less rational than modern and postmodern humans are. This allowed them easier access to higher realities, but it also meant that their mental or rational formulations of those realities were often mythical. What I’m suggesting is that a truly scientific occultism — and again I refer to Sri Aurobindo’s Record of Yoga as having set the bar in this area — will have to wait until we are ready for suprarational mysticism. I see plenty of infrarational elements in medieval mysticism, which is why many secular people reject it because it contains formulations that don’t make sense in the light of modern-day findings.

Jung and the Integral Yoga by ned Jul 13, 2008
I’m reading Jungian theory these days. I think Jung got extremely close to the spiritual vision, though he never quite understood that the ego has to be foregone completely. I believe Jung’s concept of individuation is really a watered-down and distorted version of Sri Aurobindo’s psychicisation. The psychic being is the highest individuality — it is the most unique, most authentic expression of who each of us is — but it is in harmony with the environment and every other individual. 

I also gave a short talk yesterday at the EWCC regarding coming to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother from an Islamic background, and tossed up some ideas for a reconciliation between Islam and Hinduism (I brought up Ustadh Mahmoud Mohamed Taha’s somewhat heretical notion of the second message of Islam which I mentioned in a previous post, as well as Ibn al-Arabi and Rumi), and between India and Pakistan (I brought up the Pakistani historian Hamza Alavi’s excellent essay Pakistan and Islam: Ethnicity and Ideology, which I highly recommend). I didn’t have time to bring up other things, which I wanted to, such as Frithjof Schuon’s brilliant essay Mahashakti from his book Roots of the Human Condition, which includes a section on the role of the Shakti in Islam, as well as a book by M. Rafique from Lahore comparing Allama Muhammad Iqbal (the architect of the idea of Pakistan) and Sri Aurobindo (Iqbal, for all his errors, was actually trying to synthesize evolution with Islam in a panentheistic cosmology, inspired by Nietzsche, Bergson and Whitehead — there is certainly a dialogue to be had here).

rereading Latour from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman) I don’t mean revising my interpretation, I mean that I’m literally rereading We Have Never Been Modern, and enjoying it now as ever. I always find new things on each rereading; it is extremely rich despite being concise. This isn’t the usual view, I know, but it gets my vote for the most important work of philosophy since the 1960′s, and one that hasn’t been topped since its appearance in 1991.
To be perfectly blunt, I think it’s more important than anything ever written by Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, Badiou, etc. If you haven’t read it, you could be costing yourself 10-15 years of needless spinning of wheels on certain topics. Come out the other end of this book, and the entire modern world looks different, as does the future in whatever lies beyond the modern world. Ironically, Latour himself is no longer especially fond of the book.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We do not need Makarand Paranjape, but need Gautam Chikermane

HT HOME / BLOGS HOME > JUST FAITH / RELIGION / Sri Aurobindo, Heehs and the fragility of faith: Just Faith By Gautam Chikermane
And now, right under our noses, even as the national discourse is moving against banning books and towards free speech, another intellectual is being hounded. This time, it’s Peter Heehs, an American historian, who has who has lived in and served the Sri Aurobindo Ashram for 41 years, set up the Ashram’s Archives department, has been the founding editor of Sri Aurobindo: Archives and Research, and was part of the team that has brought out the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo. The ban in question is on his scholarly biography of Sri Aurobindo titled, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.
If Sri Aurobindo was still residing in his “cave” at Pondicherry, he would have welcomed the book, critiqued it — but most important, he would have read it. But if an April 9, 2009 notification by the Orissa government is to be taken seriously, this is what it suggests: we have not read the book but the select excerpts given to us by interested parties is enough evidence for us to ban the book. For those who enjoy legalese, you can read the notification here.
So far so good. During the course of my investigation into this affair, this notification was given to me as “evidence” by a party that’s fighting another case against the trustees of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, holding them responsible for harbouring Heehs and seeking their removal. …
One last point on Heehs’s book. This time I invite you to a sojourn in time, all of 30 years ago. In a November 8, 1982 judgement, the Supreme Court declared that Sri Aurobindo’s teachings cannot be said to be of a religious nature. “Numerous utterings by Sri Aurobindo or the Mother unmistakably show that the Ashram or Society or Auroville is not a religious institution,” the judgement said. “There can be no better proof than what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother themselves thought of their teachings and their institutions to find out whether the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and his Integral Yoga constitute a religion or a philosophy. The uttering made from time to time by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother hardly leave any doubt about the nature of the institution. It was on the basis that it was not a religious institution.” You can read another excerpt here
The point: if Sri Aurobindo is not a religious entity and his teachings not a religion, how can his biography hurt any religious person? This is a question that many devotees, in their blind faith, ignore. India is home to gurus and spiritual teachers. All of them stated clearly that they are not professing a religion but a way of life, call it spirituality if you must. To convert those words, those ideas, those books, those teachings into a religion is the biggest crime against their own gurus. If Sri Aurobindo were around, he would have shuddered to have been called an author of yet another ‘religion’ and steered clear of anything to do with it.
Those terming Sri Aurobindo’s yoga a religion need to do their homework. If they are unwilling to go through the rigour of reading, the least they should do is what Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual collaborator The Mother suggested: “When you have nothing pleasant to say about something or somebody in the Ashram, keep silent. You must know that this silence is faithfulness to the Divine’s work.”

