4 Jul 2019

Distorting Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga – Anirjeet

Peter Heehs and his American supporters at the Archives of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, should be packed off to Donald Trump’s country and made to feel the difficulties of common American citizens instead of allowing them to invent a false and secular version of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga in India. Just look at the cheek of this imposter who once labelled himself as the founder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives. He publishes an interview in the Times of India the very next day of his reinstatement at the Archives in which he smugly says, “It’s possible to be an atheist and practise a religion.”

Let me tell you first that this is old hash which he has been repeating from the last 15 years, so there is nothing brilliantly intellectual about it. It only shows his own failure to do Yoga and complete inability to become part of Ashram life.  Secondly, his statement is an outright contradiction as an intelligent reader has already commented on the blog. If you are an atheist, you are generally a materialist and you don’t believe in spiritual realities. The Divine or God or Ishwara are immaterial spiritual realities which materialists refuse to believe in, so how can you be an atheist and still practise a religion or spiritual discipline? The fact that the Divine can be personal or impersonal or simply an ineffable state of consciousness such as Nirvana or the Self does not make any difference to the basic contradiction in his statement – Sri Aurobindo has explained that there is no opposition between the impersonal and personal Divine, they are two facets of the same spiritual Reality. Sri Aurobindo thus explains the material reality in terms of consciousness which is the fundamental reality of existence. The problem with Peter Heehs is that he wants to always please both materialists and spiritualists – have the cake and eat it too.

The other implication of his statement in the context of Sri Aurobindo Ashram is that you can do Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga without believing in him. You can also dispense with “senseless rituals” in the Ashram like bowing down at the Samadhi or meditating in front of Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s photos or relying inwardly on their direct inner contact. He does not say so in the interview but his other articles on Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism are ample proof of this attitude. In fact, his new book “Spirituality without God” prepares the larger background for proving more specifically in future the same attitude towards Sri Aurobindo. So here we are, we know the reason why he has been reinstated at the Archives with the connivance of the Ashram Trust – people in the Ashram are becoming too religious, so they have to be educated by Heehs in order to practise the sadhana as Yogi (or Bhogi!) Peter Heehs has presented it after 40 years of severe intellectual askesis! I hope we will be spared of this unwanted transformation of Sri Aurobindo Ashram!

I have not written the above for the sake of mere amusement because I genuinely feel his reinstatement at the Archives a serious threat to the spiritual well-being of the Ashram. I would therefore earnestly appeal to the Home Ministry of India to intervene immediately and see to it that Heehs and his supporters leave by the first flight to their own country. If this indeed happens, many of us will be greatly relieved and we will not hesitate to raise money for their tickets in first class in the best Airlines available.

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30 Jun 2019

Peter Heehs Reinstated as Head of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives – Anirjeet

Is the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust in Pondicherry bent upon destroying the spiritual legacy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother? If not, how do you explain the sudden reinstatement of Peter Heehs as the head of its Archives & Research Department on the 29th of June?
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30 May 2019

29 May 2019

"Deliberate Distortions of Sri Aurobindo's Life and Yoga" – edited by Raman Reddy

Preface

This book is a counter to the vicious attack on Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual stature that came in the form of a hostile biography of him by Peter Heehs entitled The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, published by Columbia University Press in 2008. All the articles in this book are in defence of Sri Aurobindo and many of them have been written by well-known historians and academicians. Though the book is written in support of the disciples and followers of Sri Aurobindo and their spontaneous rejection of the gross distortions of their Master’s life and teachings, the refutations themselves are based on a scholarly study of Sri Aurobindo’s works and a thorough examination of the historical facts of his life. I hasten to make here a necessary clarification with regard to the study of great spiritual personalities such as Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
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15 Apr 2019

Challenging the Ashram Trust’s Stand on Relics

[The Notice below has been issued in the name of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust in the January 2017 issue of the Oriya monthly magazine “Navaprakash”, published by Navajyoti Karyalaya, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Below is an English translation of the original Notice in Oriya.]

