4 May 2014

Analysis of the Preface of Peter Heehs’ The Lives of Sri Aurobindo (Bio-2 – part 6) – A Zombified Disciple

Murders in the Land of the Naïve – 8

Heehs wrote Sri Aurobindo: A Brief Biography, OUP, 1989 (Bio-1), The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, CUP, 2008, (Bio-2) & much else in the same vein. Bio-1 was, perforce, subtly devious; Bio-2 is a shameless tour de force of perfidy.[1] His pseudonym ‘Marcher’ is a fusion of his fêted forebears Catherine Mayo (1867-1940) & William Archer (1856-1924), though Marcherism – degrading the Sanatana Dharma & vilifying the greatest children of Mother India – was born centuries them. The entire credit for his thriving at the expense of his subject and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram goes to his Daemon, a special emission of “the falsehood of the mental, vital and physical Powers and Appearances that still rule the earth-Nature”.[2]
All text in Italics is from Bio-1, Bio-2 & their prefaces; all in Roman is mine. I have often interspersed my comments in Roman within Marcher’s text which is always in Italics.

Peter’s Attitude and Approach – H 1: Absorbed in inner experience, the mystic is freed from the problems that afflict men and women who are caught in the dualities of knowledge and ignorance, pleasure and pain, life and death. A mystic thus absorbed often is lost to the human effort to achieve a more perfect life. But this is not the only possible outcome of spiritual practice. Aurobindo’s first major inner experience was a state of mystical absorption, but he was driven to return to the active life, and spent the next forty years looking for a way to bring the knowledge and power of the spirit into the world. In this lies the value of his teaching to men and women of the twenty-first century.
My Comments: The only Marcherian way to be free from the dualities that afflict human life is to be absorbed in inner mystical experience, forsaking the only actual reality, the Darwinian evolution through the mechanism of survival of the fittest organisms (individual and species). Aurobindo, Marcher tells us, experienced such liberating mystical absorption in 1907-08 when meditating with a guide (later he called it the realisation of the passive Brahman), but he was driven to return to the active life of overt leadership of extremist politics and covert leadership of terrorist [criminal, anti-social, not activist meant to bring Swaraj] activities. Some months later he experienced what he called the realisation of the cosmic consciousness, but again, by then the only important Extremist leader with a countrywide reputation,[3] he returned to his active life of dualities. By thus re-yoking himself to the dualities of knowledge and ignorance, pleasure and pain, life and death afflicting human life, he regained the prerequisite to contribute to the human effort to achieve a more perfect life. It was thus, as a mind, life and body no different from those of Marcher that Aurobindo spent the next forty years looking for a way to bring the knowledge and power of the spirit into the world. Now, the dictionaries available to me confine spirit to only this-worldly phenomena, namely: “vital or life principle, principle of thought, intelligent or immaterial part of man, soul, bodied or bodiless soul, ghost etc; enthusiasm, actuating emotion, disposition, frame of mind, courage, mettle, etc”; confine spiritual mainly to “refined in thought and feeling, religious, etc”; and confine Spirit to Christian theology. By using spirit and not Spirit Marcher reduces every other-worldly or spiritual / mystical experience and realisation of Sri Aurobindo to achievements of his duality-afflicted mind’s efforts – a mind no different from Marcher’s; and throws out the extra-terrestrial Spirit or the deux-ex-machina from Sri Aurobindo’s forty years of sadhana looking for a way to bring Its knowledge and power into the world.
