4 Apr 2012

Violation of Visa Norms by PETER HEEHS

Violation of Visa Norms by PETER HEEHS

1.    Peter Heehs, a US national who is a self-styled "scholar" and writer, published a book called The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, purporting to be a biography of Sri Aurobindo. By his own admission, Peter Heehs has no formal educational qualifications in any discipline, is a school dropout and was formerly a taxi driver in the USA. Heehs is no historian of any kind and came to India as an uneducated and unemployed youth seeking rehabilitation.

2.      In his offensive book titled The Lives of Sri Aurobindo Heehs has made elaborate and devious attempts to malign and defame the mahayogi, spiritual giant and freedom fighter Sri Aurobindo whose life-size statue stands in the parliament and who is a hero of India's freedom struggle at par with giants such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel.

3. Heehs is a habitual and serial impersonator regularly indulging in academic fraudulence in order to hide his lack of credentials, and has declared to various publishers including Columbia Press in the USA that he is "one of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives". This is patently false. With other publishers, he has on other occasions declared himself as "curator", "director" and "director of historical research" of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives. All of these are false representations and amount to impersonation and academic fraudulence.

Response of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram
4. With his offensive book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo published by Columbia University Press, Heehs has indulged in intellectual property theft at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram as also serious copyright violations. Heehs has acknowledged this in writing and has apologised to the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

As a result of the above, the Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram initiated disciplinary action against Peter Heehs as documented in their letter dated 11.11.2008 wherein they also confirmed that Peter Heehs is not the Founder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives.

5. The Managing Trustee of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Shri Manoj Das Gupta has declared in his letters dated 5.10.2008, 8.10.2008 and 5.8.2009 that the book had "crossed all limits of simple decency!" He acknowledged that the book does in fact "denigrate Sri Aurobindo" and warned of its "potential danger" and the need to ensure that it "should reach as few readers as possible".

Manoj Das, scholar of Sri Aurobindo's life and multiple National Awards winner and himself a former Trustee of the Ashram, declared the book as extremely damaging to Sri Aurobindo and his Ashram.

Evidence was also provided to the Trustees that Peter Heehs is being financed by Jeffrey Kripal (author of the infamous book Kali's Child) who did to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa what Peter Heehs has today attempted on Sri Aurobindo.

Peter Heehs' erstwhile colleagues at the Ashram Archives by their letter dated 8.9.2008 had informed the Ashram Trustee of the theft of their research/work by Peter Heehs. In response the Trustees instituted new measures to prevent future theft of research and Intellectual Properties from the Archives.

State and Central Government Action
6.     Publication of this book led to serious civil unrest and protests all over India and State and Central Governments had to act swiftly to curb/prevent potential violence. Many public protests all over India created awareness about the mischief-mongering of Peter Heehs and this led to the non-extension of his visa in September 2010 vide Home Ministry circular dated 24.9.2010. (copy attached)

7.     The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Internal Security Wing of the Government of India issued urgent communications and instructions to various State Governments and Union Territories to stop publication/sales/ distribution of the inflammatory book.

8. Pursuant to a High Court of Orissa order, the Government of Orissa, vide its Gazette Notification No. 1612/C., Dated 09.04.2009, has proscribed the book and declared its contents criminal and inflammatory in nature and has ordered that all copies be forfeited with immediate effect in order to avoid inflammation of communal and religious tension. (copy attached)

The Gazette Notification, inter alia, states the following:
  1. "the State Government, on the following grounds, is of the opinion that the said book contains matters which are deliberately and maliciously intended to insult religious beliefs of millions of Indians who idolize Sri Aurobindo as a National Hero and incarnation of "Almighty" and which promotes communal disaffection affecting public peace and tranquility,"
  2. the book "contains objectionable matters depicting distorted facts about the life and character of Sri Aurobindo",
  3. the book "promotes communal disaffection, affecting public peace and tranquility",
  4. the "publication of the book is punishable under sections 295A and 153A of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (45 of 1860)",
  5. "the writings portrayed in the book have seriously hurt the sentiments of the apostles of Sri Aurobindo, and the said book, with deliberate and malicious intention, has insulted the religious beliefs of millions",
  6. the book "contains absurd, irrelevant and self made stories, which do not have any scriptural support and has caused widespread indignation amongst the devotees",
  7. "the book outrages the religious feelings of citizens of India",
  8. "the book has materials to hurt the devotional feelings of millions of Indians who idolize Sri Aurobindo as a national hero and incarnation of the Almighty".

9.     Forfeiture and proscription of the offensive book by the Govt of Orissa and declaring Peter Heehs an accessory to crime under sections 295A and 153A of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (45 of 1860) makes this a fit case for cancellation of visa and immediate deportation.

Additionally, Peter Heehs has been declared as a threat to national security since the Extraordinary Government Gazette Notification No. 1612/C, Dated 09.04.2009 declares that the "Government … is of the opinion that the said book contains matters which are deliberately and maliciously intended to insult religious beliefs of millions of Indians" and the author's intention is to "promote communal disaffection, affecting public peace and tranquillity". This in itself is sufficient to justify immediate arrest and deportation of Peter Heehs on grounds of national security and threat of communal violence.

