Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dwarf Napoleon; Urchin Peter

By saying, "The hagiographies, which tell us more about their authors than about Sri Aurobindo" (by koantum on Sat 27 Sep 2008 Profile Permanent Link Re: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs 7:03 AM 8:29 AM) and "those childish hagiographies" (by koantum on Mon 29 Sep 2008 06:05 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link Re: Rationalism and the yogic life at 7:04 AM ), Ulrich Mohrhoff has made unwarranted derogatory comments against a whole array of direct disciples whose books we have grown up with and whom we vastly venerate.

In view of salutary sentiments like "The bridges must be built" (by Debashish on Mon 29 Sep 2008 10:23 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link Re: Rationalism and the yogic life) and "And here dialog is needed rather than attacks" (by Rich on Mon 29 Sep 2008 06:29 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link Re: Rationalism and the yogic life), it is hoped that Ulrich makes amends for his innuendoes. As an academician, he is, however, free to present in a paper what he likes or dislikes instead of uttering such blanket judgements a la a street urchin. [TNM]

Monday, September 29, 2008

Aurchlives, Aehton, and April flower

[On April 4th at about 4 o'clock in the evening, the Dupleix anchored in Pondicherry harbour. The sea in Pondicherry harbour is not deep enough for sea-going ships. Therefore ships could not come up to the pier, they had to anchor half a mile out. Passengers had to take a boat from the pier to go to and from the ship. (p. 11)... After having our tea in the ship's cabin, we took the three trunks and bedding and all of us got into the boat and went from the boat to the pier and from the pier to the main road known as Cours Chabrol. Srinivas Achari had obtained a horsedrawn carriage from some local gentleman and it was there ready for use.… (p. 127) Extracts from Suresh Chandra Chakrabarti, Smritikatha (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1952). (Translated from the Bengali.) Documents in the Life of Sri Aurobindo]

[Sri Aurobindo: A Dream Dialogue with Children by Nirodbaran
If a group of Ashram children had visited Sri Aurobindo in his room and begged him to tell them the story of his life, how would he have narrated it? The author uses his intimate knowledge from long association with the master to spin a delightful bio-graphical dream dialogue.]

[Saturday, November 25, 2006 Let fictional flowers bloom
Apropos of the imaginary missive from Milton Friedman to our PM by Jerry Rao carried by
Indian Express today, one recalls the fictional dialogues of Sri Aurobindo for children that Nirodbaran used to write a decade ago or so. Though it did seem a bit blasphemous at that time to puritanical sentiments, similar creative endeavours are likely to multiply in the days to come so as to prepare an enriched field for enhanced understanding of the mystery of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo's divine manifestation. Of course, the difficulty of shifting the actual from the imaginary would be ever greater; but then the chroniclers, too, will multiply so also the memorizing power of silicon chips. By the way, the article, Integral Spirituality - Exploring the Connection of the Sages Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo by Charles Ismael Flores "includes an imaginary interview..." Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 2:25 PM]

Puducherry, April 1, 2010

The Beach Road bears a festive look these days with several organizations busy putting up their tents to celebrate the Centenary of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in Puducherry on April 4. While the Ashram connected bodies like Sri Aurobindo Society and World Union are to go through the usual fanfare and visits by dignitaries, a spirited participation by Aurchlives Foundation has added zing to the whole scenario.

Aurchlives is insisting that its celebration is at the exact spot where Sri Aurobindo touched the soil of Puducherry, then known as Pondicherry. Aurchlives has unearthed a packet of sand recently discovered by the great-granddaughter of a close associate of Sri Aurobindo which is believed to be preserved right from the spot where Sri Aurobindo first set his foot. But Aurchlives is leaving nothing to chance and elaborate investigations are on for confirmation by combining forensic procedures with reverse Remote Sensing simulation by engaging Gamma Ray retardation technique.

Another facet Aurchlives is investigating is whether Sri Aurobindo had felt anything similar to what he had experienced while landing in Mumbai in 1893. Although many accounts are available, they are yet to be classified as “spiritual” as per the Foundation’s rating standards. It may be recalled that the overall rating of Sri Aurobindo was upgraded last year from C (-) to C (+) by Aurchlives in response to vociferous prayers and petitions.

But it is no cakewalk for Aurchlives, it seems, as its spot selection has been challenged by the influential Aehton Group. Flourishing a plethora of colorful astrological charts and numerological calculations they claim to have located the right spot some 44 meters away, which according to them tallies with the Galactic vibrational almanac and tidal relapse ledgers. However, most of the devotees of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo find these rival claims repulsive.