Aurotruths commented on New content: Attempts to create an "Aurobindonian religion". in response to Tusar N. Mohapatra: [In time, a whole set of beliefs and rituals began to be built up around Sri Aurobindo and more so, around The Mother. The death of each of them caused dismay and disappointment among large sections of the faithful. Many had grown to believe that some miraculous transformation of the physical bodies of their Gurus [...]
Dear TNM, Thank you for your comment. However, we would like to take this opportunity to inform you that we do not wish to encourage re-blogging on this site as we prefer that this site should instead have original content. Regarding Makarand Paranjape's opinion that "though both Sri Aurobindo and The Mother repeatedly warned against the creation of a cult around them, they themselves encouraged it in several ways. Sri Aurobindo himself deified The Mother and vice versa..." it must be said that just because Makarannd Paranjape thinks that They encouraged a cult, it doesn't mean that it was so. Those who opine upon and judge Sri Aurobindo and The Mother superficially are likely to derive conclusions that differ from those clearly spelled out by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Themselves. We therefore do not need a Makarand Paranjape to tell us whether Sri Aurobindo and The Mother contradicted themselves or not. For instance, The Mother in her own words said (Words of the Mother-I, 2004 ed., p. 110): "Here we do not have religion. We replace religion by the spiritual life, which is truer, deeper and higher at the same time, that is to say, closer to the Divine. For the Divine is in everything, but we are not conscious of it. This is the immense progress that man must make." But we can understand that for those who cannot distinguish the difference between Spirituality and Religion, Sri Aurobindo's and The Mother's words and actions might be confusing. But if such people are really interested in understanding Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, isn't it their responsibility to make the effort to raise their level of understanding and come closer to what They clearly stated, rather than to drag Them down to one's own level of understanding? Editors, Auro Truths.

Perhaps an autobiographical example will help. Not mine, but Sri Aurobindo's (and I raise his example not to promulgate Vedanta, but first because it comes readily to mind, second because I believe that what he describes is universal, a kind of stage we must all pass through on the journey back to God).
Whatever else he was, little Auro was clearly a brilliant lad, educated at Cambridge, fluent in several languages, recipient of various academic prizes. But when he later turned to spiritual development, he came to a point that he saw through this game -- and it is a game -- first from a lateral, and then vertical, perspective. In a letter, he wrote that 
"The capital period of my intellectual development was when I could see clearly that what the intellect said might be correct and not correct, that what the intellect justified was true and its opposite also was true. I never admitted a truth in the mind without simultaneously keeping it open to the contrary of it.... And the first result was that the prestige of the intellect was gone."
Now that I think about it, I had this experience quite vividly around the time I was working on my master's degree, during the last period of my life that I smoked marijuana. On the one hand, I was learning all this academic stuff which all the experts agreed one must know in order to call oneself a "psychologist." 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nothing is ever to be considered inanimate

from: Atala Damodar date: 22 February 2012 16:45 subject: Reg. 'Lives' the letter to Vijay Bhai from 'students'
If We read Mother and Sri Aurobindo carefully, nothing is ever to be considered inanimate! Especially a book is the body and mind of the author who writes it. It's not on interpretations or our understanding that a book's objectivity has to be judged. A compilation of anecdotes or presentation of facts without personal, mental(='intellectual/scholarly') comments and arranging them without personal choices and neither suppressing any fact nor highlighting any details; all these without any personal bias may satisfy the terms of objectivity. But 'Lives of Sri Aurobindo' has personal explanation, 'intellectual(?)analysis', biased omissions, preferred highlights...!

