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A hagiography from an anti-hagiographic perspective—by Narendra

by on April 14, 2012

Mr Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s work says much about our media culture of readership as regards to Sri Aurobindo. His article represents a new dimension, a new layer, a scholarly-professionally sordid element in the patronizing of Mr Heehs. As yet the controversy was of content. Mr Mehta goes a step further, dismissing the objections to content as “ridiculous”, that the content is not really the real source of protesters’ “ire”; it is the protesters own lack of appreciation for The Lives of Sri Aurobindo; it is its “sophistication” that is evoking protesters ire! Mr Heehs has unfortunately become the target because of the crudeness and lack of training in “liberal education” and “religious sensibility” of the protesters. It is as though all that liberal education and sensibility is the singular trait or property of the new class of social thinkers only. But one wonders if they have any real contact with values of the Indian traditions bequeathed to us, traditions which also create values in the dynamics of time and life.

Here is a brief summary of the article posted by Mr Pratap Bhanu Mehta at Book Clubbed Indian Express: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/book-clubbed/935545/0 dated 12 April 2012. We shall try to look at some of the points raised by him in it, but before that let us briefly summarise it. However, in a careful and critical review it could be easily, albeit quickly, asserted that the author has not really studied or read Sri Aurobindo with much attention; instead he is simply going about on the basis of the bits and pieces he gets from his feeder lines. The touch with the original seems uncertain, frail and shaky in its understanding and formulation. 

The trouble with these neo social reformists and journalists, these professionals is, they must mention Sri Aurobindo to gain, if not purchase, a certain credibility and acceptability for their own projectionist views. They cannot ignore-bypass-dismiss him and yet they must refute or belittle him, careerists as they are. That seems to be the whole psychology behind the operation. Similar things happen in the field of literature also, where disparagingly they keep him away by calling him a Victorian, out-moded, ignorant of the modern idiom, or something similar to it. Such is the current projection of Sri Aurobindo. Such obviously is the technique which Mr Peter Heehs has honed to the sharpest and swiftest degree of perfection in his The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. Pratap Bhanu Mehtas and Gautam Chikermanes and Ramachandra Guhas in the newspaper media, and Sagarika Ghoses as TV anchors, have mastered the art very assiduously and systematically to an amazing grade of sophistication. So much the better for them. But let us get back to Mr Mehta’s post, only to quickly see the superficialities with which it abounds in several respects. 

Mr Mehta opens the post with the following: “Crossfire over Heehs’s work says much about our public culture of readership India’s visa policy for scholars has long been a scandal unworthy of a liberal democracy. But the public culture of readership is even more disconcerting. Indian democracy now has to be defended book by book.” 

The grudge of Mr Mehta against the public culture of readership is obscuration of a deeper point in the chaos and confusion arising out of the issues related with legalities and free speech. He states that our public culture seems to be satisfied to remain settled in its own comfort zones. When a challenge to it is posed by works such as Mr Heehs’s The Lives of Sri Aurobindo it reacts in an irrational if not a fundamentalist way. In the process the book gets maligned, and the author hounded if not dragged around as a criminal. These are nothing but symptoms of a wider cultural crisis.

However, it needs to be pointed out here that “the issue” as expressed by “protestors” of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo was of “denigration”, “belittling” and “spreading lies” as regards to our national sources of strength, in the present case Sri Aurobindo. Whereas media never took interest in reporting the said “the issue”, it picked up on the story after it found Mr Heehs to be on the brink of being shut out of India, though for entirely different reasons of legal violations. What was most disconcerting was the way media projected “the issue” to be that of Mr Heehs, the “world renowned” scholar, “guardian angel of India in the tradition of Humes”, being hounded out of India, for “the writing the best biography of Sri Aurobindo” by “religious fundamentalists” and “extremists”. Now Mr Mehta comes along and gives a new twist to “the projected issue”. According to him the issue is lack of training of Indians in “liberal education” and “religious sensibility” and consequent incapacity to appreciate sophisticated arguments. This is a mistaken analysis about the Indian mind and the Indian spirit. 

Mr Mehta has had a “long professional interest in Aurobindo”, and for him Heehs’s book comes as “a revelation, one that elevates its subject rather than diminishes him.” He calls it a “first-rate piece of intellectual history”. It makes Sri Aurobindo’s “obscure thought” precise. He goes on to say that it is a “measure of its acuteness that it has grasped a deep philosophical fact: that most of Aurobindo’s oeuvre, including The Life Divine, is an extended reworking of the Isa Upanishad.” Therefore the question is: Why should such a book draw ire? 