Lastly, the city activists of Rationalist Political Party are likely to stage black-flag demonstration as their “fight is against Puducherry becoming another Hong Kong or Thailand” a prospect for which they hold the arrival of Sri Aurobindo solely responsible. This, of course, should be considered a compliment instead, a visitor remarked. [TNM] [8:02 AM 11:13 AM 7:04 AM 12:34 PM] [Geography, Geometry, and the Zodiac]

Who is an avatar? "God sent me to the earth"

[(2) Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are the Divine, are avatars, and everything that they say is therefore truth and so, to question whatever they say is a falsehood - ... (2) would be possible, if there was anywhere in the writings of Sri Aurobindo or the Mother both the claims that (a) they were avatars and (b) whatever avatars express in their lifetimes is to be taken as 100% truth. Whatever case can be made for (a), I have not found any evidence for (b) in my readings. If you can provide some sources, I would be happy to consider the proposition. by Debashish on Sat 27 Sep 2008 01:54 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link Re: Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006) 7:03 AM]

[Peter Heehs says that Sri Aurobindo never claimed himself as an avatar—it was his disciples and followers who had taken for granted that he was an avatar. Did Parashurama declare that he was an avatar? Did Rama declare that he was an avatar? Krishna revealed himself only when he made Arjuna have the Viswarup Darshan. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa revealed his true being some time before his mahasamadhi when he said that He who had been Rama and Krishna was now Ramakrishna. Just because Sri Aurobindo never made any such declarations denote that he was not an avatar! What as assumption! By Anurag Banerjee 12:34 PM]

How about this quote from the Three Madnesses where Sri Aurobindo proclaims that "I was born with it" and claims that "God sent me to the earth to accomplish this great mission." That's precision shooting, OK?

["I know I have the strength to uplift this fallen race; it is not physical strength, I am not going to fight with the sword or with the gun, but with the power of knowledge. The power of the warrior is not the only kind of force, there is also the power of Brahman which is founded on knowledge. This is not a new feeling within me, it is not of a recent origin, I was born with it, it is in my very marrow. God sent me to the earth to accomplish this great mission." Three Madnesses ]

Confounding the tourists for worshipers

[not just the reception room but the entire courtyard of the Ashram is used for public worship from early in the morning till late at night... Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006) Sat 22 Mar 2008 11:40 AM PDT Permanent Link]

To confound the tourists for worshipers is like missing the woods for the trees. Welcome to the website of The Mother's work in Orissa and the Relics Centers including Complete list of Sri Aurobindo Relics Centers in Orissa (in Tabular format). 10676 Centres of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo in Odisha - August, 2008 [11:06 AM] [TNM]

Who are the collective folks? perhaps Deshpande can tell you

[Peter Heehs is writing a biography of Sri Aurobindo due to be published next year 13 Dec 2007 ... A couple of weeks ago, our Savitri study group in]

We are like that only Indian English, with its fascination for the polysyllable and the poetic, has a special flavor of...]

[The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs (available May 2, 2008)
by Rich on Fri 02 May 2008 09:38 AM PDT
Peter Heehs's remarkable access to archival sources both at the ashram and in numerous]

[It is no secret that The Mother and Sri Aurobindo are a threat to Christianity.
Peter Heehs, it seems, has become a prisoner in the hands of the publishing ...]

[Hullabaloo against Heehs before the presumable release of an Indian edition of his book]

[a large collective of folks that besides claiming he is a "madman and a charlatan and should be ejected from the Ashram call for him being criminally charged, to lobby Penguin not to publish the book in India, to lobby Columbia U to discontinue publication aka censorship. by Rich on Sun 28 Sep 2008 10:19 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link 7:51 AM]

So it's Penguin! Wishing overwhelming sales figures. [TNM]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Lives Divine

[Hyppolite's 1952 Logique et existence, a book Foucault regarded as "one of the great books of our time" was also a book on Hegel, centered on the question of a logic of the concept. It opened by rewriting Hegel's Phenomenology as a logic of silence, a logic of the ineffable. The Cambridge Companion to Foucault: Michel Foucault: Google Books by Gary Gutting - 1994]

[The idea of rewriting Hegel's Phenomenology became a passion but also one of those dreams every thinker has, knowing fully well that he cannot fulfil it. But such a 'regulative Idea' gives meaning to your being as a thinker... Aboni Ghose introduced me to the writings of Sri Aurobindo...He made me read Sri Aurobindo’s magnum opus, The Life Divine. I read perhaps the first six chapters, which impressed me a great deal by their profundity and large scope. I even made plans to write a book on metaphysics myself, with chapters on ‘matter’, ‘life’, ‘mind’, and so forth. -- J.N. Mohanty - Between Two Worlds, East and West: An Autobiography, Oxford, 2002 10:24 AM]

Puducherry, August 15, 2014

A world famous "questioning" disciple of Sri Aurobindo has accomplished a superhuman feat by rewriting the Master's magnum opus as "The Lives Divine" - a pentalogy. Due for release on August 15 coinciding with the Centenary of the original "The Life Divine" it marks the metamorphosis of the historian author to a full-fledged philosopher. "I was never ever a philosopher," the author quips in his blog post, echoing the famous words of Sri Aurobindo.

The author also plans to publish his first anthology of poems in spring next year which would be another "life" for him. After a couple of further somersaults that are up his sleeve, he might embark upon penning his intellectual autobiography that will evidently be titled as "My Lives."