In consequence, this is Bio-1’s evaluation of Aurobindo’s principal work in prose, The Life Divine: It is regarded by some as one of the most important metaphysical treatises in the present century…. The task of philosophy, according to Aurobindo, is to formulate the relationship between ‘the psychological and physical facts of existence’ and ‘any ultimate reality that may exist’; its purpose is to help the individual live and act according with these facts, seen in terms of this reality. Academic philosophers [reject] this purpose [and] refuse to consider his metaphysics as philosophy properly speaking [because it is] deficient in the essential attributes of philosophy, namely: logical argumentation…. And Bio-2: The Life Divine’s philosophy ‘was formed first’ by the study of the Gita, Upanishads, and Rig Veda…. [Sri Aurobindo:] ‘I was never satisfied till experience came and it was on this experience that later on I found my philosophy…. All sorts of ideas came in which might have belonged to conflicting philosophies but they were here reconciled in a large synthetic whole.’ These ideas and their synthesis, continues Marcher, were self-validating for Aurobindo and most of his followers accept them as unquestionable truths.  And so he founds his evaluation of Sri Aurobindo’s system of Yoga on this scholarly Law: If the spiritual value of Aurobindo’s system can only be gauged by one who has had the same experiences, its philosophical value is measurable by [the Marcherian] mind’s usual critical means, i.e., studies of Aurobindo’s documented sources, arguments, and conclusions, and evaluations of his rhetoric and style. Justifying this method he says: If a philosophical system is to merit acceptance as a philosophy, it has to be defended by logical argumentation; otherwise it joins other infallible revelations [=psychotic hallucinations!] that depend on faith for acceptance and [like in Christianity and Islam?] persuasion or coercion for propagation. In other words it becomes a religion [thus reducing the sadhana of disciples as coercive religiosity and their biographies of Sri Aurobindo and Mother as hagiographies].[4]

Peter’s Attitude and Approach – H 2: In trying to trace the lines of Aurobindo’s sadhana, a biographer can use the subject’s diaries, letters, retrospective accounts [and] for comparison, accounts by others of similar mystical experiences. But in the end, mystical experiences remain subjective. Perhaps they are only hallucinations or signs of psychotic breakdown. Even if not, do they have any value to anyone but the subject?
My Comments: Marcher, I have said, claims that the documents in his possession deal exhaustively with Sri Aurobindo’s entire sadhana and were written by a mind identical to his own, thus empowering him to judge it in all its aspects. Take his evaluation in Bio-2[5]: Aurobindo claims that he saw visions, heard voices, had sources of knowledge independent of the senses and the reason… could read people’s minds… had knowledge of the future… could change the course of events, cure diseases… alter the form of his body; that he went into trance; …felt physical pain as pleasure and experienced spontaneous erotic delight…; that he had a sort of supernatural strength; that he was in touch with goddesses and gods; [and] was one with God. But those familiar with Indian mythological [=fictional] literature will not be surprised by these powers and experiences, as they are commonplace in the epics and Puranas. Besides like all mystical powers, experiences, and realisations, Aurobindo’s are subjective and so don’t contribute to the human effort to achieve a more perfect life. This evaluation led him to a vital discovery (revealed to him, I believe, in a mystical absorption while meditating on his Daemon): Due to his inborn tendency to psychotic breakdowns, Aurobindo’s system of Yoga, as it developed after 1926, imposes two hallucinogenic processes on his disciples that thrust them into an evolutionary abyss. Bio-1’s chapter “A Laboratory Experiment” expands on this discovery of which the core seems to be contained in these statements:
(1) Recognizably ‘spiritual’ activities [how did this sworn anti-spiritual materialist recognise them?] grew up gradually during the twenties…. Aurobindo and Mother did not expect the disciples to help actively in this work. The novices were in fact a great drain on their energy…. The community…was required as a field of experimentation. If the force that they were ‘bringing down’ was to extend itself…they needed to know in detail how it acted on ordinary men and women. The only way to obtain such knowledge was to stock their ‘laboratory’ with voluntary guinea pigs [v.g. pigs]. Note the suppression of the fact that not any volunteering Tom-Peter-Harry was accepted, and even when accepted as a disciple, not all were admitted as inmates.
(2) Up to this point [opening the ‘laboratory’ in 1926], the methods of yoga that Aurobindo had given those who approached him were the methods that he himself had used…. Some disciples…got stuck or went astray…but many…floundered in place. As in the Christian missionary’s satire: “The Stupid Guru and foolish Disciples”, Aurobindo thrust his own methods without taking into account the nature, potential etc. of his v.g. pigs, and they floundered.