Violation of the Visa Conditions
10.     All visas issued to Peter Heehs thus far have been on the grounds that his presence in India is for the sole "purpose of studying and practising Sri Aurobindo's Yoga" as guaranteed and committed by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust by way of relevant declarations to the visa authorities. As mandated by the terms and conditions of the visas issued, Peter Heehs cannot carry on business or earn income in the territory of India.

However in flagrant violation of the above stated conditions, Peter Heehs has been:
  1. Conducting business by authoring books and articles for Indian publishers and receiving payments and royalties in connection therewith.
  2. He has written books for and received royalty payments from among others the following publishers in India: Permanent Black (two books) and Oxford University Press (six books), both based in New Delhi.
  3. He has also published articles in among others the following journals in India for which he has received payment/royalties: Outlook Publishing (New Delhi), The Pioneer (New Delhi),
  4. His agreement with Columbia University for the abusive book on Sri Aurobindo explicitly includes royalty payments from sales within the USA and from sales in the rest of the world including India. (relevant portion of agreement attached)
  5. He has received payments for the above in his accounts with the following banks: Central Bank of India, Pondicherry, and Standard Chartered Bank, New Delhi.
  6. He has also sold all rights including the entire copyright of his latest offensive book to Columbia University Press, for which he has received substantial royalty and payments. The entire book was written on the basis of his stay in the Ashram and the entire content was based on research conducted by the Ashram.
  7. For the last twenty years and more, Peter Heehs has been conducting a personal business of authoring books and articles and receiving payments from their sales, which has nothing to do with the purpose for which he was granted his visa and is in flagrant violation of his visa conditions.
  8. Peter Heehs has written to the RRO Pondicherry confirming that he his carrying on business in India and receiving payments in India. This letter is in itself evidence that Peter Heehs has flouted and breached conditions of his visa and is a fit case for deportation.
  9. Peter Heehs is not an income tax assessee in India and has evaded tax payments in India for all the income received both from within India and from abroad.

List of Attachments:
  1. Extraordinary Gazette Notification of the State Government of Orissa dated 9.4.2009 proscribing the book in the territory of India.
  2. Letter of Director Shri Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya dated 5.8.2009 listing theft of Ashram Properties and criminal violations by Peter Heehs.
  3. Ministry of Home Affairs letter regarding cancellation of Peter Heehs' visa dated 24.9.2010.


  1. In a nutshell, PH and his supporters stand for the following noble principles:
    1) Criticize your benefactors (Mother Sri Aurobindo)
    2) Violate the norms of the Ashram that supports you
    3) Break the laws of the land where you have been given shelter
    4) Flout the sentiments of devotees and sadhaks who have admitted you into their midst
    5) Betray the trust of the readers who depend upon you to accurately represent yourself and your subject
    And when your perfidy and criminality is sought to be exposed
    6) Deny the plain fact of your criticism, basically lie
    7) Justify your crimes and misdemeanors by invoking freedom of speech, academic license and various other covers
    8) Attack, vilify and demonize your critics

    On the whole this is a campaign to distort the plain truth and to usher in a reign of falsehood and division.

  2. My 5 Questions to Peter Heehs.
    No Reply received :-(

    April 10, 2012

    Mr. Peter Heehs
    3, Nehru Street,
    First Floor,
    Puducherry - 605002

    Dear Mr. Heehs,

    When you walk down the steps of Sri Aurobindo's room, halfway down the staircase there is a quote from The Mother "Cling to Truth". I hope that having spent four decades in the Ashram, you would Cling to Truth in answering the following immediately.

    Is it true...

    1. That you have been staying in the Republic of India over the last 40 years on successive Visit Visas, or Visas not meant for employment or business?

    2. That you never possessed a Visa for employment or to do any kind of business, during your stay in the Republic of India?

    3. That you violated Visa norms of the Republic of India?

    4. That you committed breach of trust of your colleagues at Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, and did not disclose to them about your book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo", while asking them to work on projects for this book, and made them work under the impression of work being done for Ashram purposes?

    5. That you infringed upon the copyrights of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust?

    - Provided that your answers is Yes, to either of the item no. 2 or 3, the Government of India has every legitimate right to prosecute you.

    - Provided that your answers is Yes, to either of the item no. 4 or 5, if I was you, I would have immediately left the Ashram and would not put the Trustees who have been extremely kind to you in an embarrassing situation, and neither would have hurt the sentiments of the devotees.

    - As far as your writings in the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo," you have every legitimate right provided it is absolute truth and you have enough proofs to back it up, and have not infringed upon copyrights of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust or any other unknown person(s), trust or entity.

    Could you also confirm that your book "The lives of Sri Aurobindo" was banned 3 years ago, and not recently as reported by certain section of the media?

    Many thanks in advance
    best regards

    Amit Bhargava