The attractively bound five-volume set of "The Lives Divine" is eagerly awaited, but the high price is likely to dampen the spirits. Puducherry, being a free port and hub of South Asian trade, has been opted for the release of the book as the US economy is yet to come out of the prolonged recession. The Indian devotees of Sri Aurobindo, as customary, have deplored the publication while the westerners have greeted it, thus securing their complimentary copies. [TNM]

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Savitri Era Religion is a fait accompli

[What would the founders of the movement called the Integral Yoga have to say, a generation or two after their passing, about the current life of the Ashram? Would they be surprised that not just the reception room but the entire courtyard of the Ashram is used for public worship from early in the morning till late at night? Would they be surprised to see conventional Hindu symbols displayed, on occasion, in public spaces in the Ashram, its guest houses, or on the covers of their books? Would they be taken aback that Ashram departments observe Hindu holidays with conventional decorations, or that newcomers are told by self-righteous onlookers to follow Hindu customs while sitting and moving in Ashram spaces? To be frank, I don't think that they would be greatly surprised, because all these things were present during their lifetimes. And if they disapproved (as they did disapprove during their lifetimes), they probably would take a tolerant or at any rate a resigned attitude towards these survivals of conventional religion. Sri Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006) Permanent Link]

[the issue I have tried to raise ...is... that in many places both SA/M has stated Integral Yoga eschews traditional religious practice. It is not a religion. However. my experience and those of many many people whom I respect and who are very also devoted to the yoga is that many of the institutions of Integral Yoga have for all practical purposes become akin to religious institutions, and many followers seem to follow it as a variation of Hinduism, and not as a non-sectarian spiritual system. Now if you do not agree with that then we have to agree to disagree, if you however, as I do, perceive a reification of the teaching into a traditional religious practice then one can honestly ask the question: Why when IY was proclaimed to eschew religion has its institutions come to resemble traditional religious institutions and why do many of its followers resemble followers of traditional religious practice? If you even think the question is a valid one, perhaps you do not agree with the answer I have arrived at, and again we can agree to disagree. But if you think the question regards how religion crept into IY is a meaningful one, then it begs a question, which I feel worthwhile to address. But that is something I feel compelled to do, because in my opinion the very religiosity that have crept into will stifle its relevance for the future, now maybe that is ultimately a right or wrong attitude but for many reasons the issue has relevance for me. by Rich on Fri 26 Sep 2008 08:14 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link Re: Respect for spiritual master from Srimad Bhagavatam]

[Hermogen compares Heidegger and Adorno on the origins of truth.
Notice the similarity in phrasing between Heidegger and Adorno: they both talk of unveiling (Adorno uses the word ent-hüllen, Heidegger ent-bergen, they both imply that truth is revealed by lifting a barrier that prevents it to be seen), but the crucial difference is that for Adorno truth is revealed through a critical relationship to the world, for Heidegger it is purely affirmative.
(title unknown) from enowning]

Savitri Era Religion is a fait accompli. To quarrel with something irreversible is wastage of time and energy. To weigh it in absolute negative terms is myopic as well as cynic. The helping attitude is not to be an obstacle in the path of a movement that is at a take off stage to grow organically.

While it is an error to look upon "religiosity" as something monolithic, and as such, devoid of (or, incapable of) any spirituality, to consider the question of religion in abstraction and not in relation to the human beings who profess them and their compulsions is being superficial and insensitive.

More than being a vehicle for any transcendental volition, the worldly utilities of a religion as a recourse for socio-political identity and intercourse is too pressing a requirement the importance of which cannot be belittled. It becomes all the more unavoidable when one longs to belong to a miniscule minority owing allegiance to an ideal (such as ours) that is largely obscure and incomprehensible to others (in the family and the society).

Justifying continually non-participation in traditional religious festivities and celebrations, and avoiding or not conforming to rituals in public congregations is a constant embarrassment that can be stressful. These and umpteen other sociological compulsions make it inevitable that we label our bandwagon for appropriate public recognition.

By this, we not only do ourselves a favor, but also assist others for not fumbling for an appellation to refer us. At least that would save us from such colorful epithets as Arvindoite or Pondiwallah, etc. [TNM] [long term]

Let's not lose faith in debates

[I would like to add a nuance to the last item mentioned in the previous comment. Online discussions are not generally favorable to nuanced positions, especially when they take the form of a debate, in which positions become polarized and the rhetoric become largely polemical. by Rich on Thu 25 Sep 2008 02:13 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link Re: Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006)]

[In fact if there is such a huff about Peters book rather than be part of conspiracies to have him ejected from the Ashram, and in these conspiracies refer to him a madman, or a charlatan, before descending to the infra-rational why dont everyone like "reasonable folks" (and I know many in the IY disparge reason) who live in a democracy which promotes freedom of expression (all values that by the way Sri Aurobindo championed) just schedule a series of debates or open forums that can open a dialog of the matters which are controversial I would suggest it best be done in at some neutral place like a Centre here, but would open this forum to such honest debates which dont resort to hurling invectives.
by Rich on Fri 26 Sep 2008 10:42 AM PDT
Profile Permanent Link Re: Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006)]

