Monday, May 11, 2009

Skewed law of Karma

[you have a lot of accumulated karma; and are paying the price for it by getting in turn dismissed, insulted and put down by other Ashramites... For if their attack is based on such motivations, they themselves in turn would accumulate 'karma' of using the stature of Sri Aurobindo for their own ends. Raja Marathe’s Letter to Peter Heehs May 10, 2009]

Raja Marathe’s Letter to Peter Heehs at A critique of the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" is a refreshing read. "The law of Karma" thesis, however, sits a bit incongruent with Sri Aurobindian ontology. [TNM]


    I have a question for all those support the book. Could SCIY editors or contributors please respond or answer?. As SCIY has shown unstinted support and admiration for the book and since they have read the book thoroughly, I hope they answer this and help people like myself to understand their position. I personally have a problem with some of the statements made about Aurobindo. My questions hold for each such statement. Lets take for eg where the author states that Aurobindo refused to see the problem of communalism as a political issue and tried only half-heartedly to bring the Muslims into the movement and hindsight shows that Aurobindo was negligent in this regard and must therefore take his share of the blame for the partition and the bloodletting that accompanied it(even though this bloodletting and partition would most probably have happened anyway.).
    This is what the author states and I was rather alarmed. I know very little of Indian history but I do know that Aurobindo has been regarded as having great political foresight, insight and acumen to have missed this obvious communal problem. In any case its quite something to hold him responsible for the bloodshed and the partition. It is quite damning. I hope its not true. That is a huge failure of Aurobindo. On this subject (of his being responsible for the partition and the bloodshed) I would like to know which of the following positions you hold(each supporter might answer differently). Either
    1) All of you actually hold this to be true- Aurobindo must be held responsible for the partition and the bloodshed. It follows also that you have no problem that a disciple states this publicly(especially given that there is also much that is stated positively about him).
    2) You do not believe it to be true. It follows that you feel its still ok for a disciple to state this publicly(especially given that there is also much that is stated positively about him).
    3) You are not sure, but Aurobindo is most probably guilty. It follows that despite being not 100% sure you still think its ok to state it publicly that Aurobindo must be held responsible.
    I cannot think of any other possibility. Which one is it? Could you please let me know?

  2. Apropos of this comment, let me draw attention to the posting Sri Aurobindo and the Cripps Proposals of 1942 on the Mirror of Tomorrow as follows:

    … what do we have in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo? In it we have the following about what would have happened if the Proposals had been accepted: (p. 392)

    Many believe that the partition of India might have been averted if the various parties had learned to work together in a wartime national government… As K.M. Munshi wrote in 1951, “Today we realise that if the first [Cripps] proposal had been accepted, there would have been no partition, no refugees and no Kashmir problem,” [opines P Spear]. Such judgments after the fact have to be taken with a grain of salt; but the possibilities that might have opened if the Cripps proposal had been accepted are among the great unanswered questions of modern Indian history.

    If these are aspects of “many believe…” it would be interesting to know what our biographer himself actually believes. But unfortunately his intuition about the matter acquired from the scholarly study of the primary documents has not entered anywhere in the discussion. If the biography is not just a handbook of facts, then there is an expectation that he gives us certain clues about the entire course of events and the subsequent happenings, happenings of a disastrous kind. To state that these judgements “have to be taken with a grain of salt” is itself an act of uncritical judgement, as a friend of mine points out, and quite frankly not very flattering to Sri Aurobindo; it does little justice to his concerted efforts to have the Cripps’s offer accepted. More seriously, how are we to square the assertion that such judgements “have to be taken with a grain of salt” in the wake of the Mother’s stating unequivocally that “there would have been no division” had the Proposals been accepted? Historical presentation from the inner Aurobindonian circle has yet scope to put all these in the right historical perspective. Let us hope that one of these days this will happen—unless one says that it is the credulous who believes in what the Mother had said; that would be the end of the course of the perceptive thought itself.