The second type of distortion is to rewrite a quote in order to suit the sinister intentions of the author which is clearly to put Sri Aurobindo ‘naked’ in front of the world and to tell it: ‘ this is the Aurobindo you have been adulating and admiring! Now you may judge for yourself”. For example, on page 326-27 Peter recounts the “surprising development” of “Aurobindo and Mirra on one side, Paul and the others on one side.” Here the author writes about the conversation between Paul Richard and Sri Aurobindo which was around the “relationship” between Mirra and Sri Aurobindo. In an apparently guiltless manner he quotes from AB Purani’s book but we can see very well the dangerous game in Peter’s mind when he distorts the quote from Purani.
If one does not begin by assuming the author’s “sinister intentions” and imagining a “dangerous game in Peter’s mind,” it is quite possible to read this entire passage without finding in it any conflict with one’s adulation of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, as many have done. It would be unfair to Sri Aurobindo to attribute to him the rather clumsy English of Purani’s notes. These were written several years after the events in question on the basis of interviews with those who were present at the time. The substance of these notes is presumably more or less reliable, since neither Purani nor those he interviewed would have deliberately invented anything, but the wording is not the impeccable English we expect from Sri Aurobindo. Under such circumstances, a biographer has a right to paraphrase. The fact that Purani’s version is reproduced in a note at the end of the book shows that Heehs is being honest and not playing the “dangerous game” that Reddy gratuitously conjures up.
Instead of maintaining the original text of Purani which says “He said in whatever way the disciple will aspire for me he will get me as such [possibly an allusion to Bhagavad Gita 4.11]” Peter writes ‘in the interest of coherent dialogue, I have expanded and slightly amended Purani’s notes regarding this incident”. So he does (I do not know what authority he has got to amend the original text of Purani) and writes: “Aurobindo said that it would take any form that Mirra wanted.” By this slight amendment the whole spirit has changed and it suggests very impudently the secret “relationship” between Sri Aurobindo and Mirra; it is as if Sri Aurobindo was interested in Mirra and if she consented he would be all ready for the marital tie up!
Heehs actually makes it quite clear that neither Sri Aurobindo nor Mirra had the slightest interest in marriage, which was brought up only by Paul Richard. Sri Aurobindo’s reply was obviously meant only to help Mirra free herself from Richard’s influence. In any case, readers of the book have already been informed that even Richard’s marriage with Mirra was only a legal formality, with none of the usual implications of that contract, and that their relationship was “one of intellectual and spiritual collaboration” (p. 254). There is no reason to believe that Heehs intended any “impudent” suggestions in his presentation of this scene. However, it may be argued that he would have been wiser to keep in mind the sensitivities of a certain type of prospective reader and omit some of the details.