[In any case in the realm of reason we can keep debating and every position can be argued and counter argued. There can be endless argumentation. One cannot arrive at indisputable truth through it. I am sure you can take another position and hold your own. One can take a position and plead plausibly for it. My arriving at this conclusion is not just through the rational process and contents as stated above but just an inner queasy feeling in the solar plexus upon reading many such excerpts. Ofcourse this is subjective and I could be wrong but not anymore than you could be. That is in my opinion not decided by a debate. by Vikas on Fri 26 Sep 2008 04:31 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link Re: Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006)]

[Is a learning process only necessary on the side of religious traditionalism and not on that of secularism, too? Both religious and secular mentalities must be open to a complementary learning process if we are to balance shared citizenship and cultural difference. By Jürgen Habermas 4:16 PM]

Let's not lose faith in reasoned debates. That is the Parliamentary method and also the crux of Communicative action. [TNM]

Friday, September 26, 2008

War and strife themselves have been schools of heroism

[This creation is inspired by the divine delight, the eternal Ananda; it is full of the joy of its own truth and power, it creates in bliss, creates out of bliss, creates that which is blissful. Therefore the world of the gnosis, the supramental world is the true and the happy creation, ŗtam, bhadram , since all in it shares in the perfect joy that made it. A divine radiance of undeviating knowledge, a divine power of unfaltering will and a divine ease of unstumbling bliss are the nature or Prakriti of the soul in supermind, in vijñāna. The stuff of the gnostic or supramental plane is made of the perfect absolutes of all that is here imperfect and relative and its movement of the reconciled interlockings and happy fusions of all that here are opposites. For behind the appearance of these opposites are their truths and the truths of the Eternal are not in conflict with each other; our mind's and life's opposites transformed in the supermind into their own true spirit link together and are seen as tones and colourings of an eternal Reality and everlasting Ananda. Works Of Sri Aurobindo > English > Synthesis Of Yoga Volume-20 > Vijnana Or Gnosis ]

[Again, the sign of the divine worker is that which is central to the divine consciousness itself, a perfect inner joy and peace which depends upon nothing in the world for its source or its continuance; it is innate, it is the very stuff of the soul's consciousness, it is the very nature of divine being. The ordinary man depends upon outward things for his happiness; therefore he has desire; therefore he has anger and passion, pleasure and pain, joy and grief; therefore he measures all things in the balance of good fortune and evil fortune. None of these things can affect the divine soul; it is ever satisfied without any kind of dependence, nityatrpto nirāśrayah; for its delight, its divine ease, its happiness, its glad light are eternal within, ingrained in itself, ātmaratih, antahsukho' ntarārāmas tathāntarjyotir eva yah Page 174 Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Essays On The Gita-Volume-13 > The Divine Worker ]

[All the economic development of life itself takes on at its end the appearance of an attempt to get rid of the animal squalor and bareness which is what obligatory poverty really means, and to give to man the divine ease and leisure of the gods. It is pursued in a wrong way, no doubt, and with many ugly circumstances, but still the ideal is darkly there. Politics itself, that apparent game of strife and deceit and charlatanism, can be a large field of absolute idealisms. What of patriotism, - never mind the often ugly instincts from which it starts and which it still obstinately preserves, - but in its aspects of worship, self-giving, discipline, self-sacrifice? The great political ideals of man, monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, apart from the selfishnesses they serve and the rational and practical justifications with which they arm themselves, have had for their soul an ideal, some half-seen truth of the absolute and have carried with them a worship, a loyalty, a loss of self in the idea which have made men ready to suffer and die for them. War and strife themselves have been schools of heroism; they have preserved the heroic in man, they have created the ksatriyiilJ, tyaktajivitiilJ, of the Sanskrit epic phrase, the men of power and courage who have abandoned their bodily life for a cause; for without heroism man cannot grow into the Godhead. Courage, energy and strength are among the very first principles of the divine nature in action. All this great vital, political, economic life of man with its two powers of competition and co- operation is stumbling blindly forward towards some realisation of power and unity, - in two divine directions, therefore. For the Divine in life is Power possessed of self-mastery, but also of mastery of His world, and man and mankind too move towards conquest of their world, their environment. And again in the Divine fulfilment there is and must be oneness, and the ideal of human unity however dim and far-off is coming slowly into sight. The competitive nation-units are feeling, at times, however feebly as yet, the call to cast themselves into a greater unified co- operative life of the human race. Page-155 Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Social And Political Thought Volume-15 > The Suprarational Ultimate Of Life]

[And as Bastiat, a Continental scholar who was a great admirer of the Anglo-Saxons, said: “Any social arrangement that is not based on Truth and Justice will fail.” So go ahead. Reject the Anglo-Saxon economists from Bentham to Ricardo to Keynes. Study the Austrians – from Menger to Mises to Hayek to Hoppe. And study the great Continental scholars, from Bastiat to the great Bruno Leoni. -- On The Rise and Fall of the Anglo-Saxons from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik]

If the aim of "economic development" is "to give to man the divine ease and leisure of the gods," and "Politics itself...can be a large field of absolute idealisms," nothing evidently prevents them from being means of Yoga. [TNM] 9:16 AM 9:58 AM 10:19 AM 7:46 AM

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Devotee's prerogative to condemn blaspheme

