14 Oct 2009

Alok Pandey's first letter to Peter Heehs

[Alok Pandey was one of the first to prick the balloon of Heehs’s bogus scholarship. When most of us were reeling under the awesome pretence of objective research that the historian claimed and were wondering whether our hearts had belied us, Alok took P.H. head on, and stung him a few quick blows like a well practised boxer. His pugilism is what really made the supporters of Heehs fume with rage, for how could a devotee dare to speak back in their own language, and that too in straight and tough terms, without mincing his words? They had not expected this kind of spirited defence from the land of passive spirituality! Devotees until now were supposed to be stupid and mindless and intellectuals necessarily untouched by devotion; therefore the West and the East, representing the mind and the heart respectively, had to be at loggerheads! Alok proved the contrary. He asserted that this was a false dichotomy created by a small-minded person dominated by the physical mind, that Westerners were not bereft of the deeper feelings of the soul, and that Indians devotees could equally fight with their minds for what they felt to be right with their hearts.]

Dear Peter,

I read your biography of Sri Aurobindo, and I have come to truly appreciate your “intellect” that everyone seems to hold in such awe. Truly, one has to be only an “intellect” and nothing else, a robotic brain-machine, so to say, to write with such heartless ingratitude and subtle mischief a biography of someone who gave you spiritual and material refuge, despite all your doubts and resistance. Surely, you must be a great intellectual to so deftly weave your doubts in a story of faith and even make them look like guiding stars that the blind God-lover does not see. And yes, it does need all your ingenuity and cunning to put forth your subjective judgments in a way that they seem to stem from non-committal objectivity. And what shall one say about your claim to be able to objectively find the facts of human life, — a claim that even Heissenberger dealing with the inside of hard concrete matter would not make? Why historians, the world of psychologists should hail you as the new avatar, the prophet and the guru who can know and write about another avatar, prophet and guru! For only the “like knows like” and by that logic you yourself must be a great Master to be able to analyse, discern and know the facts of another great Master, “possibly” the greatest in recent times.

Oh no, I forgot, you do not “really” believe in Masters and yogis and their “claims”, for you do not know whether what they claim is delusive or true or whether they are schizophrenic or real and authentic. Nevertheless, you still are an equal to them though by another logic. Me human — you human — we human — we all human = you and me are basically the same; the difference is only in degree and measure and not in any essential quality. Oh yes, I am sorry, you do not say this in so many words, objectively, I mean. And, unlike your “misfortunate” self, we do not have the privilege of digging into private diaries with voyeuristic “displeasure”. But, you see, that’s where your logic leads or will lead those who would read your book. Oh yes, I am sorry again, you are not so famous that anyone will bother to find out about your sex-life or your ability to lip-sync to someone else’s song.

But that may be presumptious on my part, for with this new book you may indeed become famous! After all, it takes guts for a mole to dig a hole in the mighty mountain and bring out a few strands of hair of some buried carcass and declare proudly to the world, “Here is my find, my exhibit! Come, come, I will tell you the secret of the mountain. You deluded jnanis, the mountain’s snow-summit may be doubted, as “I do not see it”; you sentimental bhaktas, the purifying streams of the mountain heart may be delusive as “I, the mole, have never bathed in them”, and you foolish seekers, the rich bounty of flora and fauna you speak of is equally suspect as it “may be or may-be-not” to my objective eyes, for I do not believe in the books that have been written on it by others. Come, I will tell you something you do not know.” And one can fancy rats and moles gathering around you and bandicoots and lizards and serpents hailing your find as the result of wonderful and painstaking labour and thanking you for revealing to them what the great climbers and photographers have missed.

Anyway, your road to fame is open through the backdoor, nay, the sewage pipe through which some choose to enter a palace, for they are but thieves at heart and feel unfit for the front-door. Don’t worry, you too will be purged and given an equal seat by the side of the Lord. For history repeats itself as they say and who would think of Rama without thinking about Ravana and Krishna without Kansa and of Christ without Judas. But these are myths for you, “objectively” unverified. Maybe, but then, such myths as these which have helped man to grow towards Truth and Beauty and Light, are far better than your half-truths and misrepresented facts that perpetuate the reign of falsehood in the name of truth. After all, Judas was being truthful and honest when he pointed a finger at Christ and revealed his identity. Yes, but truthful and honest to whom, — to those hostile to Christ’s mission and not to his own soul!