(3) In the Arya (1914-19) he had placed special emphasis on the role played by the mind in sadhana, asserts Marcher. ‘Man is a mental and not yet a supramental being,’ he wrote in the Synthesis of Yoga. ‘It is by the mind therefore that he has to aim at knowledge and realise his being.’ This special emphasis, he claims (misleadingly as usual), was in accord with his own nature and experiences. In the first place the sentence “Man is a mental… it is by the mind therefore…” occurs in Chap XIII: “The Difficulties [not the indispensability] of the Mental Being” of Part II: “The Yoga of Integral [not of just mental] Knowledge”. And quoted in full it gives an altogether opposite meaning: “It is by the mind therefore that he has to aim at knowledge and realise his being, with whatever help he can get from the supramental planes. This character of our actually realised being and therefore of our Yoga imposes on us certain limitations and primary difficulties which can only be overcome by divine help or an arduous practice, and in reality only by the combination of both these aids.” Secondly: As to the role played by the mind in sadhana, this is what Chap XXI: “The Ladder of Self-Transcendence” says in the same Part II of the Synthesis: “…a sufficient perfection of the pure mental being…would still fall far below the greater possibilities of the spiritual nature…. That vaster light, that profounder bliss are beyond the mental reaches. Mind indeed can never be a perfect instrument of the Spirit [S not s]…. Even if mind could be free from all positive falsehood and error, even if it could be all intuitive and infallibly intuitive, it could still present and organise only half-truths or separate truths and these too not in their own body but in luminous representative figures put together to make an accumulated total of a massed structure.” Finally: This self-styled seeker-writer of Truth dismisses the dozens of serendipitous spiritual experiences that invaded Sri Aurobindo – never laboured for by his mind or nature – from the moment he stepped on the Indian soil at Bombay in 1893.
(4) Realizing that most sadhaks [v.g. pigs] would have difficulty following the path he himself had taken [which was not, as just pointed out, the exclusively mental one Marcher claims he took], he began to lay stress in his talks and letters on a process that he called the ‘emergence’ or ‘coming forward’ of the psychic being…. The second change of focus concerned the role of what he called the ‘divine force’ or force of the Mother …. Many readers [remember, Marcher’s target audience are the materialists and anti-theists], and even those who admit the possibility of an inactive Absolute or disinterested Creator, will have difficulty accepting the existence of a conscious ‘divine’ or ‘spiritual’ force in Aurobindo and Mother [this is added to incite creedal religionists]…. From around 1926, he began to encourage his disciples to approach her in this [suicidal] way. [6]
The only way, then, we v.g. pigs can avoid an evolutionary abyss is to reject the hallucinogenic processes of psychic emergence and surrender to the Mother and take up the  Marcherian ‘sadhana’ of placing special emphasis on the role played by the mind.
Marcher is not the first Ashramite to refuse to surrender to the Mother. In mid-1930s, a mind-led Ashramite wrote a Marcherian tract. When Mother refused sanction to publish it, he kept arguing, forcing Sri Aurobindo to spell out the refusal: “…it is an attack on Yogis, Gurus and occultists in general and a warning against them and their ways. According to you they are men who use their knowledge… and powers to dominate and impose themselves on their disciples; using the ‘alien being’ in men for their purpose, they inflict on them false and misleading experiences in order to farther their own personal objects. You warn all to be on their guard against [them], not to trust or believe in them; for all of them, even the greatest, you have by personal experience found to be the same, ignorant, self-interested misleaders…and exploiters. You do not except your own Gurus, but rather expressly include them. You specify several elements of the Yoga as it is practised here, transforma­tion, reception of peace, light and other experiences and warn everybody that any such experiences of transformation, peace, light etc. are unreal falsities and illusions imposed by the occult power of the Guru. One can have transformation and the rest, but only through one’s own self; one should accept only what comes from one’s own self…not follow the misleading…distortions taught in [their] writings…. I may say that publication without permission will be incompatible with your remaining here.” When the mind-led claimed constitutional rights, Sri Aurobindo put his foot down: “If anyone questions the right of the Mother to control the Ashram or to control his own conduct, his place is outside; there he can exercise his full civic or other rights and do what he pleases…. There is no right civic or legal or republican or constitutional or any other entitling anyone to do whatever he likes in the house of another or debars that other from objecting or enforcing his objection. There is a discipline of obedience and of abstention from forbidden acts in this Ashram and whoever refuses to recognise it has no “right” to remain here.[7]
These replies quelled the rebellious mind of that Ashramite who was at heart a v.g. pig. But they infuriated Marcher who has never accepted the existence of a conscious Divine Force in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, always defied the “discipline of obedience and of abstention from forbidden acts”, always placed exclusive emphasis on the role of his own mind, always asserted his civic, legal and constitutional rights to do “whatever he likes” in this Ashram. Though, why his fury excluded only the first of these replies from his CWSA is a matter worth probing from all possible angles.