Mr Mehta then lists “three ridiculous charges against the book.” These are related to Sri Aurobindo’s self-confessed lack of physical courage, he a liar also; madness in the family not unconnected with his spiritual experiences; the relationship between the Mother and Sri Aurobindo being depicted in the biography as romantic. Such reactions to the historian’s scholarly work, argues Mr Mehta, “tell you a great deal about the fragility and close-mindedness of those who are shocked.” 

This only means that the book is not at all offensive but there is a failure on part of them who feel offended. The causes are, first, the lack of liberal education in them. They do not recognize that Sri Aurobindo himself was conscious about his serious inability, for instance, to recover the meaning of the Vedas. Then, these people go by faith and not by experience or what may be called “enlarged empiricism”. “For followers, bereft of the experience, what remains is the assertion of faith. We put ourselves under the yoke of the Divine when we feel its presence the least.” 

Mr Mehta concludes: “Aurobindo wanted to ‘prepare India for Truth’. But the relentless assault on scholarship, the cramped sensibility with which we approach tradition, and the reduction of intellectual life to questions of identity suggest one thing: we are not prepared for any truth, whether it comes with a small ‘t’ or a capital ‘T’.” 

For details and nuances the link provides an access to Mr Mehta’s post. These are the points which need to be examined if at all we are going to attach any great importance to the professional rant and rave of a director of an institution. He forgets that one cannot talk of “any truth” in the absence of facts if empiricism has a place in his world. The simple fact is that, he is totally ignorant of any number of posts and comments critically examining the distortions and misrepresentations in his favourite Lives

Mr Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s work says much about our media culture of readership as regards to Sri Aurobindo. His article represents a new dimension, a new layer, a scholarly-professionally sordid element in the patronizing of Mr Heehs. As yet the controversy was of content. Mr Mehta goes a step further, dismissing the objections to content as “ridiculous”, that the content is not really the real source of protesters’ “ire”; it is the protesters own lack of appreciation for The Lives of Sri Aurobindo; it is its “sophistication” that is evoking protesters ire! Mr Heehs has unfortunately become the target because of the crudeness and lack of training in “liberal education” and “religious sensibility” of the protesters. It is as though all that liberal education and sensibility is the singular trait or property of the new class of social thinkers only. But one wonders if they have any real contact with values of the Indian traditions bequeathed to us, traditions which also create values in the dynamics of time and life. 

And what is this much-flaunted much-peddled sophistication of the Lives? According to Mr Mehta the sophistication is that Mr Heehs, the great devotee, has achieved a marvellous feat of “sraddha” from the standpoint of the non-believers’ Sri Aurobindo! In other words, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo is a hagiography from an anti-hagiographic perspective! The author and the commentator have created a trap for themselves. 

Mr Mehta does not stop at that. Because apparently he has ire against Sri Aurobindo as his “professional interest” can’t understand mental sophistication of Sri Aurobindo’s writings, or rather its spiritual coherence and simplicity. So he feels relieved to hurriedly read Mr Heehs’s speculations of Isha Upanishad being the source of The Life Divine and of Sri Aurobindo’s failure in interpreting the Vedas. And going beyond his brief of patronizing Mr Heehs, Mr Mehta could not resist claiming that the Isha Upanishad as the entire source of Sri Aurobindo’s writings. By so doing he perhaps rescues his own mental vanity. He probably attempted only to read The Life Divine and, after some failures, gave it up; but of course this would have seriously afflicted his own sense of scholarship. Maybe Mr Mehta himself lacks in ‘yogic education’ and ‘spiritual sensibility’. But can his mind have the humility to admit that, or consider that before judging matters of very important spiritual matters on the national stage? To restate: there seem to be present in him multiple layers of vanity. 

It may be true that general Indian readership is lacking in “liberal education” and “religious sensibilities”; it may also be true that it falls short in organised desired mental application, requisite initiative and “sophistication”. But there is something else in the readership of Sri Aurobindo which is distinguished by a certain “aspiration” and “spiritual sensibility”, and it can’t be said that this generalised assessment, this sweeping conclusion is true everywhere. So really the weak link in the Mr Mehta’s argument is primarily in the two premises: that there is some hard-to-discern “sophistication” in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, and that readership of Sri Aurobindo does not possess a certain “liberal education” and “religious sensibilities” to discern. The fact is, the admirers of the Lives have never looked into those hundreds of posts and comments critiquing the so-called scholarly work of Mr Heehs. We are yet to see cogent well-argued responses from them. It would have been better had Mr Mehta just made a search and found for himself the faulty nature of Mr Heehs’s work. That is precisely the reason why such writings fail to make any appeal to the intelligent sense. 