2. As to "We believe that except for Sri Aurobindo, none of us will know who is right and who is wrong and that this matter should be left to him alone, especially in the absence of a clear-cut consensus.": What an absurd logic! A consensus can never be an indicator, evidence, or proof of veracity! Just like in democracy an elected  or non contested candidate is not the people's real representative.

Had it been written by Sri Aurobindo, it could have been left to 'Him' alone. In this case if any one takes the position of 'leaving to him alone'  to belittle, mar, distort, denigrate Sri Aurobindo and His words; then logically he should also leave others (including Vijay Bhai, Shradhalu, Niranjan,  R Y Deshpande et al) to expose his work and put their genuine feelings and 'Intellectual/scholarly analyses' on record.

So Freedom of Speech for ALL or for only those so called western scholars who DO NOT BELIEVE in Sri Aurobindo as an Avatar but take him as a mere 'psycho' individual with not only split personality but multiple 'Lives' to be dissected with freudian /Jungian psycho analytical scalpel under 'western mindset-microscope'?

from: Jitendra Sharma date: 22 February 2012 21:15 subject: Comment on "Nothing is ever to be considered inanimate"
A book is a printed or written literary work, consisting of words. Sri Aurobindo says:
“The Word has power - even the ordinary written word has a power. If it is an inspired word it has still more power. What kind of power or power for what depends on the nature of the inspiration and the theme and the part of the being it touches. If it is the Word itself, - as in certain utterances of the great Scriptures, Veda, Upanishads, Gita, it may well have a power to awaken a spiritual uplifting impulse, even certain kinds of realization.”

a book is an inanimate object”. (Whoever wrote this should be given the Nobel prize for literature and science combined.) The Nexus Between Some Ex-Students and Matriprasad


The debate on Lokpal seemed to have died down and its implementation is at a stalemate. However it provides an opportunity to revive and raise the debate at a higher level, beyond Lokpal. Outer remedies for corruption like LokPal are necessary but not enough.

The lasting remedy to corruption lies in eliminating or transforming the corrupting element in us and strengthening our purer and nobler self which is the source of virtues, values and character. Without this inner transformation, if we keep the corrupting darkness within us unchanged and untouched, it will seep through every human institution, including those created to eliminate corruption. So the long-term remedy to corruption lies not in creating more and more external institution for policing corruption, but in building inner character in people and in our leaders. In other words, what we need today is a character building education.

But what do we mean by "character." or to be more precise, a good, noble or integral character? Popular conceptions associate characters with outward nobility in behaviour like for example, freedom from smoking, drinking or sexual indulgence. But the foundation of character is inward. A well-known modern seer once told bluntly a conservative audience something like this: most of you sitting here are full of negative thoughts and feelings like envy, jealousy, greed but outwardly presenting a socially respectable appearance. But when someone indulges in sex you look down upon him as immoral. With all the immoral feelings within you, in what way you are better? There is a valid truth in this observation. This doesn't mean right outer behaviour or action is not important. But our outer behaviour will be authentic, sincere and effective only when it is a spontaneous expression of a corresponding inner condition.
So, building character has to be a process which has to begin from within, by sowing seeds of character in the consciousness of the individual. What are these seeds of character? Clarity and sincerity in the mind; kindness, generosity and compassion in the heart; strength, firmness and self-mastery in the will; courage, energy and endurance in the vitality; aspiration for higher values like truth, beauty and goodness in the soul and the will to manifest them in the outer life: these are the qualities which constitute what we call as "strength of character". In a spiritual perspective, freedom from ego, desire and selfishness in thought, feelings, will and action are the foundation of character.
How to build such a balanced character? Not by moral sermons and lectures but by an inner and outer discipline put into practice in our daily life, with a sustained persistence. (1) (M.S. Srinivasan is a Research Associate at Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, India. Email: Notes: (1) For a more detailed discussion on this discipline and the subject as a whole, reader may see the February issue of the e-magazine in management: The Fourth Dimension Inc: 

