Considering the present impasse in Sri Aurobindo Ashram in which the Trustees are locked in a grim battle with some of the inmates and beneficiaries, how much better it would have been to have an independent Lokpal within the organisation to adjudicate matters? Had there been a quasi-judicial body which enjoyed the confidence and support of the community, and if this body were independent from the influence of the Trustees with the right to rule over their decisions, how easily matters could have been settled internally! I would therefore suggest a Lokpal for the Ashram community in the future.
29 Nov 2012
23 Nov 2012
Earlier this year, former New York taxi driver Peter Heehs, based in India since the 1970s, was in the news for his controversial book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo published by Columbia University Press. There was an attempt made by devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, who were outraged by this book, to deny Heehs an extension of his Indian visa. Some supposedly-eminent Indians rushed to the rescue of Heehs by appealing to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, and Heehs was allowed to stay on.
Being a humble admirer of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother over many years, and having delighted in attending a monthly reading session here in Kolkata of Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri, I got hold of a copy of Heehs’ book to see what the din was about. Having read every word of the book, I must say that I was disappointed with the scholarship in this part-serious, part-frivolous effort by Heehs which pop historian, Ramachandra Guha has described as: “The product of a lifetime of scholarship, its empirical depth and analytical sharpness is unlikely to be surpassed. For Heehs knows the documentary evidence on and around Aurobindo’s life better than anyone else.”
16 Nov 2012
A letter of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust has recently been published in the All India Magazine of Sri Aurobindo Society in the issue of November 2012, strongly criticising the republication of the first edition of Savitri by Helios Books. Not only the letter is written in extremely bad taste, but totally irrelevant and misleading comparisons and statistics regarding the various editions of Savitri have been quoted in it to impress the lay reader without actually touching upon the central issue.
12 Nov 2012
The author is patently ignorant of Indian History and harbours an obvious, unreformed racist bias. He calls the “revolutionaries” “terrorists.” Even the British knew the difference in those days. Heehs ought to know the distinction: terrorists kill their own people or innocent people to create terror to achieve political ends, the revolutionaries and freedom fighters are those who fight foreign invaders and occupiers. [extract]
5 Nov 2012
Pratap Bhanu Mehta admits to “have had a long professional interest in [Sri] Aurobindo”. Are we to assume that this interest drove him at some point of time to study for himself Sri Aurobindo’s oeuvre diligently if not comprehensively? If he had really done so, he would have by now come to know the crucial distinction between the subconscient and subliminal consciousness and understood where precisely Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis belongs. And of course he would have also been more enlightened on the subject of “madness”. This is what happens when people choose to read about Sri Aurobindo rather than Sri Aurobindo. It has calamitously led to uncritical acceptance of Peter’s Book on its face value almost as an article of faith. Quite surprisingly Peter Heehs himself seems as confounded on his understanding of Freud, of madness and yogic experiences. His clumsy effort at connecting all the three in Sri Aurobindo’s life are the result of this confusion unless of course it is by wicked design! [extract]