26 Oct 2009

Alok Pandey's second letter to Peter Heehs

Dear biographer of the “Lives …”

You seem to have completely missed the point that the devotees and disciples are trying to make.

The point is not merely the “technicality” of what you have written, whether it is “factually” correct or not, the “reliability “of the sources you have quoted, the “balance” of appraisal and criticism that you have leveled! All these, though important, are not the central issue at all, even though, as pointed out by “several experts” in their own fields, there are glaring flaws in these areas as well. Yet, even if your work were flawless by some fluke, there would still remain the unanswered question, rendering the entire exercise futile.

The point is not whether the details of Sri Aurobindo’s outer life are historically correct or not. The point is whether the image and the picture of Sri Aurobindo that you portray and must bring out (as any worthwhile biographer should) is psychologically and spiritually correct or at least closely corresponds to the inner reality of Sri Aurobindo. And for this you do not have to pick up newspaper cuttings from the dustbin of office records or go through pages of written documents but learn and educate yourself to see and feel with the psychic vision, to experience and understand life and persons with the spiritual sense. What you have hastily “dismissed” as mere “faith” and “sentiments” are not what you “believe” it to be. There lies behind our surface heart of wild and turbulent emotions, a deeper psychic Light, a mystic heart, and it is through these inner eyes that the devotee sees his Master and feels deeply hurt when this Reality, that is far more concrete than physical appearances, is disfigured by the blind gropings of the physical mind and the surface intellect. This hurt is of purity offended. It is a most sacred space whose value is priceless and nothing can be compared to that, and for which a thousand births are a small price to pay. You do not know it since you do not see it, but to see it one needs a deep humility and spiritual thirst, not mental arrogance and egoistic self-will that refuses to acknowledge the divinity even when it is standing in front of you. You have unwittingly vandalised that Sacred Space, and therefore its guardians and those who truly treasure it would not take it lying down. And they should not! For which foolish man would not want to guard his wealth and hard won treasure and accept the disfigurement of his most loved one! Those who support you in this act, whether under the name of intellectual freedom or whatever, are either suffering from psychic blindness or have become heartless brutes. I say so, since these very same persons would vociferously defend themselves if their own skins were burnt, but they cannot feel the same for their Master, who means so much to the disciple and the devotee. You miss this key that alone can unlock the central door to the secret chambers of our inner being wherein you would have found the Sri Aurobindo the devotees seek and identify themselves with.

Let me recount what the Mother replied to a sadhak when She was asked: "What is the Divine?” She replied in the simplest of ways. “The Divine is what you adore in Sri Aurobindo”.

It is this that you have completely missed. You may claim that you are trying to bring Sri Aurobindo closer to the western audience, but, actually, from the inner and psychic way of seeing, you have only taken Him farther, put a veil (a cunning and crafty, a thick and distorted veil) of doubt and denial between the inner eye that sees and the Divine whom it seeks. Either you think very poorly of the western audience as if they do not have any psychic feeling and deeper vision or else you are deliberately distorting things under one excuse or the other. And if you think that the western audience is not spiritually mature and inwardly developed, then it should be a sacred task for you to help them climb, to enrich them, to refine their taste and educate their psychic sense rather than cater to the small and the base, the ugly and the sordid depravity that you call objective.

I do not know how your work will be evaluated technically, but, to me, it is a deeply flawed one. What you have portrayed is not “Sri Aurobindo” the Divine, nor even “Sri Aurobindo” the man - divine but a Sri Aurobindo of the record books. Such a portrayal that is akin to describing a human being by doing an autopsy of his dead body and sending the organs for a microscopic exam may be technically accurate in describing the “chemical and physical components” of a man and yet not describe the Man at all. Surely, you cannot describe what you cannot see, but let not your blindness become an instrument by which the one-eyed must see and understand the Sun. The problem with this book is that it falsifies truth by using the language of truth – an old strategy, of course. Remember those mantric lines from Savitri (though for you they are not mantric and simply pre-Victorian poetry).

Death, thou speakest the truth but the truth that slays
Now hear from me the truth that saves.

And of course,

Truth speaking was a stratagem in that place
There truth was a lie and lie a truth.

No, Peter, we can see the lie clearly and the misuse of so-called truth. No number of Peters or anyone else can veil our vision that sees and knows Sri Aurobindo with the soul and recognises Him as the Lord and Master of Yoga and the Divine Incarnate. But that someone who has spent so many years here in the Ashram and others too who have lived so long here should betray a total lack of understanding about the deeper truths of Yoga, of the unsaid spiritual ethos, of the deeper vision that looks upon the Master with the greatest respect, love and reverence, is truly a sad thing for all of us.

This is the issue, if you understand what I mean!

Hoping that those concerned would at last take notice.

Alok Pandey

October 2008

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