Wednesday, March 31, 2010
A telescopic view of the Heehs imbroglio unravels its various segments. It snowballed over a fairly long period of time, and presumably, flexing of muscles by a few upcoming actors accelerated the cascading effect.
Parekh, as Paulette has hinted, had resisted blacking out of certain inconvenient documents and his legacy was carried on by Heehs. Obviously he drew the ire of Mukherjee, Bhattacharya and others from time to time.
The flashpoint was reached in 1993 with publication of the revised edition of Savitri. Protests and court cases followed suit. But Heehs managed to survive unscathed. His other books having contributed to his reputation as an austere scholar.
2008 brought the breaking point. It would be naïve of him to claim that he didn’t anticipate such widespread conflagration over the biography he wrote. The book, on the contrary, can be said to be meant to provoke, create a controversy, trigger a debate, and define the future. All these have taken place to an appreciable measure, but sales didn’t soar, alas!
Two words “retouched” and “hagiography” in the preface of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo speak volumes and constitute a defiant methodological manifesto. The following pages, however, fail to stand up to such exacting standards. He was done in by friends, but Heehs has enough ammunition in his hard disc to redeem himself. [TNM]