Facts One Should Urgently Know About Relics
(Notice on Relics published in Navaprakash)
Words are insufficient to express the spiritual significance of the sacred Relics of Sri Aurobindo. It can only be realised through profound faith, devotion and sadhana.
Usually, as per the arrangement of The Mother, the Relics are given in Sri Aurobindo Ashram from Sri Aurobindo’s Room. They are well-kept in a series of containers specially prepared and provided by the Ashram. The approval of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust is indispensable regarding the details of the institutions that take them, the places of their installation, the persons who receive them from the Ashram and those who remain in charge, the way in which they are taken and the persons who install them.
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28 Nov 2017

Deconstructing Peter Heehs – by a Zombified Disciple

Peter Heehs was born & educated in USA (says his bio-data on the inside cover of his India’s Freedom Struggle, OUP, 1988). In 1971, at the age of 22, he settled in Pondicherry [=not in the ashram Aurobindo founded]. He is a research scholar [=not member of S.A Ashram] at the Sri Aurobindo [=not S.A Ashram’s] Archives & Research Library, specializing in the life & politics of Sri Aurobindo. In an earlier form the present book was awarded a State Prize in a competition sponsored by the Delhi administration.  Since then he has published many uninhibited books, booklets & ‘papers’ on Aurobindo in his native English-English for his type of non-disciples, & at least one in an inhibited Indian ungrezi for Aurobindo’s Indian disciples. [Click here to read full article.]
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2 Sep 2017

Manoj Das Gupta Interrogated by the Police ─ Anirjeet

On the 25th of August 2017 the Pondicherry Police whisked off Manoj Das Gupta in a Police jeep around 7 a.m. from the Ashram Dining Room, where he had gone to collect his breakfast. The Police took him to the station for questioning with regard to the rape of a minor girl by a minor boy committed in the premises of the Ashram School on 21 July, 2017. Manoj Das Gupta happens to be the Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the Registrar of the Ashram School, which is a powerful and influential position to hold in Pondicherry, so it is extremely surprising that the Police dared to treat him like a common citizen. He was even made to undergo the utter humiliation of waiting in the Police Station for two hours and told to come the next day for interrogation. The next day he was accompanied by Dr. Dilip Datta (Trustee and head of the Ashram Medical Services) and Matriprasad Satyamurthy (Secretary of the Ashram Trust) to the Police station. The same week writer Manoj Das (Sahitya Academy award winner and recipient of Padma Shri) was summoned to Chennai and interrogated by the Intelligence Bureau. All of a sudden the long delayed karmic hand has caught up with the actions of this nefarious group of the Ashram and the fortress of invincibility they had built up in the public domain over the last twenty years seemed to fall like a house of cards.
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19 Aug 2017

Relinquishing Responsibilities – Anirjeet

Our last post of 7th August, 2017 (Two Shocking Incidents – by Anirjeet) has set the alarm bells ringing, not in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, as much as in the Sri Aurobindo Centres closely connected with it. The inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram will naturally pretend ignorance and vehemently deny these incidents out of sheer fear of retribution from the Trustees, for whom it is a question of public shame and accountability. And even if the inmates reluctantly admit in private a watered-down version of the two incidents, they would gallantly come to the rescue of the Trustees by saying that these were after all isolated incidents in the otherwise island of peace and psychic growth of the children in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Centre of Education. But then if you look backwards, these kinds of incidents (relating to drugs, sex and alcohol) have happened before, and it is only recently that the skeletons are tumbling out of the musty and suppressed annals of Ashram history.
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7 Aug 2017

Two Shocking Incidents – Anirjeet

The following post, dated 6 August, 2017 on indiatoday.in with the title “SC rejects plea of woman ‘abused’ at Puducherry’s Aurobindo Ashram” is highly misleading, even going by the report that follows underneath. On 28 July 2017, Chief Justice Khehar dismissed the impleadment petition of Hemlata Prasad in the Writ Petition filed by Gayatri Satpathy & Others against the Ashram Trustees in August 2014 for a number of complaints, including sexual harassment of minors, death by medical negligence, shady land dealings and other financial irregularities. The Chief Justice however granted the liberty to Hemlata Prasad to “initiate proceedings if the applicant is so advised in her own right”.  In other words, the Chief Justice did not reject her plea of being abused but instructed her to file it separately on her own. So while the title gives the impression of the Ashram Trustees coming out clean in the eyes of the Supreme Court, the actual content of the story should hardly make them comfortable, especially when the Centre (MHA is a party to the Writ Petition) has “favoured an independent inquiry into the affairs of the Ashram”.

