A critique of the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs
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Jun 9, 2009 The Shadow and After -- by Alok Pandey ... the collectivity that is loosely grouped around the Ideal of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Loosely, because it is constituted of a wide range of humanity in different ranges and stages of its inner development and outer conditioning.
There are many who are drawn to Sri Aurobindo for his idea of evolutionary transformation. There are others who are attracted to his philosophy, still others to his poetry, especially Savitri. Some others are attached to him because he represents in his personality, the very best that the East and West could offer, a unique synthesis of the two. Then there are those Indians who specifically feel proud of being born in a country where he took birth and the Mother chose as Her home. They can identify in Sri Aurobindo a much awaited return of the Avatar and his promise of a Vedic age of Truth and feel in His words the voice of Krishna on the great battlefield of life and the song of the ancient Rishis of the Upanishadas. The Westerners find in him their own appeal especially where he speaks of going beyond religions and social conventions and his stress upon freedom and individuality. Even the communists and the atheists find something in Sri Aurobindo that attracts them despite themselves.
All kinds of humanity, the Devas and Asuras, the straight and simple village folks and the complicated and confused city dwellers, the traditionalists and the modernists, each finds in Him something that represents to them their own highest point. And yet each sees in him his limited ego’s reflection as in a glass, missing out his vastness and his infinity. Still others are impressed by his writings, his luminous thoughts on contemporary issues of education, psychology, health, politics, and so on and so forth. Some are simply awed by his sheer creative genius even if they understand nothing, some are inspired by his writings, others attracted to his personality, some admire him because of his intellectual prowess, others by the countless stories of his deep compassion for the human race and for this troubled earth. Still others love him and know not why.
Finally, there are those few to whom the very name of Sri Aurobindo evokes the sense of the Supreme Divine. To serve him in any way is their delight. Given this wide range of humanity that is drawn to him, it is only natural that their responses to the Truth that Sri Aurobindo has brought will be varied and different, even conflicting with each other’s vision.
Quite naturally, those who love him and feel and see him with the psychic sense as the Divine Incarnate or even as the Master of Integral Yoga, accept all that he has said unquestioningly, even if they are not able to always live by that truth. Yet they do not doubt what he has spoken. They live by faith and the certitude that the Divine Presence gives to the devotee and the God-lover. On the other hand, those for whom he is a mere mortal, even though a great one, have a different approach. They accept a few things and not others. [...]
There are others to whom Sri Aurobindo is just an idea or rather a philosopher and they cannot understand why the devotee is hurt. There are others still who cherish human values and have been drawn to Sri Aurobindo not so much as a Master as to the Ideals he has set forth before the human race. They would prefer human ideals, of intellectual freedom and freedom of speech over everything else, even if it means misrepresenting Sri Aurobindo. They are least concerned about that. Little do they understand that all that Sri Aurobindo has said and done derives its power and lasting force from the strength of the yoga he had been engaged in. His truth has a lasting value only if something in him was identified with the everlasting Eternal. Otherwise it is yet another idea in a pool of ideas to be surpassed by other ideas. And that Something cannot be known by any analysis but only with the psychic sense in us. It is a disclosure or a revelation, not an inference or a reasoned argument.
But Sri Aurobindo not only gave an idea or an ideal but a way and a path. If he is not Divine, then all he said and did is only of temporary importance at the most. Therefore it is of utmost importance that we be extremely careful in dealing with his life. We need not say that he is divine but we need not question that as well. It may be best left untouched, to say the least, for, after all, who or what can prove the Divine. One either sees him or one does not. And just as those who see him have no right to impose him upon others, so also those who do not, have no right to question the faith of others. [...]
The disciples surely have a right to their faith and their way. Who are we to call it a religion? And if we take it that way, then everything is a religion, including Communism, with only a change of god and the holy book. Even the scientist follows his own religion, the religion of science with the senses and reason as his tools and the founders of science and their theories as his Bible. But this place called the Ashram is not a scientific institute, nor is it a place for historical research. It breathes Their living Presence. The body of the Ashram and the body of Sri Aurobindo are one and the same. This is one place that is completely dedicated to the Divine Incarnate, and if one does not believe in all that, one is never compelled to stay here. [...]
But there is no Ashram without faith in the Divine Incarnate, which is no doubt represented by the personalities of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. If an onlooker calls it religion, it does not matter. To each his own opinion, and his way... Posted by Raman Reddy at 6/09/2009 02:31:00 PM Labels: Article Recents Posts ► 2009 (32) ▼ June (3) Introduction to this Site ► 2008 (27)
In Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's case, this being a new path hewn by them, the personalities and their writings are guru and shastra respectively. The two support each other. The guru is the embodiment of the sastra and the sastra the expression of the guru. Re: Spiritual Authoritarianism (P2P) Debashish