But Mr Mehta is to be primarily faulted not for his hasty, reverse-engineered premises of his main argument to patronize Mr Heehs. The shocking part is his direct presumptuous attempt to diminish Sri Aurobindo. Mr Mehta elevates Mr Heehs and diminishes Sri Aurobindo. He does it to the extent that he draws them level by suggesting that Mr Heehs too possess the same stock of experiences as Sri Aurobindo; he makes  Sri Aurobindo’s “obscure thought” precise. If we assume, like devotees and scholars of Sri Aurobindo’s works do, that Sri Aurobindo’s work emanates entirely out of his experiences and realisations, then there will arise a piquant situation. It will entail Mr Heehs himself getting embarrassed at such ‘ridiculous’ patronization.

Let us take an example. Mr Mehta declares that “despite working laboriously, Aurobindo more or less admitted that he had not been able to recover the meaning of the Vedas”; but his claim remains totally unsupported. First we need to understand that the Vedas are written more in the manner of “experience” to “experience” in a symbolic way for direct yogic growth of consciousness unhindered by mind as that was the way of ancients of that time. As regards Upanishads, which is unique to Indian tradition for transition of civilization from Symbolic Age to Age of Mentality, the method was of “light” to “light” for direct realizations unhindered by scepticism or doubt. So in recovering the meaning of the Vedas and Upanishads Sri Aurobindo had undertaken the difficult task of presenting the same in the manner of “logic” to “logic” with full scope given to speculative mind and doubt. So the difficulty for Sri Aurobindo was in the immense bulk of recovery if he considered presenting all the different shades of meaning, nuances etc. And it is to that extent that Sri Aurobindo has admitted to the “difficulty”. Yet it is neither an admission of shortcoming nor a difficulty. In the logical framework he had chosen to present the theme, he could establish a few things in a definite manner and the rest he left unsaid. That can never imply admission or difficulty of any sort. Let us see what he says in the context. Talking about unravelling of the Vedic symbolism in The Secret of the Veda we read: 

More we cannot at present attempt; for the Vedic symbolism as worked out in the hymns is too complex in its details, too numerous in its standpoints, presents too many obscurities and difficulties to the interpreter in its shades and side allusions and above all has been too much obscured by ages of oblivion and misunderstanding to be adequately dealt with in a single work. We can only at present seek out the leading clues and lay as securely as may be the right foundations. … 

Is there at all or is there still a secret of the Veda? … 

Our object is only to see whether there is a prima facie case for the idea with which we started that the Vedic hymns are the symbolic gospel of the ancient Indian mystics and their sense spiritual and psychological. Such a prima facie case we have established; for there is already sufficient ground for seriously approaching the Veda from this standpoint and interpreting it in detail as such a lyric symbolism. … 

Finally, the incoherencies of the Vedic texts will at once be explained and disappear. They exist in appearance only, because the real thread of the sense is to be found in an inner meaning. That thread found, the hymns appear as logical and organic wholes and the expression, though alien in type to our modern ways of thinking and speaking, becomes, in its own style, just and precise and sins rather by economy of phrase than by excess, by over-pregnancy rather than by poverty of sense. The Veda ceases to be merely an interesting remnant of barbarism and takes rank among the most important of the world’s early Scriptures. 

Similar avowals we have, for example, in The Essays on the Gita and The Life Divine. In terms of the so-called ‘scholarly or academic’ presentations Sri Aurobindo was always to the point and, he was always rigorous. What fell out of its methodology, with that he did not occupy himself, and that only shows the respect for the framework he was placing himself in. In that respect the real freedom he had was only in his wonderful Savitri

But let us examine here the following comment of Mr. Mehta: 

… a deep philosophical fact: that most of Aurobindo’s oeuvre, including The Life Divine, is an extended reworking of the Isa Upanishad. 

There cannot be anything more ridiculous than this—The Life Divine an extended reworking of the Isha Upanishad. I’d recommend the author to read the last few chapters of the magnum opus more carefully, if not perceptively, and compare with the several commentaries Sri Aurobindo had written on the Isha. Where do we find in the Upanishad “the next higher state of consciousness of which Mind is only a form and veil as the path of our progressive self-enlargement”? It is only in The Life Divine we have it. Nowhere in the ancient scriptures are we told about the possibility, if not the inevitability, of the higher state of consciousness becoming a part of this world of ours. And then, the total non-mention of his grandest oeuvre, Savitri, only shows the superficiality of the hastily drafted article which lacks the needed depth to grasp the power, and the dimensions, of Sri Aurobindo’s writings. 

