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Saturday, August 22, 2015

I have expanded and slightly amended Purani’s notes

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.

The Lives of Sri Aurobindo: A Biography

https://books.google.co.in/books?isbn=0231511841
Peter Heehs - 2008 - ‎Religion
In the interest of coherent dialogue, I have expanded and slightly amended Purani's notes regarding this incident, which read: “(One day P. R. came & asked him  ...

Historical Documentation - A critique of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo"

www.thelivesofsriaurobindo.com/2012/04/historical-documentation.html
Apr 13, 2012 - In the interest of coherent dialogue, I have expanded and slightly amended Purani's notes regarding this incident, which read: “(One day PR.

Distortions of Quotations - A critique of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo"

www.thelivesofsriaurobindo.com/2011/05/distortions-of-quotations.html
May 18, 2011 - ... “in the interest of coherent dialogue, I have expanded and slightly amended Purani's notes regarding this incident.” In the name of “coherent  ...

Objectionable Extracts from the Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs

www.thelivesofsriaurobindo.com/.../objectionable-extracts-from-lives-of.ht...
Apr 11, 2012 - In the interest of coherent dialogue, I have expanded and slightly amended Purani's notes regarding this incident, which read, “(One day P.R.  ...

Savitri - The Book that Bombed by Krish Patwardhan | The Light of ...

savitri.in/blogs/light-of.../the-book-that-bombed-by-krish-patwardhan
Dec 17, 2011 - In the interest of coherent dialogue, I have expanded and slightly amended Purani's notes regarding this incident, which read: “(One day PR.
The above passages show the deep and sublime relation of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra, which hardly goes with the stormy break and marital rearrangement that is presented on pp. 326-27. In fact, this passage, when read with the others, seems totally decontextualised and stands in stark contradiction to them. It is this method of constantly doubting and contradicting himself that I find erroneous. Peter Heehs will argue saying that he is presenting the pros and cons of the topic under discussion, but, on a closer scrutiny, you find that the negative and positive statements he makes contradict each other because of the enormous difference of the fundamental notions of life you generally assume before making any statement. [...]
Take this particular case. Heehs writes eight wonderful passages on the spiritual relation of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra, which he ought not to have written at all if he did not believe in it. At the same time, he makes one opposite statement from the materialistic point of view, which demolishes or nullifies the content of the eight. The overall effect on the reader is such that he is likely to dismiss the content of the eight passages. The conclusion he will draw is that despite all the talk on bhakti, physical transformation and freedom from sex, Sri Aurobindo’s relationship with Mirra was that of plain marriage, and, in that respect, was not much different from that of any other married couple. But then why did Heehs write the eight passages corroborating their spiritual association because that too does not go with sex and marriage?

Heehs compares Mirra’s capacity for spiritual surrender to that of the great Indian bhaktas (on p. 258), how she felt fulfilled in her inner life as never before during her first visit to Pondicherry (p. 260), how deeply she was interested in Sri Aurobindo’s ideal of divinising the body (p. 323), how she had mastered the sexual desire (p. 329); had a spiritual relationship with Aurobindo (p. 329); was obviously going to become his chief disciple (p. 329); that the very condition for staying in Sri Aurobindo’s house was a total renunciation of sex (p. 335) and that she took charge of the new creation after the descent of the overmind in 1926 (p. 345). How can all these conceivably go with the passage on pp. 326-27 where Heehs presents the coming together of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra as an ordinary marital rearrangement? Further, how do you explain the use of the word “partner” (which has a clearly sexual connotation) in referring to her on p. 381? This is surely not an objective presentation of facts! It is rather self-contradiction and duplicity.

Science, Culture and Integral Yoga :: Corrections to textual excerpts ...

www.debashishbanerji.com/sawiki/sciy/www.sciy.org/.../3903585.html
Sep 27, 2008 - In the interest of coherent dialogue, I have expanded and slightly amended Purani's notes regarding this incident, which read: “(One day P. R.  ...

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