I suppose the lesson has always stayed with me. It accounts for my cynicism over the Lok Pal and the concept of “Persons of unimpeachable integrity”… In general, I am sceptical of any solution that relies on people’s character rather than structures and incentives. 10:39 AM

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Mother’s work is not a chimera, nor a utopia

The following is the introductory text to the exhibition of photographs I took in 1983: “Sadhaks of Integral Yoga – Sri Aurobindo Ashram”, displayed at Pitanga, Auroville, February 14 – March 3, 2012. Monday to Saturday 8-12.30 and 2 – 6 pm. Closed on Sundays, and on 28th February.
Italy, June 1973. I meet my mime teacher, whom I had not seen for ten years, in a park. He tells me about a theatre actress who is just back from India. When, alone, I sit on a bench gazing at a large tree, I lose consciousness of my surroundings for one and half hours. A few days later, I meet the actress. She shows me a small photograph of Sri Aurobindo, taken shortly before his passing; I see God. She tells me about Sri Aurobindo, ‘the revolutionary’, and other things. Here is the answer I was always looking for.
December 1973, Sri Aurobindo Ashram. I address in French a young Indian woman standing at the gate. She replies in French and takes me to the inner courtyard, the location of the ‘samadhi’, a white marble memorial where Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s bodies are laid to rest. Upon seeing the sacred shrine covered with flowers, along with all the people clad in white, who appear to me like angels, tears roll down my cheeks. I feel that I have returned home, finding the way back to realms I had visited as a child, and then lost. Vainly had I tried to pierce through the veil to that world again; but the more I tried, the more it kept eluding me, like a distant dream.
The following day the young woman – who happens to be the granddaughter of the late Rishabchand[1] – takes me to her home, where she lived with her younger sister and her aunt. At the age of three she was presented to the Mother and, unable to separate from her, she refused to return to her prosperous family in Calcutta. So the Mother confided the child to her aunt, a yogini who spent eight hours a day for twenty-eight years, until 1962, in the Mother’s room at Her service. During those years there was, as yet, no kindergarten at the Ashram; so, following her auntie about, Mounnou also spent her days in the Mother’s room. The young woman who, as a child, sat on Champaklal’s lap, while playing with his beard, became my first friend there – and her aunt, one of the Mother’s attendant, my second. I was subsequently introduced to the world of the early sadhaks of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, paraphrasing the words of Nolinida[2], “paradise on earth”.
These relationships were my gateway to that other world, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram of the golden years, which was under the direct guidance of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, who were charting the path to the Supermind and a unitary world of free multiplicity. But let’s never forget that at the same time Nirod, the prankster, graciously entertained Sri Aurobindo on a variety of subjects and, with both of them cracking jokes, everything turned into laughter. The Divine is humour too; it is an important aspect of Grace. There are no words to describe the way I felt, as I was privy to secret teachings not through words, but by example and radiance of being, which I received from each and all of them. I never felt lonely or abandoned as, for me, the Guru was there, in them, through them, immortal.
Guru, father, mother, spouse, child and revolutionary companion, Sri Aurobindo was everything for me, the beginning and end of my universe. I pursued my path my own way, spontaneously, shunning those giving advices and ludicrously posing as teachers: the Guru is within, in the sanctuary of one’s heart, and there is no other teaching. I was forced to build a barrier to prevent the intrusion of blabbering parrot-like people with their endless chant, “Mother told me this, Mother told me that.” The consequence of the inner violence perpetrated by such individuals was that, for the first one and half years, I could not open to the Mother. I recognized two opposite worlds: that of the early sadhaks, for whom everything was divine, and their atmosphere in which I bathed, where only Love exists, and Love and more Love, the world of pure psychic beings – and that of the others’, a lifeless, dull parody of what cannot be taught. Nor did the sadhaks take offence when told that I was unable to accept the Mother because of the others’ idle chatter. My bond with Sri Aurobindo was such that the Mother’s attendant, her family and others in their special milieu kept on laughing, while telling me, “One day you will remember her.” And when that day actually came, I fell on my knees. But I will never forget the loving compassion and liberalism of those early sadhaks, who accepted me as I was: a young married Italian woman, but who came alone, as yet without a clue on the nature and significance of the Avatar and, on top of that, even refusing the Mother! They simply kept on cheerfully laughing at my foolish resistance and that was it.
