Sunday, September 19, 2010

Manoj duo lend legitimacy to Heehs' loose talk

For a long time there was reason to presume that in this slugfest between the supporters and detractors of the book there exist a few who would don the role of the umpire. At least for the sake of engaging the two sides in dialogue, if not for arbitrating over the issue. That hope has receded to the point of vanishing. There are clear two sides arrayed against each other at present, not even fence sitters. But the gravity and complexity that this imbroglio assumes is due to intermingling of the three different factors involved.

First the book. No doubt it contains hostile remarks on Sri Aurobindo, and hence is unacceptable to the devotees. They expect the Ashram to disown the book which unfortunately has been turned down.      

Second the Author. It is far from convincing that his removal from the archives is a commensurate punishment while the disputed book sells worldwide. His continuance in the Ashram (and defence by the Manoj duo) lends legitimacy to his utterances affecting the reader near her bed light.

Third the people. Not a very neat category to define, but broadly the ashramites, and next the devotees and workers scattered worldwide including the aurovillians. (Somehow the civil society crowd on both sides of the ideological isle have been cold to this case till now.) For the ashramites, both the book and the author are threats, and there is no reason why they have to be put up with. They want an unpolluted home (“An individual should be left if by his sacrifice the whole family is saved” - Chanakya) which is perfectly valid. What other sections say is secondary and counts less.

In the light of the above, the following points are thrown into sharp relief:
  • That the book would have faced no opposition had it been written by an outsider,
  • That the author’s freedom is limited to the extent he doesn’t harm others;
  • That only the opinion of those protesting against the book matters even if they are a minority within the Ashram.  [TNM] 

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