Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Heehs vs. Sheel

[Historians are perennially afflicted by self-doubt, much like Woody Allen in his trademark movies: Was why things turned out the way they did any different from how they turned out? Were all historical explanations merely a particular point of view, and could there be different equally valid ways of explaining the same past? Perhaps each generation had to rewrite history since they asked different questions of their past? Can you really know the past as it really was? Are historical facts really facts or preselected events refracted through ideology? What is a historical fact anyway? Alok Sheel: Of economists and historians Business Standard - ‎Jun 12, 2009‎ 7:51 PM]
[I speak as a historian: one who uses documentary and other evidence to reconstruct the past in order to understand the present better. A historian generally begins with a problem: an event or line of development that has not been sufficiently studied or is commonly misunderstood. Sri Aurobindo's relationship to Hinduism is such a problem. Quite a lot has been said and written about the subject; much of this, in my opinion, is inadequate and one-sided. It is generally taken for granted that Sri Aurobindo was a outstanding representative of the Hindu tradition, and a leader of the Hindu revival movement. Many people depict him as a devout, even an orthodox Hindu. Some go further and make him the object of Hindu forms of worship, a modern Hindu deity. Others, more interested in politics than religion, present him as a characteristically Hindu politician, to be praised or condemned (depending on one's political leanings) for building up, or breaking down, the integrity of the Indian nation. As a historian and as a practitioner of Sri Aurobindo's yoga, I find all this unwarranted. But as a scholar I can't just reject these representations. I must return to the textual and biographical evidence, see what light this material casts on the subject, and arrive at my own documented conclusions. Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006)
Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Sat 22 Mar 2008 11:40 AM PDT Permanent Link]
Sheel's self-doubt is in contrast to Heehs' self-assuredness, perhaps conforming to a He/She polarity. [TNM]

No comments:

Post a Comment