10 Oct 2009

This book is the cause of all my dismay -- a sonnet by R.Y. Deshpande

The present sonnet by Deshpande was prompted by the four interviews that have appeared in the August 2009 issue of Auroville Today. These interviews, preceded with a brief introductory note by the Editor, are related with the highly controversial Lives of Sri Aurobindo published more than a year ago. The intention behind the drill was to build bridges between the opposing camps. While there is a general fa├žade of balance and fair-play in these presentations by the authors, the essence of yogic and spiritual attainments of Sri Aurobindo never comes out with any degree of convincingness. Instead, everything is more or less reduced to human level, and one wonders whether the whole exercise was simply an aspect of self-projection and self-promotion. Nowhere any strict academic discussion about the claims and failings or inadequacies of the biography are examined. That it calls Savitri as a “fictional creation” has been strangely—or was that purposely?—overlooked by these experts. That makes the entire business somewhat one-sided, if not suspect. The sonnet has in its own way given vent to these aspects, but it is professionally necessary to go into the details.

This book is the cause of all my dismay
As though a swift hand of sleight must it write
In the dimness of the soul. “What one calls upright,
Spirit’s, is but fake, leading thought astray,
And must be shuttered; the academic way
Given to rational creature to fight,”
They hold, “is the fittest. O destroy blight
Of the credulous, fashioned from faith’s clay.”

Thus spoke the statues that were made of wax;
And one said, “This is fundamentalism,
Enemy of Enlightenment.” The next,
“We must script biographies, fill up racks
With the lives of yogis.” And so on. But Prism
Of Mind—can it break open the sealed text?

RY Deshpande
31 August 2009

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