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.

1 comment:

  1. The numbered list of grievances against the book towards the end of this post are rubbish; these things are not to be found in the book. If you disagree, please show the page numbers where these things are stated. If you cannot, then why to do you repeat this pack of lies here? Repeating lies does not make them true.