The Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram are once again trying to reactivate the effort to denigrate Sri Aurobindo in the eyes of the public. The effort had been quelled earlier, but this time they have taken the help of Manoj Das, the well-known Odiya writer and inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
An American inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram by the name of Peter Heehs had written a biography called The Lives of Sri Aurobindo in May 2008, which was published by Columbia University Press. The book portrays Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as very ordinary human beings who lived very ordinary lives. The Government of Odisha in its wisdom had banned the book in India through a Gazette Notification on the 9th of April 2009 before the Indian edition could be published. Therefore Indian readers were fortunately saved from this distorting book, which is a deliberate and malicious attempt by a foreigner to denigrate our deeply adored national and spiritual leader.
Recently Peter Heehs has filed a complaint in the Odisha High Court challenging the Gazette Notification of the Odisha Government. Generally objections have to be filed within 60 days of the notification. But the Odisha High Court accepted the objection even after a delay of more than 800 days. The admission in the High Court of this delayed objection by Peter Heehs has been made possible only with the backing of the powerful Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the noted Odiya writer Manoj Das. Otherwise, Peter Heehs, who is uncivilized, uncultured, ill-educated and ignorant of the law, would never have attempted on his own to revoke the ban on his book. Of course the Trustees will deny this fact as they have vociferously and blatantly denied all other atrocious events occurring in the Ashram due to their apathy, instigation and appalling management. But how long can they hide their collusion and connivance with Peter Heehs, whom they want to keep pleased at any cost? Their actions constantly betray their real motive and they now stand exposed before the larger community of devotees and disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. But if there is no strong protest from the larger community against the attempt to withdraw the ban against The Lives of Sri Aurobindo through the Odisha High Court, then they will be responsible for any future catastrophe. They will then remain only silent spectators bowing their heads in shame before the politics of the cunning and notorious duo of Gupta Manoj (Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram) and Byakta Manoj (the self-serving, award-hunting Odiya writer Manoj Das).
Especially, the followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in Odisha, will they accept the manner in which Peter Heehs has depicted the life and yoga of Sri Aurobindo? Peter Heehs says that Sri Aurobindo’s face was pock-marked, that he made no contribution to India’s independence, that his Yoga had nothing original or new, that his achievements in Yoga were only through arduous toil rather than due to any spiritual capacity, that his spiritual realisations were only the hallucinations of an abnormal mind, that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother followed the left-hand Tantric way, that their relationship was romantic, that Sri Aurobindo’s Avatarhood was a lie, that Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri is a work of fiction, that he was a terrorist, that he was responsible for the Hindu-Muslim conflict and the partition of India, that he was a coward and a liar, and that he was lazy, sexually frustrated and insane. That his realisation of Sri Krishna was imaginary, that his sentences were too long and involved, that Sri Aurobindo’s Foundations of Indian Culture is a useless piece of writing, that his relationship with his wife was not intimate, and that he had fled from Chandernagore to Pondicherry in fear of the British police, etc. etc!!!
According to Peter Heehs, Sri Aurobindo enjoyed spontaneous erotic delight (TLOSA, pg-425) so that the sadhaks of Integral Yoga also followed suit because that is the way of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga. Is there anything more shameful that to appreciate this sort of concocted, indecent, deliberately malicious writing on the great Avatar-Purusha Sri Aurobindo?
In this context an incident that occurred a hundred years ago comes to my mind.
In May 1908, Sri Aurobindo had to face a court trial and undergo imprisonment for the Alipore Bomb case. Exactly a hundred years later in May 2008, again Sri Aurobindo had to face the courts due to Peter Heehs’s distorted biography. In 1908 Sri Aurobindo was taken to the court by the British with the connivance of boot-licking Indians and, now too, he has once again been dragged to the court by an American taxi-driver with the help of deceitful foreign boot-licking disciples in power.
During the Alipore Bomb Case, the famous barrister Shri Chittaranjan Das was Sri Aurobindo’s advocate. Throughout the trial Sri Aurobindo remained silent and unmoved by the outward turmoil. So is he silent now when another storm is blowing. A hundred years ago Chittaranjan Das fought for him as if ordained by the Divine. The last speech he made before Judge Beachcroft was prophetic:
“My appeal to you is this, that long after the controversy will be hushed in silence, long after this turmoil, the agitation will have ceased, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone, his words will be echoed and re-echoed, not only in India, but across distant seas and lands. Therefore, I say that the man in his position is not only standing before the bar of this Court, but before the bar of High Court of History.”
After hearing this ardent appeal the judge and his two associates unanimously declared him “Not Guilty”.
Today, should we not make our “squirrel-like contribution” to this great poet of patriotism, prophet of Nationalism, lover of humanity, messenger of the future, builder of the New Age, Avatar-Purusha Sri Aurobindo, who has toiled and suffered for us, promised, dared and achieved so much for us? Or under the false pretext of peace and equanimity, shall we give the excuse, “Sri Aurobindo can take care of Himself”? If we do so, would this utterance come from our innermost heart for our great and compassionate Master and adorable sweet Mother, or would it only be a form of pretence and insincere surrender?