That is Mr Mehta à la Mr Heehs. But, if Mr Mehta claims to hold grand judgements and proclamations regarding the works of Sri Aurobindo then we surely would request him to illuminate us more about them!

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7 Comments
  1. RY Deshpande permalink

    Mr Mehta writes: “Despite working laboriously, Aurobindo more or less admitted that he had not been able to recover the meaning of the Vedas.” This is a big commentary on the enterprise Sri Aurobindo had undertaken to reveal the secret of the Veda. The impression one gets from the statement is that, if at all, Sri Aurobindo realized his inability about handling this work rather late in the day, when he had practically written all that he had to write on the subject. On the other hand, if this realisation was there in him right at the beginning, then he was engaging himself in a futile exercise, possibly he was fooling himself. Is that the case? And if such a failure is to be admitted we must at once say that it can never be a sign of self-confidence. Nor was it a way of escaping from a situation into which he had landed himself. But the question is: Does a Yogi start doing anything without self-confidence in himself, self-confidence in his capacity to receive higher knowledge and give expression to it? or self-confidence in one who directs all his actions and movements?

    Actually the difficulty is, vis-à-vis the nature of occult-spiritual-esoteric matters to be put across to the rational mind, particularly of the modern type. Indeed, in order to receive the explanation there has to be the observant faculty to get the nuances of the things being conveyed. The analytical has to yield to the supple and swift perceptive-intuitive. If this is not there, then one lands into predicaments. This is precisely what has what has happened to Mr Mehta. Let us take an example from the essay entitled The Doctrine of the Mystics where Sri Aurobindo writes:

    Such are some of the principal images of the Veda and a very brief and insufficient outline of the teaching of the Forefathers. So understood the Rig-veda ceases to be an obscure, confused and barbarous hymnal; it becomes the high-aspiring Song of Humanity; its chants are episodes of the lyrical epic of the soul in its immortal ascension. This at least; what more there may be in the Veda of ancient science, lost knowledge, old psycho-physical tradition remains yet to be discovered.

    The care with which Sri Aurobindo is putting forward his case is the care of scrupulous scholar, putting himself in a certain context, a scholar coming from the Cambridge tradition. Unfortunately Mehtas take these as the admission of his inability to talk in every detail about that “what more there may be in the Veda of ancient science”. What could go in the scholastic formulation that he has expressed, yet revealing also in sufficient detail the esoteric basis of that lore of the ancient days. Its yogic-spiritual richness is of course meant for another type of seeker of knowledge, the Follower of the Path of Brahmajnana.

  2. RY Deshpande permalink

    About the caution exercised by Sri Aurobindo while presenting his ideas and thoughts to the modern mind, let me add a couple of more examples.

    The question [about the Avatarhood and the process] arises, and it is the sole real difficulty, for here the intellect falters and stumbles over its own limits, how is this human mind and body assumed? For they were not created suddenly and all of a piece, but by some kind of evolution, physical or spiritual or both. No doubt, the descent of the Avatar, like the divine birth from the other side, is essentially a spiritual phenomenon, as is shown by the Gita’s ātmānam srjāmi, it is a soul-birth; but still there is here an attendant physical birth. How then were this human mind and body of the Avatar created? If we suppose that the body is always created by the hereditary evolution, by inconscient Nature and its immanent Life-spirit without the intervention of the individual soul, the matter becomes simple. A physical and mental body is prepared fit for the divine incarnation by a pure or great heredity and the descending Godhead takes possession of it. But the Gita in this very passage applies the doctrine of reincarnation, boldly enough, to the Avatar himself, and in the usual theory of reincarnation the reincarnating soul by its past spiritual and psychological evolution itself determines and in a way prepares its own mental and physical body. The soul prepares its own body, the body is not prepared for it without any reference to the soul. … It is a difficult assumption to our modern mentality, but the language of the Gita seems to demand it. Or, since the Gita does not expressly solve the problem, we may solve it in some other way of our own, as that the body is prepared by the Jiva but assumed from birth by the Godhead or that it is prepared by one of the four Manus, catvāro manavah of the Gita, the spiritual Fathers of every human mind and body. This is going far into the mystic field from which the modern reason is still averse; but once we admit Avatarhood, we have already entered into it and, once entered, may as well tread in it with firm footsteps.