Soon after Bio-1 exhibited the real Aurobindo to the world, a non-devotee (leftist?) scholar closely guided by M&Co, wrote a tract echoing its scholarly triumph. In 1999, he published a banal compilation of articles by Sri Aurobindo to veil the tract tacked on as its “introduction”.[8] Since this “intro” amplifies like an echo Marcher’s warped judgments and innuendos on Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, and us v.g. pigs, these extracts from it are in Italics – as if Marcher’s own text:
During the Baroda period… Aurobindo also began writing articles [wrote only one series of seven, stymied by Moderates] and pamphlets [wrote only one, it was promptly banned by Govt!]…he belonged to the Extremist section of the Congress and was instrumental in engineering [for no blemish of Govt or Moderates] the split between his faction [of upstarts] and the Moderates [legitimate leaders][9] at Surat in 1907…. In 1901, he married Mrinalini…. The marriage cannot be described as a great success [because] little mention is made of it [of their physical-emotional relations] in Aurobindonian literature [i.e. hagiographies]…. On 2 May 1908 he was arrested for terrorist [anti-national] activities and imprisoned [because convicted]…. Obeying an inner [not supra-human / supra-terrestrial] imperative he went into hiding [being a criminal]… then departed for Pondicherry…. Mrinalini was left behind. In the years to come she would undergo loneliness and terrible psychological and emotional suffering [due to his insensitivity & egotism]…. On 29 March 1914 Aurobindo met Mirra Richard [for why ‘Richard’ is added here, read on]…. At the age of 16 Mirra began to befriend artists and to study painting [=study of painting was pretence]…. . Earlier she had seen his photograph but had not ‘recognized’ [=?] him….  Mrinalini died of influenza in 1918, just when she was preparing to join her [fickle] husband in Pondicherry…. At nineteen Mirra [had] married a painter…. The marriage however soon broke up. Yet all her life she showed a highly refined and well-developed aesthetic sensibility [=broken marriage proves that refined aesthetic sensibility was pretence]…. After her legal divorce [from the painter] in 1908, she met Paul Richard, whom she married in 1911 [guess why]…. In 1920 she came to live in Pondicherry permanently. Her meeting with Aurobindo on 24 April was [so] decisive [that blameless] Paul Richard left and she got her divorce from him soon after. On 24 November she moved to the same house in which Aurobindo was residing. In 1922 she took charge of his household [as his mistress]….
In time, a whole set of beliefs and rituals began to be built up around Aurobindo and more so, around Mother. The death of each of them caused dismay and disappointment among large sections of the faithful [=dim-wits who] had grown to believe that some miraculous transformation of their Gurus and through them of the disciples themselves was in the offing. Naturally these devotees [=dim-wits] were disheartened when this did not happen in the manner they had come to expect. Besides, a whole theology began to be developed, especially because of the extensive records of what they had said [by ‘records’ are meant unauthorised jottings by disciples from memory of ill-understood talks long after they took place].[10] What ought to be interpreted as obvious setbacks [esp. the Supramental Manifestation] were turned into mega-triumphs. Such ‘Master-saving mechanisms’ did not protect the ashram community [=each & every inmate!] from doubt, insecurity and uncertainty…. The commonality in the belief systems of those who adhere to this path is a theology that not only asserts the Avatarhood or Divine Incarnation of Aurobindo and Mother, but builds around them a special cult of worship and devotion. Several miracles and special interventions in world events [esp. World Wars] many of which have a basis in the words of the Masters themselves, yet which call into question our normal intelligence [compare Bio-1’s: evidence about outward happenings that is not in accord with [normal intelligence] cannot be explained away by invoking the deux-ex- machina of supernatural intervention]…. A careful reading [by Marcherians] of the Masters should clarify that it was never their intention to claim such incontrovertible and transhistorical infallibility or to encourage the formation of a cult or a sect…. Now that their original contexts are no longer available [except in Bio-1 and 2], we need to exercise the utmost circumspection in taking their statements literally. The more plausible, sensible and reasonable [Marcherian] interpretation should be preferred to the fanciful, far-fetched and irrational one [by disciples and admirers]….
