28 Feb 2010

Introduction to this Site

Welcome! This site is dedicated to a critique of the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs.

This book is promoted as an academic study of Sri Aurbindo's life, but is in fact full of errors, distortions and misrepresentations which can easily mislead readers not familiar with the larger body of documentation of Sri Aurobindo's life and writings. The contributions on this site are intended to identify and expose to the public at large the numerous distortions in this book and to set the record straight in academic discourse.

As a first time visitor, you can begin by reading the Background note on this book and its sponsors followed by the Frequently Asked Questions. Then you can either sequentially explore the entries on the main menu at the top of the page, or plunge into specific themes of discussion through the Categories list below the main menu. You can also navigate from the master List of Categories which defines each category of posts. The latest posts are listed datewise on the main page.

Every post is followed by a discussion blog that allows you to participate in the discussion. Please respect the objectives of this site and assist in maintaining a high standard of academic discourse. We value your free participation in all the discussions, but we request you to respect others and their freedom also. Posts containing abuses or personal attacks will be deleted.

For suggestions and feedback please write to rtlosa@gmail.com.

General Editor

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24 Feb 2010

On the Darshan Message of 21 February 2010 -- by Alok Pandey

The message is fine but I have some hesitations with regard to the following points:

1. Use of such a beautiful occasion to score a point in the present controversy over PH. I do not know how they choose the message nowadays. If it is inspiration or concentrating and opening a book as the Mother suggested, then it is fine. But if it is only a mental process, is it not better to give something more appropriate for the occasion? For example, a quotation from the book The Mother -- I am just sharing my thoughts. In fact quite a few persons felt the same way about this message.

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22 Feb 2010

Response to Debashish Banerji’s Interview -- by Raman Reddy

So if the Ashram community acquired a certain homogeneity of temperament, what is wrong? It is actually a healthy sign for a growing collectivity and shows that there are plenty of reasons to come together instead of having always ideological differences and never being able to unite to do some practical work. From this point of view, one should condemn all collectivities because they mostly have differences of opinion with other collectivities. It means that the ideal collectivity, which Debashish has in mind, should allow everybody from all spheres – from rank communists to the followers of Osama-bin-Laden and from Christian fundamentalists to left-hand Tantriks. What a wonderful pot-pourri will Auroville be if it follows his advice? [extract]

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12 Feb 2010

Copyright Violations and Intellectual Property Theft by PH being investigated by CUP

[Columbia University Press is investigating Copyright Violations and Intellectual Property theft by Peter Heehs. It is to be hoped that the book will be withdrawn soon and an unfortunate chapter brought to a close.]

From: Gitanjali J B
To: Manoj Das Gupta
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:32 PM
Subject: Engagement with Columbia University Press Regarding Withdrawal of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo"

Shri Manoj Das Gupta,
Managing Trustee
Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust
Pondicherry 605002

Subject: Engagement with Columbia University Press Regarding Withdrawal of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo"

Dear Manoj Da,

1. This is to inform you that we are engaged with Columbia University Press (CUP) regarding the withdrawal of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" from all channels of sales and distribution.

2. CUP has been informed of the alleged Intellectual Property theft committed by Peter Heehs as also of his alleged Violations of the Copyright Agreement with Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust (SAAT).

3. Further, it has also been conveyed to CUP that Peter Heehs is not the Founder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives as has been asserted by him to CUP.

4. All necessary and relevant documentation/ correspondence/ SAAT letters/ circulars/ agreement copies have been furnished to CUP for their evaluation and assessment.

5. A copy of one of our letters to CUP in this context is attached herewith for your information and necessary action.

Kind regards,

Gitanjali JB

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8 Feb 2010

The Gospel of Peter -- by Alok Pandey

If one has to believe in all that Peter and his followers are saying, then one would arrive at the following conclusions:

1. Devotion, faith and love for the Master are not spiritual but religious things. As such they have little to do with Integral Yoga which is beyond religion.

2. Spirituality is about an unbridled freedom of the mind and vital to do as they please and what they please and when and wherever they please.

3. Anything that either restrains this kind of freedom or restricts it is religion and fundamentalism.

4. Doubts about the path and criticism of the Master is also one of the roads that one can take in the journey of Integral Yoga.

5. To point out a crass misuse of freedom and theft of a most valuable treasure by those who are meant to guard it, is blasphemy and sacrilegious.

6. It is perfectly alright that someone who is entrusted with but does not possess or own a property, to steal and sell it. It is simply exercising his freedom. To point out such transgressions is being narrow-minded.

7. Some ‘yogis’ across the Atlantic are so developed that they know what is happening in an ashram in South India better than the Ashram inmates themselves. Not only they know but can also dictate what the collectivity should do and must do. This is not moral policing, but standing up to an ideal!

