Sunday, April 1, 2012

Devotees say the work contains objectionable matters

The bigger question is: have we been so dulled into non-thinking by hagiographical works that we are unable to accept another view? Dismayed that other newspapers have not taken up the Peter Heehs issue seriously - it is almost as big as Salman Rushdie, MF Husain. Chidambaram must send a strong signal to religious fundamentalists: stop harassing thinkers - if you don't like their work, don't read it. Apart from 30 intellectuals, politicians from Congress and BJP are supporting Peter Heehs stay in IndiaPC orders review into historian's visa row: my story on Peter Heehs's needless harassment

Chidambaram to decide on Heehs' visa tomorrow Times of India TNN Apr 1, 2012, 05.12AM IST PUDUCHERRY:
Home minister P Chidambaram will review the decision to cancel the visa of American historian Peter Heehs, who wrote the controversial biography 'The Lives of Sri Aurobindo' in 2008. He will make his decision by Monday, he told reporters.
The Puducherry foreign regional registration office had told Heehs, who lives at the SriAurobindo Ashram here, that his visa, set to expire in the second week of April, would not be extended. Heehs has lived in India since the 1970s, working in the ashram archives to digitize and edit the writings of freedom fighter and spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo. 
At a press conference in New Delhi, Chidambaram said he had come to know about the FRRO decision to cancel Heeh's visa only on Saturday morning. "I have asked for a suo motu review and am told that the file would be submitted to me on Monday. I will take a decision on Monday," he said. 
Heehs' biography had created quite a furore when it was published in the US in 2008. He described it as a full-length critical biography based on primary sources that was "aimed at people who wish to approach Sri Aurobindo in a different way". 
However, some ashram residents held protests and even went to court, saying that he had made "denigrating and unacceptable remarks" about Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa, better known as the Mother.
The book received favourable reviews from experts on Sri Aurobindo studies and historians, including Jawaharlal Nehru University's Romila Thapar, Harvard University's Sugata Bose and London School of Economics' Ramachandra Guha, among others. 
Historians defend Heehs
The historians said that the protesters had not read the book but had misunderstood the content based on an unrepresentative set of extracts . The historians sent representations on March 31 to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram, asking them "to intervene and grant Heehs his visa at the earliest, so that he is not forced to leave our shores by April 15, as presently threatened" . They also quoted a letter by rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who has read and deeply appreciated the book. 
"Mr Heehs' biography of Sri Aurobindo, justifiably commended by Shri Jairam Ramesh (as well as by scholars around the world), is among the finest ever written of a major Indian nationalist and spiritualist... It would be greatly to the detriment of our country to be seen as having driven out an internationally recognised scholar who is committed to writing biography and history of the highest calibre," they wrote. 
Mr. Heehs, author of the book ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo', had drawn the ire of a section of the spiritual leader's devotees who say the work contains objectionable matters.
The ostensible reason being his ninth book, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. For years, religious fundamentalists have been harassing Heehs over his non-hagiographic and more academic treatment of Sri Aurobindo's well-received biography.
Home minister P Chidambaram on Saturday asked for a review of an order denying American historian Peter Heehs a visa extension. Heehs, who has been living in India for the past 41 years, was abruptly told by the foreigners' registration office (FRO) in ...
Home Minister P Chidambaram will review the decision on cancellation of the visa of a US historian Peter Heehs, living in Puducherry, and will take a decision on it by Monday. Heehs was asked to leave the country after he had spent nearly ...
The ostensible reason for the non-extension of Heehs's visa, according to sources, is his ninth book, 'The Lives of Sri Aurobindo'. For years, a handful of religious fundamentalists have been harassing Heehs over his treatment of Sri Aurobindo's ...

Two days workshop was organised by the Shri Aurobindo Studies Centre
Updated: 2012-03-30:17-32-12 N4E correspondent Lucknow
A two days workshop was  organised by the Shri Aurobindo Studies Centre under the Department of Education, University of Lucknow on 29.03.12 and 30.03.12. The topic of workshop was  “DEVELOPMENT OF TRAINING MODULE FOR EDUCATIONAL MANAGERS BASED ON SRI AUROBINDO’S PHILOSOPHY”. 
The workshop was inaugurated by Shri R.K. Mittal  (Retired IAS). He was the  chief guest at the inaugural session.  Dr. Varun Vidyarthi was the special guest and the program was presided by Prof. Akhilesh chaube, Head, Department of Education, Universitry of Lucknow. 
Welcome lecture was delivered by Prof. Subodh Kumar, Dean, Faculty of Education, Universitry of Lucknow and vote of thank was given by Prof. Amita Bajpai, co-coordinater of the workshop. 
The objective of that workshop was to  incorporate important  suggestions to develop a training module for managers of various private and public educational institutions. 30 participants from various educational institutions participated in the workshop.

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Here is Sri Aurobindo's answer, the best that can be given to the second question: “Cast away from you these movements of doubt, depression and the rest ...
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