But forget it, you won’t understand all this as it needs truly a wide mind and a generous heart, an inner psychic vision and spiritual sense. And I doubt if you have these, even though you claim to be a practitioner of Integral Yoga. This must be some new brand of your own making where you don’t require faith or a Master, but can be done by anybody and anywhere. Or is it the American edition of the IY you are busy with, where you do not need the Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s divine help? I am told that new self-styled IY gurus have sprung up all over the world and your book will be the new gospel for them.

Frankly, I do not wish to concede to you the status of even Ravana or Kansa. At least they were honest about their intent and did not hide their hostility or masquerade as a disciple. But Judas may fit you well. Though historians have doubted the existence of Christ and Judas, the fact of our inner life is that they, just as Krishna and Kansa, continue to live and wrestle in the human heart. But who can show that to you, O petty-minded scholar, for you the heart is just an anatomical organ and all emotions rubbish. Well, not quite all, for you would surely validate your own self-love and love for your family and girl-friend. But if emotions surpass these limits and turn to God and by the force of His Grace enter into His secret heart and read the dream-prints of His eyes and share the vastness of His kingdom of delight, then you become scared (envious for the capacity you lack). Only in limits your reason is safe. Not for you the Illimitable and the Immeasurable. May I ask how big is your measuring rod and rope and how deep your probing lens? Can you measure the ocean of Light that shines through the milky-way? Can your rope tie the universe as a whole? Can you probe into the secret intent, the Will and Intelligence that works within the atomic void? If you can, then you may be ready, perhaps, to measure the infinite Compassion and Light that is Sri Aurobindo and probe the heart of boundless Love and Grace that is the Mother.

But it is pointless to tell you all this! Who can show the sun to the blind or show him the beauty and joy of the flowers? So let me not dare to try what even God Himself will perhaps find difficult. My only request is that a blind man should be put in his proper place so that he cannot bluff to the equally blind, “claiming” that he can see. His place is at the school of elementary education with Braille. To graduate him to read the script of the stars or to expect him to see the Light that even mortal eyes cannot bear, is surely a wrong choice. And what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have written is neither braille nor mere human words! You should not be where you are right now [the Ashram Archives], even though I am told some great man [Jayantilal Parekh] put you there. But you see, great men can blunder greatly and it is left sometimes for the lesser mortals to bear the brunt of their blunders. And have we not borne enough? – first, your previous biography, and then this one, all at the expense of the Ashram resources, to denounce its own founders, its very basis and core, its soul and substance. While the world outside waits eagerly and expectantly for the Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, you are busy spinning these awful biographies! Have we not had enough of you and your tales? Perhaps, you never learnt in the kindergarten that it is wrong to lie and tell tales about other people. Oh, I forgot, you are the founder of the Ashram Archives, and this we need to remember, because you will soon turn it into a department of research in psychoanalytic history.

Lastly, and since it is not within our means to do anything else as you are held in such awe and respect, let me just give you a word of advice, an advice similar to what Angad (I am sorry I can’t furnish accurate documents for this man or monkey in the Ramayana and do not know his qualifications, but his advice was sane and is still valid) gave to Ravana – to seek refuge in the Divine Incarnate whom the highly intellectual Asura could not understand. Well, here is the same advice for you. How else could one explain that you have been tolerated if not by the Grace or the magnanimity of the indiscriminate and indifferent human beings who are otherwise so ready to excommunicate ordinary persons for much lesser personal offences and transgressions, but would bear with you, nay encourage, shield and support you! Take refuge in Her Grace. Maybe your heart would change and your eyes see, feel and know the splendours that hide beyond the reach and ken of your so-called objective sight.

Wishing you well within and without

Alok Pandey

October 2008


  1. A tour de force. Each line reads like a ray of light piercing into the heart of darkness with the power of inspired truth.

  2. I wonder if this book need to be rebutted? After all there's space for all forms of expressions in this universe and I guess Peter is entitled to his. Sri Aurobindo, for the work he did and continues to do, such an effort to besmirch him, is but natural. The fact that he is being besmirched (in whatever guise that may be) only gives credence to the various forces identified by him. I doubt if Sri Auro is limited by Peter's speculations. Those who are meant to be touched by him, will be. Those who are touched by him, will have no doubt!