    The limitations of the “modern reason” cannot be stated more clearly than this when one enters into the mystic field. That limitation does not mean the author’s lack of knowledge of those details and their relationships, their implications.

  3. RY Deshpande permalink

    About the scope of gnostic evolution in the earth process and in the universal scheme of things we have an extremely significant revelation from Sri Aurobindo. In The Life Divine we have the following:

    A question might arise whether the gnostic reversal, the passage into a gnostic evolution and beyond it would not mean sooner or later the cessation of the evolution from the Inconscience, since the reason for that obscure beginning of things here would cease. This depends on the farther question whether the movement between the Superconscience and the Inconscience as the two poles of existence is an abiding law of the material manifestation or only a provisional circumstance. The latter supposition is difficult to accept because of the tremendous force of pervasiveness and durability with which the inconscient foundation has been laid for the whole material universe. Any complete reversal or elimination of the first evolutionary principle would mean the simultaneous manifestation of the secret involved consciousness in every part of this vast universal Inconscience; a change in a particular line of Nature such as the earth-line could not have any such all-pervading effect: the manifestation in earth-nature has its own curve and the completion of that curve is all that we have to consider. Here this much might be hazarded that in the final result of the revelatory creation or reproduction of the upper hemisphere of conscious being in the lower triplicity the evolution here, though remaining the same in its degrees and stages, would be subjected to the law of harmony, the law of unity in diversity and of diversity working out unity: it would be no longer an evolution through strife; it would become a harmonious development from stage to stage, from lesser to greater light, from type to higher type of the power and beauty of a self-unfolding existence. It would only be otherwise if for some reason the law of struggle and suffering still remained necessary for the working out of that mysterious possibility in the Infinite whose principle underlies the plunge into the Inconscience. But for the earth-nature it would seem as if this necessity might be exhausted once the supramental gnosis had emerged from the Inconscience. A change would begin with its firm appearance; that change would be consummated when the supramental evolution became complete and rose into the greater fullness of a supreme manifestation of the Existence-Consciousness-Delight, Sachchidananda.

    Here is superlogic suggesting to a questing mind when sufficiently receptive the possibilities that exist in the richness of a growing manifestation. The minimum that is required to enter into the spirit of Sri Aurobindo’s language and his thought-presentations is the supple and swift and bright element of perceptive-intuitive faculty. Otherwise one easily becomes Mehtas and Chikermanes and Guhas and Sagarikas, even Banerjees and Carlsons, as the author of the post clearly indicates, they who think wiser than the realised Yogi himself. “This friendly Light is,” to quote a Vedic Rik, “is like a singer of the word and clothes himself with the Rays, he rhapsodises with his flames. This is the shining One who journeys by night and by day to the Gods, the shining Immortal who journeys through the day to the Gods, yo diva nrin.”

  4. RY Deshpande permalink

    In his Foreword to The Hymns to the Mystic Fire Sri Aurobindo writes in 1946:

    The interpretation I have put forward was set out at length in a series of articles with the title The Secret of the Veda in the monthly philosophical magazine, Arya, some thirty years ago; written in serial form while still developing the theory and not quite complete in its scope or composed on a preconceived and well-ordered plan it was not published in book-form and is therefore not yet available to the reading public. It was accompanied by a number of renderings of the hymns of the Rig-veda which were rather interpretations than translations and to these there was an introduction explanatory of the Doctrine of the Mystics. Subsequently there was planned a complete translation of all the hymns to Agni in the ten Mandalas which kept close to the text; the renderings of those hymns in the second and sixth Mandalas are now published in this book for the first time as well as a few from the first Mandala. But to establish on a scholastic basis the conclusions of the hypothesis it would have been necessary to prepare an edition of the Rig-veda or of a large part of it with a word by word construing in Sanskrit and English, notes explanatory of important points in the text and justifying the interpretation both of separate words and of whole verses and also elaborate appendices to fix firmly the rendering of key-words like ṛta, śrava, kratu, ketu, etc essential to the esoteric interpretation. This also was planned, but meanwhile greater preoccupations of a permanent nature intervened and no time was left to proceed with such a considerable undertaking. …

    Again, what we see here is the precaution a diligent and careful scholar is taking, rather than a mystic assuming that he need not really be concerned with those matters when it is a question of spiritual writing or revelation. Nor can the former be construed as lack of depth in the presentation of the latter. In his writings Sri Aurobindo adopts a certain position and gives them strictly in their possible scope and extension. Thus if his Life Divine is a work for an enlightened intellectual, he remains adherent to it; then he does not mix it with poetry and literature and art and yoga and sociology and so forth. When he writes The Synthesis of Yoga he again goes by the requirements of that discipline. The only place where he has real freedom is in Savitri. If Mehtas don’t grasp this plain fact then so much the worse for them.

