The people raising a stink over the Peter Heehs book on Sri Aurobindo (A Heretic Believer, Apr 23) need to remember that the right to offend is an intrinsic part of the right to freedom of speech.
Narendra Kaushik, Gurgaon
Heehs has a way of gravitating towards baseless conclusions in the name of documented research. He insinuates that the Mother and Sri Aurobindo had a romantic relationship, that the latter’s personality had traces of schizophrenia, which is what explained his supernatural experiences. Further, he calls this great patriot a terrorist, and even puts some of the blame of Partition on him. These kind of denigrating observations run through the book.
Jitendra Sharma, Calicut
Heehs’s detractors know he has not written anything beyond the facts culled from available records. Some people do not like humanising the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, who themselves never claimed to be anything other than enlightened human beings. Behind these orchestrated protests lie a story of a power struggle in the ashram. This is just a way to embarrass and oust a senior official by a group of people.
Vasudevan V., on e-mail
How can a person who has no sense of "belongingness" to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother
is allowed to live and work in an Ashram designated by Their Name ?
He has maligned Sri Aurobindo , a Noble Son of India , and one of Her prominent Icons,
and now Govt.of India must be bold enough to deport him to USA , The "state" where he belongs to.
If one needs a proof of the declining quality of education in India, he/she has only to read your letter. Nothing more is needed.
What is the big deal if Aurobindo is criticized? None of the "shatterpoints" are shattering.
For instance, what is wrong in labelling him a terrorist? If I remember correctly, he was involved in bomb manufacturing with the express intent of using it against the British. Where in the world it says freedom fighters cannot be terrorists? Vanchinathan, who murdered Ash was a terrorist and a freedom fighter.
The whole protest seems manufactured.
American writer Peter Heehs, without any academic qualification, has
written the jinxed book “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo”. He dons the garb
of a researcher,a devotee and an impartial biographer. He writes a few
pages in the book insinuating that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had a
romantic relationship and Sri Aurobindo’s personality had some
elements of ‘schizophrenia’, inherited from his mad mother, which were
the root causes of his mystical yogic powers and supernatural experiences.
He blames Sri Aurobindo for India’s partition. After sowing such seeds of
wild suspicions in the minds of readers, Heehs makes a sudden u- turn that
the relationship between Sri Aurobindo and the Mother might have been
spiritual. Even though all Indians respect Sri Aurobindo as a freedom fighter,
Heehs calls him a terrorist. This kind of incendiary, inflammatory, defamatory,
objectionable, denigrating and abusive observations run through the entire
fabric of the book. This book is full of intentional distortions, innuendos,
false fabrications, misleading out-of context references and baseless
conclusions in the name of richly-documented research. A discerning reader
feels unmistakable hostility of Heehs towards Sri Aurobindo. To gain credibility
of readers, he falsely claims to be one of the founders of Sri Aurobindo Ashram’s
Archives. He intentionally omits all positive historical evidences in favour of Sri
Aurobindo and provides a ready collection of adverse tidbits to belittle his
Indian Government does not permit freedoms of speech and expression
beyond a certain point. Delhi High Court had recently asked Google, Yahoo
and Facebook etc. to censor all objectionable material. They had shown some
bad comments and pictures that had maligned Sonia Gandhi. Similarly, when
M.F. Husain had painted Indian Goddesses in nude, the Indian Government
had not supported him.
I have read this blasphemous hagiography (or rather Heehography?!) twice.
It brought tears to my eyes. Does this book denigrate Sri Aurobindo or
not? We all await a final judgment of a Court of Law with a bated breath.
Here are Mother’s relevant words:
“Anything written by a sadhak about Sri Aurobindo which brings him down to an
ordinary level and admits the reader to a sort of gossiping familiarity with him is
unfaithfulness to Him and His work. Good intentions are not sufficient.”
- The Mother (Collected Works of the Mother, Vol. 13, Page 27)
- Dr. Jitendra Sharma
Head, Department of French
St. Joseph’s College, Devagiri
The people raising a hullaballo against Heehs' book need to remember that right to offend is intrinsic part of right to freedom of speech.
Worse things have been written about Gandhi than about Aurobindo, so why this hue and cry?
“If you have joined an institution voluntarily, it is not fair to criticise it from within. As an outsider, you can write anything.”
How would any outsider know anything. If anything, it is the insiders "accusations" which are to be taken more seriously. And mind you, he's making no "accusations".
Besides, if you don't like his book, write your own book criticizing it. Don't tell people what they can or cannot write or read.
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