8. Indians are intrinsically intellectually inferior, incapable of analysing anything, have a poor knowledge of the nuances of English language and are simply a bunch of sentimental fools.

9. Laws are meant only for some and not for others. To go to the court to settle disputes is ethically wrong.

10. Writing letters that draw the attention of authorities to a serious transgression and insist that action be taken to prevent further theft and misuse amounts to sword-brandishing and arm-twisting. So also, to express the collective anguish through such a letter is simply mob mentality and mass hysteria.

11. Unity means accepting to conciliate with those who are hostile to the Yoga and to the Divine. It means to shake hands with brazen falsehood.

12. Human beings are superior and much more important than the Divine. Love for those who are akin to me in custom and culture comes first and foremost. Love for humanity comes next. Love for idealism, for truth, for honesty, for transparency comes last. And Love for the Divine is simply an abstraction or a hallucination, a fantasy and one must get rid of it fast so as to appear modern and secular, non-religious and thereby fit and acceptable for sharing the platform of elitist conferences.

13. The Avatar is simply an imperfect human being who with great labour and pain somehow achieves a doubtful divinity. He is not, as is generally and ignorantly believed and upheld by ignorant religious minded persons and mystics, a Perfect Consciousness descending into an imperfect mould to work amidst and upon an imperfect field of earth and humanity.

14. Scholars can never be wrong and man’s mind is capable of judging and criticising the Divine.

15. And finally, though it sounds like a cliché, the boss is always right! And the boss is Peter Heehs!

Alok Pandey


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7 Feb 2010

The IQ of Plankton and Other Stories

[This is what we have received in response to the propaganda campaign unleashed by SCIY / IYF / Peter Heehs. The AVCompats forum refused to post this response although it has always publicised any emails from SCIY / IYF. It looks like they too do not want the truth to be known!]

The IQ of Plankton and Other Stories


The IQ of Plankton is not easy to arrive at in the best of circumstances. But those interested in the subject got very lucky last week when the collective IQ of the species was on spectacular display.

The pulsating light strobes shone bright into the ocean trenches in stark contrast to the darkness that punctuates the tunnel vision of the SCIY / IYF tribes. They marched out of the deep caverns to the roll of drums to take on the "Court Diary" that had invaded the depths of their pelagic zone.


It is funny how the truth has to be certified by Peter Heehs to be of any value these days. If Peter Heehs declares that there were no foreigners on the court premises, those poor blokes better not be there! It is funny how Peter Heehs has put Matriprasad in a spot by declaring that he was not present in Court. In order to control the damage caused by Peter's lie, Matriprasad has hastened to clarify the he was not present "during the court proceedings" only! And Matriprasad is right because he gave his instructions to the lawyers and left the Courtroom before the proceedings began.

It is interesting that the State Solicitor representing the visa authorities was present in court – after obtaining Peter's permission, we suppose –, but did not speak about the case or breach of visa conditions at all! What did he speak about, then? The weather? Or the greatness of the SCIY / IYF tribes? What's more, the Counsel for Manoj Das Gupta was also present but did not speak a word. What was he doing in court? Practising "dignified silence"?

It is amusing to learn that Manoj Das Gupta and the Ashram Trust can be pushed into a corner over a seemingly trivial issue, which is essentially the creation of "Sraddhalu's friend", his friend's wife and her mother and their dog! What a terrible, terrible family! They've actually gone to court over a dispute! Tut! tut! This is not how it is supposed to be done in Fundamentalistan! Gee, uncle Dave and uncle Rick, whatever happened to the Kangaroo Courts and Summary Executions?

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Rich Carlson calls the “Court Diary” a “Slanderous Document”

I don’t know if we should take those who celebrate The Lives of Sri Aurobindo and defend its author with any seriousness at all. I’m yet to see, even after year and a half of publication of the book by the prestigious Columbia University Press any worthwhile academic study, full-length or short, bringing out its claimed gainful contributions to the vast body of literature that already exists around Sri Aurobindo. Its author says that Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri is a “fictional creation” which makes the whole thing suspect. This is particularly so when we have the Mother declaring Savitri as “the supreme revelation of Sri Aurobindo’s vision”. If we go by her, we will be dismissed as gullible, a credulous lot who have no minds of their own. In arrogant contrast to what the Mother says, the tyros’ Lives makes it a travesty of the entire spirituality. But what are the credentials of the author or his irrational buddies to speak about this? None. Our concern is not really with the “Court Diary” but with this biography which is the cause of all the dismay. I don’t think anybody is keen to drive the matters to the Court if the Lives is given a deserving and desirable burial. Let’s hope it will happen.
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5 Feb 2010