With the special permission of the Ashram Trust I was allowed to live for a few months with J. K. K., the Mother’s attendant, in the house allotted to her. The Mother had come there three times and sat on her bed, to stop the young woman with a fiery character from leaving the Ashram. Two younger sadhikas shared my friend’s house with her; in the past, up to six female ashramites had been living there, sharing the kitchen and common exterior bathroom. Experiencing the life of early ashramites from close up gave me a hint of how their sadhana proceeded, in a path that makes no distinction between the inner and outer life, both being mutually interdependent. In Their yoga, perfection through purnayoga is to be attained in one’s daily work and living, at every instant, as a perpetual offering to the Divine of one’s thoughts, feelings and deeds. When J. K. K. came in the thirties she was only eighteen, and the Mother almost immediately chose her as one of her attendants. The way she had come was special too. The Ashram, then, had only a hundred and twenty inmates, living in basic facilities and having no contacts with the external world, and there were no new admissions. Consequently, few people were appointed to deal with eventual visitors. The Mother dealt with each case individually, with her assignments and accommodations differing according to the inner needs and development of the disciple. The Ashram had so little money, those days, that tea was served only once a day; once a week the ashramites cued like little children to get a mint candy that the Mother put in their mouth.
Day in and day out, year in and year out, mostly at teatime, J. K. K. told me precious details about the Mother and her surroundings. Though afterwards her family lost its wealth, the Mother had been brought up a distinguished lady with a superior education. Both intellectually and artistically she was at the cultural summit of being. Yet, my friend informed me how careful the Mother was with the humblest things, which moved me to tears. The lingerie the Mother wore under her exquisite external vestments, given to her by loving disciples, was carefully mended when necessary. She did not discard one single object; even ordinary boxes and scraps of paper were reused. My sadhika friend dealt in the same way with her own clothes and objects, treating them as old friends. For decades after the Mother left the body, J. K. K.’s sadhana continued to involve wiping every object down to the tiniest in the Mother’s old room, which is adjacent to Sri Aurobindo’s.[3]
I started extensively reading Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s books, publishing long compilations in book-form from their works, only when I moved to Auroville. Bathing in the atmosphere of the early sadhaks, as long as I lived in Pondicherry the Mother’s Prayers and Meditations and Sri Aurobindo’s Last Poems were all I longed for. My sadhana proceeded according to my experience, as a humble initiate, of the spiritual significance the Mother had given to flowers, which she saw as a powerful tool to trigger the emergence of the psychic being. Inwardly integrating the message of some of the flowers, artistically displayed in the shape of a mandala on the samadhi, I got the message for the day. The first year I did not even ride a bicycle, I only walked, as every flower or blade of grass, every spot on the walls or sidewalks was a source of wonder and delight. By repeating the same act every day, at the same time, in the presence of the same people, I gradually understood what the path of Integral Yoga is all about: day-to-day methodical routine fully concentrated on the Divine. The sadhaka is alone with the Divine, with no other guru but one’s psychic being. Meditation or other practices, even states of samadhi, are no more than optional, the way of Integral Yoga being relentless concentration, at every instant of time. Whether awake and engrossed in work and one’s daily activities or sleeping and dreaming, a state of inward concentration is required, encompassing all layers and planes of being from the subtlest to the densest, down to the last cell in the body.
This is what I learnt, without words, just absorbing like a sponge the atmosphere radiating from those sadhakas. Some had come very young; others got married and had children but, by the time they joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, they were there for the Divine and only the Divine. Through their integrity and total dedication, their utmost simplicity that is true greatness of being I felt, tangibly, that the Mother’s work is not a chimera, nor a utopia. I realized that it is the future awaiting all of us the moment we surrender to the Call. Ultimately, it is the only thing worth living for, the very purpose of our taking birth, our mission and our destiny.
That world, Nolinida’s ‘paradise on earth’, and my own too, because of which I left behind whatever I had, is no more. I had the privilege to be a witness of it for a while, as long as it was able to manifest, before having to plunge back to our day-to-day reality, with all its harshness but also its challenges and call for transformation. Whenever it becomes too tough and I feel I can no longer take it I take shelter in that world, which is eternal and exists forever; calling for the Mother’s Grace that we too, in Auroville as at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, can become living messengers of beauty and graciousness, with the pure flow of psychic and divine love. Paulette