[Thursday, April 19, 2007 Imagination unlimited
If one of the most evolved and erudite Savitri Erans is facing proprietorial censure and censor over the net, it is highly unfortunate [
1:42 PM]. He needs no lessons on whether to follow the Indian wisdom or Western decadence. However, one is sure that a brave heart like him would never kowtow before such intimidatory diktats. Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 2:03 PM]

[Thursday, September 25, 2008 RY Deshpande quits SCIY blog over Heehs
Re: The Lives of Sri Aurobindo—One way out by RY Deshpande on Wed 24 Sep 2008 07:56 AM PDT
Profile Permanent Link
One way out is, I quit sciy without a moment’s delay. I’ve no regrets about it if all my editor-colleagues wish it so. But before I do that please allow me to express my appreciation for the great opportunity the blog and the blog managers had given me to express myself freely all along. May I await an answer in a next couple of days? Thanks again and au revoir. ~ RYD
Reply by Rich on Wed 24 Sep 2008 Profile Permanent Link Well its up to you to choose what you would like to do. My intention here is not to silence any point of view... Reply by Debashish on Wed 24 Sep 2008 Profile Permanent Link
I have no wish to advise on quitting etc. at 7:26 AM]

[This is why language itself, the very medium of non-violence, of mutual recognition, involves unconditional violence... So, perhaps, the fact that reason (ratio) and race have the same root tells us something: language, not primitive egotistic interests, is the first and greatest divider, it is because of language that we and our neighbors (can) "live in different worlds" even when we live on the same street. What this means is that verbal violence is not a secondary distortion, but the ultimate resort of every specifically human violence. -- Slavoj Žižek, IJŽS Volume Two, Number Three LANGUAGE, VIOLENCE AND NONVIOLENCE 6:26 PM]

Why overlook the devotee's prerogative to condemn blaspheme? The parting words could have been less cruel, anyway. [TNM]

Third class devotees

While dwelling evocatively on Towards the Rebirth of India at sulekha.com [Sep 24 2008 10:22 AM], Aju Mukhopadhyay has drawn the attention of the readers, inter alia, towards the plight of the transsexuals. Incidentally, like the third gendered represent an intermediate state, there is a certain section of persons who are neither devotees of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, nor non-devotees. They are a curious lot who feel it is their right to be at liberty to pledge their allegiance to The Mother and Sri Aurobindo at will or whim, and take it back at the next breath. They are in a transitional state, no doubt, and we should sympathize with them, but they constitute a nuisance at any rate. [TNM]

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Aloks, more Anands

[The hagiographical era has obviously passed by. The vision of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo will have to survive on merit amidst competing ideologies. Accordingly, more and more critical and polemical writings would be published in the days ahead. It is important, therefore, to identify our writers by their political affiliations, so that we are not uncritically swayed away by their rhetoric. Tuesday, August 28, 2007 3:18 PM Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 10:08 AM]

[Gullible will be misguided by PH’s book. They may believe him to be truly objective. That is my fear. Regarding academic vs nonacademic approach, research etc, I must say that even hard and experimental sciences are gripped with the problem of bias and confounding influences. Theories keep changing with newer paradigms. Research Methods in Psychology and Consciousness are on worse footing. Therefore till the time their Research Methodology is refined and defined and freed of individual bias, we must not attempt to demolish faith and phenomenon which surpass human comprehension, lest we destroy a great movement in our pettiness and ignorance. — Anand Kumar MD, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Re: The Lives of Sri Aurobindo—on Tue 23 Sep 2008 Permanent Link 11:59 AM 12:25 PM]

[Absolute Freedom of a Writer — Clearly, this is a myth... a writer writes in a cultural and political context. His/her affiliations to communities and organizations are often cited as “authoritative” or “authentic” texts by publishing houses. — SM Re: The Lives of Sri Aurobindo—Objectivity on Sat 20 Sep 2008 Permanent Link 8:05 AM]

[one could also make negative claims about Scientific Fundamentalism and its reduction of everything to the non-material world of sub atomic particles, or Neo-Liberal Market Fundamentalism whose collapse has undermined the world's economies, which leeches off taxpayers when they blunder and whose preferred form of government is the Fascist State. And of course there is Integral Yoga fundamentalism with its claims that its founders are gods or avatars ...(who) are seen to be infallible, beyond the scope of any critical inquiry... by Rich on Tue 23 Sep 2008, Re: Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006) Permanent Link 11:39 AM ]

[I have given up writing columns and Op-Eds, and am trying to be a full-time novelist instead. So those impassioned (sometimes too impassioned) essays about freedom and suchlike are a thing of the past—at least for a while... How often can I rant about the nature of government or free speech or the wastage of the taxes we pay? Posted at 3:16 AM by Amit Varma in Freedom Personal 11 September, 2008 5:06 PM]

It looks like many more new authors will come up now to refute the supposed misrepresentations wrought by Peter Heehs in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. For one Heehs, let's hope, there will be another one hundred historians. Heehs has inaugurated a new paradigm in the manner "D. D. Kosambi revolutionised Indian history writing with his Marxist approach, crucially diverting from the mainstream nationalist and imperialist schools."