Strangely, Mr Echo damns our theology and special cult of worship but his own cult of worship makes him dedicate his book to Yogi Ramsuratkumar and Devaki Ma of Tiruvannamalai who, presumably, accept Ramana Maharshi’s theology! To this cult of worship still lurking in him, I offer these facts: In Aug.’14 (1st issue of Arya): “The peculiar character of our age is the divorce…between reason and faith, the logical mind and the intuitive heart…. The heart and the mind are one universal Deity and neither a mind without a heart nor a heart without a mind is the human ideal. Nor is any perfection sound and real unless it is also fruitful.” In Jul.’26: “All ashramas have a tendency to degeneration. It is due to the incapacity of human nature. Whatever it receives from above, it spoils very soon. As long as the influence of the founder lasts, his teaching remains pure, but then his disciples, who cannot fully grasp it or can only grasp it intellectually, deform the whole thing.” In Feb.’33: “It is rather surprising that the Ashram does not break down altogether…but perhaps it is the great grip of the thinking elements here on the physical world that keeps the Ashram going in spite of the imbecility of myself and the Mother.”[11]
The keynote of Aurobindo’s [philosophical] thought is evolution, continues Mr Echo. From his earliest writings in 1890-92…the notion of evolution influenced the basic orientation of his ideas. According to Bio-2: Aurobindo inherited the notion of evolution from his father Dr Ghose, who when in England in 1871, was in the thick of the greatest intellectual controversy of the century created by Darwin’s Descent…and Origin…; he sided with evolutionists and returned a tremendous atheist. At Cambridge Aurobindo had little interest in philosophy and read few of the major Eastern or Western philosophers…. Most of the ideas he absorbed were “picked up desultorily” in his general reading… and second-hand accounts of the theory of evolution…. This is why his philosophical articlesin the Karmayogin on the relation between the individual and the cosmos, the puzzle of free will and fate, the origin and significance of evil, though not particularly original try to harmonize the Upanishads and the late Victorian science by means of [Darwinian] evolution. No wonder, his arguments are rather quaint [irrational], e.g., A seed grows into a certain sort of tree because “the tree is the idea involved in the seed”. In the light of molecular biology, this is at best a metaphor, scoffs Marcher, knowing that biologists “do not know how the universe began…why it is there… [and] beyond the trivial have no theories…about the human soul”; knowing too Sri Aurobindo’s justified assertion in a compilation of his writings that M&Co published 15 years before Bio-2: “The Science of the West has discovered evolution as the secret of life and its process in this material world; but it has laid more stress on the growth of form and species than on the growth of consciousness: even, consciousness has been regarded as an incident and not the whole secret of the meaning of evolution.” According to Bio-1: Aurobindo regarded evolution as fundamentally an unfolding of higher powers of [the subjective] consciousness, and only outwardly a development of more complex forms…. To quote Sri Aurobindo again from M&Co’s compilation: “In my explanation of the universe, I have put forward this cardinal fact of a spiritual evolution as the meaning of our existence here. It is a series of ascents from the physical being and consciousness to the vital, the being dominated by the life-self, thence to the mental being realised in the fully developed man and thence into the perfect consciousness which is beyond the mental, into the supramental Consciousness and the supramental being.” Since man is a conscious being, continues Bio-1, this evolutionary transition from man to superman will be a conscious process. Man can participate in his own self-exceeding. The name given to this [subjective] participation is yoga which is essentially an aspiration to the creative [terrestrial and mental] power behind [subjective] evolution and surrender to its workings. [12] But, as Marcher ‘discovered’, Aurobindo’s originally rational system of yoga got corrupted by his inborn tendency to psychotic breakdowns, resulting in his v.g. pigs being thrust into an evolutionary abyss.
This explains why Mr Echo proclaims: There is an urgent need to rethink and review the whole Aurobindonian project of the spiritual (=religious) evolution. Before it is possible to take a fresh look at the vast body of Aurobindonian literature, it is necessary to separate the plausible from the incredible, the sensible from the hyperbolic, the real from the imaginary. This requires a critical Marcherian reinterpretation, not just an adulatory avowal. To begin with, it needs to be acknowledged that though both Aurobindo and Mother repeatedly warned against the creation of a cult around them, they themselves encouraged it in several ways. They themselves deified each other. How is this paradox to be explained? Not just by asserting the divinity of the Gurus and our own mental inadequacies as devotees are wont to do, but by having the maturity to admit that such contradictions are a part of the spiritual enterprise; we could call them risks…attendant to any venture for profit, whether secular or religious [=spiritual]. The Aurobindonian project of the spiritual evolution of humankind, therefore, need not be identified so closely to the persons of Aurobindo and the Mother. It is not by deification or glorification that the role of the Guru can be understood, but by carefully examining their roles in the historical contexts in which they lived and acted [and left without a trace]. By separating what is still relevant [to normal intelligence] from what was specific to a particular time and age [the v.g. pigs] can avoid the pitfalls of disillusionment of self-deception. Such indeed was the approach that Aurobindo himself recommended [recall Bio-1’s this special emphasis was in accord with his own nature and experiences above]. In other words, scepticism [Marcherism] strengthens faith while unthinking adherence [v.g. pigism] undermines it. Whether or not Aurobindo was [=dead, yet] indeed ‘an Avatar of the future’…is up to each individual [T-P-H] to discover.