[1] A man of considerable intellect and a sadhak who lived at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Rishabhchand is the author of the first ‘political’ biography of Sri Aurobindo, written on the Mother’s request, and of a compendium on Integral Yoga, also written on her request, to introduce the Path to the West. Several members of his family became members of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram a long time ago. J. K. K. was his sister-in-law.
[2] Sri Aurobindo considered Nolini Kanta Gupta his most advanced disciple, and the one who had the best understanding of his Yoga. Freedom fighter Nolini was closely associate to the Master since their nationalist years.
[3] The Mother lived there until 1962, prior to the attack by the false “Sri Aurobindo” that nearly cost her life.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Inmates and devotees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram demand Dismissal of the present group of Trustees

[The following application to the Pondicherry administration for the silent protest of January 1-6, 2012 was made by a few inmates of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Six of these inmates received show-cause notices from the Trustees. Why? Because they were bold enough to sit for a silent and peaceful protest against the inaction of the Trustees with regard to Peter Heehs. So what makes the Trust inactive in one case and super-active in another? That is a million dollar question! In any case, this application, which has a very good summary of events that have led to the present crisis, was attached to the show-cause notices of those inmates who signed it.]

Since the Trust Deed does not define the method of selection of the Trustees nor the method of their removal, the present Trustees have taken full advantage of this lacuna and have formed a self-selected coterie of vested interests who are freely and openly misusing their position… As a result the Ashram community has found its interests hijacked by a small coterie of people who want to harm Sri Aurobindo’s name and his Work. (It is pertinent to note that none of the present trustees of the Ashram Trust were nominated by the Mother.) Senior members of the Ashram community, who have worked closely with the Mother, felt that they had to take suitable action to defend the reputation of Sri Aurobindo and to protect the long-term interests of the Ashram community for which the Mother created the Trust. The senior members held several rounds of discussions with representatives of various groups of devotees and the members of the Ashram community sharing their pain and deep distress. Many attempts were made by them and by various independent groups to resolve the problem internally by dialogue, mediation, discussion, pleas, etc, with the Trustees. All these attempts failed as the Trustees declared that they were answerable to nobody in the Ashram, and refused to explain or justify their misuse of Ashram funds and the Ashram’s name to harm Sri Aurobindo. All these attempts have failed and the Trust Board has instead launched a widespread campaign of intimidation and rule by fear and threat…
Application and Demand of the Inmates and Devotees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram
In view of the above and having exhausted all means and measures of an internal amicable and peaceful settlement, the inmates of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and devotes of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother seek the permission and sanction of the Police and local authorities concerned to press for their legal grievances and demands, namely:
1.     Dismissal of the present group of Trustees of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
2.    Unconditional reinstatement of all who have been victimised by denial of food, work, and other facilities of the Ashram community life.
3.  Cessation and withdrawal of all threats and coercive measures initiated against the inmates and residents of the Ashram community and devotees.
4.    Immediate expulsion of Peter Heehs from the Ashram community.
5.    Recovery of all documents belonging to the Ashram which are still kept in the exclusive possession of Peter Heehs.
6.    Public declaration by the Trust that the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo authored by Peter Heehs is factually incorrect and does not represent the views of the Ashram community and the Ashram Trust and that Peter Heehs has abused his position at the Archives and indulged in criminal impersonation as the Founder of the Ashram’s Archives Department.
7.    Withdrawal of copyright permission to Columbia University Press which has published the offending book without suitable copyright permissions.
8.    Public apology by the present members of the Board of Trustees for having promoted abuse and insult of Sri Aurobindo’s name, and for causing so much pain and distress to the inmates and residents of the Ashram community and to all devotees at large.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Lives of Sri Aurobindo has sparked a bitter controversy

Extracts from Reviews of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo Click here to go to full reviews

Most books on Sri Aurobindo are hagiographical, with little or no biographical information; in keen contrast, this book covers in great detail the various stages of his life. - Ramakrishna Puligandla in Choice more>>

The overall result is a masterful and inspiring biography that provides a solid foundation for further Aurobindo studies and offers plenty of cues for other kinds of historical, textual, and exegetical work that could enhance our understanding of the multiple sites in which Aurobindo lived and worked. - Hanna H. Kim in H-Net Reviews more >>