So goes a popular tale about this legend: when asked by one of his friends why did he stuff so many errors and conjectures in his book, The Culture and Civilisation of Ancient India (1965), Kosambi coolly replied that the purpose was to provoke so that more people will turn to research in order to find the truth.

At a time when the human mind is performing the most ambitious of experiments through LHC -- “the largest and most complex scientific instrument ever built” -- it would be unwise to pooh pooh either science or empiricism. Surely we shall aspire, and dream we must, but disregarding the ground realities is not at all desirable.

The fact is that the teachings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo has not received any appreciable reception (and Heehs is certainly not responsible for that) till now. To fear that the following of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo would go down because of Heehs’ book is, therefore, misplaced. It’s only by multiplying critical and comparative expositions on the works of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo that we can face the outside world and have our say. Pusillanimous whining against a punctilious offering like Heehs’, hence, is hardly worth while. [TNM]

When Richard Carlson talks about "God" or Peter Heehs speaks about "avatar" they commit serious methodological blunders

[There is general agreement among students of religion that Aurobindo was a remarkable mystic, but few are willing to swallow the claim of some of his followers that he was an avatar, like Krishna, Chaitanya or Christ. post by Peter Heehs, author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo August 4th, 2008 at 10:43 am by Columbia University Press in Asian Studies] 11:21 AM5:18 PM

[And of course there is Integral Yoga fundamentalism with its claims that its founders are gods or avatars... by Rich on Tue 23 Sep 2008 Re: Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006) Permanent Link]

[as if he were so holy as to be above any critical inquiry whatsoever. One only makes such arrogant claims of privilege for a God,.... by Rich on Sat 20 Sep 2008 Permanent Link 8:05 AM]

[there is not a shred of evidence you can offer to support your arguments that they were Gods. -- by Rich on Sun 24 Aug 2008 Permanent Link]

[Buffered and porous selves A Secular Age Translation and transformation SSRC Home SSRC Blogs Blog Home]

When Richard Carlson talks about "God" or Peter Heehs speaks about "avatar" they commit serious methodological blunders by a) bringing in such nebulous and loaded concepts to an otherwise secular discourse, and b) dropping these terms without defining them properly. Even they are not honest enough to lay down the minimum presuppositions that they personally hold for using these terms, although they are not unaware of the evident fact that their cultural and religious connotations are context specific, and accordingly vary widely.

Now, the problem is without setting those yardsticks or criteria definitively, how to measure that Sri Aurobindo, or any one else for that matter, is not "God" or "avatar"? Is it proper to stick to uncritically what one was told in his childhood and reject all others as ineligible? This is something which, obviously, no human being can answer satisfactorily. Therefore, it is an academically sound attitude to keep the options open, as Jurgen Habermas or Charles Taylor are thankfully engaged in presently in their mature years.

The best course, in the meantime, is to read the right writings, and there is no better alternative for this than The Life Divine. [TNM]

Dismal situation, inmates helpless, devotees feel that the Ashram is sacred

Tusar N Mohapatra said... 7:16 AM, September 24, 2008

Thanks Nandhi for the quick report. It is certainly a dismal situation, and more so because the large number of inmates find themselves as helpless in the matter. On the other hand, most of the devotees feel that the Ashram is sacred, and they should not poke their noses in its affair. I understand the Trust rules are too stiff to expel someone. It will be nice if you can shed light on the whole affair in little bit more detail.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Will Somnath Chatterjee be the new JP now?

[Political spats affecting Hindustan Times, India - 6 hours ago Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has spoken his mind, again. Known to air his opinions frankly, Chatterjee minced no words in saying that development of ... Political will key to growth: Somnath Financial Express
Somnath for ‘right to recall’ MLAs and MPs Indian Express, India - 21 Sep 2008 CHANDIGARH, SEPT 21 Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee advocated the introduction of “right to recall” system to deal with elected representatives who ...Somnath against new terror law Calcutta Telegraph Be role models, Somnath urges legislators Chandigarh Newsline Somnath for right to recall Chandigarh TribuneHindu - Thaindian.comall 51 news articles » Somnath Calls For “Right To Recall” Top News, India - 8 hours ago Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today took a strong stand in support of the electorate’s “right to recall elected representatives who ignore the ... Centre, states urged to enact effective laws Chandigarh Tribune all 2 news articles »]

Will Somnath Chatterjee be the new JP now? [TNM]

Reading Sri Aurobindo is like reading an updated Kant

Tusar N. Mohapatra Says: September 23rd, 2008 at 1:09 am [8:48 AM 9:26 AM]

[I suppose that, genealogically, all this is Kant’s secular-Enlightenment updating of the old Christian virtue of hope. But it locates what is hoped for in this life, this world, rather than in an afterlife, or in some sort of post-apocalyptic recovery]

The same emphasis of “in this life, this world” can also be found in the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, even though his thought comes under the rubric, spiritual. Reading Sri Aurobindo is like reading an updated Kant.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is this the way to claim that we belong to the Noons of the Future?