In the meanwhile two more shocking incidents have come to light in the Ashram, which should make the Ashram Trustees literally squirm in their seats and regret why they ever sat on them.
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4 Mar 2017

The Wrong Notion that Sri Aurobindo Rejected Hinduism – Raman Reddy

(With specific reference to The Clasp of Civilisations (2015) by Richard Hartz, published by Nalanda International, and Nationalism, Religion, and Beyond (2005), a compilation of Sri Aurobindo’s writings on Politics, Society and Culture, edited by Peter Heehs.)  

I was rather disappointed after reading The Clasp of Civilisations by Richard Hartz because I expected from him a better understanding of Hinduism than most Western scholars.[1] The book starts off well with a sense of universality in spiritual matters which justifies the title, but gets caught halfway through with the usual antipathy towards Hinduism that is so common among secular scholars of India. The chapter on Vivekananda’s famous address in the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in September 1893 is indeed well-written and the circumstances of the historic event depicted in a most interesting manner with an undercurrent of humour. But the chapter on Hinduism titled “Untold Potentialities: Jawaharlal Nehru, Sri Aurobindo and the Idea of India”, in which Nehru is elevated into a spiritual figure and Sri Aurobindo converted into a secular icon, shows the fundamental flaws of Richard’s scholarship. One immediately gets the impression of encountering one more Hinduphobic armchair scholar, who meticulously builds his arguments on the works of other Hinduphobic scholars who also have never empathised with Indian culture. Ironically, Richard Hartz has studied the Vedas and is an expert in Sanskrit, but this only shows that mere scholarship does not open the gates of spiritual comprehension. After all, Peter Heehs, his colleague, did the same, wasting forty years of research on Sri Aurobindo and producing such a hostile biography that the disciples of Sri Aurobindo had to go to the Court to take him to task. But let us come back to Richard Hartz who could have easily come to his own conclusions instead of following the path of Peter Heehs with regard to Hinduism, or what is in fact the path of leftist secular scholars of India and abroad which Peter Heehs himself follows faithfully for the sake of his academic career. After all, for him academic success is more important than stating the fundamental truth of Hinduism!   
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17 Oct 2016

Timeline of the Controversy

1978
Nirmal Singh’s rejoinder to Peter Heehs on the birthplace of Sri Aurobindo. According to Peter Heehs, Sri Aurobindo was wrong about where he was born.

12.02.1984
Appointment of Manoj Das Gupta as Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust after the passing away of Nolini Kanto Gupta. He was recommended as Trustee by Nolini Kanto Gupta through a dubious note signed (or made to sign) in his last days and left in the custody of Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya. We do not know why Nolini did not give the note to Padmanabhan Counouma, who was then the Managing Trustee of the Ashram, and why he did not recommend Manoj Das Gupta earlier through a formal meeting of the Board of Trustees. Manoj Das Gupta’s policy of not rocking the boat even when the boat is about to be wrecked, as in the controversy over the Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs, makes him undoubtedly the most vehemently criticised Trustee in the history of the Ashram. He is also known to protect the guilty and punish the victims or those who have raised the alarm.

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11 Sep 2016

Bagha Jatin: The Bengal Tiger Whom The British Feared – swarajyamag.com

Saswat Panigrahi - September 10, 2016, 11:45 am
 
Exactly 101 years ago, on this day, the nationalist-revolutionary succumbed to severe bullet injuries in Balasore hospital following a gallant battle with the British-controlled police.
 
Indian history has discounted the significant contributions of Bagha Jatin towards the freedom movement, thanks to the Left-leaning historiographers. This, despite the fact that there is no dearth of well documented historical records available on the vast revolution the great freedom fighter had conceived!
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