I wonder how scepticism (disbelief) in the divinity of the Gurus and one’s own mental inadequacies, strengthens one’s faith in Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga in which, “one is supposed to go beyond every mental idealistic culture. Ideas and ideals belong to the mind and are half-truths only; the mind too is, more often than not, satisfied with merely having an ideal, with the pleasure of idealising, while life remains always the same, untransformed or changed only a little and mostly in appearance. The spiritual seeker does not turn aside from the pursuit of realisation to mere idealising; not to idealise, but to realise the Divine Truth is always his aim, either beyond or in life also – and in the latter case it is necessary to transform mind and life which cannot be done without surrender to the action of the Divine Force, the Mother.”[13]
Yet Mr Echo ploughs on: A better or more fitting tribute to Aurobindo’s life and thought can scarcely be paid than by a proper study of his works [not by practising his Yoga of surrender!]. The writings themselves need to be studied objectively and dispassionately, divorced from the mythology which was built around them. Once the validity of Aurobindo’s spiritual evolution of humankind is recognized…it will be possible to reinterpret and recover its energy and initiative because there is a great deal that is enduring in Aurobindo’s work that reaches beyond the confines of his time and place. It is important to salvage and showcase this for in the coming century and the next millennium the future generations will find new meaning and fresh inspiration in his works. This study can be facilitated by the new edition of The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo (CWSA). This implies: 1) Sri Aurobindo never thought, felt, said, wrote, observed, experienced, realised, anything that is not in Marcher’s CWSA. 2) Sri Aurobindo and Mother can no longer communicate through word or act with anyone anymore. 3) Their invisible presence, guidance and help that most of his v.g. pigs experience is sheer hallucination.
A word on CWSA: In 1980, soon after Marcher declared himself the Chief Editor of all Ashram publications and started publishing articles foreshadowing Bio-1 and Bio-2, M&Co laid down, in scores of pages, their scholarly attitude and approach in their Archives & Research. The indispensable attitude: The duty of the editor is to present the text exactly as the author would have wanted it presented. The indispensable approach: He must resort to emendation to set right a manuscript reading that is clearly not what the author intended. The true scholar, Bio-1 preface told us, must not be devotional i.e. hagiographic, for that is bound to corrupt his work. M&Co honed this attitude and approach when editing Purani’s Life of Sri Aurobindo: they rectified his English and research[14], altered, rearranged and enlarged its contents. For Indians, Marcher has always said, are genetically unable to learn correct English and disciples can never learn the scholarly methods of research and presentation. With the same scholarship they rectified, altered, rearranged and enlarged the SABCL, and produced the CWSA. It is in this CWSA, as Mr Echo echoes, that the future generations will find new meaning and fresh inspiration in Aurobindo’s works.