[Updike Warns; Choudhury Ignores Many years ago, John Updike laid down, for himself, a few rules for reviewing books. The first of them was: Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt. I suspect my friend Chandrahas makes that error… Read more... Posted by Amit Varma India Uncut 13 April, 2008]

["Review the book, not the reputation. Submit to whatever spell, weak or strong, is being cast. Better to praise and share than blame and ban. The communion between reviewer and his public is based upon the presumption of certain possible joys in reading, and all our discriminations should curve toward that end." Reviewing 101: John Updike's rules
Thirty-one years ago, in the introduction to "Picked Up Pieces," his second collection of assorted prose, John Updike laid down his own six rules for reviewing. They are still the single best guide to fairness today: posted by John Freeman
Thursday, June 08, 2006]

[Rather than claiming the high-moral ground of objectivity, the current practice, especially in the post-colonial context, is to be upfront about one's approach and unpack one's ideological predilections in a self reflexive manner at the outset for the reader to see. This is absent in Peter Heehs's biography of Sri Aurobindo, although he seems to indicate some of his preferences now and then. On the whole, however, one finds that evidence is not offered in a neutral a manner for the readers to judge. Quite the contrary, Mr. Heehs interprets events quite constantly while claiming objectivity. Clearly; he cannot have it both ways. -- SM, a Professor of English and an author of internationally published books. Re: The Lives of Sri Aurobindo—Objectivity on Sat 20 Sep 2008 Permanent Link]

[So he must measure the Master’s stature with his scale and rod with exactness and thoroughness of a tailor and restitch his attire for us to see. He must tell us his true size and stature which is less than what the devotee ignorantly believes! ... A historian like Peter Heehs is anything but broad-minded. His vision, understanding, and action, everything is small, narrow and diabolic. To accept and laugh it off is to accept his vision, even tacitly sanction it as it is authored by an Ashram inmate from the Archives... To remain silent would be, in my view at least, not an act of charity and benevolence, but one of cowardice and one may dare say, guru-droha. -- alok]

[Firstly, who is he to evaluate Sri Aurobindo’s experiences? Does he have an iota of the necessary spiritual experience that could claim to evaluate Sri Aurobindo’s? Secondly, who has given him the authority to do so, even from the so called intellectual point of view? I think it may have been encouraged by the silence that the Trustees have maintained over the years over his previous writings...
Again it is the same question of why raise such irrelevant issues? Are the people in the West so very deeply interested in such trivial matters and how much do such details add to their deeper spiritual quest? ...
Umpteen examples of Peter’s narrowness, ill intentions, pretentions, perversity are strewn all across the book, though very cleverly and deftly so that the common reader cannot not notice them! -- Ananda Reddy, Pondicherry, 06-09-08]

[Truth, the spiritual truth then gets sacrificed on the altar of promotionalism. And it is a peculiar game, a very bad queer game in which the more the writer becomes diabolical the more gets promoted promotionalism... There is one particular kind of a mind which considers itself too righteous and all that which does not come under its keen or zealous purview is, to it, trivial, inconsequential, worthless, credulous, bagatelle, and that which must be disregarded brusquely. Nothing much can be done about it, this zealous arrogant purview; nothing can be said about this “squat godhead artisan” mind, and perhaps nothing need also be said or done about it. Very often these prickling irksome ‘intellectuals’ who lack perception come and go, making not more than a moment’s impact,—that is, one could just ignore them... And the fact is that facts are not always presented. The whole approach therefore displays complete lack of sensitivity; in it spiritual perceptions are unfortunately absent. This becomes more astonishing when the author also claims himself to be the follower of Integral Yoga. He proclaims: “I am, after all, a practitioner of Sri Aurobindo's yoga, and I take what he has written about his own practice of yoga, and the yogic discipline he recommends to others, quite seriously.” But who is going to decide the “quite serious” aspect of the matter? ... But what are the spiritual credentials of those people who opine about Sri Aurobindo? We have not been informed about these. -- by RY Deshpande on Wed 17 Sep 2008 Permanent Link Keywords: SriAurobindo, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo—a Controversial Biography by Peter Heehs 11:40 AM]

[there is not a shred of evidence you can offer to support your arguments that they were Gods. -- by Rich on Sun 24 Aug 2008 Permanent Link] [Because one notorious way to avoid or deflect criticism of those who disagree with you is simply by hurling invectives at the dissenters that label them in terms of ones own self-constructed categories (e.g people living in the mental or vital mind)... This method of discouraging disagreement is simply toxic to examining any truth claims and its quite a common practice among Aurobindo's followers. The inscrutable religion of Aurobindoism is certainly witnessed in this biased train of conversation which denounces the integrity of a fine critical biography in favor of treating the subject as if he were so holy as to be above any critical inquiry whatsoever. One only makes such arrogant claims of privilege for a God,.... by Rich on Sat 20 Sep 2008 Permanent Link 8:05 AM ]

How and where all our good sense and taste has vanished in the course of this slugfest is really a matter of great surprise. It amply proves that most of us are not thorough with the homework. Is this the way to claim that we belong to the Noons of the Future? One is, in fact, stunned to observe the sheer puerility of the discourse and the level of intransigence involved. Our head hangs in shame. [TNM]

I wholeheartedly support the book: The Lives of Sri Aurobindo

from Tusar N. Mohapatra tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com to PP Raghavachary <raag62@gmail.com> date 22 September 2008 13:45 subject Re: Protests against Peter Heehs

Dear Raghav,

If “the Trustees are spineless” and it is “a universally known fact” then it is implied that the applications for “expulsion of Peter Heehs” that are being submitted to them won’t yield any result. Political mobilization is the only recourse left then to bring the Ashram administration back to the rails.

