The deep-rooted fear that has spread in Sri Aurobindo Ashram is that the Ashram Nursing Home, headed by Dr. Dilip Datta and Dr Salila Patnaik, provides a one-way ticket to Heaven. But the journey itself is not so enjoyable considering the medical trauma that you have to go through: the lack of basic health care, the rude behaviour of some of the nurses you have to put up with, the frequent references to Divine Providence by the Chief Medical Officer when he does not want to spend money on you for referrals to specialists, and finally his constant exhortation to “Have faith in the Mother” when the patient does not have enough faith in him as a medical practitioner. The recent case of Vishnu Lalit is one such blatant case of medical negligence.
Apr 22, 2014
Apr 17, 2014
In the paragraph below from the Lives of Sri Aurobindo (pp. 381-82), Peter Heehs not only misrepresents Sri Aurobindo’s relation with the Mother but gets one of the most basic facts wrong in the life of Sri Aurobindo, namely, the fracture of his right leg in the early hours of 24 November, 1938. Heehs, disregarding the factual accounts of Nirodbaran and Champaklal (the two disciples who personally served Sri Aurobindo during his last twelve years), writes that it was “a fracture of the left thigh close to the knee”! I wonder how he got his facts so wrong despite all the hagiographic fanfare about his 40 years of research on Sri Aurobindo.
Apr 11, 2014
Analysis of the Preface of Peter Heehs’ "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" (Bio-2 – part 5) – A Zombified Disciple
Murders in the Land of the Naïve – 7
Heehs wrote Sri Aurobindo: A Brief Biography, OUP, 1989 (Bio-1), The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, CUP, 2008, (Bio-2) & much else in the same vein. I analyse his prefaces using his device critical openness of a seeker of truth & his diktat: Biographers must take their documents as they find them…, paying as much attention to what is written by the subject’s enemies as by his friends, not giving special treatment even to the subject’s own version of events. Accounts by the subject…need to be compared against other narrative accounts…that do not reflect [his] point of view. The pseudonym ‘Marcher’ is a fusion of his forebears Catherine Mayo (1867-1940) & William Archer (1856-1924), though Marcherism – degrading the Sanatana Dharma & vilifying the greatest children of Mother India – was born centuries before Mayo-Archer. The entire credit for his thriving at the expense of his subject and his ashram goes to his Daemon, a special emission of “the falsehood of the mental, vital and physical Powers and Appearances that still rule the earth-Nature”.
All text in Italics is from Bio-1, Bio-2 & their prefaces; all in Roman is mine. I have often interspersed my comments in Roman within Marcher’s text which is always in italics.
Apr 4, 2014
We shall now go back in time to see how the Free Progress System was introduced in the school.
From the year 1959, many tentative experiments were being made in the Free Progress System. These attempts were first made on a small scale with a small number of students and teachers who were willing to try out the experiment. The source of inspiration for these experiments was in the writings and talks of Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
Mar 29, 2014
[Kittu Reddy came to Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, in 1941 at the age of five. The Mother started the Ashram School on the 2nd of December 1943 and he was among the first students of the school. He had all his education at the Ashram and was appointed a teacher in December 1957. In the middle of 1958, he joined the Registrar’s office and assisted the Registrar Kireet Joshi in the administration of the school. It is in that capacity that he often wrote to the Mother regarding the administration of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education.]
The history of the Ashram school – now known as the International Centre of Education – can be probably divided into four periods. The first period is from 1943 to 1950, the second one is from 1951 to 1958, the third is from 1959 to 1967 and the fourth one is the period after that.
This article will deal mainly with the third period – that is to say from 1959 to 1967. However, the first two periods will be briefly touched upon.
Mar 24, 2014
Filio: Hello SSK [Sotantar Singh Khalsa], 17.03.2014
In your email you have asked a question about the troubles of the Ashram and have touched upon other points concerning Auroville and Integral Yoga.
If I am not mistaken, I believe that the hostility that the Ashram, Auroville and IY collective are witnessing from within the IY collective is because some people from within believe that these places are no more the “Lab(s)” of our Masters.
Sridharan: What do you mean by “Labs” of our Masters when the Masters themselves are physically absent? They are of course spiritually present, but how many of us can constantly feel their presence apart from the improbable fact of being constantly guided by them, in which case only we (especially those who are in charge of the administration) have a right to talk about the “labs of our Masters”? Otherwise, all that we have right now are the fading remnants of a great experiment in spiritual evolution which is facing gradual annihilation at the hands of the usual vital and physical forces that successfully operate in the world. I am not being overly pessimistic because I still believe that this great experiment can be continued, provided the present authorities of the Ashram accept that it is not their Ashram but Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s Ashram. It is only when this happens that a larger perspective can be arrived at and most of the present problems of the Ashram can be solved by the formation of a larger group of committed followers and disciples who will act in a more sensible and democratic way than the present miniscule group of autocratic Trustees. Basic democratic principles have been always spurned and flouted by the current administrative setup with the excuse that spirituality is not for the masses but for the elite, the underlying implication being that they, who are in power, represent the spiritual elite of the Ashram. But do they really? Are they ready to say that in public? Can anyone among them pretend to replace Sri Aurobindo and the Mother?
Mar 20, 2014
[The following are two extracts from Swami Tyagananda’s rebuttal of Kali’s Child by Jeffrey Kripal, mentor of Peter Heehs. Kripal wrote the blurb on the jacket of the Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs, who gave a copy of his MS to the former before the publication of his derogatory biography of Sri Aurobindo. They make good company for each other: the first discovered that Sri Ramakrishna was a homosexual, the latter uncovered the romantic relationship between Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Most disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are totally ignorant of the filth that this so-called scholarship represents, and they would not even like to read about it. On the contrary, they would even pretend that the filth does not exist, and that it is merely the Western way of looking at things, that we Indians should respect plurality of opinions even if our culture is grossly misrepresented. Have we not listened long enough to this hypocritical nonsense? Try to criticise some of these scholars in public and you will get a taste of their forbearance, make a psychoanalytic homeo-erotic interpretation of their own personalities and you will see them rant and rage. You should then talk to them about plural opinions! The truth is that these so-called scholars hide behind “freedom of speech” when they defile all that is valuable and sacred to you, and accuse you of defamation or vilification or even racism when the tables are turned against them.
The following are the abbreviations of books referred to by Swami Tyagananda in his commentary below: Kali’s Child = “KC”; Kathamrita = “KA”; Lilaprasanga = “LP”. – Bireshwar Choudhury]
Mar 13, 2014
Peter Heehs’s Attempt to Withdraw the Ban on his Scurrilous Biography of Sri Aurobindo ― by Sricharan Singh
The Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram are once again trying to reactivate the effort to denigrate Sri Aurobindo in the eyes of the public. The effort had been quelled earlier, but this time they have taken the help of Manoj Das, the well-known Odiya writer and inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
An American inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram by the name of Peter Heehs had written a biography called The Lives of Sri Aurobindo in May 2008, which was published by Columbia University Press. The book portrays Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as very ordinary human beings who lived very ordinary lives. The Government of Odisha in its wisdom had banned the book in India through a Gazette Notification on the 9th of April 2009 before the Indian edition could be published. Therefore Indian readers were fortunately saved from this distorting book, which is a deliberate and malicious attempt by a foreigner to denigrate our deeply adored national and spiritual leader.
Recently Peter Heehs has filed a complaint in the Odisha High Court challenging the Gazette Notification of the Odisha Government.
Mar 7, 2014
[Another excellent article on Wendy Doniger, the negative type of Western research she represents, the colonial hangover Indian intellectuals suffer from apart from the economic interests behind this exercise of deconstructing Indian culture. – Bireshwar Choudhury]
THE FINAL WORD / Posted by Anirban Ganguly / 23 February, 2014
Those who are at the forefront of expressing their disgust and anguish at the act of withdrawing Wendy Doniger’s snigger of a book on the Hindus are a very distinct and peculiar type. They are a type which, because they have been the beneficiaries of the munificence of the “outsiders” can hardly ever come round to accept that the “insiders” may one day speak and talk back at “outsiders” who had hitherto been the sole arbiter and definer of their image. It was, most certainly, one of these types who must have peer-reviewed Doniger’s stuff on behalf of her publishers – surprisingly that act and actor has so far managed to avoid being discovered and discussed. This type has modeled itself “on its departed counterpart” and has always viewed “any emphasis on the ‘glories of ancient India’ as an act of Hindu Fundamentalism.”
