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.]
  ...full text...

14 Oct 2017

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

The above book is available at:

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.

  ...full text...

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.
  ...full text...

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.
  ...full text...

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.
  ...full text...

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!   
  ...full text...

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.

  ...full text...

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!
  ...full text...

4 Jul 2016

Dr. Hedgewar (founder of the R.S.S) met Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry

In January 1920, Dr. L.V. Paranjpe started the Bharat Swayamsevak Mandal. Doctorji [Dr. Hedgewar] was his chief colleague. Efforts began in the month of July that year to organise a corps of some 1000-1500 volunteers for the Congress session. Doctorji threw himself heart and soul into that task.

While such fervent efforts were afoot, the tragic news of the passing away of Lokmanya Tilak at Bombay on the night of 31st July came like a bolt from the blue. The entire nation was plunged in indescribable grief. And more so the people of Nagpur. With a heavy heart, Doctorji attended to the work for organising hartal, mourning and condolence meetings on the tenth day, and offered his tearful homage.

Consequent on Lokmanya’s demise, the organisers were faced with the task of finding another Extremist leader for the presidentship. It was decided that a deputation should go to Pondicherry and bring Babu Aurobindo Ghose for the session. Dr. Moonje accordingly set out for Pondicherry. Doctorji also accompanied him as a representative of the youth of Nagpur.
  ...full text...

12 Jun 2016

Sri Aurobindo's Response to K.R. Kripalani's Article on the Swadeshi Movement

Did you enjoy the article “Fifty Years of Growth” by K. R. Kripalani in the Visva-Bharati?[i] Fifty years of growth refers by the way to the Congress. About the Swadeshi period he writes: “Along time was to elapse before we were to appreciate the infinite possibilities of the muddy waters at hand. In the meantime something startlingly romantic happened. . . .

“The fountain [of undefiled water] was cut by the fiery shafts of Tilak, Vivekananda, and Aurobindo, among others. They gave to Indian Nationalism its fiery basis in India’s ancient cultural glory and its modern mission. . . . It is always more beautiful and more inspiring to contemplate the Idea  and be drunk with it than to face the actual facts and touch the running sores. . . .

“But this spirit, fiery and beautiful as it was, was fraught with grave dangers. The glory that it invoked and the passion that it aroused were so intensely Hindu that Muslims were automatically left out. Not that they were deliberately excluded. . . . However that may be, it seems now not unlikely that had the influence of Tilak and Aurobindo lasted in its original intensity, we might have had two Indias today— a Hindu-istan and a Pak-istan, both overlaying and undermining each other. . . .
  ...full text...

31 May 2016

Why India Is A Nation – Sankrant Sanu

Introduction
One of the oft-repeated urban myths that sometimes pops-up in conversation even among many educated, well meaning Indians is that India as a nation is a British creation. The argument goes roughly as follows – India is an artificial entity. There are only a few periods in history when it was unified under the same political entity. It was only the British that created the idea of India as a single nation and unified it into a political state. A related assumption, in our minds, is that the developed Western countries have a comparatively far greater continuity of nationhood, and legitimacy as states, than India.

This urban myth is not accidental. It was deliberately taught in the British established system of education. John Strachey, writing in `India: Its Administration and Progress’ in 1888, said “This is the first and most essential thing to remember about India – that there is not and never was an India, possessing … any sort of unity, physical, political, social or religious; no Indian nation.

  ...full text...

10 May 2016

Revivalism and Secularism – by Amal Kiran

[This article was published in the “Mother India” issue of 14 October 1950. How relevant it is even today!]

For a number of days after the election of Purushottamdas Tandon to the Congress Presidentship the talk of the whole nation turned on Congress’s future policy under the direction of the new President. Perhaps feelings ran high more about the issue of the Secular State and the question came to the fore: Should our country, with its huge Hindu majority, be revivalist or, because of its multi-communal character, secular?
  ...full text...