I am not sure whether you are willing to provide the details of Heehs’ offences for public information so that all right thinking people come forward to help convict him. Whether he should be singled out or some others also deserve punitive action can be decided through consultations.

In this distressing backdrop, may I reiterate that I wholeheartedly support the book, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, whosoever its author may be. Writing about Sri Aurobindo: A Brief Biography (Oxford-1989, 2006) by Peter Heehs, Prof. Sachidananda Mohanty in his Sri Aurobindo: A Contemporary Reader (Routledge India-2008) notes: “This book in my opinion, represents a balanced approach – sympathetic and objective at the same time.” “A fine critical biography” like The Lives of Sri Aurobindo (List Price: $45.00, Offer Price: $36.00) too deserves identical estimation and reception.

Yours fraternally, Tusar N. Mohapatra
[Spice need not be mistaken for spite Whether Heehs has actually "criticized the Master" Writing an irreverent book is not a crime Biased train of conversation which denounces the integrity of a fine critical biography] 7:40 AM

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spice need not be mistaken for spite

from Tusar N. Mohapatra <tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com> to PP Raghavachary <raag62@gmail.com> date 21 September 2008 21:11 subject Re: Protests against Peter Heehs
Dear Raghav,
As you are aware I hold no brief for Heehs, and what I have urged you so far is intended basically to uphold the principles of fair play. Because, as you say, “these letters were openly and freely distributed and the hue and cry was within the reach of all;” and may be you have been privy to other clinching evidences against him for long, that you can afford to pronounce a definitive verdict that Heehs is guilty of committing "Gurudroha."

In the absence all such information it becomes difficult for me to safely assume that the verdict is sound and unimpaired, and therefore, I plead for natural justice, at the least. Heehs confesses that “if I had shovelled every new bit of information I had ever found into the book, it would have become almost unreadable;” and hence, has hastened to exercise his authorial liberty of sprinkling spice which need not be mistaken for spite.

But whether Heehs “treated the Archival holding as personal property,” as SM has complained, or similar other charges seem to be more a lapse on the part of the Ashram than Heehs. Conflating all allegations accumulated over the years is just not just, as being appearing as settling scores for being miffed for not receiving a complimentary copy.
If you permit, I can publish your mails. Thanks,
Yours fraternally, Tusar N. Mohapatra
[ 3:45 AM 8:05 AM 7:40 AM The Lives of Sri Aurobindo]

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Whether Heehs has actually "criticized the Master" is an issue that involves an elaborate process of textual criticism

from Tusar N. Mohapatra <tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com> to PP Raghavachary <raag62@gmail.com> date 20 September 2008 12:24 subject Re: Protests against Peter Heehs

Dear Raghav,

Many thanks for your helpful clarifications, and intimating fresh developments. I would like to make certain points clear, as I feel you are capable of appreciating a reasoned response:

  1. It is the lookout of the Ashram authorities exclusively to proceed (or not proceed) against Peter Heehs, and others, obviously, have no locus standi to put up a show (and market themselves) in a 'Holier-than-thou' manner.
  2. It smacks of mala fide intent to selectively exhume some buried confidential correspondences of 1986-87 to buttress their 'More loyal than the King' activism.
  3. Such back-issues including "tampering of Savitri" should be dealt with in strict separation from the objections to the present book. Whether Heehs has actually "criticized the Master" is an issue that involves an elaborate process of textual criticism and hermeneutical exercise by experts which ideally should have happened first and in public.
  4. As regards your citing from the Mother's Agenda, may I lay down the standard safeguard that I normally take shelter under:

    As it is not possible for me to follow all that The Mother and Sri Aurobindo have collectively written in their seventy volumes, I won't expect someone else to do so; and thereby, try to avoid the trap of literalism.

  5. If Heehs has other crimes to his "credit" hang him, but not for painstakingly producing this marvelous document: The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.

Yours fraternally, Tusar N. Mohapatra 1:02 PM 6:28 PM Savitri Erans are beholden to Peter Heehs Sorrier than thou Biased train of conversation which denounces the integrity of a fine critical biography 10:15 AM 7:40 AM

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bitter Heehstory

Tusar N Mohapatra said...

Because - Sri Aurobindo was a born futurist and he belongs to future,” so well put. But whether Peter Heehs has “any idea about Avatar-hood” or not is immaterial to us as long as he is writing quality books. He is free to write his intellectual autobiography at some future date, but right now his beliefs and views are not worth tracking. Further, his writings to date largely fall under history which, to be fair, cannot be strictly attributed as reflecting his personal viewpoint. [TNM] 6:25 PM, September 19, 2008 [Peter Heehs is the author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo]