Nov 27, 2008

Background facts which set a context for this book

We need to take the full facts into cognisance before passing any judgment on those who have taken cudgels against the book and its author.

1. The author is an Ashram Archives member with full access to all the documents.
2. He has used unpublished material without prior permission (though those responsible are mute on this, they have not denied it either), violating all sense of copyrights. Almost all of these quotes are to show something which may stir a controversy. One wonders why would someone with a clear conscience do that?
3. This is not his first act. Since long he has been taking some sort of a pleassure in challenging Sri Aurobindo's own statements based on some tortuous and dubious documents. One wonders why would one go to any length to prove that Sri Arobindo's Adesha of which he spoke clearly should be doubted and alternative explanations given.
4. There are several such instances that have build up over the years, which includes a bitter case of 'Savitri' which included, among other changes his attempt to replace the word Last with Lust, though the former went much accurately. Words like 'pierced' that were not only in the original version but also read by the Mother and dictated by Her to Huta has been changed to 'peered'. In all these changes there has been much more vehemence than one finds now with regard to his book. That the case was won does not assuage the heart of the devotees who felt cheated and have over the years lost their confidence in his 'good work' as the common perception (not legal) based on various issues is that there is tampering going on with Their words. All this may have nothing to do with the book but has something to do with its author for the two are inseparable.
5. It is not a question of accepting Sri Aurobindo's defects or imperfections, it is just that they have been put without referece to their inner sense. The act of Sri Aurobindo's smoking or taking an ocassional glass of wine is there in other biographies. Besides Sri Aurobindo's own statements are there relating to his not being a good husband etc. People never had any problems with that. If they were just so fundamentalist and dogmatically religious, they would have reacted long before. But these earlier biographies which also mention some of these informations have been widely read, welcomed ad appreciated. One needs to ask, - why?
6. The point is that the book often mentions one half of the truth and leaves the other to be filled in by our own minds. Naturally, some disciples fill it with the information that they have, say about Sri Aurobindo taking upon himself the burden of earth nature etc. But the book does not mention that dimension at all. It is one thing to show the human and the Divine side, the physical and the psychic facts and then putting them side by side to synthesise the two. It is quite another to overemphasise the outer and minimise the inner simply because the author does not see it. This makes the book lop-sided.
7. Is it really as objective as it purports to be? Anyone who has done some detailed reading of Sri Aurobindo knows that it is not. There is a very deliberate slant. To give just one example out of many see that part on Love where of all the available quotes he choses to quote one that may be most misundertood by someone not familiar with the totality of things or inwardly not mature enough.
8. The author himself starts the war by declaring all other biographies as exagerrations and hagiographies giving the lie to others. This and his detailed discussion of the photograph is in very bad taste and speaks of the whole approach.
9. All this is important to consider and not simply go on praising or condemning anything and everything. The whole attitude and approach of the book is more to challenge and criticise, judge and give marks to Sri Aurobindo. It is that which is the problem and not the fact of his being an Avatara or not. It is not a question whether Sri Aurobindo is perfect or not, it is also about who is judging him and believes that he is capable of judging. Is this a good approach fr a disciple and an Ashram member, whether Eastern or Western? Does the Western disciple find his path of progress opened by discussing the words of His Master with the analytical mind and the critical attitude? Is that what Sri Aurobindo has endorsed for the Western disciples? I am not talking here of discussing the principles of yoga or its experiences with the analytical mind but judging the Guru Himself? If you feel that yes that is how the Westerner should grow and it is fine for them, then there is nothing more to say. Then we have to admit that Sri Aurobindo gave two yogas, - one for the East that emphasises on aspiration for the Divine, rejection of doubts, discouragements, inertia, vital ego etc, and surrender of all one is and has, above all a wide integral opening to the Divine Mother. The other he gave to the West in which the disciple must proceed through doubt and analysis of the guru and his words, reject whatever he does not find right on the testing ground of his analytical mind, question and criticise the Master's words, regard the Mother as 'someone thriving on ceremonies' mocking things like pranam and darshan as mere adulation. The integrality of yoga is true but does it mean that there are two yogas? If so then there s nothing more to say. Each to his own and each must follow his road refers to the path and its broad outlines. Does it also mean doing whatever one wants, even disregarding what They have said or cautioned and publicly challenging at least some of them. Does it also mean, for instance one may or may not accept the Mother, one may or may not surrender, one may or may not aspire?
10. It is these issues that the book itself opens that need to be made the subject of the discussion with the will to discover the path. We need to discuss some of the hypothesis that the book advances. To name a few: - One must not accept everything that They have said and can be critical of the Master's experiences. - All talk of inner and occult dimensions and acceptance of what one cannot objectively verify by one's own mind and senses is mere hagiography and myth.- Are previous biographies mere myths.- Is faith same as dogma. There are many other such things..
11. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo themselves have turned disciples away from the Ashram and so have the trustees done that in the past because it was felt that the person's stay in the Ashram premises is detrimental to the collective atmosphere. This was not, mind you, any expulsion from Yoga, only a shift of place. So were the Mother ad Sri Aurobindo and the trustees being religious or they were simply following a simple practical truth of yoga that there are some conditions needed for the same like in any other endeavour. And if one is not ready or willing to fulfil the conditions then the world is there to try out and live your life your way. When Sri Aurobindo told someone categorically that if he is unable to accept the Mother's divinity it is better for him to leave the Ashram and go away, was He being religious? When the Mother threw away a book and exploded like a 'veritable Mahakali' when someone read out a passage that soke of Sri Aurobindo in bad taste was She being religious? When She asked Amal to ask X to discontinue contributing his articles to Mother India simply because he had a crtical attitude towards Sri Aurobindo was She being religious? To a surface view it may look like it but She was only teaching us the right attitude of spiritual life and preventing us from the much severe occult and karmic repurcussions that invariably accompany when we belittle or even question and criticise Someone who represents for 'you' the Divine and has taken upon Himself all your material and spiritual responsibilities. There is a huge difference between a disciple writing a biography with a critical attitude and smeone else who is not connected.
12. It is absolutely true that good may come out of what men call evil and evil come out of what men think is good. This applies to any book and any person. It is also true that the inner ebing may mislead while a most useless book may guide one who s destined to arrive. That is a general truth. In real life, however one has to chose and choice implies accepting one thing while rejecting another. The word Integral also did not mean accepting lower forms of knowledge such as the kind that analysis may give even as it does not mean confusiong the effervescent emotions and surface sentiments as bhakti or mere any work, even selfless work as karma. The spirit and the attitude is important, the acceptance of the higher and even an opening and receptivity, a faith in higher things is what one has to accept while one has to reject doubts on the Guru, on one's own spiritual destiny, on the truths of the yoga etc. The book gives a everse hypothesis, you must have faith in your analysis while question the higher things. Faith is dogma while doubt is the way. All talk of psychical truths is hagiography while talk about physical facts alone is true, that which is objectively verifiable with the senses is true. It will be worthwhile if the group discusses ome of these hypothesis that the book advances and finds their own answers. In this discovery, I suppose lies the path to reconciliation and understanding and not a blind sympathy or antipathy towards the author simply because he is a personal friend and known to us. That may inspire us to help him but not blindly support. And the best help one can give him at this juncture is to show him where things have gone wrong, to open him to Their Light and Love, to give him faith and ask for Grace. For whether we are out of an Ashram or not, whether people apprecaite our work or not, the real thing that matters is whether we are open and given to Them or not. The yoga is not dependent upon a geographical place but each geographical and collective unit has its own purpose and force-field. The Ashram, one supposes is a place for those who have no qualms about accepting the Mother and Sri Aurobindo as the Divine incarnate. For the rest there is the whole world to follow one's path and find one's way.
12. Yes life is long and yoga is longer and behind all experiences and appearances, however bitter, there is the luminous smile of Grace and the Light of Their Love. One wishes that the author is able to see and feel it.

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