Mar 1, 2014
[There are some excellent articles on the Wendy Doniger issue in email circulation now. This is one of those which I would like to share and even aggressively propagate to our readers because it indirectly explains the Peter Heehs issue from a larger perspective. – Bireshwar Choudhury.]
INDIA Feb 13, 2014
Before we begin we need to set two critical aspects in the proper perspective:
The episode of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An alternative history is not a ban of the book. It is a voluntary withdrawal of the book by its publisher, Penguin Books.
The episode is not an issue of free speech. Neither Penguin nor the petitioners acted outside the boundaries of the law concerning free speech in India.
The outrage over Penguin withdrawing Doniger’s book has emanated mostly from the section that calls itself secular and liberal, among other things. And this outrage cleverly sidesteps the valid and vast critiques of Wendy Doniger’s scholarship and frames the issue as one of a book ban and Hindu fundamentalism. The kind of arson and violence that erupted across the world in the wake of the Danish cartoons fits the definition of religious fundamentalism. It is clear that the petitioners simply took to legal recourse in this case. Besides, it was Penguin’s decision to voluntarily withdraw the book in an out-of-court settlement for reasons best known to it. Therefore, raising the din that freedom of expression is under threat by Hindutva forces is off the mark.
Feb 24, 2014
Objectionable Extracts from Wendy Doniger's book, Hindus: An Alternative History – Bireshwar Choudhury
Wendy Doniger, who of late is very much in the news, is the intellectual grandmother of Peter Heehs. Wendy Doniger begat Jeffrey Kripal, who did his “research” on Sri Ramakrishna for his P.H.D. dissertation under her guidance at the University of Chicago. Jeffrey Kripal wrote the blurb on the back of the Lives of Sri Aurobindo (2008) by Peter Heehs, who gave a soft copy of his book to his “venerable guide” prior to its publication – Kripal’s book on Esalen (2007) contains references to the MS of the Lives. Esalen is an institution founded by Michael Murphy, who is more or less in the same business of misinterpreting spirituality. He in fact paid for the trips of both Richard Hartz and Peter Heehs to America in order to attend a conference in California. This is the lineage of the so-called scholarship that we are presently dealing with, and of which most of the disciples, followers and intellectual admirers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are totally unaware. Now that Wendy Doniger, the grandmother of falsehood (she has a veritable brood of children who have followed the path of outright denigration and erotic misinterpretation of Hinduism) has been exposed and her publisher Penguin Books has capitulated to a humble headmaster (hats off for Dinanath Batra, the octogenarian hero and his courageous lawyer Monica Arora), it is time that the followers of Sri Aurobindo rethink and take stock of the situation at the Ashram: Why did the Managing Trustee of the Ashram encourage Peter Heehs in his denigration of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother? Why did Manoj Das, the award winning writer justify this incomprehensible action of the Managing Trustee, who will certainly go down in history as perhaps the only Trustee who has gone against the interest of the spiritual institution he was entrusted with?
Meanwhile, it is time to rejoice a great victory for all those who stand for the spiritual values embodied in Hinduism. We publish below a few objectionable extracts from Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternative History in order to give the readers an idea of her so-called scholarship and the academic tag attached to her erotic misinterpretations of the sacred symbols of India. The extracts along with critical comments on them are part of an online petition that was circulated for canvassing against her book. The petition at one point of time fetched 11009 signatures as opposed to the meagre 3500 claimed by a group of leftist scholars fighting for her cause. The full petition, which also has a list of factual errors, can be accessed at:
Feb 16, 2014
Has Manoj Das any occult or spiritual vision of these forces or are these only the products of his fertile literary brain? In this context, the remark of the respected Odiya sadhak late Babaji Sri Ramakrishna Das, who had a profound occult vision, is worth mentioning. About 35 years ago, when a sadhak went for some work to Babaji’s room near the Ashram, Babaji asked him, “Have you seen who has come to my room just now?” The sadhak replied, “Yes, I saw Manoj babu was going out.” Then Babaji told him, “When that person entered my room, I saw a dark force entering my room.” The sadhak was astonished. But after 35 years he found out how true was Babaji’s vision! [extract, read full article below]