This meticulously reported and scrupulously footnoted account of the Bengali saint Sri Aurobindo leaves no stone unturned. - Nora Isaacs in Yoga Journal more>> 

Peter Heehs has done a great deal of research lasting many years, working in archives in Delhi, Calcutta, Baroda, London, and Paris. - Christine Devin in Revue d’Auroville more>>
Not only is the book remarkably well researched but, as the title indicates, he has really covered all aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s life. - François Gautier in The New Indian Express  more>>

The author has given us a model biography, which is accessible to the general public. - David Annoussamy in Le Trait-d'union more>>

In this essay I will steer clear of the controversy as far as possible, examining the book in the wider context of Heehs’s other writings, most of which are aimed primarily at academic audiences. part 1>>  part 2>> - Marcel Kvassay in AntiMatters

If you read only one book about Aurobindo, again, this volume would get my vote. It stands in a class all its own. There is simply no other book about Aurobindo available that does all that Heehs’s book does. - W. Michael Ashcraft in Nova Religio more>>

It is not as if he has set out to demythologise Aurobindo but he does seek to write a life as firmly based on evidence as he can. . . . Heehs has endeavoured to produce an objective account of Aurobindo and it is a formidable piece of scholarship. - Antony Copley in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society more>> 

While biographies of Aurobindo have been published before, including a short one by Heehs himself, none has ever drawn on such a vast resource of original letters, diaries, and other primary sources. - Ellen Daly in EnlightenNext more>>

Despite his massive political and spiritual influence, the twentieth century Indian revolutionary turned mystic Sri Aurobindo Ghose has been curiously neglected in Western scholarship. - Ann Gleig in Religious Studies Review more>>

With this book, Peter Heehs has done the job of examining Aurobindo in his entirety with remarkable success, and has aptly titled his work The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. - Jayant Bapat in South Asia more>>

Peter Heehs makes a commendable effort at rescuing a leading thinker of modern times from uncharitable critics.... Personally speaking, I have not found a more lucid description of complex constructs like the 'supermind'. - Amiya P. Sen in The Book Review  more>>

In this book, he has made defamatory and perverse comments on Sri Aurobindo’s character, life, writings and thought. Among other things, he seeks to show that:
1.      Sri Aurobindo does not hold integrity as a person,
2.      He was morally of loose character,
3.      His claims to spiritual experiences and realisations are questionable and irrelevant,
4.      His spirituality emerges from a streak of inherited madness,
5.   There is nothing new in any of his contributions, spiritual, literary, philosophical or otherwise,
6.      That he was responsible for the partition of India,
7.      His poetry is expressive of sexual frustration, and its style outdated, and
8.      His relationship with the Mother was romantic in nature.

An analysis of the book reveals that the defamatory statements are deliberately intended by the simple fact that in order to support such perverse statements, Peter, the author of this book, deceives the reader by false and cooked-up quotation, misquotations, quoting out of context, and deliberately concealing facts to the contrary. It is very clear that the book is written for the sake of defaming Sri Aurobindo and is intended to hurt the sentiments of the Indian people and of admirers of Sri Aurobindo.

The kinds of deceptions consistently utilised throughout the book include:
a)      Deliberately concealing the much larger body of information contrary to his defamatory thesis;
b)      Presenting as quotations what are Peter Heehs’ imaginations and speculations;
c)      Deliberate misrepresentation and distortion of context;
d)     Defaming Sri Aurobindo’s character by use of innuendo, speculation, exaggeration and outright falsehood;
e)    Bias to quote extensively from people who question Sri Aurobindo’s credibility and sanity; outright rejection of any person or quotation offering appreciation or praise of Sri Aurobindo;
f)        Preferring speculation against Sri Aurobindo’s own affirmations to the contrary;
g)      Academically unsound and perverse attempts at Freudian analysis of Sri Aurobindo’s personality;
h)      Perverse speculations on the sexual and marital life of Sri Aurobindo.

No chakshu-lajya, saksi-bhava, and an inner sukhahasya

There is not much to say. I prefer to be discreet about my background because it keeps the ego in check. It is easy to get carried away talking about the ups and downs of one’s trivial life. In a way, the blog is an exercise in “Surrender” whereby I transmit the inspiration I receive with as little distortion as possible.