I can’t help echoing Sri Aurobindo’s warning to sadhaks, present and future: “For the sadhaka of the integral Yoga, it is necessary to remember that no written Shastra [here CWSA], however great its authority or however large its spirit, can be more than a partial expression of the eternal Knowledge. He will use, but never bind himself even by the greatest Scripture [here CWSA]… he must take his station, or better still…from the beginning he must live in his own soul beyond the limitations of the word that he uses.” [15]
To return to the present: It seems M&Co believe that the correct raison-d’être of this Ashram should be formulated on the basis of this passage from the Chapter “The Spiritual Aim and Life” of Sri Aurobindo’s Human Cycle:  “The spiritual aim will recognise that man as he grows in his being must have as much free space as possible for all its members to grow in their own strength, to find out themselves and their potentialities… [True] spirituality will not lay a yokeor compel them to square their conclusions with any statement of dogmatic religious or even of assured spiritual truth, as some of the old religions attempted, vainly, ignorantly, with an unspiritual obstinacy and arrogance. Each part of man’s being has its own dharma which it must follow and will follow in the end, put on it what fetters you please. The dharma of science, thought and philosophy is to seek for truth by the intellect dispassionately, without prepossession and prejudgment, with no other first propositions than the law of thought and observation itself imposes…. In the end, if left free in their action, they will find the unity of Truth with Good and Beauty and God and give these a greater meaning than any dogmatic religion or any formal ethics or any narrower aesthetic idea can give us. But meanwhile they must be left free even to deny God and good and beauty if they will, if their sincere observation of things so points them…. Often we find atheism both in individual and society a necessary passage to deeper religious and spiritual truth.[16]
But the context in which the spiritual aim will recognise anyone’s right to deny God and be atheist and anti-theist is laid down two paragraphs before this one: “The true and full spiritual aim in society will regard man not as a mind, a life and a body, but as a soul incarnated for a divine fulfilment upon earth…. It will therefore regard life, mind and body [not] as ends in themselves, sufficient for their own satisfaction…but as first instruments of the soul, the yet imperfect instruments of an unseized diviner purpose….”
This is why the preceding chapter (or stage of spiritual evolution) is titled “The End of the Curve of Reason” and the ensuing one is titled “The Necessity of the Spiritual Transformation”. And that this “Necessity…” is the raison d’être of the ashram founded by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is proved by the following facts:
1) In 1927, Sri Aurobindo stated the prerequisite for admission to his Ashram: “The call to the way and spiritual purpose of this Yoga; an entire and one-minded readiness for surrender and the giving up of all else for the One Truth; acceptance by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.” The next year, he explained the reasons for this condition: “In all that is done in the universe, the Divine through his Shakti is behind all action but he is veiled by his Yoga Maya and works through the ego of the Jiva in the lower nature. In Yoga also it is the Divine who is the Sadhaka and the Sadhana…but so long as the lower nature is active… the personal effort required is a triple labour of aspiration, rejection and surrender…. If you follow your mind, it will not recognise the Mother even when she is manifest before you. Follow your soul and not your mind, your soul that answers to the Truth, not your mind that leaps at appearances…. The Mother’s power and not any human endeavour and tapasya can alone rend the lid and tear the covering and shape the vessel and bring down into this world of obscurity and falsehood and death and suffering Truth and Light and Life divine and the immortal’s Ananda.”
2) In 1934, when the Mother told a sadhak that ‘She did not know what will happen to this Ashram in the future’, he couldn’t believe ‘She knew nothing about the work for which She has taken a body on earth’. So she clarified: “I do not think that I said any such thing. You must have misunderstood me. But it is wrong to believe that I came upon earth to establish an Ashram! That would really be a very paltry objective.[17] What is [‘was’ for M&Co] ‘the work for which She has [‘had’ for M&Co] taken a body on earth’ if it is [‘was’ for M&co] not founding this “paltry” Ashram and all the “paltry” institutions and us “paltry” people connected with it? Three of the relevant answers she has given are: 1) When Sri Aurobindo left his body, I continued to live here in order to do his work which is, by serving the Truth and enlightening mankind, to hasten the rule of the Divine’s Love upon earth. 2) Lord, we are upon earth to accomplish Thy work of transformation. 3) A work that has terrestrial progress as its goal cannot be started unless it has the sanction and help of the Divine. It cannot endure unless there is a constant material growth which satisfies the will of Nature. It cannot be destroyed prematurely except by human [Marcherian] ill will, which then serves as an instrument of forces hostile to the Divine, which are striving to delay as much as possible His manifestation and the transformation of the earth.[18]
The concluding words belong to Nolini K. Gupta, the mentor of the present Trustees: (1) “Mother told us long ago that our Ashram…represents all that is good…and also all… the bad qualities…. But the Ashram was made to be a conscious collective centre where these things must change from within, not under external compulsion, and that is why the Ashram was not given an authority strong enough to dominate or control its members…. And each one of us who is here in the Ashram is an epitome of the Ashram… even in the best ones the wrong movements can cast a shadow. So it is a task for each one, especially the so-called “best” ones, that is, those who are more conscious, to detect and reject and change all that is wrong and false in themselves and develop all that is true and good, and thereby help to change those very elements in the Ashram atmosphere as well as outside it. That is the only solution and the only remedy…..” – Sept.1976. (2) “If there is one value that the Mother cherished most, it is undoubtedly freedom… freedom from everything that constrains the evolution of the soul…. She refused to frame a tight set of rules and regulations for the sadhaks…. Freedom from fear, freedom from the compulsion of authority, freedom from any type of imposition, is what she aimed at, among other things…. Where there is no freedom to function, there we have failed the Mother…. My freedom cannot clash with yours when it proceeds from the level of the soul and not from the ego…. Where freedom is curtailed or suppressed in the supposed interests of an organisation, the soul cannot blossom. An enforced discipline can only lead to a soulless, mechanical, stultifying order foreign to the innate character of the evolving spirit.” – Nov. 1983
* * *

Postscript: Besides personal reasons, what pushed me to analyse the prefaces of Bio-1 and Bio-2 was Mark R’s Customer-Review of Peter Heehs’ The Lives of Sri Aurobindo posted by Amazon.com in June 2011. I reproduce the points that swayed me most:
1) Kinda boring and tedious – more anthropological than biographical.
