September 28, 2008

To gather a posse together to cause harm to the author is surely deplorable and such acts ought to be condemned unequivocally

Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Re: Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006)
by Debashish on Sat 27 Sep 2008 09:41 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Rakesh, Have you read the book?

In all this hype against "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" and the questions raised regarding the factuality of its descriptions, "taking liberties about events", etc. the fundamental and basic question on reading skills needs to be first answered. The tenor of this discussion is so familiar as the development of a kind of mob mentality, where a large number of people are ready to lynch someone based on a few flying snippets of purported wrong-doing, but when you question the individuals in the mob, not more than one in a hundred has first hand knowledge of what has happened. It is interesting and amusing how much time, energy and emotion people are anxious to expend without bothering to form a considered judgment based on experience and study. If I saw even a few adequate quotes (not partial and distorted excerpts) along with footnotes as actually carried in the text, I could have at least found some matter of interest in this discussion.

Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
by Rich on September 27, 2008 10:09AM (PDT) Permanent Link

There is a movement of folks in Pondicherry who are so upset by the biography that Peter Heehs has written entitled The Lives of Sri Aurobindo that they have instigated a movement to discredit the author. Some people have even become so embolden as to try and have him ejected from the Ashram itself. The folks who have spurred this on have in the course of their attacks on Mr. Heehs openly distorted his text by decontextualizing portions of it or by a series of selective omissions to make it suit their own interpretation of events that facilitate their own story they wish to tell.

Because of this movement I have decided to post all the portions of the text that have been decontextualized or omitted and reprint them with corrections to demonstrate how the text from the book actually reads in its entire context. The portions of the text that have been lifted to suit the purposes of those with an agenda against the author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo are in black, the missing portions of the text that are needed to give the entire context of the narrative are in red. As everyone will see there is a lot of red in the text.: more » Leave Comment Permanent Link

Re: Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006)
by Vikas on Sat 27 Sep 2008 12:08 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Rich "I dont think it serves any constructive purpose to try and and gather a posse together to cause harm to the author of a work they do not agree with".

Ofcourse. "To gather a posse together to cause harm to the author" is surely deplorable and such acts ought to be condemned unequivocally. We are agreed on that...

Neither Mother nor Sri Aurobindo told him to write a biography to appeal to the academia much less write it from a "perspective of the secular historian", "in keeping with the academic style" which compelled him to twist the truth to prevent failure of his project...

This need not necessarily be a misdirected reaction of a mere emotional or devotional fervour. Reflect upon this. I think we should discuss this no further because of the controversial nature of the subject. Vikas

Reply by Rich on Sat 27 Sep 2008 04:17 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Rich: And are you in such privileged communication with Mother and Sri Aurobindo that they told you that you should denounce this biography? Or did you choose to write these comments just as PH chose to write his biography? ...

Rich: And so are you claiming to be the sole possessor of truth in the matter? as I said in my comment to Rakesh, the story of history is the story of interpretations. It seems like the folks denouncing the book in question assume they are the only ones in possession of the 'Truth". There seems to me to be a fair amount of hubris in making this claim, that seems contrary to the humility required of those claiming to be sadhaks.

Re: Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006)
by Debashish on Sat 27 Sep 2008 01:54 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Vikas, You raise an interesting point here that bears deeper consideration. On the issue of taking Sri Aurobindo's espousal of the acceptance of the Cripp's proposal as something which would have averted the partition "with a grain of salt", you make it appear that this is the expression of a falsehood on Peter's part. Why is this a falsehood? Is it because:

(1) Peter is a disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and disciples have to take all that their guru says as "gospel truth" and anything they may say which casts doubt on the guru's words is a falsehood? or (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 - or (3) Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as yogis are in possession of an infallible source of knowledge and therefore anything that casts doubt on this is a falsehood? - or - (4) Am I missing something?

(1) certainly cannot hold water. In guruvada, one must follow the injunctions of one's guru, but one need not therefore eschew a "grain of salt" until one arrives at knowledge. This is evidenced by Sri Aurobindo himself in his attitude towards Lele's words, when he was told that thoughts come from the outside. Sri Aurobindo tells us that he found the notion outlandish, but that he gave it a try as a possibility. A disciple may very well follow an inner process leading to knowledge, which includes questioning. Given that the spiritual journey is a matter between disciple and guru, to dictate from the outside what a disciple should or should not consider "true" is rather inquisitional, I feel.

(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.

As for (3), while we know that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were attempting to realize the supramental consciousness, which alone according to both of them, gave absolute certainty about anything, we also know by their own telling, that they had not realized this consciousness integrally or were not in possession of it at all times. Hence, unless any of us have an identical consciousness as either of them at the time of the utterance of a statement and can assert that it was said from the supramental consciousness, or unless they make it clear that the statement is made from the plane of truth-consciousness, it is possible for an individual, even a disciple, to hold its truth-content in question, until verified in experience. You or I may have a different threshold of disbelief, but one cannot expect everyone to accept all things said by even supreme yogis as "truth" unless it is unquestionably from the plane of truth-consciousness. DB

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