  5. Mr Mehta writes: “Despite working laboriously, Aurobindo more or less admitted that he had not been able to recover the meaning of the Vedas.”

    Here we should note the depth and the extent to which Sri Aurobindo had proceeded in his Vedic work by his philological studies evident in a few essays and notes. (The First Rik of the Rigveda, Aryan Origins, The Root Mal in Greek, Sri Aurobindo Arcfrives and Research notes under THE ELEMENTARY ROOTS OF LANGUAGE, Aryan Origins AN ROOTS). The leads and hints given there remain an unexplored treasure for scholars and researchers of philology as also for yogis.

  6. RY Deshpande permalink

    Quite some time ago, in 1982, VK Gokak, the literary celebrity of the day, told the Indian Express that “Sri Aurobindo had problems in English” when he was writing his epic Savitri. Of course there is a statement from Sri Aurobindo himself, in a letter written to Amal Kiran, that he was trying to bring the Kalidasian and Valmikian expression in his Savitri, that “as far as it was possible in English”. Does that constitute a problem which is just an aspect of expression? expression for a new type of poetic inspiration? But this celebrity, and the newspaper as usual, does not go much beyond just saying that he had a problem. He does not touch upon the problem at all, its nature, its character, nor has he any idea of the kind of new expression the Yogi-Poet has given to us, the Poetry of the Overhead Planes climbing all the way up to the Overmind which is the native language of the Rig Veda.

    People have forgotten Gokak, mostly seeing that he was simply trying to project himself. He had other calculations in mind, mostly self-promotional, but with them the mind also disappeared.

    Today, again in the same Indian Express, we have Mr Pratap Bhanu Mehta repeating the whimsical-fallacious show. According to him The Life Divine is an extension of the ancient scripture, the Isha Upanishad. This statement is not only preposterous, bizarre, but is in the least original, not coming from him—it is coming from his friend Peter Heehs who neither understands the Life Divine nor the Isha Upanishad. A social philosopher drumming the historian—both in that case seem to be shams.

  7. RY Deshpande permalink

    Let us take a sample from Mr Ashish Nandy’s The Intimate Enemy:

    If Aurobindo’s life story and his spiritualism was a statement of pain it was also an interpersonal withdrawal to protect values which he would have had to give up in the light of conventional reason. And echoing Freud on art, he could have said, only in spiritualism has the omnipotence of thought—and, hence, the political potency and moral vision of the dominated—been retained in our civilization. It was an ‘insane’, ‘irrational’ attempt to preserve the ideas of the oneness of man, and of man as a part of an organic universe. In that universe, what a necrophilic war machine did to the Russians at Stalingrad or to the British at Dunkirk, called for intervention by a middle-aged Bengali yogi who had once tried to organize an armed rebellion against the Raj he was now defending. All oppression is one and each man bears his responsibility.

    Here is a writer who first thinks and writes in Bengali and then translates it into English. Our concern however is, he opining with all his wisdom on quality of the writings of Sri Aurobindo who is also a Yogi par excellence. He seems to be one who had never gone beyond a hurried cursory reading of the voluminous works bequeathed by Sri Aurobindo to the aspiring soul of humanity.

    When about two weeks ago the media was in heat, Mr Ashish Nandy made a brave statement out of his quick imagination, that Sri Aurobindo would have never objected to the Freedom of Expression in its absolute sense. We do not know wherefrom he got it although there are any number of Chikermanes and Sagarikas and Mehtas and Guhas around, they who lack not only scholarship but also original thinking. Here is what Sri Aurobindo writes in one of his letters which he could have checked with his friend Mr Peter Heehs:

    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.

    But it is such a simple obvious matter that one starts wondering at the wonderful wisdom of these mighty wise men. This Woman seems to have fled into the wilderness where she has a place to be secure. Yet I would like to ask Mr Nandy a question if today he would revise his old work in the ‘light’ of the new ‘revelations’ that have come from The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. In fact, what validity about it to take him seriously if the ‘well-researched’ biography is not taken note of? If this cannot happen then perhaps it is good to bury it in the deep and dark sands of time which will not leave any distinct fable behind.

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