2) This book… isn’t much uplifting at all….
3) It is so heavy on details and lacking in spirit…. [It] seems like more of an anthropological study… digging up all kinds of trivial details about his life. However, once I finished it, I felt like I had ‘read about the clothes, but not the man himself’.
4) The author seems to be more concerned about revealing as many “facts” as possible, without really appreciating them. It is a very dry study, almost stripped of all life and inspiration.
5) Perhaps it is part of the common trend nowadays, to ‘humanize’ people of inspiration and accomplishment, by focussing more on the trivial than the meaningful – and what is meaningful is reduced to bland analysis. It is almost as if there is an effort to take Sri Aurobindo down a notch, or knock him off his pedestal.
6) I wish I had known that before struggling though so many tedious pages.

A Zombified disciple

[1] Approved by the Ashram Trust as per Rule No.6 on p.5 of its Rules of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2003: “Nothing should be sent out for publication (contributions to newspapers and magazines, or books) without having been first submitted to Sri Aurobindo for approval.”
[2] Sri Aurobindo, The Mother, Chapter 1
[3] Bio-1:95, 61
[4] Bio-1:106-12; Bio-2:270-77
[5] Bio-2: 245
[6] Bio-1: 134-38; CWSA 23: 392, 472
[7] CWSA 32:375-76, dated 4 May 1937
[8] Prof. Makarand Paranjape, Penguin Aurobindo Reader, Penguin Books, New Delhi, 1999. Had the Ashram’s official reader (Prof Jugal K. Mukherjee?) tasked with recommending the copyright sanction, given this “introduction” to pass, it would never have been permitted. By the grace of Marcher’s Daemon, this book and Bio-1 (in all their editions) are sold by the Ashram from they day they enlightened us.
[9] Mr Echo is a committed Gandhian-Nehruvian and Gandhi-Nehru inherited the mantle of the Moderates – of the legitimate Congress leaders.
[10] Bio-2 quotes one such ‘record’ after its official editor Heehs deliberately left hundreds of its blunders and false statements just to make Sri Aurobindo convict himself for things he never did or said.
[11] CWSA 13:439-40; “Conversations”, Sri Aurobindo Circle, No.34, 1978; CWSA 32:358
[12] “Darwin impels us to atheism [actually to anti-theism]. It is not merely that evolution erodes the explanatory potency of God, it eliminates God altogether.” George van Vrekhem quoting Alistair McGrath in Preparing for the Miraculous, Stichting Aurofonds, May 2011, p.17; Bio-2:5-6, 276, 203; Evolution, Religion, and the Unknown God, George van Vrekhem, Manjul Pub. House, 2011: 213-14; The Integral Yoga – Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, edited by P. Heehs and B. Zwicker, S.A. Ashram Publication, 1993: 43; Bio-1:108-13
[13] CWSA 32:141
[14] Purani was a Science graduate of St. Xavier’s College, Bombay. But after five decades in the field his English and methods of research and presentation, as Marcher told his daughter, remained amateurish.
[15] The Synthesis of Yoga, CWSA 23:55
[16] CWSA 25:228-29
[17] CWM 17:72 (8 Dec.1934)
[18] CWM 13:8; CWM 15:92-93 (Three Conditions)

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