Apropos of the “Court Diary"

We have the deconstructionist Rich Carlson of the post-Ron dubious sciy who writes that the Diary contents are by RY Deshpande. What was an email forward from him has become in his hand “recent report by R.Y. Deshpande”. There cannot be anything more ridiculous than this, that here is a report by RY Deshpande. But this is not unusual of Carlsons to put on an aura of rational rationalists, and distort things. But they don’t realize that none is going to buy this kind of deconstruction except perhaps their faithful but unthinking cohorts.
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2 Feb 2010

Court Diary / Information Release 19.1.2010

[Here is the full text of the "Court Diary / Information Release 19.1.2010" which led to a flurry of denials from SCIY / IYF / Peter Heehs. Their denial was based entirely on Peter Heehs' assertions but offered no information to the contrary. The anonymous author of this "diary" appears to have been personally present during the court hearings.]

Court Diary / Information Release

Case Regarding
Cancellation of Peter Heehs' Visa and Deportation from India
in Chennai High Court

Parties:    Surekha Jain (Petitioner)
1. FRRO, Chennai (first Respondent)
2. FRRO, Pondicherry (second Respondent)
3. Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee Sri Aurobindo Ashram (third Respondent)
4. Superintendent of Police, Pondicherry North(fourth Respondent)

Hearing on 21st December 2009

  • Lawyers representing all parties were present. Peter Heehs came with a group of 25 Westerners. However he alone was allowed to enter the Court and his friends were asked to wait outside. Matriprasad came in with Peter Heehs' counsel and the Ashram's counsel, and was seen giving them instructions along with Peter Heehs.
  • Petitioner's legal counsel highlighted for the court that Peter Heehs has breached all visa conditions in connivance with third Respondent Manoj Das Gupta and should have his visa cancelled by first and second respondents, and immediate action taken by them to deport him. It was also highlighted that the fourth Respondent has failed to execute the live arrest warrant pending against Peter Heehs in Pondicherry.
  • The legal counsel representing Peter Heehs expressed to the court that Peter Heehs is a world renowned scholar who has dedicated more than 35 years of the his life in Pondicherry for the Ashram community in order to spread Sri Aurobindo's teachings. He said Peter Heehs is the foremost scholar and exponent of Sri Aurobindo's teachings in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and a very important person in the Ashram. He also pointed out that the Managing Trustee of the Ashram has said that the role and contribution of Peter Heehs to the Ashram is invaluable, and that Peter Heehs has the full support of the said Managing Trustee.
  • The legal counsel representing Manoj Das Gupta and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust said that he was in full agreement with the statements of the legal counsel of Peter Heehs and that the Petitioner was motivated by personal animosity towards Peter Heehs and as such the Petitioner and her complaint have nothing to do with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
  • Legal counsel representing Peter Heehs also declared that the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" is the most authentic, accurate and academic portrayal of Sri Aurobindo's life that has emerged from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its Archives. At this point the Chief Justice was keen to have a copy of the book. To which the legal counsel of Peter Heehs submitted that neither he nor his client Peter Heehs (who was present in court) were allowed to carry a copy of the book as the book has been proscribed within the territory of India. On hearing this the Chief Justice sarcastically remarked that in that case the book could not be as wonderful as portrayed by the legal counsel.
  • After some arguments and presentations by various sides, the legal counsel of the Petitioner conveyed strongly that this case was not about the book in any way but was about the breach of visa conditions by Peter Heehs and by Manoj Das Gupta.
  • The Chief Justice then asked the legal counsel of the visa authorities their views regarding visa extension and deportation of Peter Heehs. The counsel for FRRO then declared that based on documents available to them they were of the view that no further extension of visa of Peter Heehs was possible. But they could not take a decision regarding his immediate deportation as there were several criminal cases pending against Peter Heehs in Orissa, and as such they would have to take that into account before taking action for deportation or cancellation. They prayed for time to study and revert to the court on the matter.
  • After some more discussions the case was posted for hearing on 18th January on which date the respondents were ordered to submit written replies to the Petitioner's complaints.

Hearing on 19th January 2010

  • The case originally scheduled for hearing on 18th came up for hearing on the 19th.
  • Legal counsel representing Petitioner pointed out to the Court in the strongest terms that the four Respondents have failed thus far to give written depositions/submissions to the court regarding the specific plaints made by the Petitioner. He conveyed to the court that the four Respondents are delaying/avoiding written submissions as their failures are indefensible in the matter. He pleaded to the court that no further arguments should take place till written submissions are made by the Respondents.
  • The Chief Justice ordered the respondents to give written submissions on the next date of hearing which was posted as 2nd February 2010.
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