Re: reincarnation vs rebirth... In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo strives to achieve this internal consistency.  He takes each argument (for and against) to its logical end and aspires to justify it. Of course, the problem is that the system is under-determined because all the available phenomenal evidence is insufficient to prove the existence of anything occult or Divine. 

Comment on Sattwic ego, Rajasic ego and Tamasic ego by ipi from Comments for Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother
What the sadhak has to seek is the full opening to the Divine, the psychic change of his consciousness, the spiritual change. Of that change of consciousness, selflessness, desirelessness, humility, bhakti, surrender, calm, equality, peace, quiet sincerity are necessary constituents.
Until he has the psychic and spiritual change, to think of being supramental is an absurdity and an arrogant absurdity. All these egoistic ideas, if indulged, can only aggrandise the ego, spoil the sadhana and lead to serious spiritual dangers. They should be rejected altogether. (Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga, SABCL vol 23, p 503)

09 E-Library - Sri Aurobindo Ashram November 7, 1934 Correspondence with Nirodbaran  I am trying to be silent within, but the mood of jocularity persists. Is this not, however, a sign of cheerfulness? 
Sri Aurobindo Not always — moreover the cheerfulness is vital. I do not say that it should not be there, but there is a deeper cheerfulness, an inner sukhahasya which is the spiritual condition of cheerfulness. [10-11. Record Of Yoga by Sri Aurobindo Shanti Chatusthaya Samata, Shanti, Sukha, Hasya (Atmaprasada)]

Strong people do not abuse, stronger people do not even respond to abuse. Full marks to Javeed and Naseer on that score. Decency is fine, but sarcasm - even wounding ones - too have a place in debates. Only the words have to be parliamentary, nothing more - you cannot use derogatory words that demean your opponent, you have every right to attack his ideas or his attitudes. No false gentlemanliness, please. No chakshu-lajyaSelf-restraint is required - so that the discussion doesn't degenerate into mud-slinging. But ideas and narratives need to be challenged. 
We have to challenge the Muslim Narrative that all is fine, even great, with Islam and everything wrong is America's fault. We have to challenge the Hindu Narrative that the ultimate discovery has happened here and that all is great about India. And that mindset that finds nothing great or learnable in other cultures and religions. 
We have to challenge the Secularist's Narrative that both Hindu and Muslim narratives are equally pernicious. No Sir. The Islamic Narrative  today is  far more dangerous  than any other. Not a cinch of a doubt about that. Go to any Islamic country and you will feel the narrow mental footpath in which entire societies are herded. If such obseravtion makes me ungentlemanly, indecent or communal, so be it. I have to side with the truth as I see it, not protect my image of a secularist as most secularists do.

Vishwa’s posts are 'airy-fairy' as someone pointed out - there is a compulsive need in his posts to appear polite or accommodating at the cost of reality. That is Indian Secularism, a pitiable mindset that adds to the conflagration of today's time. Secularists are good people - the kind of good people whose actions do more harm than good. It nauseating to read such people. It is nothing but hypocrisy and double-speak of a very high order. Regards, Dilip [sbicitizen] RE: History and Narratives

For your information, I studied History at a College in Mumbai that was the first in India to be granted Autonomy by the UGC - counted as amongst the best in liberal Arts in India. The methods of teaching were rigorous, not airy fairy. And we were taught - rather trained - to eliminate biases, (not 'appear' balanced or reasonable - as you compulsively do), when looking at facts. Facts are sometimes harsh and you have to see them as they are. And then went for a Masters too in the same subject. I have not 'read books on History' as you would suggest. That is your privilege, not mine. Mine was the endeavor of a serious student. Regards, Dilip [sbicitizen] RE: History and Narratives

If only we remind ourselves that the whole purpose and happiness of this life lies not at the end of the journey but all along the road, we will all find a completely new meaning and purpose in living. This calls for a new and completely different way of looking at life from an altogether new perspective, perhaps with our feet up and our heads down! (K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician, who writes a weekly column for Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared)

Rahul may next jump from stage to show his anger: Akhilesh Feb 17, 2012
"Rahul seems angry. Earlier, he used to get angry by folding his hands. Yesterday, he got angry and tore up a piece of paper. Who knows, next he may jump off the stage in anger?" said the SP state president while addressing reporters after a rally at Tiloi, Amethi. Akhilesh Yadav gives Rahul Gandhi a 'tear'ful Economic Times