The senseless writings of Heehs will be countered by real scholars even outside the Ashram and without its patronage, as it has been done in the case of Sri Ramakrishna vis-a-vis Jeffrey Kripal. The spiritual stature of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and their philosophical insights will stand the test of time as they are based on profound Truth. Sadly, what stands exposed is the lack of vision and courage on the part of the present Trustees of the Ashram. [extract]
Letter to the Ashram Trustees – by Nanjappa
I am addressing this letter to you as a student and follower of Sri Aurobindo for the last 40 years. This arises in the context of the controversial book by Peter Heehs, an inmate of the Ashram.
An average Westerner approaches religion as ‘matam’, ie, primarily a set of intellectual dogmas or mental concepts and not as a spiritual discipline or yoga. He has no interest in or intention to practise the discipline prescribed and ‘know’ things experientially but to arrive at a mere intellectual understanding on the basis of which he can have a comparative idea. He does not realise the difference between a historical movement like ancient Greek philosophy (which exists only in textbooks) and the varied Indian ‘darshanas’ which are still practised, because he is cut off from any living tradition except secular science.
Going through Heehs’s book, one can easily see that his intention is to denigrate Sri Aurobindo as a spiritual authority and undermine his teaching without even understanding it fully or practising it effectively. One can certainly disagree with Sri Aurobindo or differ from his teaching, but should an inmate of the Ashram be allowed to do it by spreading calumny about Sri Aurobindo and the Mother? We thought that the Ashram was a place for sadhaks, but if one had no intention to do sadhana as laid down by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, but on the contrary question their very philosophy and spiritual attainments, how does one continue to be sheltered in the Ashram? And why? Is ‘historical research’ the be all of Sri Aurobindo’s teaching or sadhana?
Sri Aurobindo’s yoga is surely no easy matter, nor is it for the average person. He himself made it clear that it is for those who had ‘the call’ and no attempt was made by him to propagate it or attract followers. We are not surprised that Peter Heehs is unable or unwilling to follow it. But his book makes it clear that he had a secret agenda in all the years he was allowed to work at the Archives. But how is he allowed to continue as an inmate of the Ashram even after he has demonstrated to the whole world that he does not care for either the philosophy or spirituality of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother? His association with the Ashram is what confers some credibility to his highly prejudiced and totally distorted views, especially his false claims about his position in relation to the Archives department and editorial work. Why are the Trustees unable or unwilling to counter it publicly? What are they afraid of or do they have anything to hide?
The senseless writings of Heehs will be countered by real scholars even outside the Ashram and without its patronage, as it has been done in the case of Sri Ramakrishna vis-a-vis Jeffrey Kripal. The spiritual stature of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and their philosophical insights will stand the test of time as they are based on profound Truth. Sadly, what stands exposed is the lack of vision and courage on the part of the present Trustees of the Ashram.
After the Mother’s passing, there have been many bickerings concerning the Ashram and the Society. But we understood them all to be due to ego clashes and one-upmanship - something all human institutions are heir to. But the Peter Heehs episode is entirely different. It seeks to spread scandal in the guise of research studies, aiming to undermine the very basis of the Aurobindonian movement. The least that is expected of the Trustees now is to show Heehs the door and dissociate publicly from his book.