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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ensure that Sri Aurobindo is not converted into a religious figure

Tweets Nilanjana Roy  @nilanjanaroy The Peter Heehs case shows how easy it is to use "blasphemous" as an excuse to persecute an author: http://bit.ly/HLbz5F Ram Guha on the long tradition of cross-cultural scholarship that includes Peter Heehs: http://bit.ly/Hj3Ibs Chidambaram says he'll take a decision on Heehs' visa by today 12:11 PM - 3 Apr 12 via TweetDeck · Details - Anja Kovacs  @anjakovacs RT @nilanjanaroy
ramesh sharma  @rameshfilms Must read @nehathirani: Ram Guha on the visa extension of historian Peter Heehs & contribution of foreigners in India
Neha Thirani  @nehathirani Ram Guha on the visa extension of historian Peter Heehs & the considerable contribution of foreigners living in India
Gautam Chikermane  @gchikermane Amazing sense of perspective on the Peter Heehs affair by Ramachandra Guha: In Hume's footsteps
naresh fernandes  @tajmahalfoxtrot Ram Guha explains why historian Peter Heehs must be allowed to stay in India

Vishnupada has left a comment on your post "Inmate of an Ashram can’t claim unbridled freedom": Banning a book is a fashion only. It can never solve the basic problem. It can not root out the controversy. total banning of a book only bring out blasphemy and black marketing in total.
the readers should compel the author to revise the book and compel the publishers to publish only the revised book in future from where ever the book may be published. Posted by Vishnupada to Savitri Era at 4:21 PM, April 03, 2012

vishnupada wrote... All the clever writers and publishers from Europe and America make their books controversial only and to make money. It is their mania. This mania goes to the top when the matter or content does not... Continue >>

Letter to Home Minister of India, Honorable Sri Chidambaram – Arindam Das from Posthuman Destinies by debbanerji APRIL 3, 2012 the permalink To Thiru P. Chidambaram Hon’ble Minister of Home Affairs Subject: Renewal of Peter Heeh’s visa Respected Hon’ble Minister,
Your decision to review the decision taken by the FRO Puducherry not to renew Peter Heeh’s visa comes as a ray of hope for many of us who have followed this controversy for some time now. I am a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and grew up in the ashram. I have read Heeh’s book “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo” and have liked it immensely. It has increased my knowledge and understanding of Sri Aurobindo and his yoga. This book is a wonderful proponent of meticulous research and intellectual honesty that will go a long way in establishing a tradition of holistic understanding of Sri Aurobindo as spiritual seeker, a revolutionary leader, a poet and a visionary. To expel Heehs from this country would be nothing short of persecution.
The allegation that Heehs has deliberately tried to portray Sri Aurobindo in poor light is completely unfounded. Many of us have maintained that there is a false propaganda at play to purposely malign the book and the writer for motives that are best known to the detractors.
Please consider the following:
1. The people who have raised their voice against the book are only a small minority within the ashram. It is widely believed that this minority has been using the book and the writer as a pretext to get at the ashram Trust board with whom they have a difference of opinion.
2. Most of the people who have been protesting against the book have not even read the book. It may be noted that the book is not even readily available in India due to the pending court case in Orissa. It is therefore anyone’s guess that this protest has been built on falsehood and vested interests where people are simply being used as pawns.
3. It is a well-known fact that the agitation against the book and the writer is being fed by external elements from outside Puducherry. Bus loads of people were brought in from other states to participate in a dharna. The number of participants did not exceed 250 out of which only a handful – about 10-15 – belonged to the ashram. The ashram has a population of close to 2000 inmates.
4. The wider intellectual/academic community has come out in support of the book.
5. A number of devotees both inside and outside the country who have read the book have liked it and have gone on record to say that it has helped them in their understanding of Sri Aurobindo and his yoga.
6. Several debates have already taken place in many internet forums where the book has been discussed threadbare. At no point of time the detractors have been able to present any cogent argument to support their case. All that they have done all along is that they have quoted selective extracts to drive home their points. It may be noted that this group already stands discredited within the ashram and among the larger body of devotees across the country and the world. Most organizations connected to the ashram such as Auroville, the ashram school’s alumni fraternity and independent centers across the world have not endorsed their view.
7. It is fairly clear now from the proceedings in the court case that the gazette notification in the state of Orissa was taken out in undue haste without taking into consideration all the facts of the case.
8. Heehs is an established scholar and a historian. He has lived in the ashram and India for over 40 years and has contributed immensely to the digitization and organizing of innumerable original manuscripts of Sri Aurobindo. He has several books to his credit and has written many articles in various international journals. Expelling him from the country on account of a very small and vocal group of minority would not only be seen as an unusually harsh step but also portray India as an intolerant society.
9. As disciples of Sri Aurobindo we grew up with the ethos that the teachings of Sri Aurobindo do not constitute a religion. There is also a Supreme Court judgement to this effect that says that Sri Aurobindo’s teachings cannot be considered as a religion. It is therefore the duty of all of us, the devotees and the Indian state, to ensure that Sri Aurobindo is not converted into a religious figure and that nobody is allowed to take recourse to arguments of hurt religious feelings. This would be seen as the real betrayal of Sri Aurobindo.
10. We must respect freedom of thought, approach and expression. It will be wrong to say that there can be only one way to look at Sri Aurobindo. As a free-thinking individual I should be allowed to follow my own likes and judgement and decide for myself which approach is the best for me. Heehs has written a book which is a result of painstaking research, an urge to bring forth the many facets of Sri Aurobindo’ life and a silent respect for Sri Aurobindo as a person. This is his approach. He has not broken any law of the land. He is also not telling us that this is the only approach. Those who do not like this approach can always write another book or read another book.
I am an ordinary citizen of this country. It is with a great deal of hope that I write this letter to you with a full belief that you will allow Peter Heehs to stay back in India and continue with his sadhana. This would go a long way in portraying this great country as a civil and tolerant society which has learnt to live with many views. Sincerely, Arindam Das Puducherry

After a furore over his controversial biography on spiritual leader and nationalist Sri Aurobindo, well-known American historian Peter Heehs faces the prospect of being asked to leave India. Even as the government mulls the extension of his visa, we debate if this incident is yet another example of a serious threat to the freedom of speech and expression in the country. « NDTV Indian National Broadcast: Peter Heehs an Important Test Case for Democracy in India NDTV LINK to All India Broadcast on Peter Heehs as the Home Minister’s mules a decision in the case of his expulsion from India. The interview devotes plenty of time to framing the debate as an important test case for democracy in India.  Those knowing ones who warned that a reactionary response to the book and a movement to evict the author from the Ashram and India would only elevate his status to that of Salman Rushdie, M.F. Husain and others who have had their freedom compromised by fundamentalist incitement have been proven only too correct in this national television broadcast. permalink
SCIY first took issue with the Hindu extremist world view of Kittu Ready in 2006, in response to an article entitled the Kargil Crisis in which he declared Pakistan must come under India’s military control in order for India to fulfill her spiritual mission and destiny. His reasoning was as distorted in that instance as it is in this television interview. Link to the NDTV National Broadcast Historian faces expulsion: Are we an intolerant democracy?

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