4 Jul 2019

Distorting Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga – Anirjeet

Peter Heehs and his American supporters at the Archives of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, should be packed off to Donald Trump’s country and made to feel the difficulties of common American citizens instead of allowing them to invent a false and secular version of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga in India. Just look at the cheek of this imposter who once labelled himself as the founder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives. He publishes an interview in the Times of India the very next day of his reinstatement at the Archives in which he smugly says, “It’s possible to be an atheist and practise a religion.”

Let me tell you first that this is old hash which he has been repeating from the last 15 years, so there is nothing brilliantly intellectual about it. It only shows his own failure to do Yoga and complete inability to become part of Ashram life.  Secondly, his statement is an outright contradiction as an intelligent reader has already commented on the blog. If you are an atheist, you are generally a materialist and you don’t believe in spiritual realities. The Divine or God or Ishwara are immaterial spiritual realities which materialists refuse to believe in, so how can you be an atheist and still practise a religion or spiritual discipline? The fact that the Divine can be personal or impersonal or simply an ineffable state of consciousness such as Nirvana or the Self does not make any difference to the basic contradiction in his statement – Sri Aurobindo has explained that there is no opposition between the impersonal and personal Divine, they are two facets of the same spiritual Reality. Sri Aurobindo thus explains the material reality in terms of consciousness which is the fundamental reality of existence. The problem with Peter Heehs is that he wants to always please both materialists and spiritualists – have the cake and eat it too.

The other implication of his statement in the context of Sri Aurobindo Ashram is that you can do Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga without believing in him. You can also dispense with “senseless rituals” in the Ashram like bowing down at the Samadhi or meditating in front of Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s photos or relying inwardly on their direct inner contact. He does not say so in the interview but his other articles on Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism are ample proof of this attitude. In fact, his new book “Spirituality without God” prepares the larger background for proving more specifically in future the same attitude towards Sri Aurobindo. So here we are, we know the reason why he has been reinstated at the Archives with the connivance of the Ashram Trust – people in the Ashram are becoming too religious, so they have to be educated by Heehs in order to practise the sadhana as Yogi (or Bhogi!) Peter Heehs has presented it after 40 years of severe intellectual askesis! I hope we will be spared of this unwanted transformation of Sri Aurobindo Ashram!

I have not written the above for the sake of mere amusement because I genuinely feel his reinstatement at the Archives a serious threat to the spiritual well-being of the Ashram. I would therefore earnestly appeal to the Home Ministry of India to intervene immediately and see to it that Heehs and his supporters leave by the first flight to their own country. If this indeed happens, many of us will be greatly relieved and we will not hesitate to raise money for their tickets in first class in the best Airlines available.

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