May 26, 2011
May 18, 2011
In this text, Peter attempts to distort and misrepresent the relationship of guru and disciple as a romantic personal interest. He distorts simple normal gestures to turn them into “surprising” ones. He adds fertile speculation with comments without basis, such as “people noticed a surprising development” and “nothing furtive”. Nobody was surprised as the gestures were normal of a disciple to the guru, and Mirra’s primary interest in meeting Sri Aurobindo was spiritual. (Extract followed by full article)
Distortions of Quotations:
Page 326: On Sundays he and other members of his household visited the Richards for dinner and talk. At some of those meetings, people noticed a surprising development. After dinner those present tended to cluster in two groups: Aurobindo and Mirra on one side, Paul and the others on another. Sometimes, when they were alone, Mirra took Aurobindo’s hand in hers. One evening, when Nolini found them thus together, Mirra quickly drew her hand away. On another occasion, Suresh entered Aurobindo’s room and found Mirra kneeling before him in an attitude of surrender. Sensing the visitor, she at once stood up. There was nothing furtive about these encounters, but they did strike observers as unusual. Neither Mirra nor Aurobindo were in the habit of expressing their emotions openly. The young men, already somewhat unhappy about the inclusion of women in their circle, and the consequent erosion of their bohemian lifestyle, were somewhat nonplussed by this turn of events. Paul Richard took it more personally.
In this text, Peter attempts to distort and misrepresent the relationship of guru and disciple as a romantic personal interest. He distorts simple normal gestures to turn them into “surprising” ones. He adds fertile speculation with comments without basis, such as “people noticed a surprising development” and “nothing furtive”. Nobody was surprised as the gestures were normal of a disciple to the guru, and Mirra’s primary interest in meeting Sri Aurobindo was spiritual.
The comment – “neither Mirra nor Aurobindo were in the habit of expressing their emotions openly” – is defamatory. No cultured person expresses emotions publicly, so the comment itself is irrelevant. Peter is suggesting that there were unexpressed emotions between them to begin with. He also presupposes that the emotions were actually expressed in private. These are all false allegations, entirely invented by Peter to project his defamatory intentions.
Peter then offers a conversation between Paul Richard and Sri Aurobindo about the “relationship” between Mirra and Sri Aurobindo. He claims to quote from A. B. Purani’s personal diary but offers instead a falsehood as an actual quotation. The original text of Purani says, “He said in whatever way the disciple will aspire for me he will get me as such,” but Peter writes instead, “Aurobindo said that it would take any form that Mirra wanted.” This distorted quotation is presented by Peter as proof that there was romantic interest and a secret “relationship” between Sri Aurobindo and Mirra, and that if she wanted it he was ready for a marital tie-up! The original quotation is in fact a great yogic truth of the guru-shishya relationship and is a quote from the Bhagavad Gita. In an endnote meant to indicate the reference to this quote, which no casual reader will ever bother to check, Peter justifies the change by saying, “in the interest of coherent dialogue, I have expanded and slightly amended Purani’s notes regarding this incident.” In the name of “coherent dialogue,” Peter invents any wording that he fancies and offers as actual quotation what is in fact his own fantasy.
After all these distortions, Peter offers one more falsehood to prove his thesis of romance. He quotes a narration of Romain Rolland, “In fact his… wife left him.” The words that he has left out, along with the context of Rolland’s text, give a very different meaning from the context in which Peter quotes Rolland. Peter uses the words to claim that Mirra left her husband, Paul Richard, in romantic preference to Sri Aurobindo. Peter does not quote from the Mother that Paul Richard demanded that she accept him as the Avatar instead of Sri Aurobindo. Peter does not quote either from Paul Richard’s own admission that he left because he could not accept that Sri Aurobindo was greater than himself. Neither refers to any romantic interests involved between any of them. When placed in the full context which Peter hides from the reader, the facts are found to be very different and even contrary to what Peter presents in the book.
The author often uses quotations from unconnected places and strings them together, all out of context, to invent any meaning and message that suits his intention. One such is the following.
Page 328: From a certain point of view, however, Aurobindo wrote the works he published in the Arya more for himself than for others. ‘I wanted to throw out certain things that were moving in my mind,’ he once said. ‘If nobody reads and understands, it does not matter.’
Peter hides his total distortion of quotations behind the innocuous-sounding phrase “from a certain point of view”. The distortion is that the next two sentences, presented here as one single idea in one single context, are in fact from two very different sources, times and contexts. The first one is from Purani’s talks of August 26, 1926, and the second is noted by V. Chidanandam (“Sri Aurobindo at Evening Talks,” Mother India 24 [August 1972]: 484). The two are artificially clubbed together to prove Peter’s thesis that Sri Aurobindo did not care about what he wrote and for whom he wrote, which is an utterly false conclusion.
(The Information Handbook on TLOSA)
May 5, 2011
The occasion for a rebuttal came up when Peter Heehs attempted to ridicule the private beliefs of the disciples of Sri Aurobindo and argued that he was not an Avatar because he had “never made any such claim on his own behalf”. It would have been absolutely fine, I repeat, had Peter Heehs said that he did not believe in the Avatarhood of Sri Aurobindo, because there was never any question of forcing upon others such a sacred and personal conviction. It is only when he had a nasty dig at the faith of the concerned disciples in what he claimed to be the “first objective biography on Sri Aurobindo” (while still pretending to be a disciple of the same Guru), that a reply became necessary. It is this duplicity that had to be exposed in public. For it is understood that as far as institutional propriety is concerned you are either outside an institution or inside it. You cannot be both in and out, that is, enjoy the privileges of an insider and at the same time have the unrestricted freedom to criticise the founder of the institution that an outsider generally has. (Extract)